The Institution of Eminence (IoE) Research Intern in the Department of History, Mr. Satyajit Pramanik, working under the supervision of Prof. Anindita Mukhopadhyay (Prof. & Head, Department of History) visited the Telangana State Central Library, Hyderabad on 10 November, 2023. This field visit is part of the project titled “Beyond Regional Frames: Histories of Interconnections across Spatial Scales (Frames of Imperialism: Frames of Childhood)” funded by Institute of Eminence (IoE), University of Hyderabad.



The field visit traverses the variegated collection of archival records and books in the Telangana State Central Library, Hyderabad to enrich the project with primary historical sources. This expansive collection ranges from legal history to world politics, and rare palm-leaf manuscripts to Urdu texts arranged in a chronographic order. Mr. Satyajit Pramanik, has got ungrudging support from the Chief Librarian of State Central Library, Mr. A. V. N. Raju, and Assistant Librarian Smt. C. G. B. Rani.



The State Central Library of Telangana, previously known as Asafia Library, a public library located on the banks of Musi River, could be docketed as a ‘treasure trove’ for readers and researchers interested in the fields of Indian history, culture, and society. The library cum archive is equipped with a wide range of books cross-cutting the genres of legal and cultural history, disciples of science, technology and medicine, children’s literature, and the literary traditions of Urdu, and Telugu. It also has an archival section within the main section of the library showcases the rare manuscripts of 5th-16th centuries to records of Nizams and Colonial British government in India.



The 132 years old heritage library building constructed in 1891, houses more than 500, 000 printed books, journals, magazines along with a personal book collection of Syed Husain Bilgrami – an Arabic scholar in the court of Nizam of Hyderabad.  It has a magnificent collection of regional literature, not limited to Urdu and Telugu, but also encompasses the literature in Bengali, Tamil, Hindi, English, French, Portuguese, and Italian. The library has a good number of newspaper collection namely – Eenadu, Hyderabad Samachar, The Siyasat Daily, Telangana Today, Deccan Herald, The Times of India, and Hindustan Times.



This field visit examines the growth and development of a literary culture and a distinct knowledge-system in the early decades of the nineteenth century and latter part of the twentieth century in the state of Telangana. State Central Library, as a public library played crucial role in shaping the inner and outer world of the literate and urban population of Hyderabad in particular, and Telangana in general. Simultaneously, it engages into the processes of self-identification and how a community experiences a changing world-view within the physical space of libraries to orient and even re-orient themselves within the mould of western knowledge system. This project sketches the inception of the opening of a new avenue onto the spatio-temporal landscapes acquiring the cultural transformations within the Telugu literate communities. It also questions the subjective locationality of a community and demarcates even more clearly the private spaces of home and the public spaces of urban/literate population in the Telugu region. Therefore, this project will open a new direction to understand the ontological dimension of human consciousness of the Material, Spiritual or a Combination of both through the perspective of history of libraries as a fundamental category of shaping the literary contours of Telangana region.


— Contributed by Satyajit Pramanik, IoE Research Intern, Department of History, University of Hyderabad