The Department of Libraries & Research on June 30th 2011 turned a new page in the cultural history of Kashmir when it threw open a public library and reading room dedicated to the memory of the legendary Persian poet of the 17th century Kashmir, Gani Kashmiri.
Housed in the ancestral home of the iconic versifier, redone at a cost of Rs. 41.83 lakhs, the Gani Memorial Library & Reading Centre was today inaugurated by the Minister for Tourism & Culture, Nawang Rigzin Jora at Rajouri Kadal in the old Srinagar city, at a stone’s throw from the Valley’s Grand Mosque. Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Ali Muhammad Sagar, Minister of State for Home, Tourism, Culture, Housing, Urban Development and PHE, Nasir Aslam Wani, MLA Peer Afaq Ahmad and Director Libraries & Research, Khalid Bashir Ahmad were present.
The library was originally set up as a reading centre in the year 1971 in a rented accommodation, subsequently shifted to the residential house of Gani Kashmiri. However, it had to be again shifted out due to the dilapidated condition of the house. The new accommodation is a redone structure with dimensions and interior specifications of the original house retained. The construction was started in the year 2001. The work was halted for some time and then restarted albeit with slow pace until the just concluded financial year 2010-11 when the construction work was speeded up.
The library has a collection of about 8000 books on different subjects. A special Career Corner has been added for the benefit of students preparing for the competitive exams. Reference Section, General Section, Children’s Corner, Kashmiri Section and Reading Room are other facilities available. facilities available.
The Ministers hailed the significant contribution of Gani Kashmir to the Persian literature and the name and fame it brought to Kashmir. They said that setting up of the library and reading room in his name was a befitting tribute to the greatest son of Kashmir. They asked the local people especially the youth to take full advantage of the facility and specifically referred to the collection of titles on competitive examinations.
Earlier, Khalid Bashir Ahmad briefed the Ministers about the latest initiatives taken by the Department of Libraries to improve library facilities. He said automation and networking of public libraries was one such important measure being taken by the Department very shortly. He also introduced the Ministers to the various sections of the Gani Memorial Library & Reading Centre. Gani Kashmiri is an unrivalled Persian poet whose reputation transcended the boundaries of Indian sub-continent during his life time. His name was Muhammad Tahir. Gani was his penname and he became famous as Gani Kashmiri. Much is not known about his earlier life. His family surname was Asahie. He was born at Rajouri Kadal and lived most of his life there. His ancestors are believed to have migrated from Central Asia few centuries prior to his birth. He lies buried a little distance away from his house.
Gani is believed to have been born in the 11th century Hijra, corresponding to 17th century A.D., though there is difference of opinion among scholars about the exact year. Some believe he died at a young age of 41 but his various verses allude to the fact that he lived much longer and passed away as an aged person. He was formally educated and attained proficiency in literature, philosophy and medicine. Sheikh Mohsin Fani was his teacher.