The Banaras Hindu University was established by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya. A prominent lawyer and an Indian independence activist, Malviya considered education as the primary means for achieving a national awakening.
At the 21st Conference of the Indian National Congress in Benares in December 1905, Malviya publicly announced his intent to establish a university in Varanasi. On the request of the Bharat Ratna Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, Sant Baba Attar Singh ji Mastuana (Punjab) laid the foundation stone of Banaras Hindu University at Varanasi in 1914. Malviya continued to develop his vision for the university with inputs from other Indian nationalists and educationists. He published his plan in 1911. The focus of his arguments was on the prevailing poverty in India and the decline in income of Indians compared to Europeans. The plan called for focus on technology and science, besides the study of India's religion and culture:
"The millions mired in poverty here can only get rid (of it) when science is used in their interest. Such maximum application of science is only possible when scientific knowledge is available to Indians in their own country."
Malviya's plan evaluated whether to seek government recognition for the university or operate without its control. He decided in favour of the former for various reasons. Malviya also considered the question of medium of instruction, and decided to start with English given the prevalent environment, and gradually add Hindi and other Indian languages. A distinguishing characteristic of Malviya's vision was the preference for a residential university. All other Indian universities of the period, such as the universities in Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, etc., were affiliating universities which only conducted examinations and awarded degrees to students of their affiliated colleges.
Around the same time, Annie Besant was also trying to expand her Central Hindu School and establish a university. Established in 1898 in the Kamachha area of Varanasi, the vision behind the school was that there should be learning institutions based on Hindu philosophy. Malviya had supported Besant's cause and in 1903, he had raised 250,000 Rupees in donations to finance the construction of the school's hostel. In 1907 Besant had applied for a royal charter to establish a university. However, there was no response from the British government.
Following the publication of Malviya's plan, Besant met Malviya and in April 1911 they agreed to unite their forces to build the university in Varanasi.
Malviya soon left his legal practice to focus exclusively on developing the university and his independence activities. On 22 November 1911, he registered the Hindu University Society to gather support and raise funds for building the university. He spent the next 4 years gathering support and raising funds for the university. Malviya sought and received early support from the Kashi Naresh Prabhu Narayan Singh and Maharaja Sir Rameshwar Singh Bahadur of Raj Darbhanga.
In October 1915, with support from Malviya's allies in the Indian National Congress, the Banaras Hindu University Bill was passed by the Imperial Legislative Council. In November 1915, Besant, Bhagwan Das, and other trustees of the Central Hindu School agreed to the government's condition that the school become a part of the new university.
BHU was finally established in 1916, the first university in India that was the result of a private individual's efforts. The foundation for the main campus of the university was laid by Lord Hardinge, the then Viceroy of India, on Vasant Panchami 4 February 1916. To promote the university's expansion, Malviya invited eminent guest speakers such as Mahatma Gandhi, Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, Prof C. V. Raman, Dr. Prafulla Chandra Roy, Prof Sam Higginbottom, Sir Patrick Geddes, and Besant to deliver a series of what are now called The University Extension Lectures between 5–8 February 1916. Gandhi's lecture on the occasion was his first public address in India.
Sir Sunder Lal was appointed the first Vice Chancellor, and the university began its academic session the same month with classes initially held at the Central Hindu School in the Kamachha area, while the campus was being built on over 1,300 acres (5.3 km2) of land donated by the Kashi Naresh on the outskirts of the city.
Keeping with Malviya's vision articulated in his 1911 plan, the Banaras Engineering College (BENCO) was among the first new academic colleges of the university to be established. Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV of Mysore, the first Chancellor of BHU, performed the opening ceremony of the BENCO workshop buildings on 17 January 1919, during his visit to preside over the first university convocation.
The university's anthem, known as the Kulgeet, was composed by Dr. Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar.
BHU is located on the southern edge of Varanasi, near the banks of the river Ganges. Development of the main campus, spread over 1,300 acres (5.3 km2), started in 1916 on land donated by the then Kashi Naresh Prabhu Narayan Singh. The campus layout approximates a semicircle, with intersecting roads laid out along the radii or in arcs. Buildings built in the first half of the 20th century are fine examples of Indo-Gothic architecture.
