Sanskrit College, founded on the 1st day of January 1824, is one of the oldest educational institutions in the country. It was established during the Governor-Generalship of Lord Amherst, based on a recommendation by HT James Prinsep and Thomas Babington Macaulay among others, at a rented house, situated on 66, Bowbazar Street. Within a short time, the College authorities purchased a plot of land measuring 5 bighas and 7 cottahs on the northern side of the Gol Dighi (College Square) and the foundation stone was laid by John Paskal Larkins, a scholar of oracular knowledge, on 25th February,1825. The proposed building was designed by B Buxton, Lieutenant, Bengal Engineers, and constructed by William Burn and James Mackintosh. Rs.1.20000/ was allotted by the Government for the construction of the building.
One major distinction between the Sanskrit College and the adjacent Hindu College was that the latter started as a private institution while the former was always a government institution under Director of Public Instruction.
The colonnaded massive structure of the College was built under Gothic architectural style. Gracefully designed with 10 tall Ionic columns and impressive balconies, the hall is intimately dignified. The hall is named after the most notable principal of the College – Pandit Iswarchandra Vidyasagar, who joined the College in 1846 as the Assistant Secretary and finally promoted as the Principal in 1851. During his tenure, he was awarded the title Vidyasagar, from the College itself.
Only once, during the days of the so called Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, the College had to vacate the building, when it was temporarily converted into a hospital for the treatment of the injured soldiers. At that time the College was shifted to 110 and 92, Bowbazar Street, at a monthly rental of Rs.75 and Rs.30 respectively. However, after three years, on 1st January, 1860, the College shifted back to its own premise on College Street.
Sanskrit College has covered almost 200 years of its journey as a temple of enlightenment. It offers undergraduate programs in Sanskrit, Pali, Linguistics, Ancient India and World History, Bengali and English. Sanskrit is also offered as Postgraduate programme. The library of the College is, in fact, a vast ocean of unthinkable treasure, which contains many rare books and invaluable manuscripts.
There is a proposal to convert the Sanskrit College into an University within a short time.