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Vol. XXIX No. 5, June 16-30, 2019

Pavithra’s Perspective

Pavithra Srinivasan is a writer, journalist, artist, translator, columnist and an editor and is fascinated with History.

The Palace of books

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This palace opens its ornate doors only once a year, for a limited number of days – usually coinciding with World Book Day, which is April 23 (also St. George’s Day on which Chennai’s Fort St. George reached completion) – when the average citizen can step through hushed corridors and into a large, ancient chamber of books. The columns are huge; their arches delicately decorated with swirls and curls that make you gasp in wonder.

The books are old, so old, harking back to an era of wasp-shaped evening coats, watches on long chains, cambric dresses and dove-grey gloves.

But there’s magic here as well: the magic of entering Aladdin’s cave, of discovering treasures; of marvelling at a cornice or the startlingly colourful shadows thrown by stained glass windows; of admiring the knowledge gathered here since 1896, in a library named after Lord Connemara.

The colours made me want to draw at once – but for the first time since I began miniature work, I was hesitant. How on earth was I ever going to bring out the wonderfully intricate designs, or the sheer richness of the décor? But the difficulty of the work was itself a challenge, and I set about it, albeit in slightly bigger format. I’d like to think it worked.

Description: 7.5” by 5” approximately

Medium: Steadtler Fineliners, colour.

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