The Deccan College in Pune is the third oldest educational institution in the country. Stretching back to the Dakshina Fund started by Khanderao Dabhade, a Maratha Sardar and continued by the Peshwas for propagating learning, the Dakshina Fund was given the status of an institution named as the Hindoo College on 6th October 1821 (Vijayadasami day) by Mountstuart Elephantine, the enlightened Governor of Bombay Presidency. An English school was added to the College in 1842 and on 7th June 1851 the English school was merged with the Hindoo College to form the Poona College. From its original location in Vishrambaug Wada and later in Wanowri, the Poona College was shifted to its present large campus near Yerawada. The land for the campus was donated by the Bombay Government and the Foundation stone of the main Building was laid on 15th October 1864. At this stage the College was renamed as Deccan College in recognition of the enrolment of students from the entire Deccan region.
The Impressive main building of the Deccan College was built in Neo-Gothic style from a munificent donation of one lakh rupees given by the renowned philanthropist Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy, the Second Baronet. The College started functioning on the new campus on 23rd March 1868. This Institute has emerged as a foremost center in the world of higher learning and research. It has produced a galaxy of students who rose to positions of excellence in various walks of life. They include Sir R.G. Bhandarkar, the celebrated Indologist, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, the great nationalist leader, Gurudev R.D. Ranade, the eminent philosopher, G.G. Agarkar, the great social reformer, V.K. Rajawade, the famous historian and Dr. Dwarkanath Kotnis, the famous Indian medical practitioner who rendered yeoman service in China.
The College was closed down by the British Government in 1934, but after a gap of five years it was reopened on 17th August 1939 by an Order of the Hon’ble Bombay High Court. Thanks to the efforts of its past students and some public spirited citizens. A Transfer Deed was passed by the Hon’ble Bombay High Court on 16th August 1939 by which the Hon’ble High Court enjoined upon the State Government to run the Institute in perpetuity. As per the Transfer Deed the Deccan College Poona Trust came into existence in which were vested the properties including the land and buildings. In accordance with the provision in the Transfer Deed, the appointments of the Trustees are
made by the State Government. The State Government was entrusted with preparing the rules for the administration and management of the Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute, which was to cater to studies in Post-Graduate and Research in heritage related subjects. Thus the Management Council came into existence. In the next half-century the Institute, apart from giving instruction to postgraduate students and producing over 500 Ph.D. dissertations, carried out outstanding research in Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology, Linguistics, Medieval and Maratha History, Sociology-Anthropology and Sanskrit Studies. Eminent scholars such as the late Professors of the Deccan College, Post-Graduate and Research Institute such as S.M. Katre, H.D. Sankalia, Irawati Karve, C.R. Sankaran and T.S. Shejwalkar, and their colleagues and successors such as Professors A.M. Ghatage and S.B. Deo as well as the students enrolled from various parts of the country made first-rate research contributions. On account of these contributions the Institute has achieved a pre-eminent status not only in India but also outside the country. A notable contribution made by the Department of Linguistics is the undertaking of a long-term project for the preparation of an Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Sanskrit on Historical Principles.
In recognition of the excellence achieved by the Institute both in teaching and research, the H.R.D. Ministry, Government of India, awarded it the status of a Deemed University on 5th March 1990. It started functioning as Deemed University from 1st June 1994. Since then the Institute has conducted its own courses for M.A. degree and P.G. Diploma in Archaeology and M.A. degree in Linguistics, and also has enrolled a large number of students for the Ph.D. degree in these disciplines. Side by side the Institute has continued its research activity in various branches of Archaeology, Linguistics, Sanskrit and related subjects.