After facing flak from intellectual quarters over the plan to demolish some parts of the historic Khuda Baksh Oriental Library in Patna, the Nitish Kumar government has finally agreed to leave it untouched. The Bihar government was planning to demolish a reading room inside the historic Khuda Baksh Oriental Library for a proposed flyover on Patna’s Ashoka Road. However, it has now decided to reduce the width of that particular stretch passing the library.
Amrit Lal Meena, Additional Chief Secretary in the Road construction Department, said that the Bihar Rajya Pul Nirman Nigam Limited has decided to reduce the width of the proposed overbridge for a certain distance to ensure that the Lord Curzon reading hall is not demolished. The 2.1-km double-decker flyover will connect Kargil Chowk to the National Institute of Engineering chowk and to Ganga Path.
The historic library was opened in 1891 by Khan Bahadur Maulvi Khuda Baksh, a Siwan landlord, with over 4,000 manuscripts. In 1905, then viceroy of India Lord Curzon constructed a reading room for visitors after he was impressed by the library’s rich collection. In 1969, the Centre acknowledged it as an institution of national importance. The library presently has a rich collection of over 21,000 manuscripts, mostly in Arabic and Persian, as well as important writings in Sanskrit besides over 2.5 lakh books.
The library’s director Shayesta Bedar had written to the Patna DM in April urging him to explore the possibility of saving the portions of the library keeping in view the significance of the library as the biggest cultural heritage of the state.