Rare statue of '' King George V '' in Ranee's Clock Tower Park, Thanjavur - only statue south of Chennai

King George V  Thanjavur clock tower park credit: J.Ramakrishna Anand

Above image: Bust of king George V in the Ranee Clock Tower park (called Rajappa Poonga) just close to the old Central Bus stand and across the Union Club building, Thanjavur. It is supposedly the only statue of George V(formerly the prince of Wales)  out side of Madras (Chennai) and Chingalput...........

With some exceptions most of the people  of Thanjavur city may not be aware of  the presence of a colonial statue  ie. a bust of king George V in the prime location of the city.  Close to the old bus stand it is in the Ranee's clock tower park.  George visited India twice in 1905 as the Prince of Wales and later in 1911 as a reigning monarch to participate in the Delhi Durbar of 1911.  He became a popular king in India and particularly many statues sprang up in Madras (Chennai) then. Outside Chennai Thanjavur is the only place that has a bust of  King George V. Though a small village near Srivilliputhur had a bust of King George, the bust is missing and from the plaque in the pedestal we understand that it was installed by somebody in  connection with the English monarch's visit to Delhi in 1911 to attend  the Durbar which was organized with special care by Lord Curzon.  King George also announced the shifting of the British India capital from Calcutta (Kolkata) to Delhi. 

bust of king George V, Ranee's clock tower park commons.wikimedia.org.

Delhi Durbar, King George and the Queen. alamy.com

Delhi Durbar of 1911, alamy.com

In the famous Ranee (Ranee) Clock tower park (Rajappa Park/Poonga) at the intersection of Gandhiji Road and Raja Mirasudar Hospital Road   there is a poorly maintained  statue - bust of King George V (1865 - 1936) facing the north direction overlooking the street.. When my son and I visited this park on some work  a few years ago I got a chance to go around the park which was  poorly maintained for various reasons. I saw the people lying on the benches under  the big shadows cast by large trees. One  side  of the park  appeared like a garbage dump. and at  far ends  there used to be heaps of  broken debris -fragments of bricks, etc., here and there. For a long time till 2012, the park was a haven for  drunks and hobos. Later  steps were taken by the municipality at the instigation of heritage lovers to keep the park clean. A small building toward the south near the entrance gate temporarily served as an office to collect house and water taxes. 

Bust of King George V,  Ranee's park, Thanjavur, TN.flicker.com

Above image: The above bust of King George V in the NE corner of  Ranee's  park, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu closely resembles the one  in SA  ANTON GARDENS, BALZAN,  MALTA (https://www.maltaphotos.com/product/attard-san-anton-palace-president-king-george-v-monument-bust/) ....................................

 Walking down the memory lane I vividly remember having visited this park on  several occasions in the 1950s with my dad after enjoying evening tiffin  and  nicely flavored coffee at the popular Mangalambika hotel right across the clock tower.  The well-kept park around the clock tower used to be spick and span. The ambiance used to be quiet and serene. No madding crowd and no traffic on the now  busy Gandhiji road in those days.  There used to be a Reading Room where you could get Tamil News papers and weeklies. In the evening  one could see a large gathering of people in the park  listening to the '' National  News in Tamil''  from Delhi   broadcast by the AIR, Tiruchirappalli. 

King George V. britain-magazine.com

Coming back to my visit to the park, when  I went to the other side facing the hospital road  I was in for a surprise. There is a bust of King George V on a  pedestal.  It is a peculiar statue in black of the king without a crown on the head and regal regalia. Quite conspicuous are his balding head and his gently curved thick  moustache (reminiscent of (Virmandi  meesai).  Two thirds of his  head  is covered with thick bird droppings.  George V  died on 20 January 1936 at the age of 70 and the bust in Ranee's park depicts his age beyond 50s. The pedestal below the famous  King's bust was  equally shabby and one could see dirt and  molds on it and it looked as if both the statue and the pedestal had not been cleaned for several years. It might take a while  to clean the hardened bird droppings on the king's head.

Time magazine  April 7 1924, king George V .time.com

Above image:  King George V on the front cover of  the TIME MAGAZINE dated 4 April 1924. He is without the royal regalia. On the fore head - on the sides one can see the early signs of   balding that  had already set in 1924 itself. ....................

Time magazine May 6 1935, king George V .time.com

Above image: King George V  with his royal regalia appeared on the front cover of the TIME MAGAZINE dated 6 May 1935. His fore head clearly shows slowly reseeding hair; signs of balding had already begun.....................

There is an inscription in the plaque right below the bust that 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''.  

Location map. Thanjavur, TN. trading.medianusa.co

Incidentally who is this Kalidoss?   Perhaps you may be curious  to know who it was.  As an old timer , born and raised in this place,  I would like to  share the information  that Shri.T.N. Kalidoss was a practicing lawyer at Thanjavur (in the 1930s and later period) and was a member of the Thanjavur Bar Association. His father was a popular  lawyer Sri. Naganatha Sastry attached to the Thanjavur Bar Council. The latter evinced keen interest both in Tamil and Sanskrit  literature and donated lots of Sanskrit books, etc., to the Thanjavur Saraswati Mahal Library housed on the Thanjavur palace premises  through another lawyer late Sri O.A.  Narayanaswami Aiyar (his residence was at the corner of West Main street and North Main street), a member of the famous library that was patronized by the Nayak and later Maratha rulers.  In fact,  Sri Kalidoss' younger brother  Sri. T. N. Muthuswami Aiyar,  a well-known earth scientist and  Head of the Geology Dept.  of  Annamalai University, Chidambaram until 1966  gifted the  rare  books to the library for the benefits of  scholars and users.  He  developed the Earth Science dept. into  one of the best in India (incidentally, late prof. T.N.M  happened to be my mentor at Annamalai University and the other being late Prof. V.S. Mallory of  U of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA). 

The  statue  of the English king  is in the NE corner of the Ranee's park and is not centrally located and obviously visitors to the park  through the main gate on Gandhiji Road will miss the statue which is hidden by the base of the clock tower. Equally it is difficult to view this statue from the  busy Raja Mirasudar Hospital road.

Ranee's park Thanjavur. commons.wikimedia.org

The famous 8 story high  octagonal  red-brick Ranee's  clock Tower is  just across  the Ramanathan Chettiar (Town) Hall (once  a popular venue for cultural activities, dance recitals, dramas, etc.)  and close to  the old bus stand (which is well renovated as part of Smart City project). It  was built  in 1833 during the reign  king Serfoji II  who  effectively ruled Thanjavur. The structure built in an Indo-European style (you may classify it as Indo-Saracenic design)  is made of brick with lime mortar and there is a spiral stairway inside the tower to access  the upper levels.  The unique feature of this old clock  tower is it was  fitted on it with marble framework, besides  four wooden balconies facing the four cardinal directions.   A British made clock, with four faces  is connected with a common  Pendulum. Till the late 1950s the clock used to chime every hour that could be heard in many parts of the fort area of Thanjavur. The park around the tower is a small one and the total area may be about just an acre(?) 

 Out of the total construction cost of the clock tower ie Rs.19000, the Maratha Maharanee's contribution was a big one - Rs. 12000; hence the clock tower is called Ranee's Clock Tower. 

It is well and good if the municipal corporation takes keen interest in this rare statue of  an English king in this part of Tamil Nadu and see to it this statue and the area around it are well cleaned and well-maintained. It will be beneficial to the posterity.