Patna: Hailed as one of the finest specimens of European architecture, construction of the Patna High Court building, which turned hundred today, was pursued with "unfailing vigour" despite the Great War which otherwise had thrown a spanner in the building of the New Capital of young Bihar.
Built in a neo-classical style based on a Palladian design, the grand building was formally inaugurated in an impressive ceremony on February 3, 1916 by Viceroy Lord Charles Hardinge, who had also laid the foundation stone of this august institution on December 1, 1913.
"...the financial situation resulting from the war has made it necessary largely to reduce the expenditure on our new capital; and the construction of the Secretariat and other buildings has been in consequence been postponed or retarded.
"But, it was recognised that whatever else might suffer, nothing should be allowed to delay the establishment of the Provincial High Court. The construction of the building was therefore pushed on with utmost expedition....," said Sir Edward Gait, the then Lt Governor of Bihar and Orissa in his speech on the occasion.
Incidentally, Lord Hardinge had played an instrumental role in creation of the province of Bihar and Orissa carved out of Bengal, with Patna as the new capital, the announcement for which was made in the 1911 Delhi Durbar by King George V.
The site for the new capital, christened the New Capital Area (informally New Patna) was chosen just west of the Bankipore railway station (old Patna station) and the new area was laid out in a planned manner by its chief architect J F Munnings, whose other grand contributions to the architectural fabric of the city include the Government House and the Secretariat.
In laying out the court on the historic Bailey Road, Munnings was assisted by A M Millwood, and the two architects gave birth to an iconic landmark that has practically remained unchanged in these 100 years, weathering floods, several quakes including the killer 1934 temblor.
The two-storeyed building is spread out in a U-shape and has a pedimented portico behind which rises a high dome over the central hall of the imposing structure.