Saturday, February 17, 2018
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It may interest you to know that the Public Library in Alfred Park(also known as Company Gardens and Alfred Park) was established in Allahabad on April 27- 1864. It so happened that in the 1857 war of independence the Agra College library was destroyed.

In 1858 the capital was shifted from Agra to Allahabad. It was then decided to build the library here. You will be surprised to learn that the huge, majestic structure standing in the heart of Alfred Park was built at a cost of just Rs3,600 ! And take a glance at the strong and sturdy structure with its architectural charm and then wonder whether such a building could be constructed today without by spending a thousand times the amount then sanctioned.  Today before a building is completed it starts getting cracks. That is the bitter reality.
However I would like to recall the centenary celebrations of this Library. I had already entered journalism and was then a cub who would be rushed to all special functions in and around Allahabad though officially I was not a reporter. I was then in the now defunct ‘The Leader’. Shastriji  came to the centenary function on  November 12, 1964.  Dr Kailas Nath Katju was among the dignitaries present. As I had met him on several occasions and also interviewed him at his residence to take a special message on the demise of Nehru on May 27 that year he promptly recognized me, called me and then told Shastriji, ‘He represents  Pt Madan Mohan Malaviya’s newspaper The Leader’. Shastriji gave a smile’. He asked me, ‘Do you find anything unusual here?’  I told him, ‘Yes Shastrijee . It may be a coincidence. But you are wearing a yellow-brownish coat,  Dr Katju is wearing the coat of the same colour and several others are doing it so, even when Basant Panchmi is far away’. He had a hearty laugh.
Shastriji was easily accessible. That was the beauty of the occasion. And what Shastri said then was even more beautiful a tribute to the city. He referred to Allahabad University, Allahabad High Court and Allahabad Public Library and said the city was a Triveni of Education, Law and Knowledge. The newspapers were full of news about Shastriji’s visit. And I recall it as one of the memorable meetings that I covered during the early days of my career.

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