The old chronicler of time

by | Feb 1, 2021

I read a delightful book, “Clock Towers of India,” written by Dr. Yatindra Pal (YP) Singh. We share our Alma Mater – GB Pant University. I graduated in Mechanical Engineering and YP in Civil Engineering. Two years junior to me there, YP was studious, energetic and immaculate, unlike the playful, chaotic and scruffy me. YP won the Chancellor’s medal for his all-round excellence and later joined the Indian Railway Service of Engineers. So, when I read his book with some beautiful photographs, including the clock tower of our own university, a cascade of memories was activated.

It started with the rhyme, YP quoted in the book – Ghantaghar ki char ghadi, Charon mein zanzir padi – there are four clocks in the clock tower, all four are chained. It was the theme song of the freedom movement in North India, from where YP and I come. As most of the clock towers were constructed by the British or the local feudal lords supporting them, they became the butt of scorn. But after independence, the clock towers quickly turned into icons. We sang the Ghantaghar ki char ghadi… as our pathshala rhyme. Meerut, where I was born and schooled, had a majestic clock tower built by the prodigals of Hasan Mahmudi Kamboh, who captured the city of Meerut for Mahmud of Ghazni (971-1030). It was called Kamboh Gate, one of the nine gates of old Meerut. 

When I was admitted to Dev Nagari Inter College in 1965, I would walk under the tall three-laned structure. We could hear the clock tower’s bells in the night, when sleeping on the terrace, which was the norm during summer. Then the name Kamboh Gate was changed to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Dwar, celebrating the fact that the great hero had visited Meerut in 1930 and addressed the public from here. The doughty manager of Menka Cinema, with his soldier-style moustache, had fought for the Azad Hind Fauz, we were told. He would stand in the lobby of the cinema with a cane, and I would give him a passing glance of deep admiration, carrying my heavy school bag on my back like a mountaineer. 

My father worked in Meerut Municipality, a furlong away from Ghantaghar. Once my father said that there would be a procession from the Municipality passing through the Ghantaghar and we decided to watch the spectacle. Three of my younger siblings, two brothers and a sister, along with our grandmother, climbed to the first level where there was a big watch shop. We spent about an hour there, but no procession came. It was my first chance to look down from a height and I was indeed captivated watching the traffic below. Later, when I looked down from the Eiffel Tower in 1985 and 2014, the Sears Tower in 1999, St. Louis Arch in 2000, Jin Mao Tower in 2003, and Burj Khalifa in 2015, every time, the Ghantaghar came alive reminding me of the indomitable spirit of my grandmother. 

The clock tower at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London, famous as the “Big Ben,” was completed in 1859. It is perhaps the biggest and the best clock tower in the world. Big Ben’s clock was the largest and the most accurate four-faced striking and chiming clock in the world. In 2016, I spent good time there, looking at the details of its marvellous structure. It is 40 feet, about 12 meters, on each side and 320 feet height, just short of 100 meters. Hearing the 15-ton bell struck by a 450 pounds (about 200 kg.) hammer was surreal! 

YP writes in his book that the British commissioned clock towers at many places in India to show their authority to the commoners and to keep the morale of their troops high. But while a clock tower signifies power, the clock signifies a structured lifestyle. YP purchased his first wristwatch in 1981, after getting a job. I was lucky to have it from my father in 1971, when he was sending me off to Pantnagar. My father died at the young age of 49 in 1979 and I did not wear a wristwatch since then. A few years back, my friend, Jitu Patel, who lives in Nairobi, gifted me a 10,000-dollar Rolex watch, as he was meeting me on my birthday. But I am yet to wear it. 

