Heritage Public Library


Situated in the heart of Chandni Chowk Hardayal Municipal Public Library (HMPL) is one of the very few oldest buildings that have been able to withstand the onslaught of modern times. This is the oldest public library of Delhi, named after the great revolutionary and freedom fighter Lala Hardayal, M.A. who was a resident of Old Delhi.

The library was set up in 1862, as part of reading club meant for the whites. Englishmen coming to India used to carry a lot of books with them to read in the several month long sea journey. These books were given to the reading room called the Institute Library, which was a part of the Lawrence Institute, named after the then Viceroy of India. The building was built between 1861 and 1866. Today the building is called the Town Hall and houses the offices of the erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

In 1902, the Library was renamed as the Delhi Public Library and shifted to the small Kaccha Bagh building with a staff of one Librarian, one clerk, one peon. It wasn’t enough to accommodate sahibs and Memsahiba.

But an incident on 23rd December 1912 lifted the fortunes of the Library. A bomb was hurled at Lord Hardinge while he was going on an elephant in a procession through Company Bagh, (Now known as Gandhi Maidan) but he escaped from the bomb attack. This procession was organized by freedom fighters led by Lala Hardayal, M.A. of Chandni Chowk. To commemorate Hardinge’s escape, a committee was formed soon after to construct a building for the Delhi Public Library under the President-ship of Rai Bahadur Lala Sheo Prasad. The committee is said to have collected Rs. 70,000/-, Khan Sahib Haji Baksh Elahi donated Rs. 14,000/-, the Maharaja of Kashmir Rs. 10,000/-, and there were various other donors.

The Library was renamed as Hardinge Municipal Public Library in 1916 when it shifted to the new abode with its old collection and furniture.

The name ‘Hardinge Municipal Public Library’ was further shortened as Hardinge Library in 1942 consequents upon an agreement between the Library and the erstwhile Municipal Committee which gave the Library the status of an autonomous body with 100% grant-in-aid from Municipal Corporation. Eventually in 1970 Hardinge Library become Hardayal Municipal Public Library.

Now the erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Delhi had been trifurcated in North, South and East DMC situated in North, South and East henceforth be responsible and from time to time make adequate grant for the meeting of the financial requirement of the Library including Head Office (Main Lib) and for the maintenance and up-keep of the Library together with its Reading room, Building, Furniture and Fittings.

The governance of the Library for the purpose of discharging functions in connection with the management and control of the Library in general or otherwise in relation to the execution of the purpose of the Library staff vests in a Governing body hereinafter called the Managing Committee.

a) The Mayor of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation who shall be the ex-officio-President of the Managing Committee of the Library.
b) Six elected sitting members of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation and one each from south & east DMC, nominated by it to the Managing Committee.
c) Four persons elected by the subscribers of the Library.

Main Library functions from 8 am to 8 pm on all working days catering to the needs of General public, Students, Scholars, Indians and Foreigners, Competitors for various competitive exams are provided. Reading Rooms facility for 358 days out of 365 days from 8 am to 10 pm specially designed, decorated with modern amenities like ACs etc provided by Institute of Chartered Accountant of India, New Delhi under a MOU. Free Newspaper 31 Perodicals 72 in Hindi, English, Urdu, Punjabi are available to readers. Library has been maintaining its Book Binding & Lamination Section which has been preserving Rare, Old Books/Manuscripts.

There are about 3123 Gazettes of India & Delhi Gazettes: those are quite useful for Govt. notifications since 1917 to 1998 and ten years five newspapers i.e. 1) Times of India, 2) The Hindustan Times, 3) Nav Bharat Times (Hindi), 4) Hindustan (Hindi), 5) Jansatta.

It enrolls Life members/subscribers on very nominal and meager amount of Rs. 200/- only as Annual Subscription. Rs. 1,500/- for Life Memberships, Rs. 500/- only towards Deposit amount extra deposit for text books Rs. 1000/- and allows its subscriber/members to borrow two books for a forthnight and towards deposit amount Rs. 1,000/- only for life members. A sum of rupees 500/- (five hundred only) Annual for reading room user shall be charged.

The library décor is antique with ancient book racks and almirahs. It has a unique and price of more than 1,70,000 books in Hindi, English, Urdu, Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit. This is one of the few Libraries in the world with a collection of at least 8,000 rare books.

The oldest book in the library is the block-printed.

  1. A Relation of Some years, by Travaile Begvenne, 1634
  2. History of the World, by Sir Walter Raleigh, (1676 to 1677)
  3. Voyages Around the World, by john Francis Jenili Koriri, 1705
  4. Tajkeera-Al-Vakyat, by charles steward, 1828
  5. Travels in India, by Villiam Hojej, 1794
  6. Rigveda Sanhita, by H.H. Wilson, 1854
  7. Saytarth Prakash, by Swami Dayanand Sarswati, 1881
  8. “MAHABHARTA” in Persian written by Abul Raizi
  9. Quran-e-Majid, 1928
  10. Ayats of Quran written by the great King Aurangzeb with Hindi translation

There are about 28 Library Branches + Head Office Library all over Delhi within the three Municipal corporation jurisdiction i.e. North 13+1 (HO), South-12 and East-03.

In future Library is likely to be fully computerized, Audio-Visual and modern Information Technology, Microfilming of all rare books could be undertaken subject to availability of finance and has a proposal to open a Branch Library in each ward in Delhi and a modern well equipped with amenities reading rooms in collaboration with Indian Chartered Accountants of India will be an added land mark in the history of the Library.


Hardayal Municipal Heritage Public Library
Gandhi Ground, Chandni Chowk,
Near Police Station or Chandni Chowk Metro Gate No. 01,
New Delhi, Delhi (India) - 110006
Phone: +91 11 2396 3172 Mobile: +91 (0) 9868959402, 7291999008
Email Id: hardayal_hmpl@yahoo.com, hardayalmhpl@gmail.com

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