Colonial Silver Jubilee clock tower, Mysore - a tribute to a noble ruler of Mysore


Big clock tower, Mysore. the hindu.com

Silver Jubilee clock tower, Mysore. www.dreamstime.com

With the advent of modern  civilization and digital clocks, the age old clock towers have become things of the past. Yet, they have not yet  lost their charm and the underlying heritage values because of their links with the  by-gone era.  Further,  clock towers are still today mostly admired for their aesthetics and  usefulness to find time in the past. 

 
Vintage photo. Silver Jubilee clock tower, Mysore. alamy.com

 A Clock tower is a specific type of structure  which may be free standing or can also adjoin or be set atop of another building. The structure houses a turret clock and may have one face or  more clock faces on the upper exterior walls. The clocks are  big enough so that people can read the numerals easily.  World over, many cities have one or more clock towers and in many places they add beauty to the
iconic buildings and the area. One example that comes to our mind is  the Elizabeth Tower in London (erroneously called 'Big Ben', though this name refers only to  the bell inside the tower).  As for India, the Rajabai Tower in Mumbai is a popular one. One can see such clocks in some churches, universities and town halls in many countries, in particular, in Europe and USA.

Silver Jubilee clock tower, MysoreTouchtalent

The mechanism inside the tower is known as a turret clock and it often marks the hour (and sometimes segments of an hour) by sounding large bells or chimes, sometimes playing simple musical phrases or tunes.

Silver Jubilee clock tower, Mysore. My India Travel - blogger

The use of clock towers dates back to  several centuries. The earliest clock tower was the Tower of the Winds in Athens which had eight sundials. In its interior, there was also a water clock (or clepsydra), driven by water coming down from the Acropolis.

Silver Jubilee clock tower, Mysore. flippargo.com/

The popular Silver Jubilee clock tower in Mysore city in the state of Karnataka   forms  yet another important landmark in this city where there is no dearth of heritage monuments. It  stands in a busy area

Young ruler of Mysore and his noble deeds. countercurrents.org

Maharajah Krishnaraja Wadiyar of Mysore. IV of Mysore thelogicalindian.com 

adjacent to Chamaraja Circle and the Town Hall. Gandhi Square is nearby. To commemorate the silver jubilee (25 years) of the rule of Sri Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV ( 4 June 1884 – 3 August 1940),  the Maharajah of Mysore, this tall clock tower was constructed in 1927 and the cost was borne by the employees of the Maharajah's palace. It is a tribute to the Maharajah, the 24th ruler (reign 1894 to 1940 till death)  who ascended the throne at the age of 18. Known for his administrative skill, he paid serious attention to the development of Mysore and the needed infrastructure  to encourage industrial growth. Besides, he was keen to remove untouchablity, caste discrimination and child marriage. No doubt, his reign was described as ''Rama Rajya'' by  his subjects. At the time of his death, he was one of the wealthiest men in the world; in India he was second to the Nizam of Hyderabad. 

There  are two clock towers in Mysore and this one is called  Dodda Gadiara , meaning the "big clock tower"; the other being the "small clock tower"  called  the Dufferin Clock Tower located near KR Circle.


This 75 feet tall structure was built in  Indo - Saracenic style. However, it also carried the features of other architectural designs. In the  curvilinear chhajja ( overhanging eaves supported on carved brackets)  design, one can see the influence of  Rajasthani tradition. The tall double arches and framing slit windows suggest  early English church architecture. The clock has a diameter of five feet and carries Kannada numerals.

No doubt clock towers in public places never fail to get the attention of the people living there and the new visitors to the city. Colonial clock towers need to be preserved for the posterity. To the younger generation, such clock towers are strange  things as the clock technology keeps changing as the time goes-by. Their wanton demolition or absence always hurts the old timers and the residents living in that  particular area. 

Tit-bits:
 According to the officials  the Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage  the only criterion for getting the heritage tag is the structure  must be 100 years  old.  An interesting fact is there are at least 12 clock tower sites in the state  that are  qualified for the  the heritage tag. In the 1930s the French were leading makers of hand-would clocks. Udupi was one of the earliest towns in the state of Karnataka  to have a clock tower. Besides, coastal towns like Kundapura, Bhatkal and Karwar have clock towers and they were built to help the public to know the time. The city of Mangalore had a clock tower built in 1939, but it was pulled down way back in 1999. A clock tower came up in its place in response to public protests. As the concept of smart city is gaining currency, old historical  structures  are given due importance for conservation.