Nowadays, everyone lives with a mobile and the time is so obvious. But, instead of making people more productive and organized in their lives, this awareness has cultivated a new pattern of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OBC) of checking time every moment. People fix alarms for TV shows, schedule gossip sessions and create cognitive garbage by megabytes every day. They can idle for hours together doing nothing and yet keep their senses and mind busy. I must share here what Charles Darwin, who gave the Theory of Evolution, famously said, “A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” 

So, clock towers definitely played their own important role in creating awareness about time and helping people live life in a structured and purposeful way. As YP pointed out in the book, most of the clock towers in India are now dysfunctional, their clocks obsolete and unrepairable, and buildings depleted and encroached upon. A nation that does not respect its heritage, is often deprived of any glory in the future. Time moves like an arrow. It never returns. You can use it to hit a target, or shoot it into the dark. Eternity is indifferent to what are you doing with your life, like an envelope carrying a letter, not concerned with its content. 

It is time to value your time on this planet and use it properly. No one has lived forever and you would not be an exception. As time passes by you, you will find your body losing its strength, your mind getting dull and your spirit losing its buoyancy and ardor. No regret, no remorse, and no lamentation would be of any help later. Be aware of time, for it is your time. Rather than minding the hours and minutes, be aware your breath and your heartbeats. The inner clock must not run itself out before the outer one.

Of all the content on TV in last few years, a series, “Mr. Robot” on Amazon Prime Video, fascinated me the most. There is a character, “White Rose,” who is the leader of the Dark Army, a Chinese hacker group. She is a transgender woman masquerading as the male Zhi Zhang, the Chinese Minister of State Security. In one scene, she is shown surrounded by hundreds of expansive clocks of all kinds – from antique to the most modern – in her house. She says, “I mind the top one percent of the top one percent by hacking their time.” 

Mind your thoughts and emotions, and see how they are hacking you. Stay grounded in your body, stay connected to your past, your roots and your heritage and utilise their wisdom for creating a better future for yourself and the coming generations to live in. Every life is just an extension of what existed earlier and a genetic chronicle. I thoroughly enjoyed reading YP’s book and would certainly recommend it to everyone.

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31 Comments

  1. A thought provoking blog underlining the wisdom of connecting past and heritage for creating a better future, Prof Tiwariji!

    Your explanation of life as an extension of what existed earlier with the example of Ghantaghar is superb !!

  2. Thank you Ankur for your kind words. Every one of us in younger age has a nick name. YP had been a popular student for his exploits in the sports. There was no ragging in Pantnagar in those days. Stay blessed.

  3. Dear Sir , This blog unlocks many memories of mine , As your father while sendng you off to Pantnagar gave Wrist watch , Reminds me when I left my Hometown for higher studies , I met many students from various districts . Many of them were residents close to Ghantaghar of their Home town. That forced me to think Why there is Ghantaghar in many cities , Now your explanation about Ghanta Ghar , Through book of your college Junior YP Singh Sir , Gave me deep & New ( For me New) Perspective of that building. Nowadays Ghantaghar are used as Land Mark too.

    Out of curiosity, I am asking you, Through out the blog except at beginning, You are addressing Yatinder Pal Singh Sir as YP , Is This habit began since college Days? Many time I got surprised & zealous of clarity of your memory. This again excites me to ask you: How did you first time met With YP Sir? How was ragging in Campus during that time?

    Your blogs always focus on Improvement of behaviour & talks how masses are indulging in unproductive activities by becaming slave of some smartly designed Algorithm.

    This time you talked about Importance of time. Your example of Charles Darwing quotes “A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”  Reminds me of quote by Mark Twain ” History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” Which connects me to last paragraph of this blog ie ” Stay grounded in your body, stay connected to your past, your roots and your heritage and utilise their wisdom for creating a better future for yourself and the coming generations to live in”. So it is us who are responsible for type of history rhymes to repeat .

    We should not spent time to Save Money & Consume pleasure rather spent money to save time to gain wealth of Knowledge, peace , Sustainable planet for upcoming generations .

