City Libraries – Urdu Bagh, Gulistan-e-Johar

Anjuman Taraqqi-i-Urdu has a nostalgic sound to it yet it is very relevant to the times that we live in. Founded in 1903, it remains one of the oldest institutions working for the promotion of Urdu language. It actually started as a movement. For years Hindus has been making a case for adoption of Hindi language as official court language and fearing worst, Muslims felt the need to establish a platform for championing Urdu’s cause. Anjuman became that platform.

I had earlier visited Anjuman Taraqqi-i-Urdu’s office near Civil Hospital. It was originally a Gujrati school which was inaugurated by Gandhi but was shut down at the time of partition. This building became Baba-e-Urdu Maulvi Abdul Haque’s home and Anjuman’s office. This is where Baba-e-Urdu was buried and the building operated as Anjuman’s bookstore until it was transferred to Urdu University. I heard that there were plans to convert it into a Museum. Anjuman meanwhile had been operating from their library in Gulshan Iqbal but there were plans to move to a larger facility in Gulistan Jauhar. The facility had a name. ‘Urdu Bagh’, named after Anjuman’s premises in Aurangabad, India.

Urdu Bagh was finally inaugurated in January, 2018 by Mamnoon Hussain, then President of Pakistan who took personal interest in execution of this project. It is indeed a dream project. It does not just include a library but an auditorium, a car park and a hostel which will be built during next stages. The library is few hundred meters off the main road. The road appears to be newly paved, perhaps done so right before the President’s visit. You can identify the shiny new building from a distance. The area is spacious and parking space has been created at the far end of the plot. There is a series of rooms to the left of entrance which serve multiple purposes. There’s a guard room, bookstore and several offices.

The main building is to the right of entrance. The library is on the first floor and consists of three big halls. The hall connected with the staircase does not have many books but has some rare items related to Baba-e-Urdu. The walls are adorned with photos of some legendary poets and writers including a large portrait of Jamiluddin Aali sb. The biggest hall has rows of bookshelves and a sitting space on the far end though it appears to be insufficient. On a Saturday morning we find it filled to the capacity. Anjuman is famous for its collection of rare manuscripts and is frequented by PHD scholars in pursuit of their research projects. The librarian tell us that they do correspondence with scholars across the country and help them access rare books which are otherwise not available elsewhere in the country. Some grateful scholars pay their gratitude by sharing their thesis, along with a personal note for the staff who sometimes go out of the way to facilitate scholars.

The hall contains books which has been transferred here from Anjuman’s library in Gulshan Iqbal. There is a small room within this hall which has a collection of rare manuscripts and publications but is currently off limits to public. The final hall has a binding facility and largely contains publications done by Anjuman itself. Some of which are available at the bookstore. Anjuman has played a critical role in championing Urdu’s cause before and after partition. Let’s hope it is equally successful in coming years.

Categories: City Libraries

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