India's historical and old colonial universities/institutions (1800s) - 03


Please refer to my  early posts on the old  historical colonial universities of India  (one and two ) that came up in the 1800s.

Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, Uttarakhand:

Estd 1847

IIT Roorkee, UK

 IIT of Roorkee, UP

Above image: IIT Roorkee,  Uttarakhand  state.1847. Formerly Thompson  college of civil engg. The Thomason College of Engineering was founded in 1845 with a view to training engineers for the construction of the Ganges Canal and other civil works undertaken by the English company. The Canal Engineer's Bungalow lies within the campus of IIT Roorkee..............

Indian Institute of technology (IITR), Roorkee was  formerly the University of Roorkee (1948–2001) and the Thomason College of Civil Engineering (1853–1948). It is a  well-known public university  was first established in 1847 in British India by the then lieutenant governor, Sir James Thomason,  and was given university status in 1949 after independence. It became  Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in 2001, a prestigious institution in India. Most of the graduates from IIT campuses across India go abroad for higher studies and shine very well in their respective fields.

The Thomason College of Engineering was founded in 1845 with a view to training young  engineers for the construction of the major Ganges Canal project. The  historical Canal Engineer’s Bungalow  still lies on the campus.  It was renamed as the Thomason College of Civil Engineering in 1854 in honor of its founder, Sir James Thomason, lieutenant governor 1843–53. The first Indian to graduate from the Roorkee college was Rai Bahadur Kanhaiya Lal in 1852.

The college followed a unique system of admission which might appear discriminatory.  The engineers’ classes were for meant only for Europeans; upper subordinate class for Europeans and Indians and lower subordinate class for Indians only.  The Public Works Departments (PWD) had control over the admission  and the each alumnus was guaranteed a post in the PWD/irrigation departments. Alumni of University of Roorkee  got a name wherever they worked. Many of them were involved in  in all the areas of engineering primarily civil, including maintenance of the Ganges canal, construction of dam and irrigation projects like Bhakra Nangal, the Rajasthan canal, the Aswan dam on the Nile in Egypt, and construction of Chandigarh.


Yet another credit to this college was between 1934 and 1943, officers of the Indian Army Corps of Engineers  had their  training at the Thomason College of Engineering and, even after the establishment of the School of Military Engineering (SME) at Roorkee in 1943, they  had continued to receive the technical training at Thomason. Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India,  presented the Charter in November 1949, elevating the erstwhile college to the first engineering university of independent India. The main campus in Roorkee covers  an area of 365 acres (1,480,000 m2).  IIT Roorkee has a separate campus of 25 acres (100,000 m2) in Saharanpur. UP  Here  courses in Polymer Science, etc are offered.

University of Roorkee (IITR) along with Bengal Engineering College, Shibpur (IIEST)  gave the needed impetus for the development of IIT system in the country.



CMC College, Kottayam, Kerala

Estd: 1815

CMC college, Kottayam, Kerala

The first Western-style college in India, it was  established in 1815 two years before  the erstwhile Hindu College of Bengal(?) making it perhaps  oldest  functional college today.

CMC college, Kottayam, Kerala

Founded by  the Church Missionary Society of England, in 1815, it was patronized by none other than Thomas Manroe, a great and humane British administrator who was the Governor of Madras Presidency and the first one to become a District collector of Bellary after the British had annexed some parts after the fall of Tipu in 1799. No doubt this institution is steeped in history  and became the first one to publish a college Magazine in the native language - Malayalam. The Rev. Benjamin Bailey became the Principal of what was then known as CMC. He was a maverick and a legendary  figure in education and he took the honor of publishing Malayalam to English and English to Malayalam dictionaries which were quite helpful to the students and others. In 1864  the college published  a magazine in Malayalam with encouragement from the then principal Richard  Collins  in whose name a library is functioning there.  By the bye, room no 52, it is believed, is the oldest one in the complex. It was affiliated to Madras university later.

 Yet another credit is there was no institution to teach the English language in the princely state of Travancore. During his stint between 1817 to 1819 at the college, Fr. Bailey made a new approach in this backward state. During his tenure the English language for the first time  in Kerala was introduced.  His carefully  chosen curricula included subjects  that were useful to the daily social life of the people.

 In 1834 a new school (based on the model of (CMC) was started at Trivandrum by Mr. Roberts, an English educationist of  (LMS)  at the invitation of Travancore Maharajah who was much impressed when he visited the Scott College in Nagarcoil (now in Tamil Nadu) earlier. This school became a University college later.  

What started  out as a small institution by the Church Missionary Society of England  in in the early 20th century, has now become one of the leading institutions in Kerala with five star status from National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC)  since 1999.

According to The Indian Express daily newspaper  article dated 22 December 1996: “As a land of letters, Kottayam is definitely indebted to Benjamin Bailey, the English missionary who came to Kerala, in Kottayam in 1816. In all sense Rev. Bailey is the architect of modern Kottayam. Recently, a statue was erected near the municipal park in Kottayam in his memory."



Bethune College is the oldest women's college in India and was established as a girls' school in May 1849, and as a college in 1879. It was founded by John Elliot Drinkwater Bethune (1801-1851), who came to India as the Law Member of the Governor General's Council. He also held the post of President of the Council of Education. Being a man with foresight and vision, he evinced keen interest in women's education in India and in his new endevor he give full support by well-known people like Pandit Madan Mohan Tarkalankar, Ram Gopal Ghosh, Raja Dakshina Ranjan Mukherjee and others 

The school came up on a small land at Mirzapur, Kolkata  donated by  Raja Dakshina Ranjan Mukherjee Beginning with just 20 students 1n 1850 it was shifted to new building. As the school was doing well in the area of education of women in 1879, it became a college. Initially there was poor response from the families as they were unwiiling to send the girls to the college for higher education, Ove a period of 50 year, considerable progress was made and the student enrolment wet up. In 1914 and 15 the student's enrolment went up to more than 70 and a decade later it went up to 150. As years went by the girls joining the institution had begun to move upwardly. 

From the very inception, Bethune College' journey to progress was an uphill task because of the conservative society, besides there were interruption due to frequent freedom protests, civil disobedience and war.  However, over decades with patience and good faculty  members  the management toiled and made a mark in producing notable students and stood almost on par with the presidency college, Kolkata. In 1988 the college got the affiliation from the university of Calcutta.

Many outstanding women, including many Muslim women  graduated from this college  made a mark in their respective fields of studies. Some among the old students were pioneers in the cause of education and liberation of women.