The campus has over 60 hostels offering residential accommodation for over 12,000 students. On-campus housing is also available to a majority of the full-time faculty.
The Sayaji Rao Gaekwad Library is the main library on campus and houses over 1.3 million volumes as of 2011. Completed in 1941, its construction was financed by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III of Baroda. In addition to the main library, there are three institute libraries, eight faculty libraries and over 25 departmental libraries available to students and staff.
Sir Sunderlal Hospital on the campus is a teaching hospital for the Institute of Medical Sciences. Established in 1926 with 96 beds, it has since been expanded to over 900 beds and is the largest tertiary referral hospital in the region.
The most prominent landmark is the Shri Vishwanath Mandir, located in the centre of the campus. The foundation for this 252 feet (77 m) high complex of seven temples was laid in March 1931, and took almost three decades to complete.
Bharat Kala Bhavan is an art and archaeological museum on the campus. Established in January 1920, its first chairman was Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, with his nephew Abanindranath Tagore as the vice-chairman. The museum was expanded and gained prominence with the efforts of Rai Krishnadasa. The museum is best known for its collection of Indian paintings, but also includes archaeological artefacts, textiles and costumes, Indian philately as well as literary and archival materials.
The Banaras Hindu University, South campus is located in Barkachha in Mirzapur district, about 60 km (37 mi) southwest of the main campus. Spread over an area of over 2,700 acres (11 km2), it was transferred as a lease in perpetuity to BHU by the Bharat Mandal Trust in 1979.
It hosts the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (Agricultural Science Centre), with focus on research in agricultural techniques, agro-forestry and bio-diversity appropriate to the Vindhya Range region. The south campus features a lecture complex, library, student hostel and faculty housing, besides administrative offices.
The Banaras Hindu University has extended its outreach by establishing its South Campus at Barkachha in Mirzapur district. The RGSC is being developed as a potential hub for education, training and entrepreneurship for youth and women, especially those belonging to tribes and weaker sections of the society. The campus is being developed by the University with a mission to enrich the lives of the population of the region by extending to them opportunities to engage in lifelong learning and to benefit from the result of research.
BHU is organised into four institutes and fourteen Faculties (Streams). The institutes are administratively autonomous, with their own budget, management and academic bodies.
The Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) Varanasi [IIT(BHU)] is an engineering institute under the aegis of BHU. IIT-BHU has 13 departments and 3 inter-disciplinary schools, providing technology education with an emphasis on its industrial applications. Established in 1919, it is one of the oldest engineering institutes in India. The institute in its present form was created by the merger of three BHU colleges – the Banaras Engineering College, the College of Mining and Metallurgy, and the College of Technology.
It was designated an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) by The Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Act, 2012 of Parliament in 2012 and is declared as Institute of National Importance by Government of India under IIT Act.
The Institute of Science comprises thirteen Departments covering almost all the branches in modern science. It offers B.Sc.(Hons.) and M.Sc. courses in most disciplines, M.Sc. (Tech.) in Geophysics, MCA, and conducts research programmes in all areas.Two vocational courses, Industrial Microbiology and Electronics Instrumentation and Maintenance have been introduced in recent years at U.G. level. Aakanksha is its annual cultural fest organize every year in the month of February.
The Institute of Agricultural Sciences (IAS) was founded as Institute of Agricultural Research in 1931 and was the first institute in India to provide postgraduate programs (M.Sc. and Ph.D.) in agricultural science. In 1945, undergraduate degrees were introduced and it was renamed as the College of Agriculture. It was renamed as the Faculty of Agriculture in 1968 and was raised to the status of the Institute of Agricultural Sciences in August 1980. It is involved in both education and research in agricultural science.
The Institute of Medical Sciences (IMS) is a residential, co-educational medical institute. It admits students for its programs in medicine through the BHU-PMT entrance examination held across India. In addition to the MBBS programs, it offers specialisations and PhD programs for physicians in medicine and surgery. It also offers graduate and post-graduate programs in Nursing, Ayurvedic medicine, Dentistry and Health Statistics. It is one of the finest institute in the country. It produces some of the best physicians and results across the country. There are three faculties viz. Medicine, Ayurveda and Dental Sciences.
