In this post I would like to mention some of the major buildings, institutions, built in and around Benares under the East India Company and the British rule, which are still in existence and which are a major part of the daily life of the people of Banaras from the time of its construction till the present.
BRITISH RULE AND BANARAS
Declaring the rule of the Nawabs and the Rajas administratively unsuccessful, the Company took Banaras under its control in 1781.
The magistrates posted on behalf of the company started taking care of the governance of Banaras. On behalf of the company, in 1788, a young man, Jonathan Duncan, was appointed as the Resident and Superintendent of Benares. The management of the mint house was also taken away from the hands of the Raja of Banaras. From 1794 onwards, the British civil and criminal courts also started functioning.
BITTER MEMORIES OF BANARAS (VARANASI)
Learning a lesson from the “Benaras – Rebellion”, Duncan refrained from any interference in the religious rules and regulations of the Hindus. In 1781, the people of Banaras revolted against Warren Hasting who insulted Raja Balvant Singh of Banaras. This rebellion was more commonly known among the British people as “Benaras slaughter” because a large number of British soldiers were killed in this rebellion. If you don’t have any idea about the “Benares rebellion” consider reading this post of mine — https://nithinks.com/2020/08/14/benares-rebellion-15august-1781/
GOVT. SANSKRIT COLLEGE BENARES
By the end of the eighteenth century, the British thought of opening a Sanskrit college in Banaras.
- Kashi Nath, the first Acharya of Sanskrit College, wrote a letter to the East India Company officials regarding Sanskrit College .
- In 1791,Duncan also wrote a letter to the officers of the Company regarding the establishment of Sanskrit College at Benaras.
- Duncan moved from Banaras to Bombay in 1795 but remained associated with the Sanskrit school for life.
- Sanskrit College initially had eight teachers and about 200 students.
- In the early days of Sanskrit College, only the rituals, traditions and religious beliefs related to Hindu religion were taught in the curriculum, due to this almost all the teachers and students of the college were Brahmins.
Expansion of Sanskrit College
In 1846 Dr. J.R.Valentine was appointed as the principal of the Sanskrit College. In 1852 the new building of Sanskrit College was completed and Sanskrit College was given a new name — Queen’s College.
The new building was designed by Major Kittu. Built in Gothic style, this building is made of the Chunar sandstone.
Renowned scholar Bapu Dev Shastri teaching Indian astrology to his students at Queen’s College. (1870)
SAMPURNANAND SANSKRIT UNIVERSITY
With the special efforts of the “then” Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Dr. Sampurnanand, this college got the status of a university and this college’s name was changed from “Queens College” to, “Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya Varanasi“. In 1974, the name of this university was changed for one last time to Sampurnanand Sanskrit university .
Unlike before various subjects related to Hindu religion, culture and civilization are taught here. At present there is also a museum and Saraswati Bhavan Library in the premises of the university.
Sampurnanand University Archaeological Museum :- Most of the items in this museum were found in the excavation of Sarnath by Major Kittu. (Sarnath is a holy place for Buddhists). Sarnath is located at a distance of about ten kilometers from the main city of Varanasi. Gautam Buddha gave his first sermon here which is known as the turning of the Dhamma Chakra)
Saraswati Bhavan Library :- Thousands of manuscripts, and rare ancient texts are stored in the Saraswati Bhavan Library.
Note: – At present there is an intermediate college near Sampurnanand University which is also called Queen’s College, please do not get confused between these two.
Tomb of Lord Cornwallis
The tomb of Lord Cornwallis is located in Ghazipur city, about 84 km from Banaras.
Cornwallis served during the American Revolution as a Major General. Governor General Lord Cornwallis, who is widely known for his administrative reforms was also called the father of civil services in India. Lord Cornwallis died on 5th October 1805 in Ghazipur. He probably died of smallpox. British stones have been used in the construction of his tomb. At present, the tomb of Lord Cornwallis is located in Gorabazar, Ghazipur. GORABAZAR (Colony of white people). The British bungalows, kothis in Ghazipur city were located at this place, due to which the local people used to call this place by the name of Gorabazar.
Painting of the Cornwallis tomb under construction by Sita Ram, who was working as a painter in the East India Company.
This painting was made in 1814-15 by Sita Ram during his journey from Patna to Banaras.
CHUNAR FORT OR CHUNAR GADH OR CHUNAR GUR
The Chunar Fort is one of the oldest and most important forts in India. Evidence exists that the fort of Chunar was once under the control of Vikramaditya, the majestic king of Ujjain in 56AD. This fort has also been under the control of Prithvi Raj Chauhan. Sher Shah Suri made this fort his residence in 1538, during which a pavilion was also constructed by him here. The Mughals have also had authority over this fort for a long time.
After the Battle of Buxar in 1764, this fort came under the control of the British. Warren Hastings also took refuge in this fort during the rebellion in Banaras. After coming under the control of the East India Company, some British style bungalows were also built in this fort.(I think all these facts are probably enough to prove why this fort is considered important.)