‘Evidence of Britain’s bonding with Bihar and its people still preserved’: UK-based art lover
In his presentation, Dr Mohammad S Siddiqui highlighted the heritage buildings and places associated with India in the UK
While the influences of the colonial rule in the country have often been discussed and debated, many might not be aware of Bihar’s connections with Britain. Few may be aware that the first restaurant of Indian cuisines, Hindoostane Coffee House in George Street in Central London was launched by a man from Patna, Sheikh Din Mohammad, or Sake Dean Mahomed as he was popularly known there. Stoke Row village near Reading in Oxfordshire is mainly famous for the Maharaja’s Well which was commissioned by Maharaja Isree Prasad Narayan Singh in the 1860s.
Even Mohammad Yunus, the first premier of the Bihar province under the British, as a chief minister was called in those days, rests in peace at Brookwood cemetery in Woking, London while the house in London where Raja Ram Mohan Roy, the Indian scholar and reformer, once stayed, still carries his nameplate and the objects he used at this house have also been well preserved.
This bonding of Bihar and other parts of the country with Britain came alive when Bihar origin surgeon-turned-art lover, Dr Mohammad S Siddiqui, presented over 100 pictures of these places and structures at the Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library (KBPL) on Saturday. The art enthusiast, who is now based in the UK, was discussing the ‘Legacy of India in Britain’ at a session.
“It’s not that Bihar and other parts of our country have remained dotted with the remains of colonial rules. Bihar and its people have left behind a rich legacy in Britain and the country still have evidence of contributions made by other Indians there. The most important thing is that most of these remains of the old world bonding with Bihar and India have been well preserved and are still in good condition,” Siddiqui said.
The Victorian era Maharaja’s Well in Stoke Row village is still in good condition. Even the ‘Well Cottage’ that the Maharaja got built at the Cherry Orchard near the well is now a tourist spot, he added.
Even the centenary year of the Maharaja’s Well was celebrated by the locals in 1964, he said.
“Bihar’s connection with Britain is still fresh in the life in Britain. The herbs of medicinal use which are still used there were introduced by Dean Mahomed of Patna. He had also introduced ‘shampooing’. Then there‘s the grave of the first Premier of Bihar, Mohammad Yunus. Many Indians go there to pay tributes,” he said. In fact, most of these places have turned into tourist spots, he added.
Dr Shaista Bedar, director of the KBPL, said the connections between Bihar or other parts of the country and Britain have been a part of history now. “It represents different phases of cultural exchange and bonding between the two countries. We must feel happy that the contributions that our countrymen made in Britain are respected and have been given due dignity,” she said.
Importantly, these remains of bonding are still intact and in good shape, she added.