Patna College: 'Oxford of the East' in need of restoration

Jan 08 2014, 14:08 IST
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SummaryHailed once as the 'Oxford of the East', Patna College will tomorrow complete 151 years of its existence.

have become a picture of neglect. The wrought-iron banisters and parapets now being eaten away with time in a poignant decay.

In an essay 'The College by a River: Patna College', literary scholar, author and cricketer Sujit Mukherjee, who visited his alma mater a few years before his death in 2003, lamented the lost legacy of an institution that once "rivalled the likes of Oxford and Cambridge".

"Perhaps, late on some not too far August or September night, when the water is high, the college will simply jump into the river. The Ganga will neither pause nor look back, it has seen too much already," Mukherjee said in the essay.

Built from the nucleus of a Dutch opium godown, the college's main administration block is unique for its twin-order architecture, incorporating a wondrous mix of Doric, Ionic and Corinthian columns.

While a new paint job being undertaken can be seen in the campus, the "shine belies the heritage behind the facade".

"These are historic buildings and need painstaking restoration, brick by brick. Not some short-cut refurbishment with a whitewash on top," Anchit Pandey, a Patna-based alumnus said.

Dutt recalling the halcyon days 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."

"Campus politics carrying forward the great deal of indiscipline the Emergency period had wrought, has destroyed this campus, but which still can rise with right leadership," he said.

The college has produced barristers like Sachchidanand Sinha, national poet Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, politicians like Krishna Sinha, Anugrah Narayan Sinha, and famed socialist leader Jayaprakash Narayan, and countless doctors, engineers, artists, administrators, architects among others in between.

Its esteemed faculty included history giants like R S Sharma, K K Datta, S H Askari, Sir Jadunath Sarkar among others. European teachers V H Jackson, J L Hill, and principal J S Armour, among others are still remembered.

The origin of Patna College can be traced to the establishment of Patna High School in 1835 which later gave birth to Patna Branch School in 1854 and eventually the Collegiate School in 1862 out of which the college was born in 1863.

J K Rogers was its first principal-in-charge while its first full-fledged principal was

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