Reference Library of books, manuscripts and visuals


Reference Library

Information and Data Bank

Cultural Archive

Kala Nidhi serves as a major cultural information/knowledge resource hub to support research objectives and the technical information needs of other units of IGNCA. The library holds an extensive and unique collection of over 6,00,000 knowledge resources, reflecting the multi-dimensional and interdisciplinary nature of the arts. As a major repository of reference material relating to the humanities and the arts, it comprises an outstanding Reference Library and equally rich Cultural Archives with access to multimedia databases and information systems. It also holds a well organised audio-visual and photo-documentation facility and a conservation laboratory.

The Reference Library

The reference library has an array of primary and secondary material in the broad areas of humanities and the arts. These include about 1,50,000 books in Indian and foreign languages encompassing archaeology, philosophy, religion and ritual studies; history and anthropology; art and literature; folk, pastoral and community studies; volumes on tribal culture and languages; encyclopaedias, dictionaries and bibliographies; biographies and autobiographies; monographs, and atlases; catalogues of unpublished manuscripts of Indic and Asian origin; translations and conference proceedings among others. Besides, the library subscribes to many general and specialized journals relating to arts as also back volumes of several periodicals. The library is scientifically organized and fully automated, providing easy access to its resources through Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC) terminals. Its holdings and expertise are complemented by those of the other units of the IGNCA. Apart from these core collections, some specialized areas of acquisition are:

Annual Day celebration of Kala Nidhi Division (4th Feb. 2014)


Acquisition of rare publications, some over 200 years old, is a special function of the library; the collection number over 1,000 volumes. Some of these books are illustrated with sketches, drawings, lithographs, etchings, wood cut etc. throwing clues on the art, architecture, and culture of the bygone era, which has paled with time. A fascinating aspect is the collection of travel literature dating back to 18th and 19th century offering first-hand accounts of European’s understanding of the regions of India in terms of their commercial, colonial, and recreational interests. The contributors of the publications were chiefly the members of British army and navy, surveyors, engineers, medical staff, travelers etc. Much of what they wrote was intended for amusement to their readers, as well as for information and instruction. The rich intellectual content of some of these books reveals to the readers the condition of the society when the country was passing through a transition phase as a result of cross cultural currents; experiencing new influences from the west, adapting to new conditions and at the same time retaining the age old values, tradition, and customs. Some books from 18th to 20th centuries with fascinating illustrations include Travels of Sir John Charlin (1688), Ceremonies and Religious Customs of Various Nations of the Known World (1733-77) by Bernard Picard, Considerations of Indian Affairs (1772) by William Botts, The History of Hindostan (1795) by Thomas Maurice, A journey from Bengal to England from Northern Part of India, Kashmire, Afganistan (1797) by George Forester, History De l'Empire de Mysore (1801) by J. Michand, The Costumes of Hindostani (1804) by Balt Solvyns, The History of Jawa (1817) by T.S. Raffles, Historical Fragments of the Moghul Empire of the Mora-Hoes and of the English Concerns in Hindustan from the year (1825) by Robert Orme, The History of British India (1826) by James Mills, The Oriental Annual or Scenes in India (6 Volumes from1834-1839) by Hobart Caunter, Benaras (1905) by E.B.Havell, Portfolio of Illustrations of Sind Tiles (1906) by Henry Cousens, Archaeological Reconnaissance in North-Western India & South-Eastern India (1937) by Aurel Stein, Elura Cave Temples (1972) by Dr.James Burgess


Research and exchange programmes with South-East Asia, East Asia and Eurasia have brought in cultural material and acquisitions, covering a wide range of disciplines and enriching the core collections on the regions both in print and microforms. The microfiche collection pertaining to these areas numbers around 1.50 lakhs



The reference library receives about 250 scholarly and technical journals, both Indian and foreign, through subscription or gratis, in different disciplines within the broad spectrum of the arts and cultural heritage. The prominent ones include: Central Asian Survey, Asian Theatre Journal, Asian Music, Dance Chronicle, Australian Aboriginal Studies, SPAFA Journal, South East Asian Review, Russian Studies in History, Journal of the Oriental Institute, Praehistorische Zietschouft, Mankind Quarterly, Journal of American Oriental Sociology, Journal of Ritual Studies, Leonardo, Visual Computer, Visual Anthropology, Journal of the History of Ideas, Revive de L'Art,Artibus Asiae, and Journal of American Oriental Society. Back volumes of many such journals are also available in the library. 


