Iconic Patna College, Patna, Bihar founded during the Raj needs urgent restoration

dm block. Patna college, Patna upload.wikimedia.org

 Patna College, Patna, Bihar  established on 9 February 1863  during the British Raj,   is now 159 years old and is the oldest institution in that state. It was started with a view to imparting   collegiate education to the prospective students of this region  aspiring for higher studies.   The college owes its origin  to the establishment of Patna High School in 1835 which later gave birth to Patna Branch School in 1854. Ultimately,  the Collegiate School in 1862 became  the college in 1863.  In  1963 the centenary ceremony  was held.  

Historic  Patna college, Patna, Bihar.economictimes.indiatimes.com

west corridor gate. Patna college, Patna, upload.wikimedia.org

Initially the college under  principal   Mc Crindle. had just 5 students only. K Rogers was its first principal-in-charge whereas  its first full-fledged principal was J W McCrindle who   was known for his  English translation of  'Megasthenes's 'Indica'.

Location map, Patna city.oneindia.com

The students enrollment began to grow gradually as years went by and by  1900 it rose to 400 plus. Additional building came up over a period of time  like the western wing  and the Eastern wing   built in 1871 and 1880 respectively.  It was in 1882  the portico and the present  BA  Lecture  Theatre were  built  with access to the main building in the form of  a long corridor.   Between 1913 -14   new lab buildings came up followed by Gymnasium between 1926 and 1927.

Adm block, GF  stairway, Patna college. upload.wikimedia.org

Patna University  was established in October 1917,  soon after the creation of  Provinces of Bihar and Orissa. As the response among the parents were good PG courses in various fields were started in 1919 at Patna college In  1927 the Science College was established as a separate institutions for higher scientific teaching.

Almost every major institution  of Patna - Patna Law College, Engineering College ( presently National Institute of Technology, Patna), Patna Science College and Vanijya Mahavidyalaya,  owes it origin to the parent college.  They got separated and became independent autonomous institution over a period of time. 

Patna college building, Patna. collegedekho.com

The administrative block of the college is  a pretty old  but a historical structure which was once  used as a warehouse  to store  opium  to be exported abroad, in particular to China. The factory was run by the Dutch  India  company  in the 17th century. The colonial powers in particular, the English company forced the farmers in this state to grow poppy plants from which opium was produced on  large scale.

This once iconic educational  institution of excellence and a symbol of cultural  confluence is losing its glory in the past one decade on account of poor upkeep and maintenance. According  to Shankar  Dutt,  professor of English at Partna University,  the halcyon days are over.

west corridor language wing. 

Patna college, Patna. youtube.com/

He said, "What made Patna College great was the academic stalwarts that taught in the campus. And, the knowledge and wisdom they instilled and values they inculcated in us became invariably the value of the city, which is missing today both from teachers as well as the students side."

The standard of education, it is said,  is not on par with that of the past era. Media reports point out that its impressive  hostels and celebrated corridors (western and eastern)  built more than a century ago have now become a "picture of decay." Countless teachers and students blame it on official apathy.  At loss is its  prestige, once it was called ''the East of Oxford.''

Both  simultaneous  architectural  conservation and  complete educational overhauling  will be the right answer to set things right and get back the lost glory.  The murals on the eastern corridor are fading and they need to be conserved,. so are the prized ionic Greek-styled murals and motifs inside its East Wing hall of the historical administration bloc. That once a fine  and renowned colonial institution  is losing its  standard of education and  impressive buildings  due to sheer negligence had left lots of old students annoyed over the poor state of affairs prevailing on campus. It is further complicated by campus politics and students affiliation to the political parties in the state. Protests by students on the slightest pretext cause chaos and mayhem and the iconic structures stand as mute specters to this decline in  character, integrity  and social  responsibility of the students. 

 A lot has been written and discussed  on the past glory of this college. Now the scenario is upside down and conservation of iconic  buildings and the quality of education need to be addressed soon, before things go out beyond control.