CHENNAI: Palm leaves, ancient texts and manuscripts that were accessible only for a select few on poring through rows of dusty records are now just a click away for anyone from anywhere across the world.
For the first time in India, 26 lakh pages of historic records are being made available to the public through an upgraded website of the Tamil Nadu government.
These manuscripts are from the Government Oriental Manuscripts Library and Research Centre, considered one of the best manuscript libraries in Asia, with 72,748 rare manuscripts and 25,373 reference books.
A compilation of manuscripts 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 of oriental history,” 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. “This is the first of its kind venture, possibly in the world, and it is a meant to spread the values of Tamil culture,” he said.
The manuscripts, which have been preserved and microfilmed, are now viewable on the website as high quality images. The website has been started off with 3 lakh pages and 2,400 palm leaves, and can be accessed at tnarch.gov.in. The rest will be updated in coming months.
The digitisation was done acting on the recommendation of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa, who said online access should be given to all to learn TN’s history.