Ranee's Clock Tower, Thanjavur, TN - now dazzling with a better look


Thanjavur clock tower.tamil.abplive.com

Thanjavur clock tower.tamil.abplive.com

Thanjavur clock tower. credit: J.Ramakrishna Anand

Above image: The tall structure is octogonal upto the clock dials facing the cardinal direction. The wooden roofed balconies are on the square faces............... 

Located in the prime area of Thanjavur city (entrance to the complex is on  the Gandhiji Road) just across the old bus stand and the colonial Union Club building, after restoration and renovation at a cost of about Rs.2.3 crore under the Smart City Program, the resplendent Ranee's clock tower and the newly repaired Rajappa park (Rajappa Poonka)  were some of the projects dedicated to public by CM  of TN Thiru. M. Stalin at a gala function held on December 30, 2022. 

To make the old park more spacious for the users, shop buildings etc on the eastern and northern side of the park facing the roads near Anna's  statue were  demolished and the entire complex was barricaded  with a compound wall and iron rods to prevent trespassing.

With no shops or building around, one can view the colonial clock tower from Gandhiji road as well as from the Hospital road. This magnificent monument, a legacy of the Bhonsle Royal family, is the tallest  free standing colonial clock tower in the southern states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The Silver Jubilee  colonial clock tower also called Dodda Gadiara , built in 1927  adjacent to Chamaraja Circle and the Town Hall, Mysore  is  just 75 feet tall. Its design is that of Indo- Saracenic style.

The  135-meter high freestanding clock tower on  the sprawling 345-acre Global Education Center of the Infosys (estimated cost $8.3 million), Mysore city  is said to be the tallest one in the world,  taller than other clock  towers like London’s Big Ben and the 87-meter high Hoover Tower in California and McGraw Tower (53 meters) in Cornell, USA. But the infosys clock tower  is not a colonial one. 

For several months work on the sitting benches in the Rajappa's park, a small amusement  section  in the park for the kid and special lighting project was going on. A few days ago when I went past the old Thanjavur bus stand and  saw  many   posters  pasted on the walls at the facade of  the newly renovated  buildings, my heart had sunk to the lowest level. They spoil the look of the newly built bus terminals. It is quite sad  nobody is concerned about the aesthetics of public buildings and how to keep them tidy. I am afraid the same thing may happen to the newly restored  Rajappa  park and the clock tower if proper precautions are not taken. 

It is the responsibility of the citizens of Thanjavur to keep the city clean and tidy. Severe action has to be taken by the TMC against those  who are littering in public places and abusing  public walls  with graffiti and unwanted posters. If there is no deterrence, this menace will continue unabated. 

Further, the city corporation may erect billboards or some kind of provisions at vantage points and allow the posters, etc to be pasted on them for a monthly fee. Once the city is spruced up when the Smart City Mission is over, we may expect lots of tourists from other places including from overseas. A clean and neat city will not cause any health issues and will bring in more tourists from far and wide. It means it will be a boon for the local economy and traders. Keeping the city dirty and filthy, paying no attention to govt. rules, etc will get us nowhere and it will not  impress the foreign tourists.   

Thanjavur clock tower. credit: J.Ramakrishna Anand

Above image: The red-brick color gives the clock tower  a striking appearance.  Note the series of stone corbels supporting the overlying octogonal part. The tall structure is octogonal upto the clock dials facing the cardinal directions. There is a spiral stairway to reach the upper levels and, I believe, the public is not allowed  to use it. The entrance to the stairway is on the east side. In the recent past, a part of the lower portion was being used by the municipal plumbing department...............

Built in 1883 during the reign of  Raja Serfoji II  of the Maratha dynasty  of Tanjore (Thanjavur) the  elegant tower has a clock fitted on it with marble framework.  According to  the informative book written by S. M. Somansudaram  "The Great temple at Tanjore," 1935 (published by the Thanjavur palace Devasthanam), a sum of Rs.19,000.00 was spent on the construction of the clock tower and a major part of the expenses ie. not less than  Rs. 12,000 was borne by the Maratha Ranee.  Her contribution being a big one, it was rightly named  Ranee's Clock tower.  

The land covering  1900 sq ft on which the clock tower is built and the park covering 36600 sq.ft are part of the land donated by the Maratha Queen Kamatchi Bai to the RMH - Raja Merasudar   Hospital (that includes the eye  hospital as well).  Made of  well-cut and burnt brick, lime mortar using the old traditional technique, the design followed here is that of  Indo-European often referred to as Indo-Saracenic - the term later popularized by the famous British architect Robert Chisholm (Madras University Senate House, Victoria Town Hall and Amir Mahal, Chennai are part of his work). The free standing tower is partly Octogonal and at top Square in shape capped by a dome - the cupola  that closely resembles the  dome on the Thanjavur Sri Brihadeeswara  temple built by the Chola ruler Rajaraja.