This article is part of The Chhattisgarh Story series (coming soon to YourStory)
Sitting in lush greenery, with the smell of fresh grass in the air, reading a book on sustainable rural development, or working on your thesis in silence. Reading an academician’s autobiography under a star-studded night. Engaging in an intense discussion on healthcare with students from other colleges.
These are the kind of rich and varied experiences that Nalanda Parisar, the newly-inaugurated Oxy Reading Zone in Raipur allows the student community to enjoy.
India’s largest Oxy Reading Zone has been set up at a time when Chhattisgarh’s capital Raipur is being increasingly recognized as an educational hub in Central India. From building home-grown startups, to making a mark at national level competitive exams, students from the state are going from strength to strength. Nalanda Parisar wants to further encourage youth from the region to taste such success.
Going beyond bookish knowledge
In developed countries, public libraries have served as a key engagement platform for the student community. It is where students head to work on their course materials, engage in in-depth study, or simply learn. Libraries don’t just mean a building full of books or learning materials, but are common ground for students to connect and collaborate in their educational pursuits.
But, not so much in India. First, public libraries are not as common here as they are abroad. Second, many do not have good infrastructure to help students in their scholastic needs. And, because they operate only during working hours and are closed on public holidays and weekends, accessibility becomes a key issue.
However, Nalanda Parisar is set to a set new benchmark. Designed on the lines of a community space for students, the Oxy Reading Zone is not just meant to be a place where they come to borrow books or read reference materials. It offers them a more immersive experience. Its key objective is to provide a conducive environment for students to prepare for competitive examinations and support them in other educational pursuits.
Not anything like your typical library
Built at cost of Rs 18 crore from the District Mineral Fund, Nalanda Parisar is spread over six acres of land and located in the midst of noted educational institutions such as the National Institute of Technology (NIT), All India Institute of Medical Sciences, (AIIMS), Shri Narayan Prasad Awasthi Govt. Ayurved College, and Government Nagarjuna Post Graduate (Autonomous) College Of Science, among others. The strategic location is to ensure that the large student community from Raipur and its vicinity get to enjoy the hi-tech facilities.
Open 24x7, the reading zone can accommodate over 1,000 students. The library houses books worth Rs 2 crore and learning materials across a spectrum of subjects – from medicine, engineering, IT, law, commerce to journalism, history and arts.
Aesthetically, it doesn’t bear any resemblance to the typical matchbox structure with a glass façade which is the common look for public offices or libraries. With a landscaped garden and a three-storied circular-structured building, it is refreshingly different in appearance. The landscaped garden doubles up as outdoor reading zone and has been designed to enable students to study outdoors, both in daylight as well as in the night under the solar-powered lamps. Additionally, the walls will be fixed with heat resistant glass, while the roof will have thermal insulation, to ensure that the facility interiors are comfortable for the readers.
Second, the Oxy Reading Zone has seeks to accommodate all needs of students – from free wi-fi connectivity, indoor and outdoor reading zones, library, e-library, a reprography section, to a discussion section and multi-media room. The facility will also house a book store, stationary store, and a computer centre, in addition to a medical store, sports and electronics shop, ATMs, and a cafeteria.
Nalanda Parisar, India’s first-ever Oxy Reading Zone is meant to provide students with a flourishing platform to study, collaborate, and grow, and will be the first of many that will be set up in the state of Chhattisgarh.