When the students of Zakir Husain Delhi College return from their summer break, they will walk into a swanky 11-floor building. The freshers among them will be impressed to find state-of-art facilities, with the amphitheater, classrooms and laboratories and equipped with modern technology. Importantly, the 7,000 students will not be squeezed for space because there is enough room and more for everyone enrolled in the morning and evening sections. 

Located just across Ramlila Maidan — the premises shifted there in 1986 from Kashmere Gate — the college that began as a 17th century madrassa still retains a strong linkage with the historic Delhi and the multi-storeyed structure will continue to remain a symbol of old Delhi in the modern portion of the capital. Masroor Ahmad Beg, principal of both the morning and evening sections, is proud when he says, “No Delhi University college has such infrastructure and facilities. We are very excited about the way the college building has come up.

As president of the Zakir Husain Memorial Trust, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the building in a couple of months’ time. Said Beg: “PMs have always inaugurated our college blocks. The science block of the college was thrown open by Indira Gandhi and the block where my office is located, by Chandra Shekhar in 1991.”

Adjacent to the towering new main building, a four-storey structure is being built to exclusively serve as a recreation plaza for the college community. It will have facilities such as gymnasiums, indoor game arenas, food courts and student common rooms. But it is not only the structure that is being modernised. This year, the college introduced QR codes to download the prospectus in an effort to avoid wastage of paper. Only the Braille version of the prospectus is on sale in a physical format.

The institution doubles up as a morning college (Zakir Husain Delhi College) and an evening entity (Zakir Husain Evening College). The evening classes were introduced in 1958. It offers programmes in science, arts and commerce, the cut-off marks for admission for most of the subjects usually ranging between the high 80s and the 90s. Also, it is the only DU college that has honours programmes in languages like Persian and Arabic. It also offers these languages as part of its BA Programme

The college’s origins can be traced to the 17th century, when it was founded as a madrassa by Ghaziuddin Khan, a leading commander of Emperor Aurangzeb in the Deccan. As the Mughal empire weakened, the madrassa was closed, only to be resurrected as a centre for oriental studies in 1792. In 1824, the British turned it into the Delhi Oriental College, but after its plundering during the 1857 war of independence, it was transferred to Lahore in 1877

In 1924, the Anglo-Arabic Intermediate College was started and it was affiliated to Delhi University the following year, becoming a constituent degree college in 1929. In 1975, the institution, now managed by the Zakir Husain Memorial Trust, was renamed Zakir Husain Delhi College.

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