Construction of Asia's biggest Book Mall begins in Kolkata | india | Hindustan Times
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Construction of Asia's biggest Book Mall begins in Kolkata

The Book Mall will also have attached to it a six-floor Multi-Level Car Parking facility that would accommodate 600 cars at a time, reports Arindam Sarkar .

india Updated: Feb 01, 2007 19:27 IST

The complications and litigations over rehabilitation and compensation package settled, the decks are finally cleared for the construction of Asia's biggest Book Mall - Varna Parichay - from Polia Boisakh at the site where once stood the College Street Market.

A dream of book-loving Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the world-class Book Mall with a state-of-the-art design, ambience and facilities for the bookworms would be completed by the Bengal Shelter Housing Development Limited in the next 24 months.

Inspired by the sprawling 5-lakh sq ft Sitan Book Mall at Peking in China, the mammoth Kolkata Book Mall would be spread over 15-lakh sq ft in its seven-floor structure minus the basement. The Book Mall will also have attached to it a six-floor Multi-Level Car Parking facility that would accommodate 600 cars at a time.

Designed by the world famous architect Hafeez Contractor, the Book Mall is a unique blend of Indo-Saracenic and Colonial architecture with that of the modern times. Special attention has been given to keep the heritage of the area in focus while designing the structure.

"We have not seen anything like this before in Mall architecture, in terms of design both inside and outside. Once completed, this will be one of the best booklovers destinations in the world. So far, the world doesn't have any Book Mall so huge in proportions," said Managing Director Bengal Shelter Housing Development Limited Samar Nag.

While the ground and the first floor of the building would be set aside for the rehabilitation of the College Street Market shopkeepers, the 2nd to 7th floor of the Book Mall would house publishers and publication division, book mart, book binders' corner, food court, multiplex, coffee house and an open-air (Mukta Angan) cultural arena, where literary events like book reading and book releases would be held throughout the year.

The Book Mall will have 40 life-size sculptures of the world-renowned litterateurs made by their respective countries. "For instance, we plan to get Socrates from Athens, Shakespeare from London, Maupassant from Paris, Nazrul Islam from Bangladesh, etc. What's more, in the open-air complex, we will also have a Monmart (as in Paris) where the painters can sit and draw and also exhibit their paintings to the visitors," said Samar Nag.

A special section is being created to accommodate the Indian and foreign publishers under one roof in this Book Mall. Sources said, publishers from Delhi and Mumbai have already booked spaces. And international publishing houses like Mark Taylor, Crosswords, Landmark, Penguin, etc., have also booked spaces inside the mall.

"There will be special corners for children and little magazine publishers and sellers. And an interesting concept is the Monmart Gallery that will be created along the staircase to give the booklovers the idea about the new releases that are available in the Book Mall and in which stall.

This will be in addition to the computer scrolling that would be available for the visitors. And last but not the least is the monthly bulletin of the Book Mall with the itinerary of all the events and releases," said Samar Nag.

According to estimates, Rs 158 crore would be spent to put up the Varna Parichay at College Street. To be fully operational within 30 months, Bengal Shelter MD Samar Nag would lead the management to operate this Book Mall.

"I will be conductor and get others to orchestrate this den of book lovers. And in selecting the team we will focus on people madly in love with books. Because unless passionate, it would impossible to run this mad book factory," said Samar Nag.

Email Arindam Sarkar: asarkar@hindustantimes.com