The Institute of Environment & Sustainable Development (IESD) aims to develop and advance the knowledge of technology and processes for sustainable development. This institute was started in the tenure of Dr. D.P. Singh as VC of BHU.
Academic faculties of the university include:
The School of Biotechnology (SBT) is a center for postgraduate teaching and research under the aegis of Faculty of Science of the BHU. It was established in 1986 with funding from the Department of Biotechnology, of the Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India. It offers MSc and PhD programmes in Biotechnology.
The inter-disciplinary program involves partnership between the Faculty of Science, the Institute of Medical Sciences and the Indian Institute of Technology at BHU. Notable faculty include Prof. Arvind Mohan Kayastha.
The Interdisciplinary School of Life Sciences (ISLS) is a joint initiative of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India and the BHU. It was established with a grant of INR 238.9 million from the DBT.
The Centre for Interdisciplinary Mathematical Sciences (CIMS) focuses on research and education in mathematics, modelling and statistics. It was established under the management of the Faculty of Science, with support from the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The centre imparts post-graduate education and research with participation from the Department of Mathematics, Department of Statistics and Department of Computer Science of the Faculty of Science and the Department of Applied Mathematics of the IIT-BHU. It regularly organizes training programmes, workshops, Seminars and conferences.
The Centre of Food Science & Technology (CFST) is an inter-disciplinary research centre with collaboration between the Institute of Agricultural Sciences and the Inidian Institute of Technology (BHU) focusing on food processing technology.
Apart from specialised centres directly funded by DBT, DST, ICAR and ISRO, a large number of departments under the Faculties of Sciences, Engineering, Technology and Social Sciences receive funding from the DST Fund for Improvement of Science & Technology Infrastructure (FIST) and the University Grants Commission (UGC) Special Assistance Programme (SAP). UGC SAP provides funds under its Centre of Advanced Study (CAS), Department of Special Assistance (DSA) and Departmental Research Support (DRS) programmes.
BHU research centres include:
.Mahila Maha Vidyalaya (within main campus)
Arya Mahila Mahavidyalaya
DAV Post Graduate College
Vasanta College for Women
Vasant Kanya Mahavidyalaya
Ranvir Sanskrit Vidyalaya, Kamachha, Varanasi
Central Hindu Boys School & Central Hindu Girls School, Varanasi
The Banaras Hindu University Library system was established from a collection donated by Prof. P.K. Telang in the memory of his father Justice Kashinath Trimbak Telang in 1917. The collection was housed in the Telang Hall of the Central Hindu College, Kamachha. In 1921, the library was moved to the Central Hall of the Arts College (now the Faculty of Arts).
The present Central Library of BHU was established with a donation from Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III of Baroda. Upon his return from the First Round Table Conference, Gaekwad wanted a library built on the pattern of the British Library and its reading room, which was then located in the British Museum. On Malviya's suggestion, he made the donation to build the library on the BHU campus.
The Gaekwad Library is a designated Manuscript Conservation Centre (MCC) of the National Mission for Manuscripts, established in 2003.
By 1931, the library had built a collection of around 60,000 volumes. The trend of donation of personal and family collection to the library continued as late as the 1940s with the result that it has unique pieces of rarities of books and journals dating back to the 18th century.
As of 2011, the BHU Library System consisted of the Central Library and 3 Institute Libraries, 8 Faculty Libraries and over 25 Departmental Libraries, with a collection of at least 1.3 million volumes. The digital library is available to students and staff and provides online access to thousands of journals, besides access to large collections of online resources through the National Informatics Centre's DELNET and UGC's INFLIBNET.
The University has 100 kilometer long fiber optic backbone of Campus wide LAN, connecting all academic and administrative buildings as well as hostels with a well-equipped Computer Centre, providing high end computing and training facilities. The University has been provided three 1 Gbit/s nodes of National Knowledge Network (NKN) under NME-ICT.
