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University College,Thiruvananthapuram

The institution, now called the University  College, was founded in the year 1834 by the Government of Travancore during the reign of  Swathi Thirunal celebrated for the Maharaja had occasion to visit a school that was imparting instruction in English at Nagarcoil under the auspices of the London Mission Society

He was impressed by the school and the quality of the education given there and was convinced that the new type of school held out great prospects for the people of the State.  Shortly thereafter he invited Mr. Roberts who was in charge of the school at Nagarcoil to come to Thiruvananthapuram and start a similar school there.  The educationist who was an Englishman, agreed and a new school was started in 1834. It was a private institution, but the State Government contributed the prescribed fees for 80 pupils who thereby got free tuition.  The classes were conducted in an old building located about half a mile to the south of the present University College, on the premises where the Ayurveda College stands today.  In less than a year the Government took over the school and assumed full responsibility for its management. Mr. Roberts was appointed Headmaster and the school came to be known as ‘The Raja’s Free School’.  In the following year the institution was moved to a new building constructed for the purpose on the premises where the University College is now located.  The school continued as a free institution till 1863-64.  Those were days when education of the Western type was being newly introduced in India and the Raja’s Free School was one of the earliest institutions in south India established under the auspices of Government for imparting instruction to the children of the State.  It attracted pupils from all parts of Travancore and many of its alumini rose to high positions in the public life of the State and distinguished themselves in many fields of cultural activity.

Swathi Tirunal Text of royal directive John Roberts, first Head Master
In the  promotion of education  Swathi’s brother Uthram Thirunal was not behind-hand.  He was, when Elia Rajah, a great friend of Mr. J. Roberts, Master of the Free school,  and took a deep interest in that institution, giving Mr. Roberts every reasonable assistance for the improvement of the school.  Uthram Thirunal invariably attended the examination of the boys, and prizes were distributed by himself, with promises of future advancement to those who took high places in the various classes.

Some of the students of the first class were especially patronized by Uthram Thirunal when he was Elia Rajah,  and they were permitted to pay their respects of Uthram Thirunal during his evening drives.  Most of the boys of the boys advanced in knowledge and attached to the first class, were young men of respectable families, and Uthram Thirunal was very kind to them.

By the time Uthram Thirunal assumed the sovereignty, nearly all the students of the first class had left the school and were capable of being employed,  and in fact, few had already entered Government service.

Foremost among these students was a young man named Vadadrisadasa Moodeliar, the only son of T. Soolochenum Moodeliar,  the Naib Sherisstadar of the Tinnevelly Collectorate and the grandson of Ramalingum Moodeliar, Colonel Mcauly’s dubash in the Travancore Court.

The young Moodeliar after leaving the Trivandrum School, was taken by his father to Bombay to complete his education in the Elphinstone College, where he studied for three years as an honorary scholar, and after obtaining the highest prizes of the day,  left the College and returned to his native place Tinnevelly, where he was employed in the Tinnevelly Session Court.

During this period, Uthram Thirunal Maha Raja resolved to give a stimulus to the education imparted at His Highness’ Free School by bestowing respectable employments on all the successful scholars of Mr. Roberts.

In 1866, during the reign of  Sri. Ayilyam Thirunal Rama Varma Maharaja of
Travancore , it was decided that facilities for higher education should also be provided by Government and the Raja’s School was raised to the status of a College affiliated to the University of Madras.   It was named H.H. The Maharaja’s College, though it still had the original school attached to it.  Mr.  John Ross,  an inspiring teacher, was the first Principal.  Courses leading to the first examination in Arts of the Madras University were started.  A spacious building for housing the college was constructed in 1870.  It was-storeyed structure and has lasted to this day, forming the central block of the main building of the University College which bears the bell tower and the ornamental G. I. roofing at the two ends.  In laying the foundation stone of the building, His Highness the Maharaja Ayilyam Thirunal  (nephew of Swathi Thirunal) said:

“I consider this a grand occasion.  In laying the foundation stone for a college we are in fact imparting strength and durability to a system of public education of a high order which cannot fail to exercise a most important influence on the rising generation and or generations yet unborn.

It is gratifying to me to reflect that English education  struck early root in Travancore, that under favourable auspices, it has attained satisfactory growth and that already,  pressing on the material limit provided for it by my venerated predecessors,  now calls for enlarged accommodation.

Such a call, it is superfluous for me to say, will at all times be responded to by the State with utmost alacrity.

To the numerous pupils I see assembled on this auspicious occasion,  I will only say: pursue your various studies with the utmost devotion and perseverance; show yourselves worthly of the anxious care bestowed on you by your country for cultivated intelligence and, even overflowing into other countries, prove yourselves formidable yet friendly rivals to those who other colleges send abroad.  By such a course you will win credit for yourselves and honour for your country.”

