History of Burdwan University
The University of Burdwan had been founded by Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy, visionary Chief Minister of West Bengal, as a part of his master plan to expand the scope of higher education beyond the metropolis. Initiating its journey on the 15th June 1960 (West Bengal Act XXIX of 1959) with six postgraduate departments and thirty undergraduate colleges in the districts of Purulia, Birbhum, Bankura, Burdwan and Hooghly except the Srirampur subdivision, the University of Burdwan has emerged as one of the premier institutions of higher education in India.
The University of Burdwan is privileged to inherit a large part of the royal estate of the erstwhile Burdwan Raj. Most important of this is the Mahātāb Manjil, once the royal palace of the Mahārāja of Burdwan turned administrative centre of the university. The palace is named after Rājā Mahātāb Chand (1832-79), who had turned Bardhaman from a small feudal outpost of south Bengal or Rāḍhadeśa to a rural town. The railways introduced the anglicised term Burdwan for Bardhaman of popular parlance, as also led to the shift of the royal hub from their old habitat, Kānchannagar on the bank of the river Bānkā, to the site now called Rājbāti around which the sleepy town of Burdwan slowly unfurled itself in the post railway decades.
A marble plaque at the east gate refers to the construction of the Mahātāb Manjil between 1849 and 1851 by British firm Macintosh & Co. representing a mix of styles of the East and the West. The part of the palace surviving the ravages of time has an approximate area of 80,000 square feet and 35 large halls with Italian marble tiled floor, sleek stairs pecked with wooden and iron engravings, and Gothic pillars. A unique edifice of the early nineteenth century Indo-European construction, Mahātāb Manjil has been declared a heritage building by the Government of West Bengal on the 29th April 2013.
The university’s academic cluster is located in Golāpbāg, royal rose garden of pristine beauty. Planned and executed by a British botanist in the mid nineteenth century, the pleasure park of the olden days is surrounded by a canal with a beautiful island (Dār-ul-Bāhār) at the centre of it. With nearly 1200 trees, 154 rare centuries’ old mahogany trees included, the historic Golāpbāg has been recently declared by the Botanical Survey of India as the Bio-diversity Heritage site.
Similar other royal sites like Tārābag, Udaykānan and Abhoykānan have been turned into various residential hubs for teachers, officers, employees, girls’ hostels and the Guest House of the university. Perhaps, few universities in India could boast of having so much of water bodies in the campus, particularly the 56.3 acre eco garden with a massive lake at the centre called Krishnashāyar or the Black Lake. Virtually the heart of the congested town of Burdwan, the Krishnashāyar Garden stands unparallel in the whole of south Bengal.
In recent years, the University of Burdwan lost the districts of Purulia, Bankura and Asansol subdivision of Burdwan to the three new universities coming up in its old affiliating jurisdiction. With this, the university has entered into a new phase of post-graduate and research intensive growth.