Sri Tikkana Vidyanilayam is an age old library tucked away in narrow lanes of Old Guntur dotted by historic temples.
It remains the only structure preserving the legacy of the legendary classical Telugu poet, Mahakavi Tikkana Somayaji, who is one of the three poets (Kavitrayam) who translated the epic “Mahabharatha” into Telugu.
Built in the year 1913, the library has about 7,000 ancient Telugu classics, most of them original manuscripts of Telugu classics, treatises and rare biographies of several poets besides critical essays on Telugu classics. Several books on pre-independence history were also stacked in library.
Ancient lore is that Tikkana hails from Old Guntur had lived there for some time before migrating to Nellore with the help of his uncles and he held important portfolios in the cabinet of King Manumasiddhi of Nellore.
The great poet made a mention of his roots in the Virata Parvam of the classical epic, ’Sri Madandhra Sri Mahabharatham’.
Inspired by this ancient lore, Dechiraju Sambasiva Rao constructed a building and a court yard in 1913 and named it after Tikkana. Donations poured in as the members soon compiled books and developed it into a full-fledged library. The place used to be frequented by students and scholars of Telugu literature.
The open courtyard in front of the library was used for conducting classical dance classes and used to serve as a meeting hall.Struggling
The library is however losing its pre-eminence due to dwindling support, and changing times have reduced to a pale shadow of its glory.
“We hardly have any readers and the number of those frequenting the library is dwindling due to impact of television and internet. But we are determined to run the library by pooling in donations,” says secretary of Tikkana Literary Association Machiraju Seethapathi Rao.
Even as the association has been struggling to meet the maintenance expenses of the building, help came in from unexpected quarters.
Member of Legislative Council, K.S Lakshmana Rao promised to give Rs.5 lakh from his MLC grants to the association in return for the magnanimous gesture of the association to give back the property it had won after a protracted legal battle to the Government run school.
Mr. Rao said that they would use the interest from fixed deposits to run the library.
The committee recently constructed a wedding hall and has decided to give it free of cost to those who cannot afford expensive function halls.