Ravenshaw is the oldest and the best known centre for higher education in Odisha. It has a legacy of 150 years as a College and is proud to have trained some of the best minds. And yet, it is a young University which is hardly twelve years old. Formal transition is complete; but the transformation is yet to take shape. The old is in the process of giving way to a new institution, not simply in name, but also in its philosophy, outlook and objectives. We are striving to carry on the legacy of Ravenshaw, while at the same time, laying the foundations for a first rate research university.

Ravenshaw University is the first university in the State of Odisha to have earned ‘A’ accreditation in the very first visit by National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC). Bolstered by the distinction accorded in recognition of the university’s contribution to research and teaching, Ravenshaw University has embarked on an even more ambitious programme of research by setting up two Centres of Excellence: 1) Centre for Environment and Public Health and 2) Centre for Odishan Studies. Four more independent Research Centres have also been set up: Centre for Aurobindo Studies and Futurology, Centre for Translation and Digital Humanities, Centre for Women’s Studies and Centre for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. Plans are afoot to set up a few more specialized centres of research in the university’s magnificent Greenfield New Campus, spread over about 124 acres, at the head of Mahanadi Delta in Naraj.


Ravenshaw University came into existence on the 15th day of November, 2006. It was an up-gradation of Ravenshaw College established in 1868, one of the oldest and largest colleges in India which subsequently became an autonomous college and was accorded CPE status by UGC and ‘A’ grade by NAAC. The College with all its glorious academic achievement and ceaseless scholastic pursuits had already created a distinct niche for itself in India and beyond. The history of this great institution is, in a manner of speaking, the history of modern Orissa. It was the cradle of ideas fostering national unity and nationalism, promoting social mobilization and gearing up the freedom struggle. The grand hall of this institution was a theatre of history: on 1 April 1936 it was the venue for the declaration of Orissa as a separate province; thereafter it housed the state’s first legislative assembly up to and even after Independence till it was shifted to Bhubaneswar, the new capital of the state.

The College originally was affiliated to Calcutta University and thereafter to Patna University in 1917 and was finally affiliated to Utkal University in 1943. The Utkal University began functioning from this campus till it was shifted to its present site at Vani Vihar, Bhubaneswar. This institution is the alma mater of the most distinguished personalities of the state. Not only the Utkal University but also the Orissa State Museum and Madhusudan Law College are the offshoots of this Institution and obtained their independent status at a later stage.

Ravenshaw Lore

How T. E. Ravenshaw fought for Oorya and Orissa

“The Lieutenant Governor accepts your view in regard to the adoption of the Oorya language in the schools in Orissa. His Honour authorizes you to use your discretion about the exclusion of Bengallee.” (Arthur Cotton, Assistant Secretary, Government of Bengal, in a letter to Ravenshaw, 25 February 1873)

“The establishment of a college in Cuttack is an object of personal interest to myself and also of greatest importance to the spread of higher education in Orissa. The Bengal Educational department, located in Calcutta, is incapable of affording immediate supervision and is alien, if not antagonistic, to local peculiarities. If therefore Government will assign Rs. 500 per month and place the organization of the new college in my hands, I am prepared in communication with the D. P. I., to submit a definite scheme for approval.” (Ravenshaw, in a letter to the Secretary, Government of Bengal, 5 August 1875: No. 108)

(From “The Promotion of Education in Orissa by T. E. Ravenshaw” by P. Mukherjee – Former Reader in History, Utkal University)
1903. Bengali, “Kartabya Bodhini” and Oriya

It was when Ravenshaw College was affiliated to Calcutta University. Striving to take forward the movement for Oriya language, three young Ravenshavians founded an organization called “Kartabya Bodhini”. They were Gopabandhu Das, Lokanath Patnaik and Brajasundar Das. While Gopabandhu and Lokanath were students of B.A. in Ravenshaw College, Brajasundar was doing B.A. in Presidency College. The University authorities, to further the cause of Bengali language, decided that a student sitting for the B.A. examination would have to write an essay in Bengali. To honour the successful student, his name along with a star mark beside it would be featured in the gazette. Kartabya Bodhini rose up in revolt against this unfair rule. A generous Sir John Woodburn, who was the rector of Calcutta University, took cognizance of the complaint letter sent by Kartabya Bodhini and approved a separate question in Oriya for Oriya students taking the B.A. examination. Lokanath Patnaik and Gopabandhu Das were the first to take the examination in the new system. They were confident of passing the exam with good marks. But, in fact, they had failed. The question setter and the evaluator for their papers was Madhusudan Rao. Brajasundar, by then, had already passed the B.A. course from Presidency College. To find out why his friends had failed, Brajasundar met Rao, who said that he had given them a total of 33 marks. But the University authorities had, in the meanwhile, raised the pass marks to 50, thus pushing out the students from the pass list. Gopabandhu Das and Lokanath Patnaik, thus, had the good luck of staying back in Ravenshaw for another year.

