Oriental Research Institute and Manuscripts Library – Brief History

Oriental Research Institute and Manuscripts Library is one of India’s
largest Manuscripts libraries, with a history starting from 1908. The manuscripts
collection in the Palace Library of the Royal Dynasty of Travancore created the
nucleus of this Institution. From there, it has grown into one of India’s most
important manuscripts libraries by collecting different types of manuscripts from
Kerala and other parts of India. This institution became part of the University of
Travancore in 1940, and now it is one of the prestigious academic institutions
and Indological Research Centre of the University of Kerala. The vast collection
of manuscripts in the library attracts visitors world-wide.
Among the vast collection of manuscripts, 80 % are palm leaf manuscripts
collection. There are more than 65,000 manuscripts in the library. They vary
from scripts, languages, subjects and writing materials. This is the treasure
house of the University of Kerala, having an intensive collection of rare
manuscripts like Bhasa Nataka, Arya Manjushri Mula Kalpa, Ramacharitham in
Vattezhuthu, Chithra Ramayana, Rudrakshamala, Lakshanasasthra, Marati
pictorial paper manuscript etc. The first Curator Dr. T. Ganapati Sasthri
discovered 13 unpublished plays of Bhasa from Kerala and published them in the
Trivandrum Sanskrit Series and for this outstanding achievement, the Tubingen
University of Germany honoured him with a Doctorate Degree in 1924.
The functions of this department include research activities, editing and
publication of manuscripts and teaching-learning process. The Department
publishes two prestigious journals, ‘The Journal of Manuscript Studies’, which is
a UGC care listed journal and ‘Pracheena Kairali’. The other three series of
publications of the Department include The Trivandrum Malayalam Series, The
Trivandrum Sanskrit Series and The Trivandrum Tamil Series for editing and
publishing manuscripts.

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