Historical 'Crawford Hall' - the administrative hub of University of Mysore

Crawford Hall. Univ. of Mysore, Itslife.in

Nalwadi KrishnarajaWadiyar IV  Mysuru Today 

 Among the Indian cities, Mysore has a pride of place because it has so many impressive colonial monuments of beauty and grandeur that  represent the legacy of both the rulers of Mysore as well as the British who ruled Mysore briefly.  Unlike  many Indian states where colonial buildings are not looked after properly with care it is good to see   the Karnataka government is keeping  most of the old monuments in good shape by maintaining them periodically despite some lapses here and there. One of the most iconic buildings in the heritage city of Mysore is the Crawford Hall  .

Col. W.L. Crawford starofmysore. com

Standing amidst a  sprawling ground in a prime area of Mysore city is the  famous Crawford Hall  that has been serving as the  Mysore University Vice Chancellor’s office as well as administrative office for a long time.  Founded by Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV in 1916,  the Maharajah of Mysore, who never failed to give due importance to modern education without compromising on traditional system.  It was a tough colonial Era under the British when the freedom struggle had gathered serious momentum in the wake of the massacre in 1913 at Jalianwala Bagh, Punjab.  It was built in the year 1947 at a cost of Rs.12 lakh and its architect was Mr. Otto H. K√∂nigsberger of  Government of Mysore.

Crawford Hall. Univ. of Mysore, Mysore
This historical building has imposing Corinthian columns, intricate mouldings reminiscent of a fine European structure.  Atop the building a large picture of Goddess Saraswati
(the goddess of learning), in plaster relief is  set implying the building is a seat of learning where knowledge is imparted to students to face the challenging life with confidence . It is flanked at two levels by balustrades and pierced parapets in addition to twin Tuscan columns and Roman arches. The building’s majesty is further improved by the vast open ground in front and wide approach roads.   An interesting feature is  Lt. Col. W. L. Crawford and his brother C. S. Crawford of England who studied at Mysore donated  Rs.1 lakh to the University of Mysore for the construction. The building has a total floor area of nearly 10,000 Square metres. The structure is in the form of an I, with the central hall, called Crawford Hall as preferred by the donors.  It is used for  Convocations and other important functions. Octagonal in shape, the hall can seat 1000 persons and an additional 600 in the balcony.

Earlier, as the colleges were affiliated to Madras University, Madras (Chennai), there arose some administrative difficulties. So,  Maharajah 

Maharajah Nalwadi  Krishnaraja Wadiyar Star of Mysore

Nalwadi  and Dewan Sir M. Visvesvaraya wanted to start a separate university in Mysore and the idea, for various reasons, did not materialize.  Undaunted, the Maharajah  appointed educationists C.R. Reddy and Thomas Denhem  to make a proposal after making in-depth study of various universities.  Based on their recommendation, the university was started and due emphasis was given to research and promotion of knowledge among people. V. Najundaiah, who played a vital role in the formation of the university became the first vice-chancellor of Univ. of Mysore.

When it comes to introducing new changes in tune with modern times, this institution never lags behind. The University of Mysore went 'Solar' in 2012  and it meant it was  saving large utility bills which otherwise could be used for any other academic purposes.  This plan was to be extended to other buildings. The university is particular about running labs on solar energy. Besides, the university is conserving rainwater for meeting its energy and water needs to some extent.  They are harvesting rain collected on the roof top of the buildings and it is made possible by a grant from the  the University Grants Commission (UGC).  However, only in the recent past it bagged the UPE “Universities with Potential for Excellence" status  in recognition of its academic excellence.  The Union Government in 2008  named it an “Institution of Excellence”, taking into consideration the university's heritage, contributions and  long standing in higher education. It also sanctioned a Rs 100-crore special grant for research and development. 

The university has a few distinctions to its credit  that make it unique.  It is the only institution in the country to be started under the royal patronage of the far sighted rulers of the Wadiyar Dynasty.  It is also the sixth university in the country and the second university in South Asia, and the first university in Karnataka state. Yet another unique feature is the university buildings, including departments  on campus are being guarded by Home Guards and the services were  introduced after 2011. Earlier, it was done by private guards. 
Its Golden Jubilee celebrations  - completion of 100  glorifying years were celebrated in Nov. 2014. Indeed, the Maharajah was a visionary as the institution started earnestly by him, is continuously making a valid contribution toward education in this part of Karnataka.