Agony of Ghanta Ghar, clock is dormant since 2 years
The well-known jewelry market of Udaipur at Ghanta Ghar (Clock Tower) is not only home to hundreds of traditional jewelers and ornament craftsmen but is also an entry and exit point to some of the prime tourist locations of Udaipur, including The City Palace. The Clock Tower area is known for its towering clock tower which was constructed more than 100 years ago as a souvenir to the then Royal Family of Mewar and stands tall in the history of the City of Lakes.
The well-known jewelry market of Udaipur at Ghanta Ghar (Clock Tower) is not only home to hundreds of traditional jewelers and ornament craftsmen but is also an entry and exit point to some of the prime tourist locations of Udaipur, including The City Palace.
The Clock Tower area is known for its towering clock tower which was constructed more than 100 years ago as a souvenir to the then Royal Family of Mewar and stands tall in the history of the City of Lakes.
After one hundred years, today the inherited Clock Tower of Udaipur is on the verge of becoming extinct as it is the least looked after heritage icon of the city. Hilariously, the clock is not working from the last two years as nobody is prepared to take care of the decade old architectural glory of Udaipur.
While trying to learn more on the history of Ghanta Ghar, we met Prem Singh, owner of Krishna Watch Service, who was entrusted with the care of the Clock Tower from 1987-2010. According to him the Clock Tower was constructed in the year 1888. It was been taken care by various communities, groups and then by UIT who used to give contract to the caretakers.
According Vinod Kumar Soni, a 53-year-old goldsmith, the Clock Tower came into existence after a temporary conflict between two communities in the city, the Bohras and the Jains. As an apology to the Maharaja of Udaipur, the Bohras presented a ‘Nazrana’ in the form of the Clock Tower and the Jain community established the Mohta Park at the Pahadi bus stand.
“At that time the responsibility of maintaining the tower was given to a watch mechanic whose shop was at Benera Ki Haveli near the Hanuman Temple. Today, the Haveli has turned into ICICI bank’s branch and the shop of the clock repairer is replaced by Shubh Laxmi Jewelers, while the temple stands there”, said Vinod.
Vinod also revealed that a few years back some influential people tried to place the electronic clock in place of the customary clock which needs manual settings and maintenance, besides all these a bunch of cables coming out from the poles attached to the tower is damaging the building.
“We used to take care of the clock tower but due to late payment from UIT, maintenance cost and risk of climbing on top of the tower, we terminated the contract 2 years back”, said Prem Singh, owner of Krishna Watch Service.
The city of Udaipur is blessed with many marvels; what is disappointing is that most of the marvels are dying a slow death everyday (one example being the Gulab Bagh) while no effective measures are being taken to protect these buildings, heritage sites and ancient public spots.
It is difficult to envision, how the next generation will look at an empty spot at Ghanta Ghar and remember a monument “which used to be there years ago”. While facilitators under each community do so much for their communities, can there be no one who can for once take an initiative to restore and maintain the heritage sites. For sure, not all heritage buildings and sites be converted into posh hotels and restaurants as is happening in every part of the city.
Report covered by Sohail Khan