PERSONAL COLLECTIONS     Know more in detail about Personal Collection

Acquisition of several personal/rare collections has further enriched the library. These relates to illustrious scholars who have made path-breaking contributions in the field of arts and related studies. Some of these belong to:

  • Prof. Suniti Kumar Chatterjee (1890-1977): Consisting of a monumental 17,300 volumes ranging from books, journals, pamphlets and reports in several languages, including English, Bengali, Greek, Russian, Avesta, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Hindi and Sanskrit; covering various disciplines such as linguistics, history, art, literature and archaeology. He belonged to a generation of intellectuals who gave the Indian thought a new direction.

  • Acharya Hazari Prasad Dwivedi (1907-1979): Consisting of over 13,000 volumes in the areas of Indian literature, religion, philosophy, history and science donated to IGNCA by his family members. He was a man off phenomenal reading and an encyclopaedic mind, a doyen among teachers and a well-known Hindi scholar.

  • Thakur Jaideva Singh (1893-1986): Consisting of about 1,100 volumes of rare and important works in several languages including Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, Encyclopaedia of Buddhism and several editions of Sangita Ratnakara. He was a versatile genius; a rare combination of a philosopher, Sanskritist and musicologist and leading expert on Kashmir Saivaism.

  • Krishna Kripalani: He was a close associate of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore and later Secretary to Maulana Azad. Rich in Gandhian studies, philosophy, modern history and studies of Tagore his private library contained about 860 volumes, which he has graciously gifted to the IGNCA.

  • Heeramaneck: Consisting of about 2,500 books (including books on Asian arts) donated by his wife Alice Heeramaneck. Son of an art dealer, he himself was a dealer, collector, connoisseur, entrepreneur and benefactor.

  • Lance Dane: Consisting of about 5,000 rare books, covering Indian art and architecture. A renowned photographer, his collection includes a number of books on numismatics.

  • Chaturvedi Dwarka Prasad: Consisting of over 12,000 books and 2,500 periodicals, including several editions of the Gita, Sanskrit books on religion and philosophy, acquired through his grandson Shail Nath Chaturvedi. The illustrious scholar was an authority on modern Indian history.

  • Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy: Acquired from Frank Coomaraswamy, his grandson. These include 696 folders viz. correspondence, journals, reprints and newspaper cuttings; 217 works of art comprising drawings from the Punjab hills, illustrated manuscripts, Indian miniatures from Malwa and Punjab hills, modern paintings. Besides, there are 48 small Indian or South Asian Sculptures and decorative objects. The collection, gifted by Shri Rama Coomaraswamy, son of Anand Coomaraswamy, has 48 books, 1,097 journals, 115 letters, 703 music records, 486 glass slides, and 227 photographs from the personal collection of the great art historian and a man of letter, Shri Ananda Coomaraswamy

  • Prof. Vinod Sena: His collection comprises of over 850 publications, which includes texts of modern drama, critical studies, out of print books on western literary criticism, some special issues of journals, audio recordings and a large number of slides of photographs of W. B.Yeats and T.S. Eliot.

  • Prof. Maheswar Neog: He was an antiquarian, literary critic and poet. This collection of more than 2,800 volumes presented to the library comprises books on Assamese studies, Assam history, Assamese Drama and Theatre, and Vaishnava literature of Assam. Majority books of the collection are in Assamese and Bengali language. A substantial number of birch-bark manuscripts written in Assamese and Devanagari scripts are also part of this collection.

  • V. K. Narayana Menon: He was a great writer and renowned scholar of music. His collection of over 570 volumes comprising rich collection of books on Malayalam literature and very rare books on music and valuable reports on All India Music seminars and other areas of culture was graciously donated by his wife Smt. Rekha Menon to the library.

  • Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan: She is the leading scholar of classical Indian dance and Indian art and architecture. Her collection contains about 6,000 books, over 3,000 periodicals and magazines and a large number of seminar reports and papers, photographs, CDs and other non-book materials.

  • Shri Munish Chandra Joshi was the former Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India. He also served as Member Secretary, Indira Gandhi National Centre (1935-2007) for the Arts, New Delhi from 1993-2000. His interest in original sources and a deep­ rooted understanding of history, combined with the knowledge of Sanskrit, Pali, and other languages, enabled him to relate monuments, antiquities, and art objects in a most objective manner. He carried out major archaeological investigations in different parts of India and excavated historical sites.

