In the heart of Pune, near the shopping area of Tulshibaug, there is a beautiful white building on the main road. The building has European-style arched windows and a balcony overlooking the thoroughfare below.
This building houses the Pune Nagar Vachan Mandir, the city’s oldest public library which dates back to the 19th century.
Historically, Pune has always been known as a center of learning and has encouraged intellectual discussions throughout the ages. Institutions of knowledge have received support and patronage from citizens, organizations, and the government.
In February 1848, the Poona Native General Library was established on the ground floor of a historic mansion called Budhwar Wada, which was built by Bajirao II. Sir George Russell Clerk, the then Governor of Bombay (now Mumbai), instructed Judge Henry Brown to start a library for the benefit of the local people. The initial managing committee consisted of several eminent personalities from the city.
The Budhwar Wada was unfortunately destroyed in a fire in May 1879, along with the library. For the handful of books that survived, temporary accommodation was duly provided at the neighboring Nagarkar Wada.
Shortly thereafter, the library was rebuilt. New land was acquired a short distance away from the original location. The work commenced in 1887 and was completed in 1889. This re-establishment of the library was possible due to the efforts of prominent personalities like Justice Mahadeo Govind Ranade, Krishna Shastri Chiplunkar, Prof. Kero Laxman Chhatre, Daji Nilkantha Nagarkar, and others.
The cost of building this new structure was Rs. 25,176 out of which Rs. 12,075 was contributed by the Government of Bombay (now Mumbai). Contributions came from several other donors from Pune as well. It was inaugurated in July 1889 by Donald James Mackay Lord Reay, the then Governor of Bombay (now Mumbai).
In 1921, the library was renamed the Poona City General Library or the Pune Nagar Vachan Mandir. Today, this library has a collection of over 75,000 books and continues to receive love and support from the citizens of Pune.
Know Before You Go
This building is in the Tulshibaug area near the Pune City Post Office building. For curious enthusiasts, a painting of the Poona Native General Library (as it was known then) is on display at the Peshwa Museum on Parvati Hill.