Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam, has a legacy of its own. It is one of the best and biggest centers of learning in arts and science in Kerala. From Defence Minister AK Antony, superstar Bharath Mammootty, former chief justice KG Balakrishnan, renowned journalist TVR Shenoy, litterateur MK Sanu to late Malayalam poet Changampuzha Krishnapillai, Swami Chinmayananda, the college has a rich alumni base. Located in the heart of Cochin and spread over a campus of 10 acres on the banks of Vembanad lake, the college had a humble beginning. It started as an Elementary English School in 1875 by the then Maharaja of Kochi.
The college now boasts of 11 research departments, 16 postgraduate departments and 19 undergraduate departments, and is affiliated to Mahatma Gandhi University. The imposingly long, spacious, meandering base building, constructed in tune with the traditional architectural style is reported to have been modelled on the heritage structures of the University of Cambridge and government has identified the building as ‘heritage building’. The college classrooms are all maintained in the ancient grandeur. “No new buildings could be erected on top of existing ones. Most of the classrooms are constructed in the form of gallery as British model rooms,” says Dr EM Mohammed, associate professor, physics.
NAAC has accredited A grade for the college which has 11 research departments including a research lab exclusively for nanotechnology. 16 post graduate disciplines and 19 undergraduate courses in arts and science streams are offered. It is also one of those college where both PG and UG courses are offered in five languages, ie, in English, Hindi, Malayalam, Sanskrit and Arabic. The department of English began along with the Maharaja’s College in 1875 and in 2006, the 50th year of the independence, the department also celebrated its existence. They also offer vocational courses like instrumentation, music and environmental chemistry. Recently the college has introduced a short certificate course in photography as the college has an active film club called Maharaja’s Film Club and a drama club. “Both film club and drama club was initiated by a group of students who were interested in filming and documentary making,” says Noel K J, a founder member of the club and first year M A Philosophy student in the college. “We made around six documentaries and many had been selected were selected for various competitions too,” adds Noel.
The well established college built in British style, houses 168 faculty and 2300 students apart from the administrative staff. The college has a general library apart from language and research center library and departmental libraries. The general library is well stocked with over one lakh books and old manuscripts. “It has a well preserved archival section where one can find 100-year-old college magazines and the books that were reviewed and criticised by the then Maharajas,” says Marcos, librarian. The college also has a Zoology museum which was established in 1874. Rare specimens are preserved here. Apart from academics, the college also gives equal importance to extra-curricular activities. The first synthetic track in Kerala was set up at Maharaja’s ground in 2006.
Maharaja’s college is a sea of students who excel in academics, arts, and sports. Last year, the college won the runners-up trophy at the University level and also won twice prior to that. “We promote students talents in all levels. Malayalam actor Salim Kumar who won the State Award this year was a student of this college,” says Mohammed.
The students who had excelled in acting and other creative activities during their college days are now indispensable part of film industry. Directors Anwar Rasheed, Amal Neerad, writers M Leelavathy, MK Sanu and Balachandran Chullikaad, to name a few, are part of their rich legacy.
“It is a prestige to say that I am an alumni of Maharaja’s which has a strong backing of a number of efficient people having studied here,” says Siji KP, an alumna from the college.
The placement cell was formally constituted in 2003. Various seminars are being held to improve the personal capacities of the students to attend different types of professional tests and interviews. The college gives free training for UGC/NET and also for IAS tests. IT companies are invited to the campus for conducting campus selection.Some of the companies that visited the campus are DEL computers, Bangalore. IDBI Bank, Wipro, Kerala IT Mission and Nest Computer systems are other recruiters.
The college stands out in the fact that students, irrespective of their social and financial backgrounds, work towards excellence through hardwork. “There are many students who come from very poor background but never a teacher or student demarcate them. Students are encouraged to perform both in academics and extra curricular activities,” says Mariam George, associate professor, Dept of English.
The newly joined principal T C Titus also shares his hopes on the college. He says, “I am very pleased, thrilled and proud to be appointed as the new Principal of Maharaja’s College. I can see that the College has many significant strengths and I’ve been very impressed with the staff and students I have met so far. I am confident we will all work together to ensure the best possible for our students.”
The college is re-accredited with A-Grade by National Assessment and Accreditation Council this year and has been recognized as the Centre of Excellence. “The UGC has elevated us to priority ONE college for funding. The college also received sufficient fund with the assistance of our honourable MLA, MP and other political leaders. We are in the forefront of the higher education scenario of Kerala in both curricular as well as extracurricular activities and even in the successful introduction of the new initiatives of our Government like Additional Skill Acquisition Programme (ASAP), Scholar Support Programme(SSP),
Walk With the Scholar Programme (WWS) etc,” adds an excited Titus.