Know more in detail about Personal Collection


This is a relatively new initiative which has been undertaken by Kala Nidhi to build-on special collection in areas of importance to IGNCA’s programmes. The most recent additions are on South-East Asian regions of Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam Myanmar with about 650 titles covering a wide range of subjects such as Archeology, Anthropology, Folklore, History, Philosophy and Arts; 500 publications dealing with Indian Diaspora and related subjects; publications procured from cultural institutions like Sahitya Academy, INTACH, Lalit Kala Academy, Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Indian Academy of Social Science, National Book Trust and Sangeet Natak Academy in New Delhi; Asiatic Society, Mumbai; Bhasha Research & Publication Centre, Badodra; Bhasha Research Centre, Allahabad; and Archeology & Museum, Madhya Pradesh; publications from major indological publishers viz. M/s Motilal Banarasi Das, M/s Aryan, M/s New Age from New Delhi, M/s Mapin, Ahmedabad, M/s Oxford, M/s D.K.Print World, and M/s Manohar. Moreover, the anthology of rare book has further been enriched by 852 new additions with books on astrology, archeology, religion, Sanskrit, language & literature, dictionary and philosophy. Similarly, rare digitized materials have been acquired in a joint collaboration between IGNCA and Jadavpur University, Kolkata wherein the library received about 10,000 digital material images & videos on rare Bangali literature and manuscripts.


It is estimated that India possesses over 5 million manuscripts, the largest in the world, which requires preservation for knowledge and reference. Reprographic compilation of valuable manuscripts in Indian and foreign collections from private and public libraries is a unique feature of IGNCA. The effort is to collate primary sources of the Indian tradition lying scattered, fragmented, inaccessible or worse, in danger of extinction. So far, over 2.5 lakh manuscripts have been microfilmed. Out of the total of over 20,600 microfilm rolls, 14,400 rolls have been digitized and 11,671 rolls duplicated. Scholars and researchers can access this microfilm/microfiche collection and also obtain copies, subject to copyright restrictions. Around 13 million folios of unpublished Sanskrit, Pali, Persian and Arabic manuscripts are presently available for research and reference. Reprographic material of various primary and secondary texts have been obtained from foreign institutions like Bibliotheque Nationale (Paris), Cambridge University Library (Cambridge, UK), Staatsbibliothek (Berlin), INION (Russia), Wellcome Library for the History of Medicine (London), and oriental & India office Collection, British Library (London). The manuscripts in micrographic records have been acquired from Khuda Baksh Oriental Public Library (Patna), Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (Pune), Asiatic Society (Calcutta), Manipur State Kala Academy (Imphal), Atombapu Research Centre (Imphal), Vaidika Samsodhana Mandala (Pune), Saraswati Bhawan Library (Varanasi), Government Oriental MSS Library (Chennai), Oriental Research Institute and MSS Library (Trivandrum), Shri Ram Verma Government Sanskrit College (Tripunithura), Thanjavur Maharaja Serfoji’s Saraswati Mahal Library (Thanjavur), and Shri Ranbir Sanskrit Research Institute (Jammu).

Catalogue of Manuscripts available in IGNCA



Kala Nidhi harbors the largest collection of slides on Indian arts, paintings, sculpture, architecture, illustrated manuscripts and the performing arts; the only centre in India equipped with proper infrastructure for archival storage, computerization of data, duplication and digitization. Over the years it has acquired and generated about 77,000 carefully selected slides from 17 centres in India and 15 abroad. On an average about 3,000 slides are added to the collection every year. The notable acquisitions are from the Victoria & Albert Museum (UK) and the Chester Betty Collection through the courtesy of INTACH (Charles Wallace bequest). In addition to this, the American Association of South Asian Art has gifted a complete set of 8,000 slides to the library. Besides, Kala Nidhi also has a collection of more than 1,700 photo-negatives. It has photo-documented the artifacts on display in the Himalayan Heritage Museum (Jammu), Sheeshmahal Museum (Patiala) and Qila Androon (Patiala), and the festivals in Kulu. The photo-documented material comprises of 699 photographs and 653 slides. The facilities like slide viewing cabinets, slide viewers and slide projectors are available under expert guidance. The use and dissemination of most of these is subject to copyright.

