Saraswathi Mahal Ancient Manuscripts Library Thanjavur

Saraswathi Mahal Library(Serfoji Mahal Library)

It is one of the Historical Monuments of Tamilnadu and One of the oldest libraries better known as the "Treasure house of Knowledge" in whole Asia as Saraswathi Mahal Library or Tanjore Maharaja Serfoji's Saraswathi Mahal Library located in Thanjavur (Tanjore), Tamil Nadu, India. It has a rare collection of Palm leaf manuscripts and paper written in different languages like Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Marathi, English and a few other languages indigenous to India. The library consists of valuable collection of manuscripts, books, maps and paintings relating to arts, culture and literature.

The collection comprises well over 60,000 volumes, though only a tiny fraction of these are on display having a complete catalogue of holdings, which is nowadays being made available online and some rare holdings can be viewed on site by prior arrangement.The Encyclopaedia Brittanica in its survey aound the Worldfrom all the libraries, declared it as "The most remarkable library in India."

Origin of Saraswathi Mahal Library:

This Ancient Royal Library was private pleasure of the Nayak Kings of Thanjavur who ruled 1535 - 1675 AD. The Serfoji II (1798–1832) was one of the most notable King of Maratha Kings,This Ancient Royal Library was private pleasure of the Nayak Kings of Thanjavur who ruled 1535 - 1675 AD. The Serfoji II (1798–1832) was one of the most notable King of Maratha Kings,who was an eminent scholar in many branches of learning and the arts. It is said the great saint Sadasiva Brahmendra was the influencing force in setting up this library. You can read an article about Sri Sadasiva Brahmendra here In 1983, the Library was declared as an Institution of National Importance.

Leaf manuscripts in Saraswathi Mahal Library

Leaf manuscripts in Saraswathi Mahal Library

Collection of Manuscripts in different languages:

1)The major portion comprises of Sanskrit (39,300) which are also written in scripts such as Grantha, Devanagari, Nandinagari, Telugu.

2)There are around 3500 Tamil manuscripts on palm-leaves comprising titles in literature, music and medicine which are categorised as a Rare commentaries on Sangam works,Unpublished portions of classics,Saiva, Vaishnava and Jain works,Later poetry of all descriptions and Medical works of exceptional value.

3)The Marathi manuscripts are around 3075, of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The saints of Maratha country belonging to the Ramadasi and Dattatreya mutts information is available mostly on paper.

4)There are about 846 Telugu scripts on palm-leaf having particularly relating to thc Southern School of Telugu literature. There important Telugu Classics - like Padya Kavyas, Dwipada Kavyas, Prabandas etc., present in this library.

5)The Modi document is an ancient script used for Marathi language to record the political and administrative documents of the Maratha Kings of Maharashtra as well as Thanjavur known as 'Maratha Raj Records'.

6)Collection of Books comprising of old books and new books, of which the old books were mostly collected by the King Serfoji during his life time which consists of 4,500 books in English French, German, Italy, Greek and Danish languages which deal with many subjects.The latter collection consists of more than 42,600 books, which are in Tamil, English, Sanskrit, Hindi, Marathi, Telugu and a few in other Indian and Foreign languages and are catalogued according to the language and classsified under various subjects.

The library also holds Medical Records of Ayurveda scholars, with patient case studies and interviews in the manuscripts classified under the Dhanvantari section along with the Maratha Raj records(1342 bundles) which are written in the Modi script (fast script for Devanagari) of the Marathi language having the information regarding political, cultural and social administration of the Maratha Kings of Thanjavur.

It also contains rare commentaries of ancient Tamil works on religion and philosophy. There is a commentary on Saint Nammazhwar's Thiruvaimozhi written by Koneri Dasi, a Devadasi presumably from Kumbakonam which is also a rare treasure preserved here.

Saraswathi Mahal Library Museum:

The Saraswathi Mahal Library has a Museum which is situated within the campus of the Thanjavur Palace, open to public to show the importance of it with organised sections highlighting ancient Manuscripts, Illustrated Manuscripts, Printed copies of the Original Drawings, Atlases, Thanjavur- style Paper Paintings, Canvass Paintings, Wooden Paintings, Glass paintings, Portraits of the Thanjavur Maratha kings, and the Physiognomy charts of Charles Le-Brun as these materials give an idea of the total variety in the vast collection within the Library. The visitors can have a glimpse of it by sitting and reading books there itself.

Timings of Saraswathi Mahal Library:

Whole year from January to December, Closed on Wednesdays.

Other Attractions in Thanjavur:

1)Shivaganga Park and Tank

2)Vaduvoor Bird Sanctuary

3)Brihadeeswara Temple(1000 years old)

4)Art Gallery next to Saraswathi Mahal Library Thanjavur

5)Mukteshwara Temple

6)Sangitha Mahal

Mode of Transport:

Nearest Railwaystation:-Thanjavur Railway station directly connected with towns and cities like Trichy, Madurai, Nagore and Madras by rail.

Nearest Bustand:-Busses from all mojaor cities and towns in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka .

Nearest Airport :-Tiruchirapalli Airport,58 km away from Thanjavur.


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  • Saraswathi Mahal Ancient Manuscripts Library Thanjavur
    East Main Street, Rajakrisnapuram

    Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu - 613001
  • +91-040-3622341


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