Bal Gangadhar Tilak during 1888-89, (at that time yet to get the title of 'LOKMANYA') sent an emissary of the stature of 'Nyaymurti' Athavale to erstwhile kingdom of Baroda, with his message to then ruler of Baroda - Shrimant Sayajirao Gaekwad. Nyaymurti Atavale put forward Tilak's plan to Sayajirao saying -“Tilak wants that Your Highness should open a college in Baroda which provides technical education that is helpful in day to day life. This business oriented technical education will enrich our youth to be an entrepreneur on their own.”
This was a new concept to be introduced at that time. Maharaja Sayajirao (at the age of 25-26 years) was convinced with the Tilak's proposal and established a college called 'KALA BHAVAN' in 1890 at Baroda. This was the first college of its kind in entire British India.
The history of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III of Baroda and Kalabhavan Technical Institute being founded in 1890 is thus very interesting as is its development thereafter. Initially various trade courses like turner, fitter, smithy, carpentry, watch repairing were offered. In 1903, in affiliation with Victoria Jubilee Technical Institute, the Diploma program began.
Kalabhavan Workshops of 1890s and Young students of late 19th Century
It was Principal Chhotalal Harjivandas Vora who served the erstwhile KTI [Kalabhavan Technical Institute] for longest tenure as principal - 1908 to 1935 - credited to steer the growth of KTI to engineering college and formulated the blue print of its development. Following the end of World War II, the actual development commenced with erstwhile Baroda State in 1945 led construction of building annex to KTI built in 1917 to begin degree program.
Kalabhavan Workshop – 1948
Following workshops were established for training students in various trade practices and projects as below:
1. Carpentry/ pattern shop
2. Moulding shop
3. Smithy shop
4. Fitting shop
5. Welding shop
6. Turning shop
7. Machine shop
8. Central /fabrication workshop
9. Carpentry maintenance shop
10. Workshop store
In above shops students of first year across all the branches are trained in basic engineering trade practices of carpentry, pattern making, moulding to facilitate casting process, smithy/ forging and welding. Over and above these students of Mechanical Engineering are demonstrated with and trained to perform practicals related to turning and shaping.
This Kalabhavan workshop infrastructure established in 1890 was also used for manufacture and maintenance of furniture for Baroda Arts College and various institutes under the present structure of The M.S. University of Baroda. This infrastructure also used to manufacture the furniture for erstwhile Baroda state. Manpower of 100 plus trainers and artisans were on the rolls of Kalabhavan workshop once upon a time.
Kalabhavan workshop store was authorised to procure various raw materials like wood, metal, coal, tools and tackles to ensure effective demonstration of the various trade practices listed above. Final year students’ projects incorporating knowledge of various engineering trade practices were main beneficiaries of the workshop store.