  4. Sir, Your blog opens up a Pandora’s box of memories and emotions, from histories of our times and Pantnagar days. You have pointed to Dr Yatinder Pal Singh being studious and immaculate – getting into the then dream service for any Civil Engineer, the IRSE. Sunil Kaul Saheb has reflected on his photography hobby, resulting in the beautiful coffee table book on clock towers. I want to add to his exploits on the playgrounds he dominated and which I recall most distinctly. Congratulations to Dr YP! He makes a living example of using time wisely, perfectly fitting to your narrative.

    On the preciousness of time, I recall the following lines from the modern-day poet-philosopher David Whyte’s ‘The Bell and the Blackbird’:

    The sound of a bell
    Still reverberating,
    or a blackbird calling
    from a corner of the field,
    asking you to wake
    into this life,
    or inviting you deeper
    into the one that waits.

  5. Arun ji, It was nice to read through your article as I was immediately reminded of our prolonged discussion during our trip together to Bhutan.

    The main theme behind our discussion during that trip was me being a son of a humble ‘Watch-maker’, from an average social status and a small place in Andhra Pradesh, getting exposed to an extremely ‘Time conscious’ and ‘Strict’ but a great teacher in Surgery Prof B L Talwar, from PGI , Chandigarh.

    You were very appreciative of him and you also mentioned many a times to invite him to Hyderabad to make our budding surgeons listen to his wonderful advice in a surgical life, time and above all the value of honesty.

    Unfortunately I could not succeed in doing so before his departure, leaving behind his memories as advice that are highly practical and Humane! I hope you recollect about him and the discussion we had! Time never waits for anyone, if we miss, we miss forever!

  6. What a beautiful Blog Prof Tiwari Ji. It took me back to the memory lanes of my childhood and the youth. It just happens that I also share my roots with Meerut, my birth place, and Pantnagar where I received my master’s Degree while studying in the college of Basic Sciences. I also studied in Lucknow and Hussainabad Clock tower or Ghanta Ghar was a centre of attraction, which was was built by Nawab Nasir-ud-Din Haider in 1881 to welcome the first lieutenant governor of the United Provinces of Oudh Sir George Cooper. I am in Himachal Pradesh for the last 30 years and its capital is also decorated by clock tower located on the famous mall road. What a beautiful coincidence in my life till date! May be to teach me and as a reminder on the importance of time!

  7. Prof. Arun Tiwari’s pieces are so interesting and enjoyable – sometimes difficult to express inner feelings! I found his philosophies- very rational especially for people like us.

  8. Your comments regarding time remind me of the teaching of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, in A Psalm of Life:

    Lives of great men all remind us
    We can make our lives sublime,
    And, departing, leave behind us
    Footprints in the sands of time

    Footprints, that perhaps another,
    Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
    A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
    Seeing shall take heart again

    Let us then, be up and doing,
    With a heart for any fate;
    Still achieving, still pursuing,
    Learn to labor and to wait.

    What are the footprints in the sands of time that any one of us might wish to leave behind? That is the question.
    These footprints should be designed to help those who will come after our mortal journey.
    Our time here is precious.
    Every day is a blessing.
    Let us use our time wisely.

  9. As I read your beautiful piece, Sir, I realized I had lived very close to one of the world’s most famous clock towers – the Rajabai clock tower in Fort, Mumbai – and passed it every day on the way to office. And yet, I had never given it a second glance — not to admire the heritage, not to pause and wonder about the purpose of clock towers! Your blog, which has come 25 years later, piqued my curiosity, with a tinge of regret. I read up and gathered bits of interesting information about this heritage structure and about clock towers in general.

    It is interesting that earlier, one single clock tower in the town was enough to organize people’s prayer and work schedules. Following the natural rhythm of time of the day, seasons etc. was taken as a given, and a clock only served to finetune the inner rhythm and body-clock, especially when group activities were involved.

