There are some so called haunted places that I have been to, mostly in and around New Delhi, and there are some that I deeply wish to visit. One thing that I found common in all these places is that either the place was beautifully scenic or had a glorious history to it. I admit that my reason for visiting to such a place was always to spot something paranormal but the fact cannot be denied that somewhere in my heart I already knew that I wouldn’t find anything. Still I visited because the place was worth a visit for several reasons other than being notorious as haunted. One such place that is high on my “must visit” list is the National Library of India, Kolkata.
Built in 1836 and earlier known as “Calcutta Public Library”, It was the first large scale library in India and still holds the status the being the largest library in the country. Initially it was a non-government institution that ran on proprietary basis and was later renamed to Imperial library in 1891. After independence it was taken over by the Government of India and the name was changed to National Public Library. It is now a beautiful public library that stands on a scenic 30 acre Belvedere Estate has over 2.2 Million books and is open to General Public from 9 am to 8 pm on all working days. Interestingly enough, the building that now hosts the library was the official residence of Lt. Governor of Bengal before Independence.
Apart from being one of the oldest and definitely the largest library in the country, there are several other reasons for which it is worth a visit. It holds over 2,270,000 books, 86,000 maps, and 3,200 manuscripts, has an unbelievable 45 kilometers of shelf space and can accommodate over 550 people at a time. Sad part however is that only a handful of people would know of this library of all the above mentioned reasons. It has now become more notorious than famous due to its status of one of the most haunted sites in Kolkata. Why? No one knows. There are several ghost stories related to this library, most famous of which is the sightings of a ghost that is believed to be the wife of the Governor who lived here. It is believed that the ghost of the wife of Lord Metcalfe roams the halls of the library. She was a stickler for putting things in place. So the story goes that when people are reading alone in the library, they feel the presence of someone breathing down their neck, especially when they haven’t kept a book back where they took it from. Another story claims that during some renovation work, a handful of laborers died due to an accident and there ghosts have been spotted here ever since. According to another story, and a childish one in my opinion, a student went into the library to complete his research work and never came out. No one knows what happened of him. Another student is rumored to have died here. People talk about seeing fading images and it is said that even the guards are skeptical about doing a night shift here. There are however no deaths or accidents related to paranormal activities reported so I guess the ghosts must be the peaceful ones. Another fact that has given fire to all the haunted tales is discovery of a hidden chamber within the building in 2010.Initial reports suggested that the chamber had no trap door or opening to enter it and no one knew what was inside. What happened of the chamber or what did the authorities find inside was never revealed to the general public. This building has both mysterious and unfortunate past too. After Mir Jafar built it in 1760, he was forced to abdicate his throne and had to gift it to Warren Hastings in 1780, the first governor general of India. Between 1780 to 1854 when it became the official residence of Lt. Governor of Bengal, no one knows what really happened to the house.
I have no clue why anyone would want to believe any of that. To me, this library is part of our legacy and must be respected for what it is and preserved. If I ever visit here, it would be to see the magnificent library and treasure of books, definitely not to find a ghost.