An offshoot of library movement awaits digitisation
Launched at a time when Telugu language faced neglect under the rule of the Nizams, Sri Rajaraja Narendrandhara Bashanilayam is still going strong in upholding its objective of promoting the language.
Warangal Urban: Launched at a time when Telugu language faced neglect under the rule of the Nizams, Sri Rajaraja Narendrandhara Bashanilayam is still going strong in upholding its objective of promoting the language.
It was the second library to be set up in Telangana as an offshoot of the Library Movement 113 years ago with the sole of objective of propagating Telugu, which had been reduced to the status of second language at that time.
It came into existence on January 29, 1904 with the efforts of patriots Ravichettu Ranga Rao, who started the first library Sri Krishna Devarayandhra Basha Nilayam in Hyderabad, Pingili Venkatrama Reddy, Komarraju Venkata Laxman Rao, Nayini Venkataranga Rao, M Narasimha Sastry, Tungaturti Narsimha Rao, Roy Muralidhar Bahadur and others.
For 30 years, the library was run at Venkatarama Reddy’s residence at Raganna Darwaza lent free of cost. After much efforts and legal battles, the library got its own building. It was built at Pinjarla in Hanamkonda and opened on November 23, 1934, according to the library secretary Kundavajjula Krishna Murthy.
Besides promoting Telugu, the Basha Nilayam also engaged in boosting Ayurveda. Its supporters, including Dr. Avancha Lakshmiparthi, Madiaraju Koteshwara Rao and Dr. S Ramalingam, raised funds and started Trilinga Ayurveda Vidyapeetham in 1920 in Warangal.
Famous personalities like Kaloji Narayana Rao, PV Narasimha Rao, T Hayagreevachary, Madapati Hanumantha Rao, Gunturu Seshendra Sarma and several others have strong association with the Basha Nilayam. By 1925 the library had about 1,414 books and showcased huge treasure troves of manuscripts, stone inscriptions and currency coins collected from across Telangana by Sheshadri Ramana Kavulu.
Alas! The library, after enjoying glory until 1979, witnessed a decade of decline till 1989, with the manuscripts, inscriptions and coins being shifted to other places. Active revival efforts made by the library honorary president Kolipaka Sugunakar Rao and former secretary Valigonda Kantha Rao, with help from committee members and generous donors, helped restore it to some extent in 2004.
“In the past, our predecessors used to run cinema shows, conduct dramas and collect donations to manage the library. Now, we have built a commercial complex on space belonging to library and are able to meet the expenses,” said the library development committee chairman Nyalakonda Bhaskar Rao.
The road ahead The Basha Nilayam, renovated with infusion of funds, is now on road to modernisation. There is a proposal to set up a digital library by constructing a new block on the library land. Towards this end, it has been decided to approach the Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation for funds.
It is also planned to organise competitions like quiz and essay-writing for students to boost both their Telugu language skills and reading habit, said Bhaskar Rao and the library president Prof. Ch Sanjeeva.
“There is need to encourage reading habit among the young generation who are shying away from books and the Basha Nilayam will hopefully serve the purpose by continuing its legacy,” observed the librarian B Sadanandam.
By James Edwin