Sri Ranbir Model Higher Secondary School, simply called as Ranbir School, is a testament to the vision of Dogra rulers, Maharaja Ranbir Singh and Maharaja Pratap Singh. The poineer institution of J&K State, was founded by Dogra Ruler Maharaja Ranbir Singh and was constructed by Raja Partap Singh before 1880.
Here are interesting things about ‘Heritage Model School’ of Jammu :
At that time, it had the privilege to be the first school of its kind in the state. At the very outset, it was named as Jammu Collegiate School. Later, it was named after its founder the Maharaja Ranbir School. That is why it is called SRML Higher Secondary School (Sri Ranbir Multilateral Higher Secondary School).
Maharaja Ranbir Singh founded the institute in 1872, initially called the Ranbir Pathshala. Maharaja Pratap Singh completed construction in 1884.
In 1905, it was named as Jammu Collegiate School and in 1965, it was renamed as Govt SRML Higher Secondary School, where vocational skills were taught.
Established almost one and a half century back the school’s building, with Indo-Persian architecture, is sprawled across 40 kanals and 17 marlas in the heart of Jammu city.
Other uses over the years: Before independence, the first information department worked from the commerce block for 10 years. Radio Kashmir Jammu aired its programmes for 15 years from the tennis hall. The army used a block as its base camp for seven years. Another building was used as a stable for the horses of the Maharaja. Dogra rulers used the present office block to dispense justice. There is a Sangeet Hall, which has a terrace, where queens used to enjoy artists’ performances.
The school Principal tells, Headmaster Thakur Dass Bhandari served this institution of academic excellence from 1918 to 1921. I have been told that headmaster Bhandari drew pay equivalent to the head of the state at that time. Such was the respect given to academicians!
She further adds, The principal added that before independence, people from Lahore, Sialkot and other areas used to stay in the airy corridors.
The school’s achievements are also towering, with the 21st chief of the Indian Army, General NC Vij, among its alumni. Recalling his days at the school, the Retd. General says, “I passed out in 1958. The education was exceptionally good. Being good in academics, I was in the golden section. I was the only one who joined the Indian Army as a commissioned officer at 19 years and six months…
“Science and math were my favourite subjects. The SRML School was the all-round best school in J&K and the teachers were legendary”
Vij’s grandfather ND Suri served as the principal from 1949 to 1955. The ex-army man fondly remembers RL Bargotra, Tej Ram Khajuria and Narsingh Dass as the teachers who shaped his career.
Other prominent alumni are: Doyen of Dogri language and Padma Shri Prof RN Shastri Political analyst, human rights activist and Padma Bhushan Balaraj Puri
Politician Pandit Trilochan Dutt
Renowned civil engineer and eminent educationist RN Dogra
Renowned journalist OP Saraf
Famous singer and first superstar of the Indian film industry, Kundan Lal Saigal
Sadly, even with the status of a ‘Heritage Model School’, the school does not get any budgetary allocation for maintenance and preservation work.
[With inputs from online reports]