The college was affiliated for the B.A. degree course of the University of Madras, first in Philosophy, in 1884.  Mr. Robert Harvey who succeeded Mr. John Ross as Principal was the first Professor of Philosophy.  B.A. courses in Mathematics, Chemistry,  History, Physics and Sanskrit and Dravidian.  Languages followed in quick succession.  A galaxy of distinguished Principals, Indian and English, guided the fortunes of the institution during its early years and the “Old College” as it came to be fondly referred to by its alumini and the public acquired a pre-eminent position in the affections of the people of Travancore.  It was considered an honour and privilege to be a student of the college and to be on its staff.  The pick of the intelligentsia of the State was attracted towards it.  Among the great scholars who served the institution and won high credit and great reputation for it and for themselves by their single minded devotion to the pursuit of higher learning, the name of the late A.R. Raja Raja Varma, Grammarian and Poet, deserves special mention.  He has left a deep impression on the language and the culture of the land.  He was Professor of Sanskrit and Dravidian Languages from 1910 to 1918 and also acted as Principal from 1915 to 1916.

The B.A. Honours courses in English and History were started in 1914.  Provision for the study of Natural Science (Biology) in the Intermediate course was made in 1922.  The school section of the institution continued to function in the same premises till 1919.  In October of that year the school was shifted to a new building at Vanchiyoor and the whole of the old building was given over to the college.  The strength of the college, that year, was 561.  By 1923 it rose to 837 and there was great pressure for additional accommodation.  Therefore in 1924 the Government decried to separate the Arts and Science Departments.  This step, which is known as the bifurcations was given effect to at the beginning of the academic year 1924-25.  The new institutions that came into being as result of the bifurcation were called H.H. The Maharaja’s College of Science and H.H. The Maharaja’s College of Arts.   The later was housed in a new three storeyed building about a mile away at Thaikad.  After the bifurcation, the Science College was affiliated for the B.A. pass course in Botany in 1924 for the B.A. Honours course in Mathematics in 1925 and for the B.A. Pass course in Zoology in 1931  in the Arts College in B.A. Honours Course in Sanskrit in 1939.  The B.A. Course in Philosophy, though it was the first to be started in the old College, had to be discontinued for many years as sufficient number of student was not forthcoming.  It was however, re-started in 1925 in the Arts College.  The strength of the Arts College in 1935-36 was 447 and that of the Science College 937.

The two colleges grew from strength to strength and became the premier institutions of higher education in the State.  Members of the teaching staff of the language section used to be transferred from one college to the other and this alone contributed to the maintenance of some contact between the two.  The bifurcation of the old college brought about a certain dichotomy of the spirit between the humanities and sciences and both disciplines suffered there from.  “The richness of corporate life springs from the diversity of this elements”. This  was  realized by the authorities and in 1942 the two institutions were amalgamated.  The reunited College was called the University College.  Subsequently the Intermediate section was separated from it (1949) and the College became a Post Intermediate Institution.  M.Sc. Courses in Physics and Chemistry were started in June 1941 in Botany in 1948 and in Zoology in 1950.  The B.A. Honours and Post-Graduate Courses in Philosophy were started in June 1949 and the Honours Course in Physics, Chemistry and Economics in June 1953.  B.A. Courses in Politics and Hindi were started in June 1951.  B.Sc. Course in Geology was started in June 1953.  The M.A. Course in Hindi was started in 1957.  As new courses were started, facilities for advanced research came to be provided both in the humanities and the sciences.

In 1957, State Government took over the Management of the College. A special scheme for coaching students for the U.P.S.C Examination (I.A.S.) was started in the College in October 1961.  With a view to giving opportunities of higher standard education to employed personnel,  an  Evening College was started in the College in June 1965.

The College celebrated its Centenary in a grand manner in July 1966. Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, the then President of India, inaugurated the celebrations.

The B.Sc. (Special) course was started in 1966 in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Botany and Zoology.  But these courses were discontinued in 1969 when the Kerala University abolished them.

The University College now comprises of 14 post-graduate departments and 18 graduate departments, with about 175 members of the staff and over 2600 students on its rolls.

An auditorium built in commemoration of the College Centenary, was declared open by Sri  C. Achutha Menon, Hon. Chief Minister of Kerala on  16th March 1971.

The fomer President of India, Sri K.R. Narayanan was a student of the University College.  An alumni website is available at www. The college has a Cullen scholarship: (1) To a Student of I B.A. securing  the highest marks in the Pre-degree Examination.  (2) To a student of I B.Sc. securing the highest marks for Pre-degree Examination.