Slide Collection and other Visual Resources


The Cultural Archives collects, preserve and classifies personal collection of scholars/artists in original, reproductions and/or reprographic forms for the purposes of research and dissemination. It is further enriched by personal and ethnographic collections, documentation, cultural exchange and research in area studies. Over the years, many scholars, artists and art enthusiasts have dedicatedly collected materials of their interest ranging from literature and personal histories, recitation, painting, music to folklore and tribal arts. Some of these rare collections of ethnography and audio/visual documentation of old masters and rare art forms have been acquired by the archives. The Archives also maintains films on research projects taken up by the various divisions of IGNCA. Some of these films such as “Yelhou Tagoi” by Shri Aribm Shyam Sharma and “Wangala of the Garos” by Shri Bappa Ray have won National Film Awards. The acquisitions have been classified in six categories viz. Sahitya (Literature), Vastu Silpa (Architecture and Sculpture), Chaya Pata (Photographs), Sangita (Music), Nrtya (Dance) and Natya (Theatre).

The Literature section consists of 41 audio cassettes of Dr R.C. Rangra’s interviews of eminent writers, in Hindi and other regional languages; 20 audio spools in the voice of Gurudev Rabindra Nath Tagore reciting poetry/songs; 21 audio spools of Akhilesh Mittal collection of recordings of the renowned Urdu poet Firaq Gorakhpuri. The Architecture and Sculpture section comprises the Lance Dane collection of over 1,000 sculptures and figures in various media; photographs of the unique terracotta temple architecture of Bengal by Shambhunatha Mitra; photo-documentation of the Ajanta Caves in 675 colour slides by Benoy K. Behl. The Photographs section has prestigious collections consisting of 2,700 glass-plate negatives, 2,700 contact prints and 200 original prints of Raja Deen Dayal, the Grandmaster of Indian Photography; Henri Cartier Bresson's collection of 107 black & white photographs of India comprising candid shots of the Indian freedom struggle; the D.R.D. Wadia collection comprising photographs of political leaders, scientists, diplomats, dancers and landscapes; David Ulrich collection on nature and rock art etc. The Music section comprises S. Krishnaswami’ s rare compilation of reprographs on the musical instruments of India including research notes made over a period of 40 years; musicologist Ranganayaki Ayyangar’s collection of V.A.K. Rangarao’s and S. Natarajan’s music records (78 rpm) of Carnatic music concerts as also Western Classical music such a Beethoven and Motzart.

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This section includes oil, water and charcoal paintings (1,751 colour slides, 35 mm) of the renowned mother-daughter Hungarian painters Elizabeth Sass Brunner and Elizabeth Brunner. Most of these works are those on their journey from Hungary to India via Italy and their sojourn in India particularly at Santiniketan, Kumaon, Gwalior and Rajasthan; UNESCO Posters containing 44 colour plastified photographs of the important sites of the different parts of the world; 2 sets of Coorg wedding costumes and 43 pieces of jewellery; delicate and exquisite Surahis of unbaked clay made by the master craftman Abdul Majid Ansari; reprints of old (15th century onwards) geographical maps of Europe, Africa and Asia gifted by Prof. R.P. Mishra. There are notable additions from other divisions of IGNCA such as Harikatha collection comprising of 212 books on religion and philosophy (Sanskrit, Tamil and English) and 9 audio spools; Sadagopan collection comprising of silent films and audio tapes, photographs, slides, negatives, albums and notes on the sermons and other religious functions of Jagad Guru Kamakoti Sankaracharya; puppets from 17 countries as well as documentation of puppet shows from China, Tibet and India among others.



It is a well equipped laboratory with trained staff providing conservation services in-house as well as other institutions in the country and abroad. The Unit carries out regular survey of art objects providing treatment on priority basis. Simultaneously, it takes preventive measures against the aggressors that may cause damage to the artifacts. Materials of delicate nature such as palm leaves, parchment, miniature painting, textiles and oil paintings as well as harder substances such as metal and it alloys, stones, terracotta n ceramics are treated as per the ethics of conservation. Major conservation projects undertaken so far include: Henry Cartier –Bresson collection, Yashodhan Mathpal Rock Art reproductions, Sharda Lipi manuscripts, Buddhist Canons, Rare books in the Reference library, Folk paintings, Scroll paintings of Santokhba and Wood and terracotta objects.


The ABIA Project

The Annual Bibliography of Indian Archaeology (ABIA) project is a global network of scholars co-operating on an annotated bibliographic database (the ABIA Index) for publishers covering South and Southeast Asian art and archaeology. The project was launched in January 1997 at the initiative of the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) in Leiden, the Netherlands, in collaboration with international scholars and Asian academic institutes. The ABIA index supplies annotated and indexed entries on scholarly publications in Asian and European languages relating to prehistory, (proto)historical archaeology, art history (including modern art), material culture, epigraphy, palaeography, numismatics and sigillography. The project receives scientific support from UNESCO. The database ABIA South and Southeast Asian Art and Archaeology Index is fully searchable online and is freely accessible at http://www.abia.net.  Extracts from the database are also available in the form of printed bibliographies. Two volumes have been published thus far, containing approximately 3,350 annotated and key word-indexed references to publications between 1996 and 2001.

