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Did you know? THIS 18th-century library in Mumbai has a Baghdadi connection!

This 'Jewel of Kala Ghoda' has a Baghdadi connection we bet you didn't know of.

The David Sassoon Library in Mumbai was the first building to come up on the southern end of the Esplanade. Standing on the Mahatma Gandhi Road, one of the oldest yet functional libraries in Mumbai, is named after David Sassoon, the famous Baghdadi philanthropist. It was mainly because of his donations that the building was completed in the year 1870.

Owing to its prime location, this library is frequented by people of all ages. According to the Heritage Regulations of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (1995), the library has been listed under Grade 'A' Heritage Structure within the 'Fort Precinct' and 'Museum Sub-Precinct'.


Greet a white-marbled David Sassoon at the entrance!


Just like the Elphinstone College, Watson's Hotel and other buildings in the vicinity, this three-storey building was also built using yellow Malad stones. At the entrance colonnade of the library, stands a robust statue of David Sassoon in white stone. Famous sculptor Thomas Woolner, was commissioned by the Governor of Bombay- Sir Bartle Frere, to make this standing marble statue in 1865.

Designed by Scott McClelland and company, this heritage site was built by the architects- G. E. Gosling and J. Campbell. The structure is inspired by the Gothic Venetian style of architecture. The porch with its Minton floor tiles opens at the rear end into a garden. The building gives off a church-like vibe because of the central tower and minarets at each corner.

The conceptualisation of the library

In the year 1847, the European workers of the Royal Mint and Dockyard came up with an idea to educate adults, particularly in technical subjects. A library and museum for mechanical models and architectural designs were set up to impart technical knowledge and host seminars and lectures. They worked out of rented spaces until Sir Albert Sassoon, son of David Sassoon, presented the idea of building a library at the centre of the city.

In 1863, David Sassoon- a leading banker of Mumbai, donated ₹60,000 to build an institute for mechanics. Completed in 1870, this Mechanic's Institute was later renamed as the David Sassoon Library and Reading Room. To this day, the building continues to fulfil its original objective.

Here is how you can join the oldest library in Mumbai!


With just two coloured passport size pictures, identity and address proof and proof of educational qualifications, you can join this historic library yourself. With a collection of about 40,000 books including some extremely rare old books, the library still boasts of growing membership.

Open 365 days a year, from 8 AM to 9 PM, the reading room has a wide range of facilities for its member. These facilities include free WiFi, lockers, laptop/mobile charging points, tea and snacks, CCTV surveillance, among others. Click here to know more about the various membership plans!

Contribute to restoring this heritage site!


A large scale fundraiser was organised on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the library, in 1996, in order to carry out the first major restoration operation of the library. This led to attending and restoring the areas that needed urgent attention.

But it has been noted that the fragmented approach to restoring the library has not been enough. A lot of work is yet to be carried out, with regards to a comprehensive restoration program. Making an appeal for donation, the library officials have requested people to come forward and help preserve the 'Jewel of Kala Ghoda', that has served many generations. One can go to the official website and contribute. Head to the link and donate now.

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