Succession list of Principals and Professors

1.      Principals

(a)    H.H. The Maharaja’s College

1.            Sri. John Ross, M.A., 1866-1884

2.            Sri Robert Harvey, M.A., L.L.D., 1884 – 1890

3.            Sri. H.N. Read, M.A., 1890 – 1892 (acting)

4.            Sri. A.C. Mitchel, D.SC., F.R.S.E., 1892 – 1909

5.            Sri. A.W. Bishop, Ph.D.,  1909 – 1915

6.            Sri. L.C. Hodson, M.A., 1912 – 1915

7.            Sri. A.R. Raja Raja Varma Kovil Thampuran,  M.A., 1915-1916, 1918

(b)         H.H. The Maharaja’s Science College

8.            Sri. J. Stephenson, B.S., A.R.D.S.C., 1916 - 1924

9.            Sri. R. Krishnaswamy Iyer, B.A. 1924 – 1927

10.        Sri. James Pryde, M.A., B.SC., 1927 – 1930

11.        Sri. C. V. Chandrasekharan, M.A., (Oxon) 1930 – 1933

12.        Sri. K.V. Rangaswamy Aiyangar, M.A., 1931 – 1935 (on leave)

13.        Sri.  Moudgil, M.A., D.SC., FIC., 1933 – 1942.

14.        Sri. A. Gopala Menon , M.A. B.Com., 1934 – 1935 (acting)

15.        Sri. R. Srinivasan, M.A., 1937 – 1938 and 1941 – 1942.

(c)   H.H. The Maharaja’s Arts College

16.        Sri. K.V. Rangaswamy Aiyangar, M.A. 1924 – 1928 and  1930-1933

17.        Sri. C.V. Chandrasekharan, M.A, (Oxon) 1928 – 1930 (Ag.) and  1933-1935

18.        A. Gopala Menon, M.A., B.Com., 1935-1937

19.        Sri. P.G. Sahasranama Iyer, M.A., 1937 – 1942

(d)   University College

20.        Sri. H. Subrahmonia Iyer, M.A. Ph.D., 1942 – 1948

21.        Sri. V. Narayana Pillai, M.A., B.L., B.L.T.D., 1948 (acting)

22.        Sri. V. Sundararaja Naidu, M.A., BLTD. ,  1948 – 1949 (acting) and 1950

23.        Sri. T.K. Koshy, M.A., Ph.D., 1949-1950

24.        Sri. C.V. Subbarama Iyer, M.A. 1950 – 1951 (acting)

25.        Sri. C.S. Venkateswaran, M.A.,  M.Sc, D.Sc, F. Inst P.FA. SC., 1951- 1954

26.        Sri. A. Narayana Potti, M.A. Ph. D. January – August 1954 (acting)

27.        Sri. C.S. Venkateswaran, 1954 Aust.  1956 November

28.        Sri. A. Narayanan Potti, MA. Ph.D., November 1956 March 1957

29.        Sri. K. Bhaskaran Nair MSc, D.Sc, April 1957 February 1960

30.        V.R. Pillai, M.A. M.Sc., February 1960 March 1962

31.        Sri. E.P. Narayana Pillai, M.A. (Madras and Oxford) March 1962 March 1964

32.        Sri. N. Subramonia Wariyar, M.Sc. Ph.D., FIC., March 1964 1969 (acting)

33.        Dr. S Parameswara Iyer, M.Sc., Ph.D. 1.4.1959 to 3-7-1969 (acting)

34.        Sri R. Suryanarayanan, M.A. B.T. 1969 to March 1977

35.        Dr. (Mrs.) N.L. Joseph, 1.4.1977 to 31.3.1978

36.        Sri. P. Madusudhana Pillai, Ist April 1978 to 6th April 1981

37.        Sri. K.M. Zachariah, 7th April 1981 to 31.3.1982

38.        Sri. G. Nagappan Nair 1.4.1984 to 29.3.1985

39.        Sri. A.G. Ramachandran, 1.4.1984 to 29.3.1985

40.        Smt. A. Nabeesa Ummal, 1.6.1985 – 1986

41.        Prof. C. Egbertchellam, 1986 – 1987

42.        Prof. S. Ponnayyan, 5.8.1987 to 31.3. 1989

43.        Prof. K. Somanadhan from 20.4.1989 to 31.3.1990

44.        Prof. M. Rama Sarma, 5.5.1990

45.        Prof. M. Sarojini, 14.2.1991 to 31.3. 1990

46.        Dr. H. Parameswaran from 3.4.1991 to 30.4.1991

47.        Prof. V. Hamaza Devi, 21.8.1991 to 24.6.1992 F.N

48.        Prof. A. Balakrishnan Nair 24.6.92 onwards.

One Ananthu Pillay, a record- keeper in the Huzzoor English office, was promoted to the high post of Melaluthu or Accountant – General, Mr. White, a volunteer of the office and the son of the then Dewan’s Secretary was appointed Assistant Secretary; P. Shungoonny Menon (author of History of Travancore) then an English clerk, was promoted as manager of the English office; Velu Pillay the nephew of the then head Dewan Peishcar and now the pensioned Peishcar Kasava Pillay was appointed Cundu Crishi Sarvadhi, superintendent of the Agricultural department; and several other were promoted and appointed to various departments. At this time, the Maharajah, who had not forgotten his favorite, Vadadrisadasa Moodeliar, wished that he should also share His Highness’ patronage.  He was therefore asked to come to Trivandrum and take up an appointment.  The Moodeliar was at this time promoted to the Head Writership of the Session Court.  On his arrival at Trevandrum, he was favored with the coveted appointment of the First Judgeship of the Quilon Zillah Court.

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