    Now, the will to follow that discipline appears weak and so, despite various timekeeping methods within our homes, we seem to be more disorganized than ever. Not just that, the activities that occupy us are often meaningless really, as you point out. Is the purpose of life forgotten in our busy schedules? Further, could it be that we are fast rolling down towards our doom?

    Your blog comes as a `timely’ reminder — our time on this planet is running out. The body and mind will lose strength; also, who knows whether circumstances will be conducive later? One year of battling Covid has certainly taught us about the possibility of all kinds of uncertainty lurking in the shadows. Better to utilize `peace’-time, think about what really matters and using means available to us, work towards a meaningful life, so as to have no regrets later.

    I also learned while reading up, that the Indian way of timekeeping goes back thousands of years – much before the advent of clock towers. We had the water clock and the shadow clock, and timings based on the solar calendar helped day-to-day activities. But we also understood the larger concept of time — the planetary positional combinations, which served to give an idea of what to expect in terms of events on earth, the related rituals, sowing and reaping seasons, etc. These encompassed all of the things that mattered in human life, and everyone recognized them as such. Esoteric and near-anachronisitic concepts, perhaps, in this day and age!

    Our well-paying jobs, our power structures, our luxuries are all gifts to make life comfortable and tolerable — but they cannot be looked upon as ends in themselves. I will never be able to walk past a clock tower again without a thoughtful, reflective glance — thank you for this!

  10. Dear Arun sir, Thank you so much for sharing this blog on clock towers and time! While I was reading you blog, it reminded me to recollect many memories of clock towers I saw in India and yes the famous Big Ben here in London – the most iconic building in the World, and so the cover page of blog.

    However, something interesting that came to my mind while reading your blog related to clock towers and time is – Mr. Albert Einstein’s thought provoking moment at the Swiss Clock tower in Bern that inspired his revolutionary experiment and changed history forever. An experiment would set Einstein on a path towards the discovery of his General Theory of Relativity that changed human history forever.

    The imagination that helps all of us realize the concept – if we travel at the speed of light, Time stops! One of the thought that amazes me every time I think of it and I connect to the term “Aanadi kaal” as mentioned in our spiritual scriptures.

    Your blog touch bases on one of the most powerful dimension of all our lives – “Time” and the value of time. Thank you so much for sharing this amazing blog.

    Ketul Chauhan

  11. Thank you Arun ji for a very different and interesting blog. I am reminded of the clock tower in my native place, Chirala where we used to go there on an evening walk with friends and spend time joyfully. Time Leadership is new concept, I am proposing against Time management. While Managing time reflects only efficiency of given activities, Time Leadership identifies, prioritises and allocates time for the activities so that time is spent effectively.

  12. Thank you, Prof. Tiwari, for sharing more pleasant memories of your life. I also was captivated by the heights of buildings at a young age. There’s a sense of energy that comes from such structures. When I was 4 years old, my parents took us to Chicago; I can still remember arching my neck backwards in awe as I tried to see the top of the huge skyscrapers – something that didn’t exist in my small home town of Hurley, Wisconsin. Later, when I was 10 yrs old, my cousin Sandy (a school teacher) took me to the top of the IDS Center, the tallest building in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She patiently waited for an extended time for me to tire of the grand views.

    Twelve years later I found myself having dinner atop of that same building with a recruiter from Texas Instruments (my first post college employer) with fond memories of my first visit there. In 1981, I enjoyed a wonderful lunch at the “Windows of the World” restaurant atop of the World Trade Center in NY – 20 years before 9/11. While I worked in Los Angeles in 1990, I enjoyed working on the top floor of the twin towers in Century City – and occasionally watch my office door swing open during an earthquake! Nice memories of time passing indeed.

    Your advice that we need to value our time on this planet reminds me of this inspirational quote that I would often read at the beginning of the day:

    “This is the beginning of a new day. God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it or use it for good. What I do today is very important because I am exchanging a day of my life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, leaving something in its place I have traded for it. I want it to be a gain, not a loss, good not evil, and success, not failure, in order that I shall not regret the price I paid for it.” – Heartsill Wilson

  13. As a prefatory remark to your inspirational blog about the clock towers and generous sharing of your personal life and thoughts on time, I am encouraged to share here my own reflections that my limited travels and travails have taken me.

