Vintage Clock Towers of Hyderabad; restoration is on by GHMC since 2019 - a mammoth work

 Across India we have  thousands of monuments and heritage structures  of various  periods, dynasties cutting across  varied cultures and religions. Unfortunately, a preponderance of them are either poorly  maintained or just overlooked, consequently they are being pushed to  the state of dilapidation.   Good news is in the past one and half  decades  awareness to save our heritage and monuments has been on the increase, thanks to heritage lovers, historians and INTACH. Apart from customary official apathy and laziness on the part of officials the government tourism or state archaeology departments fail to take steps to save them and convert them into interesting tourist destinations. The respective state governments allocate funds  to repair, restore and conserve such historical places across the  state.  Before taking firm steps to save our heritage sites, it is imperative to protect first those unprotected sites  by installing barricade all around them to prevent trespassers and unwanted people damaging the  artifacts, etc. 

Hyderabad clocks

The city authorities of Hyderabad  a few years ago embarked on a mammoth project of  saving many of the heritage clock towers in the twin cities. The reason why there were so many clock towers in public places in many cities and towns  during the colonial period was they were built specifically to honor the local king or a famous personality of that town or a visiting dignitary from the British India government. Their purposes were: 01. A clock tower  was a lasting memorial for the person to whom it was dedicated, 02. It  showed the time of the day or night and as it was  in a prime locality, besides serving as a landmark structure, a legacy of the ruling class. 03. It would add aesthetics to the town and improve the ambiance and 04. It represents the character and culture of the local place. 

In the last several decades in the ebb and flow of time and seesaw political changes, the iconic clock towers became victims and their popularity declined drastically. As their old charm and aesthetics still persist,  impressive clock towers  in many places are declared as heritage structures linking the present with the by-gone era.

No other Indian cities have so many public clock towers as the twin cities of  Hyderabad and  Secunderabad, Telangana  have. No doubt, Hyderabad’s heritage is deeply rooted in more than a dozen such clock towers in prime areas from the pre-1948 era.  Built prior to India's freedom in various shapes, size and height with imported clocks, each one of them in different localities surpasses the other in beauty, design and architectural style. In the erstwhile capital of the Nizam  among the 13 clock towers, many of them  are not functional for multiple reasons: 01. Lack of clock mechanics with expertise in old imported  clocks. 02. Height of the tower to repair the clock, 03. Change of batteries with worn-out parts, 04. Damages of batteries due to leaks in the walls, etc due to seasonal rains, further complicated by lack of upkeep.  05. Mechanical clocks on the tower with huge dials are difficult to maintain because of periodic wear and tear, 06. A geared mechanism to move the hour and minute hand and bang the gong periodically  has become obsolete and 07. Heritage structures that carry the clock need permission from ASI, etc to carry out civil work without damaging or changing the heritage features. 

 Their beneficiaries in those days were office goers, students, commuters and merchants and they were quite familiar with the reverberating chiming clocks, particularly  the clock inside the Residency Building; the sound could be heard at far off places

The old clocks in  the clock towers of  Hyderabad are back again slowly  taking a new avatar after years of neglect.  Their hourly  chiming reverberate the respective locality, making the people happy. Credit goes to  the  civic body and the clockmaker team who modernized them. Back in routine  action was the Secunderabad Clock Tower (December 2020), the first one that got a new lease of life in 1920 , followed by the one at the M J Market.

Hyderabad clocks, India

Among the clock towers in the twin cities,  Sultan Bazar Clock Tower inside the Residency  building (one of the biggest and beautiful Heritage Buildings  near Badi Chowdi - ‘Big Police Station’).  Moazzam Jahi Clock tower,  the clocks at the Shahalibanda and Murgi Chowk  are worthy of mention as these and other clock towers are intertwined with the growth of these two  cities in the Deccan region. The other clock towers include  Mahbub Chowk, Khilwat clock in the main palace, Fateh Maidan, Abids, and Railway Station, Kachiguda.

Hyderabad clock towers,

The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) in 2019  took a firm decision  to plan  and repair  all the heritage clocks, including  construction of  compound walls on all four sides, painting and lighting.  Special efforts would be made to improve the aesthetics.  To begin with they would remove the encroachments which were a menacing problem and as many of the clock towers are either in a dilapidated state or non-functional, corporation officials wanted to start the work soon.

 Fateh Maidan Clock, Hyderabad, Deccan

Above image: Fateh Maidan clock tower: The clock tower is  opp. Assembly Public Gardens, Fateh Maidan, Abids, Hyderabad, Telangana IN.  In the year 1903 Nawab zafar yar Jung Bahadur, the minister of defense in the Nizam’s government laid the foundation of the clock tower which has gothic arches on all four sides. 


