Thursday, 20 February 2020

Damaged Aldeen House, Serampore, West Bengal - the birth place of earliest modern education in Bengal

Aldeen House, where Serampore College was born.patrika.com
 Among the Indian cities, Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai (Bombay) have a large number of historical colonial monuments - buildings, halls, churches, colleges, etc. As Kolkata (Calcutta) happened to be the capital of British India  until early 20th century and home to 1000s of European residents, there are many big and impressive colonial structures. The Aldeen House of Serampore  is one among them. 
Aldeen House, where Serampore College was born,.telegraphindia.com/
 It was in the Aldeen House, once a palatial building with many rooms, Serampore College had  begun to function in the early stages. This old heritage structure where it is said ' the seeds of modern education had been sown  is in a dilapidated state due to neglect and lack of interest in preserving old monuments  that once served the people here. The decrepit Aldeen House, Serampore (33 km from Kolkata), the birth place of the earliest modern education in Bengal is a sore in the eyes of public.  The Education minister Partha Chatterjee , when inaugurating an academic education  and  unveiling the busts  of  William Carey and fellow missionaries Joshua Marshman and William Ward  at  the historical Serampore College, said ....the state government will do “all it takes” to renovate the dilapidated Aldeen House.''  Roughly, for three consecutive years from  July 15, 1818, Aldeen House  had been a center of learning and initially had just  a batch of  37 students mostly European  learning Sanskrit, Persian, astronomy, geology and botany. They  happened to be  the first students of Serampore College, which shifted to its current address in 1821.
location map. .Serampore town, west bengal, India. weather-forecast.com
 The origin of land and the  Aldeen House has no proper records.  According to one Sircar, the property  was once owned by  David Brown, a chaplain of the East India Company who founded the Calcutta Bible Society. Brown had lived in Aldeen House from 1802 till 1813. But there is neither  record nor any reference to this building. . 
Serampore colle, W, Bengal. outlookindia.com
The imposing  Serampore college building with giant Corinthian columns has  survived the ravages of weather and time for nearly two centuries, however, the  red brick building is in a state of ruins and crumbling slowly in the last few years. Though the W. Bengal govt. is trying their level best to preserve and renovate a large number of colonial structures in Kolkata and other places, no attention is paid to Aldeen House. Nobody knows the answer and it is almost pushed to a kind of haunted place with bushes and wild plants all around with broken windows and pealed off plastering  on the damaged structure.  Many residents of Serampore  frankly express their ignorance about the existence and location of Aldeen House,  let alone  its early historical significance in terms of education!  The structure appears to be  beyond redemption because of total neglect. There is not even a semblance of an access path to the site  to take a close look at it, and the only vestige is the closed gate. One may, with difficulty, get in  through  partially visible opening, according to people near-by.  The history of any place or state is incomplete if there are no monuments that link us with the past era. Loss of history due to sheer  ignorance and negligence of historical monuments is an irresponsible act. But, this is happening across India .

As for William Carey (he worked as a professor of Bengali at Fort William College, WB till 1831) ''a pioneering figure both in the spread of modern education and laying the foundation of modern institutions” , said VC of Jadavpur University, Suranjan Das.  It is nice if the Aldeen House is turned into  a tourist spot. There seems to be some problem related to land acquisition  and ownership as the old structure is close to the Metro  water Pumping station of CMDA, just 55 meters from the college building.

The  state govt. has given serious attention to renovate the house as early as possible. To  begin with,  the ownership issue  and transfer of property need to be resolved first.
https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/west-bengal/renovation-assurance-for-education-cradle-in-serampore/cid/1746217
www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2020/feb/20/kolkata-diary-2105969.html