A landmark located in the former British Capital of India – Kolkata, National Library is reportedly the largest library in the country since its opening on February 1st, 1953. Prior to Indian independence, it was the formal dwelling of Lt. Governor of Bengal. The library holds over 2.2 million books as of today.
The history records that in 1836, Calcutta National Library was formed which was a non-governmental institution which was being managed on a proprietary basis, declaring everybody, who paid INR300 as a subscription fee, a proprietor. Lord Metcalfe was the then Governor General of Bengal. Later in 1891, a number of Secretariat libraries came together to form the Imperial Library which was only restricted for use by the superior ranking officials of the government. In 1903, Lord Curzon of Kedleston, the then Governor General of India suggested that Calcutta Public Library and the Imperial Library be merged as one to achieve their full potential as they were not being maintained as they should have. Following the orders, on January 30th, 1903, the combined library named as the Imperial Library was officially opened to public at Metcalfe Hall, Kolkata. After independence, the name of the library was changed to the National Library and it was moved from its previous location to its present day location at Belvedere Road, Alipore, Kolkata.
Somewhere in this above background about the National Library is the wife of Lord Metcalfe – Lady Metcalfe. It is important how? Well! She is the ghost of National Library. Stories have it that Lady Metcalfe was obsessed with cleanliness so much so that even after decades of her death, she is reported to be haunting the rooms of the library and watching over the management and running of this place. She was such a stickler for tidiness that rumors say if you are reading at the library with a lot of books scattered around you on the table, you can feel her breathing down your neck. Anyone wants to give it a try?
National Library is a very popular landmark in the metropolitan city of Kolkata. You can take a cab and ask them to take you to the library or take a city bus to Alipore. Ask around for the best route and be prepared for changing a few buses or shared auto rickshaws if you want to travel cheap.