We, the produts of Maharajs of Maharaja's College, call our alma mater just Maharaja's, no suffix like college or Cochin nor Ernakulam ! Because, it is not just a college but it is a sentiment. Old students of this grand old college possess some sort of nostalgic bonhomie. Situated on the shore of Kochi backwaters, housed in 40,000 sq. meters building, Maharaja's is a classic mix of old and new styles of architectures. Tall trees.. Corridors still reminisces the aroma of romantic encounters of yesteryears. There are fruition and failures ofromances.And, resonance of strikes and slogans.
It was in 1845 that the King of Kochi launched a government school called Kochi Raja's Elementary School. The idea was to create people who can speak English sans any interpreters. The school was upgraded to 1875. A.F. Sealey was the first principal. Later on several principals were Europeans.Maharaja's College got this name in 1925 and it was the golden jubilee year. For several decades college was affiliated to Madras University. The golden jubilee celebration programme was addressed by Sir C.V. Raman and Dr S. Radhakrishnan. The first PG course was commenced in 1947 – Chemistry. In 1925, there were 500 students and 21 teachers in the college. But, in 2008, college had 2802 students and 195 teaching staff. The library is 125 years old. More than hundred thousand books are there and more than 2000 reference books. Three storeyedlibrary building is under consideration. Most of the students belong tomiddle class families. They can avail hostels at reasonable rates. Maharaja's College Grounds have beenacknowledging the heart beats of the sports personalities and the fans since the last several decades. Maharaja's is affiliated to MG University affiliation. I have never seen any other college which facilitates the study of the vast number of subjects asMaharaja's does. Degree course for 16 subjects, PG for 19 ! The zoology museum in the college is beyond comparison. It does even have a 250 years old human skeleton.
The other day when I stepped into the college after couple of decades, I could not believe myself; those were the positive changes I could eye there.
I am extremely happy to see that 20 blind students learn computer science in the college. Prof. MS Vishwabharan, the principal of the college, enjoys some sort of euphoria for the success in his endeavour to channelise the energy and inherent talents of the students in the right direction. Other professors and teachers share the same mood. Lot of activities, which other colleges do not witness,are going on here in exemplary manner. The most significant among them was the land paddy cultivation which they harvested the other day. No pesticides were used. Cow dung was the only manure. The project was implemented with the whole hearted co-operation of the teachers, students and non-teaching staff. The whole campus remains thrilled with the sweet satisfaction due to this success story.
A music department has been working here since the last 13 years. Dr (Prof) Jayalakshmi retired last yearafter several years service in the college. A grand daughter of late Muthaih Bhagavathar implemented lot of reforms in the department during her stint. Since she hailed from a family of musicians,it was but natural for her to do every thing possible for the sake of music. Dr. Bhuvaneshwari, an alumnus of Maharaja's,took over from Jayalakshmi. Now. She leads an array of classes in the college. On top of the regular curriculum, even outsiders can avail classes on vocal and instrument musicsin the campus after 3.30 PM. Chenda (local drums) is taught too. One of such students stood 2nd in the flute competition held in connection with the recently concluded Mahatma Gandhi University youth festival. Bhuvaneshwari told TSI that there is a proposal to extend this system to nearby colleges as well.
Another model programme conducted in the college was “A Day in Maharaja's” arranged for the inmates of Valsallya Bhavan, an orphanage in the city. Departments and staff members were competing to buy and present gifts to those unfortunate children of the Almighty.The children took part in the music classes and they sang in a happy mood. Maharaja's hosts different extra curricular activities, viz., NCC, debate class, quiz club, red ribbon club (Anti-AIDS campaign), Justice club, etc.
When the undersigned spoke to the available HODs, their reply was unanimous – The sincere and wisemoves of the principal.But, his response is simple : “Collective decisions, collective implementation and a joint action taking students in to confidence”. He believes that the students of Maharaja's are, in general, disciplined and talented.
I have been told by my elder ones in the family that when Prof. PS Velayudhan was the principal, some people called it an era of discipline and some others golden saga. But, I felt that the style of Prof. Vishwambharan, the teacher who could embrace the spirit of liberalism, is a mile stone in the history ofMaharaja's. It appeared to me that Maharaja's is taking a new path from the earlier history of slipping into riots from strikes. Strikes might be inevitable in a college where active student politics is evident. No one can say that it is wrong either. One Ana strike, fees standardization strike, self finance professional college strike, protest against the assassination of Chilean ruler Salvador Allende, Anti-Emergency struggle, etc. were parts and parcel of the Maharaja's history.But, the hoisting of national flag on the top of the college building on the 15th August, 1947 is of utmost significance.
The royal administration expelled the involved students from the college. Former CPM leader V. Vishwanatha Menon still reminisces itas a revolutionary period.Several prominent personalities of political-social-cultural-arts fields of Kerala are Maharaja's products.AK Antony, Vayalar Ravi,Swami Chinmayananda, Mercy Ravi, PT Thomasm, MP, Mohammed Ali, ex MLA, Kerala’s Left Democratic Front Convenor Vaikkom Vishwam, RSS’s former all india chiefintellectual cell R. Hari, veteran journalist TVR Shenoy,fiancé minister Dr TM Thomas Isaac, forest minister Benoy Vishwam, Simon Britto, MLA, Human Rights Commission Chairman Jce. KG Balakrishnan,former VC Dr KS Radhakrishnan, mega star Mammootty, super stars Dileep, Salimkumar,playback singer Biju Narayanan,cine director Amal Neerad, poet couple Balachandra Chullikkatad and Vijayalakshmi, cinematographer Rajeev Ravi (Ramu), lyricist Shibu Chakrovorthy, are a few of them. Great poet G. Snakara Kurup,former pro vice chancellor and well known environmentalist Prof. MK Prasad, famous critics Prof. M Krishna Nair, Prof. S. Gupthan Nair and Prof. MK Sanooo, veteran in Indian philosophy Prof. Thuravoor Vishwambharan, reputed poet Prof. KG Sankara Pillai,Prof. Bharathan, etc, are some of the famous professors.NS Madhavan , retd. IAS, famous writer and former social activist K Venu, former Central Sahitya Acadeny secretary Sachidanandan, Ravi Kutikkat, KK Kochu, etc are some of the old students of the college.
Maharaja’s Collegeis a rendezvous of old but golden heredity and silver lines of novelty hence it remains a sentiment for the alumni spread all over the globe.The old students enjoy a universal acceptability wherever they go. My alma mater has got the presence of almost all sorts of student movements and budding genii of cultural-academic-arts areas. So, I am sure that the products of this more than one and half century old palace of knowledge will lead the country and the countrymen in the future too.