THE DOORWAY TO EDUCATION
The Aligarh Muslim University is one of the few universities in the world that is a heritage site. The University has more than 60 heritage sites in its campus. Victoria Gate is one such site in the University and one of the first to be built. It is a majestic awe-inspiring gate, which is the pride of the University.
Sir Syed Ahmad Khan established the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) as Mohammaden Anglo Oriental (MAO) College in 1875. He said, “The main purpose of this college is to impart modern education to Muslims who are suffering because of lack of it but this institution is for all, Hindus and Muslims alike. Both of them need education.”
Victoria Gate was a part of the main building and served as the main entrance of the college at that time. The foundation stone for the gate was laid in 1884. Theodore Beck was the principal of MAO College at that time. His parents became very close to the people here and while going back to England, his father promised to send back a clock for the College. Even though he passed away, his wife fulfilled his promise and donated the clock in 1891. The clock space can be seen on the tower of Victoria Gate at Sir Syed Hall. The gate was named after Queen Victoria of England in 1914. The same structure now serves as Sir Syed Hall. The emblem of MAO College at the entrance since 1920 is presently used as the logo of AMU.
In a meeting of the syndicate, the elite body of ten local trustees decided to place a clock tower on Victoria Gate. The plan of the tower was prepared by the then superintendent of the College building Mr. Mohammad Abdul Rauf. Three rooms were also constructed in the upper portion of the building by Justice Hameer-Ullah-Khan in the memory of his father Samih-Ullah-Khan and came to be known as Samih Manzil. He paid an amount of Rs. 2000 for the construction. In 1921, the clock tower was fixed on Samih Manzil. On 17 October 1984 on Sir Syed Day, Mr. Sayed Hamid, the Vice Chancellor of AMU at that time, installed a different clock on the clock tower. Mrinal Chatterjee a new entrant in University said, “I had heard a lot about Victoria Gate and after finishing my classes on the first day of my college, I went to see it. I was enthralled by its beauty.”
The gate is not a simple brick and mortar structure but it is an architectural delight. The gate is an amalgamation of both Neo-Classical English and Mughal Architecture. It further represents Indo-saracenic architecture. Arches, ornamental parapet, cupola, chattris and Arabic inscription in the marble of the front wall adorn the Victoria Gate. The structural elements include decorative features like cornices. The other structural features are bands, minarets, window detailing and gateways. The gate has a series of Lancet arches inspired from 12th century gothic architecture. The structure has hexagonal and floral pattern jaali, which gives a beautiful effect of light and shadow.
© THE TIMES OF INDIA