Aligarh Muslim University time capsule update
Aligarh Muslim University is thinking of digging up the 143-year-old time capsule embedded under the campus and burying a new one containing details of the institution’s achievements and an account of contemporary history and current affairs.
If carried out, the move will coincide with the centenary celebrations of the university, currently put on hold by the Covid-19 outbreak.
Rahat Abrar, director of the university’s Urdu Academy, told reporters the old time capsule was buried on January 8, 1877, the foundation day of the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College which later became Aligarh Muslim University in 1920 through an act of Parliament.
“According to newspaper clippings from 1877, the capsule contained the records of the donors (towards the establishment of the college) and the struggles of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the founder of the college,” Abrar told The Telegraph.
“Some gold, silver and copper coins of the time were also placed inside the capsule. But we don’t know what else is there. We want to dig it up to find out, and make the AMU community aware of all that it contains.”
He said a “final decision to recover the time capsule” was yet to be taken.
“It will be discussed at our next meeting. Nor have we decided yet what to do with the old capsule if it’s dug up --- whether it will be kept in a museum or buried again with the new capsule,” Abrar said.
“There’s also a plan to place a new time capsule under a campus building. It will contain the history of AMU between 1920 and 2020 in digital and printed form. It will also mention current affairs. The rest will be decided by the committee formed for the centenary celebrations.”
University sources said the new time capsule could be buried under Sir Syed House, Victoria Gate, Kennedy Hall or the library building.
According to the Aligarh Institute Gazette, published on January 12, 1877, the old capsule was placed under the Starchy Hall on the campus in the presence of Sir Syed, then king of Varanasi Shambhu Narayan, and then Viceroy of India Edward Robert Lytton.
Pictures of the occasion are available in the university archives. The Gazette, launched in 1866, was associated with the Scientific Society, instituted by Sir Syed in 1863 to promote a scientific temper among students.