Sir Rajen Mookerjee

Sir Rajen Mookerjee (June 23,1854 - May 15,1936) was born in a small village named Bhabla in Barasat near Calcutta. He lost his father at the age of six and was reared by his mother. He was like any ordinary boy, but he had shown early signs of his interest in the precise science of engineering. As a thirteen-year-old boy, he spent hours at the Tajmahal, which apart from its ethereal beauty fascinated his boyish imagination and filled him with wonders as to how this exquisite structure was constructed.

This keen interest in architecture later made him study Engineering, which was at that time being taught at the Presidency College, but he could not take the exams due to ill health. When, however, he was offered the job of a surveyor for a large bhil (waterbody), he declined to accept it as he steadfastly refused to serve under any body.

The story of how he came in contact with the Chief Engineer to the Corporation of Calcutta, who awarded him the contract of laying the Palta Waterworks, later on similar jobs at Agra, Allahabad, Benares and other cities; of how he came in contact with Sir Thomas Acquinas Martin( -1906 ) , and formed after his name a partnership firm which undertook many public work projects such as laying a 40-inch main from Palta to Calcutta, building grand palaces and mansions like the Chartered Bank Buildings, Esplanade Mansions, the Mysore Memorial - makes a fascinating reading as narrated in detail by K.C.Mahindra ( one of the founders of the present automobile giant ,Mahinder & Mahinder and an associate of Rajen) in his book entitled " Sir Rajendra Nath Mookerjee "-A Personal Study in 1933.

Rajen Mookerjee had the foresight of building light feeder railway lines - known as Martin Railways which connected the agricultural districts like Amta, Ranaghat, Krishnanagar, Barasat, Basirhat with Calcutta.

The other landmark achievements for which Sir Rajen should be remembered by his countrymen are his firm's work in the construction of the Victoria Memorial, which was opened to the public by the Prince of Wales in 1921. In recognition of his immense contribution to erect this architectural marvel, he was awarded in 1922 the knighthood.

Again, in the same year Sir Rajen went over to London as Chairman of the Engineering Committee consisting of a team of experts which recommended the construction of the present Howrah Bridge. In 1932, the famous Belur Math temple was completed.

Sir Rajen left behind on May 15,1936 a giant engineering firm and the memory of a noble soul with ' a strict, sometimes stern ' appearance but a soft heart within.

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