Chowmahalla Palace clock, Hyderabad, India

Above image: Chowmahalla Palace, Hyderabad, Telangana was the official residence of the Nizams of Hyderabad during their long reign.  Nizam Salabat Jung started its construction in 1750 but was completed by  Nizam Afzal ad-Dawlah, Asaf Jah V  in 1869. The palace originally covered a large land covering 45 acres or 180,000 sq. yards, but only now the area  has come down to  12 acres or 49,000 sq. yards,  Owned by Barkat Ali Khan Mukarram Jah, heir of the late Nizam Osman Ali Khan, the amazing palace  included 2 courtyard and a Durbar hall. The clock tower at the main entrance of the Chowmahalla Palace was installed in 1915. Khilwat clock, on the  western side of the courtyard has been working for a pretty long time and the gate served as one of the four entrances to the palace. Council hall is nearby.................


Murgi Chowk Clock tower, Hyderabad, IN

Above image: Murgi Chowk Clock tower:  Built in 1892 by Asman Jah, Prime Minister of Hyderabad. in the absence of persistent maintenance, the historic structure fell on bad days resulting in severe structural damages, dilapidated railings, cracks all over the building. In Sept 2020  after nine months of major  repair works, the historic Murgi Chowk clock  was handed over to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) for additional work..............................


 Raja Rayan Devdi Ghadiyal clock tower in Shah Ali Banda,

Above image:  Raja Rayan Devdi Gadiyal clock tower,Hyderabad:  GHMC since 2019 has been undertaking the beautification and repair works of  many heritage sites, particularly the clock towers across this vast city.  The renovation of clocks at Murgi Chowk, Moazzam Jahi Market having been completed, GHMC took up the repair of  Raja Rayan Devdi Gadiyal clock tower in Shah Ali Banda in 2020. because total negligence  the entire structure including the four faces near the clock were severely damaged. Primary cause was overgrowth of vegetation and plants on many places that caused cracks on the walls.  The city authorities already removed the encroachers from the site. What is special about the clock is the dials have numerals in four languages English, Hindi, Roman and Telugu.............


Mahboob chowk clock tower

Mahboob Chowk Clock Tower  Hyderabad, India.

Above image:
 Mahboob Chowk clock tower, Hyderabad:  This more than 127 year old heritage structure is back to glory and  in October 2018, the clock started ticking after a long gap. Thanks to the restoration work undertaken by GHMC as part of the Charminar Pedestrian Project (CPP)......................


clock tower M J Market in Hyderabad

clock tower M J Market in Hyderabad

  repair work. Moazzam Jahi Clock Tower, Hyderabad.
 Moazzam Jahi Clock Tower, Hyderabad.

Above image:  Moazzam Jahi Market,  covering 1.77 acres of land, came up in 1912 itself at the initiative of ruler Mir Osman Ali Khan with a view to improving the living conditions of citizens and to remodel the cityscape and build housing complexes and gardens and removing slums. It was built by the City Improvement Board (CIB) established the Nizam. The  old market complex was renovated in the recent past along with the clock tower  between 2019 to 2020. The fallen hand and the electronic device were carefully fixed by a local watchmaker.  GHMC  was initially adamant  on maintaining the same old mechanism which had become redundant. Further, expensive to maintain  it. The renovated Moazzam Jahi Market was reopen to public on the day of India's independence in 2020; the cost of  renovation was Rs. 15 crore.......


Secunderabad Clock Tower

Above image: Secunderabad Clock TowerThe iconic 120 ft tall Clock Tower built in 1860, is the oldest among all  and was a gift from one    Seth Dewan Bahadur Ramgopal, whose statue is located in another island near the Paradise Hotel. The clock tower  was open to public  on 1 February, 1897  by the then British Resident Sir Trevor John Chichele Plowden. His 22 year old daughter Pamela courted with 23 year old military officer Winston Churchill for some time here and later the couple got married in England   After major repair work, the  clock synchronised with GPS, had started ticking at Secunderabad Clock Tower in December 2022...........

Hyderabad, India,

Efforts are being made by the city council to make the dysfunctional clock towers   functional despite odds such as shortage of funds, difficulty in procuring spares for the mechanical parts, periodic overhauling by mechanics who are familiar with the old clock mechanism. 

These once iconic towers in many cities still stand  as vestiges of past era - either  under reign of the colonial  government or  under the princely states.