In a buzzing megapolis like Mumbai, it is uncommon to find places of peace and quiet, where you can simply enjoy a good read. Where can one go, to find solace in the pages of a book in this vast city? Is it possible to find niche spaces that are treasures for the voracious reader? Here’s a list of 10 places in Mumbai that are absolute delights for bibliophiles.
Located right in the heart of Mumbai is the iconic Fort area. Booksellers line the curb between D.N. Road and Flora Fountain – selling everything – from Agatha Christie to Jeffrey Archer, and a host of educational books for children. Whatever you want, there’s an almost 100% chance of finding it here. It is also an unofficial library because you can buy the book and come back to return it – even years later – and get 75% of your money back.
Owing to its convenient location in the Fort area, this library is frequented by a lot of working students. It has scores of books on numerous topics and offers a serene environment for readers. The library also comes out with a quarterly newsletter, The Sassoonian, to keep members updated about upcoming programs.
Not only is the Asiatic Library a popular place for bibliophiles, but it is also a significant architectural landmark in Mumbai. You can see it being portrayed as almost everything – a home, courthouse, hotel, and more, in many Bollywood films. In the past, it also served as Mumbai’s Town Hall. Sign up for heritage walks on the Cleartrip app to visit this and other important landmarks in the city.
The British Council Library now has two locations in Mumbai and a very convenient online library, with pick-up and drop facilities. The center is also popular for its preparation programs for the IELTs and other English language examinations. A resourceful library, it also hosts English teaching workshops.
The Bombay Natural History Societ (BNHS) Library in Hornbill House, Colaba, is a great resource for books on wildlife, botany, environment conservation and ecology. It is one of India’s largest and oldest libraries containing books on nature. Over here, encyclopedias, theses, and reports abound. The library also houses photo negatives of flora and fauna by prominent photographers from around the world.
Tucked away in a quiet street in Girgaum, is Mani Bhavan, Gandhiji’s erstwhile home that is now a museum. It also houses a very special library that boasts a collection of 40,000 books. These range from books written by and on Gandhi, Gandhian principles and philosophies, to those on freedom movements from around the world. Another specialty of the library is that it offers readers books that are now out of print, too.
Located in Mumbai’s prestigious National Centre of Performing Arts is a library focused on music, dance and theatre. Their extensive collection offers books and periodicals on theory and practice in the arts. The wide topics also include films, painting, sculpture, photography, and even magic, along with how Indian mythology and history have influenced performing arts.
On the first floor of the Discovery of India Building in the Nehru Centre is a huge reference library that is open to the general public of the city. For the convenience of visitors, it also houses a cyber-center with audio-visual facilities. The library is home to over 30,000 books on topics that range from art, architecture, and literature, to science, technology, astronomy and even biographies. It also has a collection of books on and by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
The Alliance Française institute has a resourceful library comprising books, journals, and comics in French. Members from the institute can partake of the resources for free and others can use them for a nominal fee. It also offers visitors CDs and DVDs containing tutorials about learning French.
Housed in the American Consulate of Mumbai is the American Library, a brilliant resource for books, journals, and periodicals on American life, culture, history, economy and politics. Political science and international students, in particular, will find this place to be a haven for research and studies. It is open and free for the general public, but one can become a member to receive regular updates on activities and seminars.
With such varied reading stores and libraries, Mumbai is truly a bibliophile’s paradise. A day spent at any of these places will not only satiate your appetite for good books, but also take you through a tour of this magnificent city’s history.