Sunday, 1 March 2020

Kapurthala colonial clock tower (1901), Punjab, India- built by Maharajah Jagatjit Singh


Kapurthala, Punjab, India Clock Tower (1901) freeart.com/
Clock Tower, kapurthala  India.indiaanditsamazingtours.blogspot.com
The free standing clock towers  or the ones on the important public buildings, railway station, church, post office, etc were once part of the urban space in the 19th century.  N doubt, they were  a common sight in many parts of the world associated with some iconic buildings. One example is the Elizabeth Tower in London (usually called "Big Ben", although strictly this name belongs only to the bell inside the tower). In the city of Chennai the clock on the tower of Central  railway station (now called MGR central railway station) and the one on the Ribbon building close to afore-said railway station, are quite famous. The iconic clock on the Christ church building on the ridge in Shimla, HP never fails to get the attention of the visitors. 
In today's chaotic fast  urban life the colonial clocks never get the attention of the local denizens, whose preoccupation is to beat the traffic jam and urban madness; only  visitors to the cities admire them for their for their aesthetics and ethos. No doubt, they were built in public places for an express purpose.  Before the middle of the twentieth century, most people did not have watches, and prior to the late 18th century even home clocks were rare. The first clocks lacked  on faces on sides, but most of them were solely striking clocks, which sounded bells to get  the  attention of the surrounding community to get ready to go to  work or to say their prayer.
It was in the year 1901 the Ghanta Ghar, also known as the Clock Tower, was built in the kingdom of Kapurthala, Punjab, India . Close to the Panch Mandir area, this 119 year old  part freestanding red stone clock tower on a building forms an important landmark in this small city and is being under the control of the ASI -
Statue of maharajah Kapurthala, Punjab, India.localguidesconnect.com/
 Archaeological Survey of India.  It was built by the ruler Jagatjit Singh  with a view to helping common people to know the time of the day and night. In those days clock was a luxury item and the wrist watch was an expensive one and the common folks could never dream of  possessing it. The chiming clock was specifically imported from England and it needed periodic  maintenance.  A couple of employees were  assigned to wind the key periodically to keep the clock  going.  It is said that this historical clock tower, a reminder of colonial period in India had stopped working in 1949,  soon after the death  of Maharajah Jagatjit Singh the ruler who built the famous palace called  Jagatjit Singh palace, where, now a Sainik school is being run by the Dept. of Defense, Govt. of India. 
As for chiming and musical notes, in the recent past the ASI undertook the renovation work to restore this monument and had the clock fixed. Now, one could hear the the musical notes of the clock  resonating  all over again bringing back the past royal period of rule. Earlier, the clock tower was structurally in poor shape pn account of poor upkeep and lack of care by the govt.
Tit-bits: 
Do you know the tallest free standing clock tower in the world?
Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower, Univ. of Birmingham, UK.en.wikipedia.org
Considered as the  tallest free-standing clock tower in the world, the Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower, or simply Old Joe, is a clock tower and campanile in Chancellor's court at the University of Birmingham, in the suburb of Edgbaston. Its actual height is the subject of many discussions and study. However, the  university lists it between 110 meters (361 ft) and 100 meters (328 ft) tall. Many go along with the last one calculation. In a lecture in 1945, Mr C. G. Burton, secretary of the University, said, "the tower stands 329 ft [100 m] high, the clock dials measure 17 ft [5.2 m] in diameter, the length of the clock hands are 10 and 6 ft [3.0 and 1.8 m], and the bell weighs 5 long tons [5.1 tonnes]".
It is recorded that this tower came up with a view to commemorating Joseph Chamberlain, the first Chancellor of the University (with the commemoration being carved into the stone at the tower's base), although one of the original suggested names for the clock tower was the "Poynting Tower", after one of the earliest professors at the University, Professor John Henry Poynting. Forming an important  landmark in Birmingham, the grade II listed tower can be seen for miles around the campus, and has become synonymous with the University itself....... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Chamberlain_Memorial_Clock_Tower

https://www.nativeplanet.com/kapurthala/attractions/ghata-ghar/#overview