Banaras Hindu University conducts national level undergraduate (UET) and postgraduate (PET) entrance tests usually during May–June for admission. Admissions are done according to merit in the entrance tests, subject to fulfilling of other eligibility requirements. Admissions to B.Tech./B.Pharm., M.Tech./M.Pharm. are done through JEE and GATE respectively. Admission to MBA and MBA-IB are done through IIM-CAT score and also through separate BHU-MBA entrance tests. Admissions for Ph.D are done on the basis of either qualification of National Eligibility Test (NET) by the candidates or through the scores of CRET (Common Research Entrance Test). Admissions in IMS are done through PMT exam.
BHU attracts a number of foreign learners. Foreign students are admitted through the application submitted to the Indian mission in his/her country or by his/her country's mission in India.
BHU offers one of the best residential experience for students staying within the campus. Many of these hostels lie on one of the outer arc roads, facing large playgrounds. Most of these hostels have adequate mess facilities, common rooms, canteen, and residential quarters for wardens. Hostels like Birla, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Broacha and Vishvesvaraya have more than 300 rooms each.
In all, there are 41 hostels for male students with total intake capacity of around 7,500. For female students, there are 21 hostels with total intake capacity of around 2,500. There are four separate hostels for international students with total intake capacity of 189. These four include an International House Annexe for female students with an intake capacity of 24.
BHU has a museum of international importance – Bharat Kala Bhawan – which is a treasure trove of rare art and artifacts. The Bharat Kala Bhavan has 13 galleries and a collection of more than 1 lakh antique and rare sculptures; miniature paintings; Rajasthani, Mughal, and Pahari paintings; coins; jewellery; precious stones, etc. of immense historic value. A special literary gallery holds manuscripts of famous authors. It has a rich library with rare books.
BHU observes Saraswati puja day (also known as Vasant Panchami) as its foundation day. Goddess Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts, wisdom and nature. She is a part of the trinity of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati.
BHU is ranked third in the 2016 The Week-Hansa Research Top Universities in India. BHU is ranked second in India Today's India's Top 30 Universities of 2015. BHU has been consistently ranked in the top 5 in this survey. In the survey conducted by the prestigious India Today group in 2010, BHU was ranked as number 1 among all Indian universities. The engineering institute IIT-BHU was ranked No. 7 on the Outlook India Top Engineering Colleges of India and No. 4 on Dataquest's India's Top Engineering Colleges 2011 (DQ-CMR Top T-Schools Survey 2015).
Banaras Hindu University was ranked 13 in India overall and 6th amongst multidisciplinary universities by the CWTS Leiden ranking. The Banaras Hindu University (BHU) ranks first in India in the field of academic and research output as per Scopus and Web of Science Database.
BHU was ranked first in India by a Paris-based organisation.
In 2014, BHU was ranked at 142 among the top 300 universities in Asia in the list of ‘Asian Universities Rankings 2014’ by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Rankings.
Following awards and medals are given to meritorious students in BHU-BHU Medal- BHU Medal is given to the students, who secure first position in their respective departments or faculties.
Alumni and faculty of BHU have gained prominence in India and across the world. Among BHU's administrators was Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who went on to become the President of India. Other famous administrators have included, Sir Sunder Lal, K. L. Shrimali, Moti Lal Dhar and many others.
The university's alumni include Raj Narain, Rakhaldas Bandyopadhyay, C.N.R Rao, Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Bhupen Hazarika, Veena Pandey, Kamalesh Chandra Chakrabarty, Ashok Agarwal, T. V. Ramakrishnan, Harkishan Singh, Narla Tata Rao, Patcha Ramachandra Rao, Jayant Vishnu Narlikar, Basanti Dulal Nagchaudhuri, Ahmad Hasan Dani, Kota Harinarayana, Kothapalli Jayashankar, Krishan Kant, Manick Sorcar, Satish K. Tripathi and Basant Prasad Singh. Amongst its famous international students are Robert M. Pirsig and Koenraad Elst.
C. V. Raman, the Nobel Prize winner in Physics in 1930, attended the foundation ceremony of BHU in 1916, delivered lectures on "Mathematics" and "Some new paths in physics" during the lecture series organised at the university from 5 to 8 February 1916, and held the position of permanent visiting professor at the university.
BHU's eminent faculty have included Ganesh Prasad, Birbal Sahni, Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar, Prafulla Kumar Jena and Pandit Omkarnath Thakur, Dr. N. Rajam