(From “Kartabya Bodhini” by Gopabandhu Pattnayak, a former Ravenshavian)
1914. Saturday afternoons in Ravenshaw A young professor and students’ hero Arta Ballav Mohanty used to speak on “The Progress of the First World War”. “His talks were so interesting that the ‘College Hall’ was always full, even though attendance was not obligatory at all.” (From “My Recollections” by Late Nityanand Kanungo, Former Governor of Gujarat and Bihar)
Landmark year: 1916. The College is admitted to the English Honours course Landmark year: 1921. The College comes home to ‘Chakrapadia’ – “the great piece of wasteland, south of what later became the Kanika Library, had rather sinister associations: no one dared walk alone in this vast maidan, after darkness fell.” (excerpt from “Then…and Now” by Harischandra Baral)

1916. Rai Bahadur Jogesh Chandra Roy, Vidyanidhi in Ravenshaw

Acharya Jogesh Chandra Roy, as he was known widely, was the man who brought Chandrashekhar Samanta (Pathani Samanta) to limelight by writing a 58-page introduction in English to Samanta’s Siddhanta Darpan. The Acharya was a slightly dark-complexioned man of average height. He used to be modestly dressed in creased matha [muga silk] pants and galaband coat of the same fabric. New students found his made to order rainbow coloured umbrella particularly interesting.

(From “Ardhashatabdi purbara Ravenshaw” by Lala Nagendra Kumar Ray)

1921. Why Pandit Gopabandhu Das was not happy about a young Harihar joining Ravenshaw

At some time in 1921, a young village boy, fresh from school, arrives at the Cuttack Railway station. There, he is received by his maternal uncle Dibya Singha Misra who was a person of eminence in those days. Just then Gopabandhu Babu gets down from the train and modestly greets Misra who was his teacher. Misra introduces his nephew to Gopabandhu Babu with great pride, for the boy had passed the matriculation in the first division and was likely to receive the University Scholarship. But, “like cold water on boiling oil came a stammering reply from Gopabandhu Babu – ‘If the situation had not changed I would have overwhelmingly congratulated him.’ By changed situation he indicated the non-violent non-cooperation movement launched by Gandhiji including a call to the students to leave the colleges and schools run by the alien government.” The reply stung Misra and robbed the young boy of all hallucinations. The boy, nonetheless, went on to join Ravenshaw and rose in life to become
Justice Harihar Mahapatra. Late Justice Mahapatra was the judge of Patna High Court.

(From “Old Days Calling” by Late Justice Harihar Mahapatra)

1920s. Evenings in Ravenshaw: Hinks’ lamps and the “kindly light”

The evenings of the Ravenshavians staying in the East Block in the 1920s used to be lit up by Hinks’ kerosene table lamps. “On the eve of the summer vacation, a few students would smuggle a Hinks’ lamp or two into their beddings, “to let the “kindly light” light up their (perhaps) dark, and dismal village houses.”

(All quotes from “Then… and Now” by Harischandra Baral)

How a teacher jumped into the river to look for a student

Kathajodi was in full spate. A first year student named Ramchandra Pratihari, who had gone swimming, drowned in the river. Prof. Atul Chandra Ganguli, whose house was near the river, was having his meal when news about the student reached him. Without washing his hands, he rushed to the bank and jumped into the river and started looking. He ordered his son who was standing at the bank, to jump in and help him in his search. Several others, too, made the plunge. But all efforts went futile. A tired Atul Babu came out of the river and started wailing. He kept wailing and walking on the bank till the sun went down.

(From “Mora jaha mane paduchi” by Gyanaranjan Pattanayak, who was a Ravenshavian from 1920 to 1926)

Landmark year: 1922. Opening of Sonepur Professor Chair in English Landmark year: 1924. Maharaja Purna Chandra Bhanja Deo donates Rs. 1,00,000/- for the construction of Ravenshaw Power Plant. Ravenshaw becomes an oasis of light and piped water Landmark year: 1925. Admission of one girl graduate to the MA Class Landmark year: 1926. Opening of the Kanika Library; starting of the College Commemoration Day Landmark year: 1926-27. Institution of the Janakinath Bose prize to the best all-round pupil

1930. Salt satyagraha and the bold Ravenshavians

Rama Devi and Malati Choudhury are seen picketing near the College gate and giving a call to students to join the salt satyagraha movement.
Some students want to join the picketing and approach the Principal, Mr. T. C. Orgill for permission. Dr. P. K. Parija and Prof. Arta Ballav Mohanty
are called in to take up the matter with the students. Dr. Parija takes a stern stand and asks the students if they wanted to study or leave college.
A bold Bhagabati Charan Panigrahi said, “Sir, not only will we leave the College, but we shall also persuade our friends to do so.” The Principal
intervenes and gives the students permission to hold their meeting inside the College compound.

