Saraswathi Mahal Library
is located in Thanjavur
, Tamil Nadu
. It is one of the oldest libraries in Asia, and has on display a rare collection of Palm leaf manuscripts
and paper written in Tamil
, and a few other languages indigenous to India. The collection comprises well over 60,000 volumes, though only a tiny fraction of these are on display. The library has a complete catalogue of holdings, which is being made available online. Some rare holdings can be viewed on site by prior arrangement.
The Saraswathi Mahal library started as a Royal Library for the private pleasure of the Nayak
Kings of Thanjavur who ruled 1535 - 1675 AD. The Maratha
rulers who captured Thanjavur in 1675 patronised local culture and further developed the Royal Palace Library until 1855. Most notable among the Maratha Kings was Serfoji II
(1798–1832), who was an eminent scholar in many branches of learning and the arts. In his early age Serfoji studied under the influence of the Dutch
Reverend Schwartz, and learned many languages including English, French, Italian and Latin. He enthusiastically took special interest in the enrichment of the Library, employing many Pandits
to collect, buy and copy a vast number of works from all renowned Centres of Sanskrit learning in Northern India and other far-flung areas.
Since 1918 the Saraswathi... Read More