|Thanjavur Rani's Clock Tower, Tamil Nadu. Times Content|
Among many historical buildings of Thanjavur district that are in dire need of preservation and restoration, the red-brick walled tall structure -Ranee's Clock tower is the foremost one. Being an old town in Tamil Nadu it was in AD 1799, Tanjore (then an Anglicized name) became a British Principality. The British rule, under the East India company, was established based on the principle of the Doctrine of Lapse as the then Maratha ruler did not have a legal heir to the throne.
|doctrine of Lapse authored by Dalhousie of ESI www.facebook.com|
|Location map. Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.Weather Forecast|
|Thanjavur Rani's Clock Tower, Tamil Nadu.commons.wikimedia.org|
Prior to 1968 around the front of the Rajappa park, both on the Gandhiji road and Hospital road, there were no shop buildings and people could walk comfortably on the sidewalks (platforms). From the then old popular and ever busy Coffee hotel ''Mangalambika'' (famous for piping hot flavored coffee and tasty Rava Dosai and Patnam pagoda) right across the clock tower one could see the park as well as the base of clock tower clearly; the place around the monument was barricaded and maintained well. There used to be a coronation arch (connected to a colonial event) across the Gandhiji road near the park and it was removed long ago because it caused traffic jams in that busy area.
Why is it called Ranne's clock tower? Out of the total sum of Rs.19,000.00 spent on the construction of this clock tower in 1833 during the reign of Raja Serfoji, the Maratha queen's contribution was Rs. 12,000.00 - a whooping sum in those days. Hence, the clock tower was named after the Ranee. It is is so tall if you traveled by train from Kumbakonam toward Thanjavur, after passing the Vadavar railway station (now it is removed), you could see at the distance the clock tower building like a tall stick protruding on the distant horizon along with the palace Arsenal tower and the big temple tower.
In 2011, the municipal authorities, along with the Rotary club of Thanjavur town renovated the old clock and replaced it with a new one. Unfortunately, after some period, it became defective and stopped working. Since then, the clock has not yet been either repaired or replaced. Since such old mechanical clocks and spares are not available on the market, the authorities need to replace the clock with an electronic one.
Recently, as part of the Smart City program introduced by the Central Govt, the Municipal corporation removed all the illegally built shops along the clock tower area, besides structures built on the one side of the entire stretch of the old Ramparts including the East gate market place. They were once part of a big moat protecting direct access to the old fort ( it is believed it is under the ASI control).
In the Clock tower park there is a poorly maintained bust of King George V (1865 - 1936) and the inscription below the bust reads: “His Imperial Majesty King George V, Emperor of India. 6th May 1935 Silver Jubilee. Presented by Mr. T.N. Kalidoss, B.A., B.L., an humble and loyal citizen of Tanjore (Shri.T.N. Kalidoss happened to be a practicing lawyer at Thanjavur attached to the Thanjavur Bar Council then and his father was a famous lawyer Sri. Naganatha Sastry whose residence was just across the old bus stand
|Thanjavur Rani's Clock Tower, Tamil Nadu. Times Content|
|Thanjavur city map. Tamil Nadu. www.mapsofindia.com|
In the late 1950s, the then Tamil Nadu govt. reclaimed the moats and adjacent areas, filled them with dirt, etc., leveled them and converted into plain even ground. During the Congress ministry under dynamic Sri K. Kamaraj Nadar with efforts taken by Industries Minister R. Venkatraman, eminent local congress men like late Sri Parisuththa Nadar and well-known Poondi land lords- Vandayar bros of Thanjavur, an excellent, big modern bus stand was built and later on the near-by land in the early 1960s an Inter/Intra state Bus stand came up to go to Chennai city and other places. In those days, no shops were allowed to function inside the bus stand, blocking the pathway. The police were so strict, at night if you ride the bike on any street without a head light, you will be fined. When some body uses the public place in the town to urinate, he will be taken to the police station. At night couple of police used to be on duty, patrolling the streets. The entire state was a dry one. No liquor or local Sarayam sale across the state was allowed. The crime rate was almost at the lowest level. After 1968s, the Thanjavur Main Bus Stand, the clock tower and adjoining park lost their glamor because of encroachment on the sidewalks near the Rajappa park and inside the bus stand and close to the bays. Sowly, a chotic situation arose and the bus travelers had to pass through many hawkers on the path way to get to the bus.
As for Ramanathan Chettiar Hall, just across the Union Club building close to the old bus stand, it was, I was told, donated to the municipality by a rich Chettiar family. It was, in those days like a town hall - a venue for dance programs, Tamil dramas and public meetings. I myself along with my school buddies saw the late Cho Ramaswami's hilarious drama - Mohd. Bin Tuglak. It was a house-full show and, for a week or so the lampooning drama was the talk of the town and the audience had a good laugh.
As for the Raja Mirasudar Hospital (RMH) on the Hospital road, in the 1950s and early 1960s, it was well maintained by the then govt. and they gave good public health services to the people. The poor patients were well taken care of by the hospital management - by nurses and doctors. They were given free quality bread/ bun, food, etc and good quality milk almost daily. In the absence of a Medical College and a well-equipped modern hospital then, the entire town and adjacent villages were dependent on the RM hospital. They, with particular care, handled dreadful diseases like Cholera, Smallpox, etc that were threats to the people in those days in the summer time. As in other parts of the world, medical services were not well-advanced as they are today. Though most of the people were leading a hand to mouth life in those days, they led a contended life. Corruption in public places was looked upon as a sin by the people and govt. employees. Corruption did exist as pockets here and there and did not affect the poor. The people's only sources of entertainment were the movie halls in the cities and towns; the touring theaters in small villages were equally popular. Thanjavur town had a large tree cover and the air pollution was at the minimum. As a senior citizen, I am missing the old charm of the this historical town and the pollution-free environment. http://www.thehindu.com/2005/12/08/stories/2005120804430200.html