CHENNAI: Palm leaves, ancient texts and manuscripts that were accessible to a select few and only by poring through dusty records will now just require the click of a button to view from anywhere in the world. For the first time in India, 26 lakh pages of historic records are being made available to the public on the upgraded website of the Tamil Nadu government.
The Government Oriental Manuscripts Library and Research Centre is considered to be one of the best manuscript libraries in Asia, with 72,748 rare manuscripts and 25,373 reference books. A compilation of manuscript collections by Colin Mackenzie, Leyden and Brown, the palm leaves contain literature, philosophy and science written in Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu and even languages like Burmese and Persian.
“This website will become a Wikipedia of sorts for oriental history and will have a wealth of information, all in one place. Even someone in Iceland or the Arabian Desert can use it,” said R Kannan, additional chief secretary to the Government Tourism, Culture and Religious Endowments Department, speaking at the launch of the website at the Museum Theatre at Egmore last week. “This is the first venture of its kind, possibly in the world, and it is meant to spread the values of Tamil culture throughout the world,” he said.
The manuscripts, which have been preserved and microfilmed, are now viewable on the website as high quality images.
The digitisation was done on the recommendation of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa under rule 110, where she said that online access should be given to all to learn about historical art, culture and literature of Tamil Nadu. The website has about three lakh scanned pages and 2,400 scanned palm leaves. The entire target of 26 lakh pages will be uploaded in the coming months. The website can be accessed at tnarch.gov.in.