The ABIA Index workshops are held regularly to strengthen the communication lines between the editors and offices. Between January 1997 to December 2009, ten such international meetings have been held and these have been hosted by PGIAR in Colombo (Sri Lanka), SPAFA in Bangkok (Thailand), IIAS in Leiden (the Netherlands), Dharwad in Karnataka (India), Kediri (Indonesia), IGNCA in New Delhi (India), Dhaka in Bangladesh. The IGNCA participated from 5th and onwards ABIA workshops; it is the coordinating office since January 2007 for the next five years. During the meetings/workshops the progress report of the project is reviewed and training to scholars provided. The IGNCA hosted the 6th ABIA workshop in December 2003 and 10th in December 2009.

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IGNCA has been designated as the nodal agency for all matters relating to arts, humanities and cultural heritage by the Government of India to provide computerized storage, retrieval and dissemination of information on all aspects of arts and cultural heritage. Over the years, the IGNCA has developed several unique computerized multi-media databases and information systems to preserve the vast cultural heritage in various forms and make it accessible for research and dissemination. Special efforts have been made to network these programmes with various institutions inside and outside the country. These are: LMIS (Library Management and Information System) which gives catalogue information on all books and periodicals; CATCAT (Catalogue of Catalogues) which provides information on more than 1,000 catalogues of published/unpublished manuscripts; MANUS (Manuscripts) with complete descriptive information of about 3,000 manuscripts; PICTO (Art Objects) includes information on two-dimensional and three-dimensional art objects; SOUND (Sound Recordings) comprising information on Vedic chanting of Ranayaniya and Jaiminiya Sakhas of Samaveda and Paippalada Sakha of Atharvaveda; KK TERMS (Kala Kosa Terms) comprising terms for the Kalatattvakosa project thereby facilitating scholars in preparation of comprehensive text references for each term, verification of bibliographic references and quotations and terms in different texts; BIBL (Bibliography) giving information of more than 6,000 references (monographs, books, journals, articles, etc.; THES (Thesaurus) is made up of key words in some tribal languages and dialects to identify cognate terms relating to the Five Elements. This database has been evolved for the programmes of the Janapada Sampada.


All the resources available in Kala Nidhi can be accessed by registered members. Membership is open to scholars and researchers on payment of a nominal annual fee. Students, who are registered with Universities/Institutions of Higher Learning for their Ph.D. or M.Phil programmes, can also be granted membership on selective basis. However, they need to get their applications sponsored by their institutions and they too have to pay the membership fee. Membership shall be granted on applying on the prescribed form available from the reference library, and cannot be claimed as right. The Member Secretary, IGNCA has the discretionary power to grant membership to any person(s). Membership shall be of two categories viz. Temporary (without payment on institutional recommendation to use resources for a few days); and Yearly (renewable).

How to Access Reference Library Resources  |  Download Member Ship Form



  • Humanities International Complete: provides comprehensive coverage of the humanities with full text content for about 700 journals, books and other published sources from around the world. Includes all data from Humanities International Index (over 2,000 titles and 2 million records);

  • Wilson Art Abstracts: provides comprehensive abstracting and indexing of about 400 international art publications. The subjects covered are art and architecture and computer informatics

  • JSTOR: includes full text of about 2 million articles across 47 disciplines. Also includes about 1.5 million book reviews. The oldest content in the JSTOR archive was published in 1665.

  • J-Gate, Arts and Humanities: an electronic gateway and subset of J-Gate, offering access to scholarly and technical journals. Provides seamless access to millions of journal articles available online offered by a wide range of publishers.


Reference Library [ Print Material | Micro film/Mirco fische | Visual Library | Bibliography ]
Information and Data Bank CatCat (Catalogue of Catalogue)
Cultural Archive     [ Literature | Architecture & Sculptures | Photographs | Music | Dance | Theatre | Other Collection | Ethnographic Collection | Film & Video Documentation | Film & Video Acquired | Living Legend Series ]

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For further inquiry for Kalanidhi Division please contact:

Shri P. R. Goswami
Director (Library & Information)
Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA)
(An Autonomous body under Ministry of Culture. Govt. of India)
11 Man Singh Road, New Delhi -110001
Phone: 91-11-23388333, 23385884
Fax: 91-11-23385884

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