(From “My Halcyon Days in Ravenshaw College by Shyam Sundar Misra – Member, Servants of India Society)

The only girl in the class gets a dog as a friend

As the only girl among 150 boys in 1st Year Science in Ravenshaw College in 1930, B. Mishra found herself in a most bizarre situation. Some professors would bestow special attention on her in the Science laboratory. Dr. P. Parija, for example, would see her sample of crystals first, saying “Ladies first”. But some like a Professor of Mathematics wanted that her father be present when he cleared her doubts in the after-class hours. In the classroom, her seat was always near the teacher’s desk. This saved her from the boys’ pranks but caused her great deal of trouble of another kind in the English classes. “Mr W. V. Duke, the then Principal, was taking these classes. The Principal’s dog, a cocker spaniel, would follow his master to the class room and must sit near me. This dog with a jet black coat was beautiful to look at but he had a stink which I could not stand.”

(Mrs. B. Mishra, former Joint Secretary, Child Welfare, in “Our Lady Students Speak”)

1931-1935. When a hostel superintendent went without food to put an end to the hunger strike by students

Hostel students went on hunger strike against low quality food. Late Narayan Misra, who was hostel superintendent, gave up food at home. While
the students fed themselves paratha, rice and curry at a nearby hotel, Misra continued to remain on fast. The students couldn’t bear to see their
teacher thus and ended their strike.

(From “Ravenshaw re charibarsha” by Shraddhakar Supkar, a former Member of Parliament)

1936-1940. What the Professors of Ravenshaw did and what they stood for

Soon after Orissa became a separate province on 1 April 1936, Ravenshaw College celebrated its diamond jubilee. On the occasion, the Principal, H.R. Batheja said: “The Europeans have come and gone, and the Bengalees and the Biharis will soon depart, and the Oriya will come to his own.” A seemingly obvious remark to make but the subtle exhilaration in it makes it part of Ravenshaw lore.

“Can a modern student imagine that his principal will take his weight weekly in the College dispensary, provide milk for his better health from the College funds and supply nutritious diet in his own residence? Can any one conceive the idea that a Principal whose pattern of life was entirely European, will run every morning in the College field with a weak student in order to instil into his heart the love of physical exercise so that he may prosper in life? This is what Tripathi used to do in respect of my own self,” says Dr. Shreeram Chandra Dash, former professor and Head of the Department of Political Science, Utkal University. On the eve of the summer vacation in 1937, Prof. Tripathi, with the help of contributions from the teaching staff, organised a community dinner for the students. According to Dash, “It was a sight even for Gods to see, Parija distributing pan and cigarettes, which he never takes, to the students on the dinner table and Tripathi serving water with a burning cigarette in his mouth.”

Suresh Chandra Bardhan, Professor of Economics – meek, unobtrusive and unassuming, and, a trouble-shooter.

Rai Saheb Nirmal Chandra Banerjee, Professor of History – a distinguished homeopath and students’ doctor. “When any one fell sick, it was not for the patient to go to the doctor, it was Rai Saheb Banerjee who went to the residence of the boy.”

Ramanath Mohanty, Professor of Mathematics – an eminent vocalist and instrumentalist. “A visit to his bachelor’s quarters meant a very pleasant evening with cards, songs and tabla certainly interspersed with occasional meals and tiffin…No sum was too intricate for him for a solution.”

Bama Charan Das, Professor of Mathematics – enjoyed wide reputation as a pilot. “Many people came to the College to see this handsome young teacher who could fly in the air.”

Rai Bahadur Arta Ballav Mohanty, Professor of Oriya – had everyone’s genealogical tree at the tip of his tongue and no naughty boy could escape his watchful eye. Prof. Mohanty started the “Prachi Samiti” which published scholarly editions on ancient Oriya literature.

Rai Bahadur Bipin Bihari Roy, Professor of Philosophy – embodiment of charity, magnanimity, kindness and generosity.

Mohini Mohan Senapati, Professor of Philosophy – the absent minded-professor. “An independent thinker he had almost earned a notoriety and his
advocacy for companionate marriage created a stir in the social and academic dovecotes.”

Lakshmikant Choudhury, Professor of Sanskrit – an elder brother to his students, he died young. “A visit to his residence was both pleasant and
rewarding. Delicacies were sumptuously served, and, if you were needy, a tenner or a fiver was certainly yours…Prof Choudhury also founded the
Utkal Sangeeta Vidyalay, which is the first music school at Cuttack.”

(All quotes from “Flashback” by Dr. Shreeram Chandra Dash, who joined the first year class of the College in July 1936. Dr. Dash was former
Professor and H.O.D., Political Science, Utkal University)

1940s. The laws of physics in Narayan Misra’s classroom

What goes up must come down. To explain this to students the Professor would throw upward several things inside the classroom – a pen, a ball, a chalk, and many more things. A young Bidyadhar wished the ball flew out and never came back. In the age of Sputnik, Prof. Misra would have landed in deep trouble, as Bidhyadhar muses later. Similarly, to explain the law that ‘every action has an equal and opposite reaction’, the Professor would keep hurling the ball at the wall, the ceiling, the blackboard, the table, the desk, at this student and that and so on.

(From “Shri Gurucharane Pranam” by Dr. Bidyadhar Padhi, former H.O.D. Chemistry, Utkal University)

1942. India number one, India number two, India number three