The Asiatic Society in Kolkata

A great place to learn more about the Asian continent.

A great place to learn more about the Asian continent. | Photo credit: Wikimedia commons/Biswarup Ganguly

The Asiatic Society Overview

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The Asiatic Society of Kolkata is an esteemed scholarly community that deals with various facets of Asia – the largest continent in the world. It is a premier organisation that conducts extensive studies related to the continent. These studies cover varied aspects like history, heritage, topography, commerce and civic administration. Its establishment took place on 15th January 1784, which marked the beginning of a new wave in oriental studies. The founder of this society was Sir William Jones – a revered philologist and scholar of Anglo-Welsh descent.

During the early years of establishment, the organisation functioned without a building. After the government granted it land in 1805, its official building was built by 1808. The present 4-storey headquarters of this society was constructed at the same site in 1961 and inaugurated on 22nd February 1965 by former Indian President Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.

Initially, The Asiatic Society only had European citizens as its members. It was in 1829 that Indians were allowed to be a part of the society. In 1885, Rajendra Lal Mitra became the first Indian President of this organisation. Researches, translations, seminars and publications by this society have been praised worldwide for their authenticity and in-depth analysis of Asia. From scientific and mathematical researches to historical and archaeological findings, the institution is involved in the task of conducting such studies.

Visitors coming to the organisation can head to its library, which is a storehouse of information. Manuscripts, paper drawings and books in various Asian and other languages of the world are well preserved here. It boasts of an exceptional literary collection of 47000 manuscripts, 80000 journals and 149000 volumes of books.

Another prized possession of this society is its museum, which was set up in 1814 within its premises. It has a fine assortment of ancient paintings, manuscripts, sculptures, inscriptions, coins and other precious artefacts. Ashokan rock edicts from 250 BC are highlights of this museum, which also has exquisite bronze sculptures from different parts of the Asiatic continent.

  • For Kids

    This scholarly society acquaints children with several interesting facts about the continent that add to their knowledge.

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Location

1, Park Street, Taltala, Kolkata, 700016, West Bengal