Saturday, October 11, 2008

IISc at Roorkee?

Well, Roorkee -- Rurki at the turn of the previous century -- was the other option that was seriously considered by a committee, before Bangalore clinched IISc with some strong help from the Mysore royal family which offered land and grants.

In a follow-up on his Outlook story last week, Sugata Srinivasaraju reports on an interesting phase in IISc's prehistory.

As the IISc completes its 100 years, we have naturalised its place in the geography of Bangalore. We assume that it was meant to be born in Bangalore and it was planned for Bangalore. IISc as part of Bangalore is perfectly integrated in our memory and mindscape. But the papers in the institute's archives put out a different story. Way back then, Bangalore had to actually compete with Roorkee or 'Rurki' to get the institute. Roorkee by then already had the first engineering college in the sub-continent -- the Thomason College of Civil Engineering. It was in fact the first temple of technical education in all of Asia [...]

India's first rail locomotive ran between Roorkee and Kaliyar at the time and the first irrigation works in north India had begun in the city.

Compared to this, Bangalore at that time was quite literally a city of 'boiled beans' (Bendakaluru). All its reputation came from either its proximity to Madras (now Chennai) or Mysore, the capital of the visionary Wodeyar kings.