Clock Tower Watch

Clock towers are found in many parts of India. Among these, the Rajabai Clock Tower and Husainabad Clock Tower are the most well-known. On that note, let’s take a closer look at some of the most iconic clock towers in India.

You’ll find clock towers in many parts of the world. Many of them are considered iconic buildings. The most famous example of an iconic clock tower is the Elizabeth Tower in London commonly called ‘Big Ben’ (although this name strictly refers to the bell inside the tower).

A clock tower is a specific type of building which houses a turret clock and has one or more clock faces on the upper exterior walls. Many clock towers are freestanding structures but they can also adjoin or be located on top of another building.

Currently, the tallest freestanding clock tower in the world is the Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. It stands at 100 metres (328 ft) tall and was completed in 1908. This long-standing record is set to be broken soon by a proposed clock tower we will take a look at later in this piece about iconic clock towers in India.

7 iconic clock towers in and around India

Clock towers are found in many parts of India. Among these, the Rajabai Clock Tower and Husainabad Clock Tower are the most well-known. On that note, let’s take a closer look at some of the most iconic clock towers in India.

1. The Rajabai Clock Tower

The Rajabai Clock Tower in Mumbai was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, an English architect. It’s no surprise that he modelled along the lines of the Big Ben in London.

The foundation stone was laid on 1 March 1869 and construction was completed in November 1878. The total cost of construction came to 200,000, a princely sum in those days. This entire cost was defrayed by Premchand Roychand, a prosperous broker who founded the Bombay Stock Exchange on the condition that the tower should be named after his mother Rajabai.

Premchand Roychand’s mother was blind and as a staunch follower of Jain religion she was supposed to consume her dinner before sundown. The evening bell of the tower helped her to know the time without anyone’s help.

The tower was closed to the public after it became a frequent spot for those attempting to commit suicide.

2. Ludhiana Clock Tower

Ludhiana City’s best icon Clock Tower, popularly known as Ghanta Ghar, is more than 100 years old. It was on October 18, 1906, that the Victoria Memorial Clock Tower, Ludhiana, was inaugurated by the then Lt- Governor of Punjab and its dependencies, Sir Charles Montgomery and Deewan Tek Chand, the then Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana. The rulers of the day had chosen the spot for the tower keeping in mind the proximity of the business centre and the railway station.

The Clock Tower, the prime landmark of the city, has also come up as the representative emblem of Ludhiana. The tower had been erected as a memorial to the silver jubilee year of Queen Victoria’s regime. Although Giani Zail Singh, during his tenure as the Chief Minister of the state, at the insistence of the town’s Jain community, had re-christened it as Bhagwan Mahavir Clock Tower, it’s best-known as Ghanta Ghar.

3. Husainabad Clock Tower

The Husainabad Clock Tower is a clock tower located near the Rumi Darwaza in the Lucknow. It was constructed in 1881 by Nawab Nasir-ud-din Haider to mark the arrival of Sir George Couper, 1st Lieutenant Governor of United Province of Avadh. It was built at a cost of Rs. 1.75 lakhs and is the tallest among all the clock towers in India. The Husainabad Clock Tower was designed by Roskell Payne and it reflects a Victorian and Gothic style of structural designs. Gunmetal was used for building the clock parts. The gigantic pendulum is 14 feet long and the dial of the clock is designed in the shape of a 12-petalled flower and bells around it.

4. Secunderabad Clock Tower

The Secunderabad Clock Tower is a clock tower located in the Secunderabad region of Hyderabad, India. The structure was inaugurated on 1 February 1897. To honour the progress achieved by the British officers stationed at Secunderabad Cantonment in Hyderabad, the erstwhile British government established 10 acres of land for this purpose in 1860. A 120-ft high clock tower was constructed in a park of 2.5 acres in 1896. The tower was inaugurated by Resident Sir Trevor John Chichele Plowden on 1 February 1897. The clock on the tower was donated by Dewan Bahadur Seth Lachmi Narayan Ramgopal, a businessman.

5. Ghanta Ghar of Mirzapur

The famous Ghanta Ghar of Mirzapur is located in the premises of citycorporation, about 3 km from the Mirzapur Railway Station. It was constructed in the year 1891, with its entire structure made up of finely carved stone and a 1000 kg alloy bell hanging from the tall structure. Indian Standard Time is calculated from the clock tower in Mirzapur.

6. Mint Clock Tower, Chennai

Mint clock tower

The Mint Clock Tower of Chennai is one of the four standalone clock towers in Chennai, the other three being the ones at Royapettah, Doveton and Pulianthope. The Clock tower remains a classic example of art deco architecture in the city.

However, the first standalone clock tower in the city was built at Doveton Junction at Purasawalkam in the early 1900s. Before the tower was built, until the end of the 19th century, officers at Fort St. George used to fire cannonballs at 8:00 p.m. every day. This practice, however, stopped after the construction of the first standalone clock tower. Following this, a similar tower was built at Mint Junction in George Town.

The tower is 60 feet high. Each of the dials on the clock is made of aluminium and measures four feet in diameter. The clock has a pendulum, a swinging weight, as its time-keeping element and runs on weight-driven mechanism. The internal mechanism consists of six iron plates tied to a metal rope, which are connected to a chain of wheels. As the wheels rotate, they move the iron plates down, moving the brass pointer on the dial. The clock stops working, however, once the plates hit the floor. The plates are lifted manually once a week by keying it.

7. Clock Tower of Murshidabad

Clock Tower of Murshidabad (locally known just as Clock Tower or Ghari Ghar) is also called the Big Ben of Murshidabad. It is located in the Nizamat Fort Campus, just opposite the south face of the Hazarduari Palace. The clock tower lies on the garden spaces between the Nizamat Imambara and the Hazarduari Palace, to its east, hardly a few feet away is the old Madina Mosque and the Bacchawali Tope.

The clock tower is surmounted by a heavy sounding bell. Four masonry shields are placed on the ground level four corners. The dial of the clock tower faces eastwards, towards the Bhagirathi River, most probably for the sailors and passengers travelling on boats. The tower was designed by Sagore Mistri, the native assistant of Colonel Duncan MacLeod, who was the architect of the Hazarduari Palace.

Coming soon – The height of all clock towers in India

Infosys is all set to build a clock tower that will be 135m tall. When completed, this will be the tallest clock tower in the world. The proposed clock tower will be built in the Infosys Global Education Centre in Mysore, close to the country’s tech capital Bangalore. Sprawled over an area of 350 acres, the £6.15m ($8.83m)-project will be an amalgamation of both Gothic and classic styles. The time piece in it will be a digital one. The tower will have 19 floors, with a board room at level seven. It will be erected from a 22×22 metre base.

N.R. Narayana Murthy, founder and former chairman of Infosys, said the Mysore training centre would be “incomplete without a clock tower”. He added: “A clock tower brings a sense of academic breathing to the campus, and I felt we too will need one. And Vishal (Sikka – the current MD and CEO of Infosys) felt it is a good idea.”

Finally, watch this space

If clocks are your thing and you like the idea of keeping time in more ways than one, you might want to make time to check into the mind-expanding range of clocks we have in store for you.

Avinash Subramaniam

Avinash has been an advertising writer, fiction writer, poetry writer, freelance writer and serial wronger. Other roles he has been in include those of an editor, brand builder, and teacher. His interests include advertising, scrabble, body building, chess, cinema, making money, reading, internet culture, cricket, photography. To hear him air his thoughts, follow him on Twitter @armchairexpert.

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