Ninety-nine years ago, on this day, the then Prince of Wales had arrived in Patna as part of his royal tour of India, and the first Bihar and Orissa medical college was named after him to commemorate his visit to what was then he was a young man. provincial capital.
Edward, Prince of Wales and son of the British monarch, King George V, had traveled through the Indian subcontinent from October 1921 to March 1922. And the historic city of Patna was on his busy royal itinerary.
On the morning of December 22, 1921, he reached Patna by train and steam from Nepal.
According to archival records, Edward, after landing at the ‘Commissioner’s Ghat in Patna’, led in semi-state to a large Durbar reception held in his honor at the Bankipore Maidan, now Gandhi Maidan.
In the afternoon, he played polo and after dinner at the Government House (now Raj Bhawan), he attended an informal reception there, to which some guests from the young province of Bihar and Orissa, officially born in 1912, were invited. with capital in Patna. after King George V’s historic Delhi Durbar in 1911.
Among the guests was Rai Bahadur Radha Krishna Jalan from the legendary Quila House in the city of Patna. He was a businessman and an outstanding personality of his time.
Aditya Jalan, 43, the current scion of the Jalan family and his great-grandson, said that RK Jalan was also a great art collector and meticulously preserved all the invitation cards and brochures related to the events he attended in those days. .
“The invitations and other documents related to the royal visit of the Prince of Wales to Patna are now in my files. The invitation cards include for events like the great durbar, a separate one for him and his wife, and the reception at Government House that same evening, “Aditya Jalan told PTI.
Today is the exact day that 99 years ago that historic durbar took place, but people have forgotten the story, he lamented.
“The next day, the Behar Homeowners Association hosted a garden party for the Prince of Wales in historic Hardinge Park during his two-day visit to Patna. The invitation card sent to my great-grandfather looks quite royal, with a photo of Prince Edward printed on top in an artistic frame, flanked by his royal crest and the motto ‘Ich Dien’ (I serve) ”, Aditya said.
The prince, who later became King Edward VIII, concluded his visit to Patna and left for Calcutta on the night of December 23, where he also spent Christmas and inaugurated the iconic Victoria Memorial Hall, the cornerstone of which was laid by his father in 1906. during his royal tour as the then Prince of Wales.
Four years after Prince Edward’s visit, Bihar and Orissa’s first medical college, the Prince of Wales College of Medicine, was established in 1925 at Bankipore, not far from the Maidan where the durbar was held.
The historic medical school, one of the oldest in the Indian subcontinent, has its origin in the Temple School of Medicine established in 1874 in Patna.
The new institution, officially inaugurated two years later after its creation to commemorate the royal visit in 1921, stands on the banks of the Ganges as a “priceless heritage of the city”.
However, a few decades after Independence, it was also renamed Patna Medical College and Hospital or PMCH, as it is popularly known today.
However, a huge marble plaque, bearing the old name of the university and the royal coat of arms of the Prince of Wales, installed just outside the headmaster’s office, tells the story of its beginnings and the prestige it once enjoyed, almost gone now.
The plaque says that the college was established in 1925 and formally inaugurated by then Sir Henry Wheeler, the then deputy governor of Bihar and Orissa, on February 25, 1927.
“An official opening ceremony was held and in my archives. I also found an invitation card for the event sent to my great-grandfather, ”said Aditya.
The sprawling university campus is dotted with historic buildings, including the Bankipore General Hospital and the Women’s Hospital, which at that time were equipped with special elevators, the main administrative building, and departments of physiology and anatomy, among other structures.
However, this heritage is threatened as the dismantling of its iconic old buildings is proposed in multiple phases as part of a reorganization plan by the Bihar government that was drafted a few years ago and faced opposition from its former students scattered throughout. the world.
Prateek Nishant, a PMCH alumnus whose great-grandfather, Tarini Prasad Sinha, was among the first group of graduates in 1927, said: “It’s sad, this pioneering institution has been stripped of its glory first and now we could lose the ancient heritage as well, to be preserved for posterity. ”