Our Legacy

History and Legacy of Central College

Bengaluru Central University inherits the legacy of the 160 year old of the central college campus. It all started in the year 1858 when the British started a modest school called the ‘Bangalore High School’ with five students after some leading citizens of the city petitioned the British. It formed the nucleus of what would evolve into an important component of one of India’s leading universities before it would become an independent university in post-independent India.

In 1875, perhaps as a sign of its growing influence as an institution of higher education, (it had 43 students at this point!) the ‘High School’ changed its name to ‘Central College’ when it became a First-Grade College, one of the oldest in India. Some of the early names associated with Central College include Charles Walters, H. J. Bhabha, John Cook, R. H. Piggot, M. T. Narayana Iyengar, John Guthrie Tait, F. R. Sell, Dr. E. P. Metcalfe and Prof. C. R. Narayana Rao among other. All these people were responsible for the College to acquire great reputation as a leading institute of higher education in India.

In 1916, the desire of many of the citizens of Mysore was sated when the University of Mysore was established with Maharajah’s College in Mysuru (formerly Mysore) and Central College in Bengaluru forming the two main colleges under its aegis. Right from its early days, Central College was essentially a science campus. Around the time when the college became part of the University of Mysore, it acquired its imposing look with two big laboratories on either side of the main central block with its tall clock tower.

Central College soon became the most important institution for college education in Bengaluru as well as in Mysore State. Apart from the B. A. and B. A. (Hons.) degrees, the college also offered a well-regarded B.Sc. Degree. A variety of literary societies were also formed around this time.English and Kannada departments were established early on at the Central College. Mathematics began to be taught in an organized manner from 1870 onwards. The Physics department was founded in 1882. Chemistry, which was being taught as a minor discipline got its own department in 1913. Zoology and Botany were organized into two separate departments in 1908 and 1919 respectively. Recognizing the need for mining engineers considering that Kolar Gold Fields was not far away, Geology was taught from 1898 at the College. Subsequently, Sanskrit, Urdu, Persian, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi also had their own departments. After independence French and German also began to be taught regularly at the College.

In 1964, Bangalore University was founded and Central College became the city campus of the University. During this time, T.P. Issar, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer who rose to become the chief secretary of Karnataka was the Registrar of the University. Eventually, the university offices moved to the Jnana Bharathi campus of Bangalore University.

It is also pertinent to mention that the identity of Central College is linked closely with that of the city of Bengaluru and city residents intimately identify with the majestic college as something that belongs to them. Even a cursory look at its list of alumni from the nineteenth century makes it evident that the alumni of Central College have had a deep and pervasive impact on the growth and development of Bengaluru well into the twenty first century as it transitioned from a sleepy town favored by pensioners to the bustling metropolis that is the Information Technology capital of the world today. The 43-acre verdant campus in Central Bengaluru is also an important green space in the city with valuable architectural heritage.

Today at the 160th Anniversary of the Central College it is taking birth again as Bengaluru Central University. This is a daunting responsibility to live up to the standards set by the legacy. We sincerely hope that we succeed in our mission.

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