    I was in New Zealand not so long ago and a city there Christchurch, was devastated by earthquakes that shook the whole country. Most of the city’s iconic and heritage buildings were either razed or irreparably damaged, and it was only by the merest range of inches that the Victoria Clock Tower, also known as the Diamond Jubilee Clock Tower was damaged but could be restored, bringing much needed solace to the locals and was symbolic as a pertinacious symbol of perseverance against nature’s fury. The iron tower and clock was constructed in Coventry and arrived in December 1860 in 147 boxes. Interestingly the clock was first stored, then erected within a tower, then taken out as it was deemed to be a traffic hazard, then sent to the UK to be repaired, then stored with the council and later erected on a stone base , then relocated that year to its current location in the main town centre Its heritage status and much adoration by the locals made it all the more devastating when the earthquake was seriously damaged in the 22 February 2011 Christchurch earthquake, with the time (12:51) stopped on the clock’s face. The clock itself was restored, but it was considered to leave one of the clock faces at 12:51 as a reminder of the earthquake. It stands there now as a monument to the courage of the people who risked their lives to save their loved ones or total strangers when the earthquake wreaked havoc and unimaginable losses of life and heritage properties in the city.

    Your reflections on time and how cheaply this valuable commodity is frittered away in the times we live now resonated within me. As John Updike famously said “Suspect each moment, for it is a thief, tiptoeing away with more than it brings.” I believe today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday and therein lies one of life’s insoluble dilemmas. To fill one’s life with meaning and insight and to spend it with and within something that will leave behind us a legacy worth living for, that has been something I have personally strived for but not always succeeded. As of the modern way of living too much with too little and making too much of it, well, that seems to be the norm, rather than the exception these days and who do we have to blame, except ourselves. We humans have created this gilded cage that has only just a little tiny escape hatch that should be kept open for introspection and wonder, the child like excitement for the very process of living.

    Pantnagar has many happy memories for me and has this very social media that I am be-rating has paradoxically enlivened my life with renewed contacts with my lost colleagues, seniors and other memorabilia from my university life. Thank you once again for your though inspiring blog, I look forward to seeing more of the same.

  14. The tolls of the clock tower reminded us of the passing hour. They used to also remind us to be alive, be active and do something about the gift of time we have got.

  15. Dear Sir, thank you for writing a truly refreshing article. I was indeed getting sick of the way of the Farmers’ Protest and the way it was handled, and this article came as a reprieve from the acrimonious media negativism.

    In the modern tech-savvy world, a clock or a watch may not be a big gadget, but it is still an important one. As you rightly pointed out, though with changing time periods the importance for clock towers might have decreased but its heritage value is very important.

    My personal favorite is Chennai Central Railway Station Clock Tower, built in 1900. There are four other standalone clock towers in Chennai at George Town, Royapettah, Doveton and Pulianthope.

    The Philadelphia City Hall Clock Tower is like my computer screen wallpaper containing the different folders of my memories of the time I spent in the U.S. Standing at a height of 548 feet, this clock tower held the title of the tallest building in the world between 1901 and 1908, I was told.

  16. Namaste Sir, Thanks for sharing the beautiful description of Ghantaghar Meerut and your precious childhood memories. It is a magnificent historical structure, specially more beautiful when decorated with lights on Republic Day and Independence Day. You are right about time and its management. Each moment once gone can never return. Inspired by the amazing article, Thanks, Best wishes and regards.

  17. The clock tower with its bell
    That tolls the coming of the hour….
    When will India’s hour come ?
    Or has it come and gone?
    The immediate future appears to be turbulent.
    The lessons of history are often lost if we want to avenge the past.
    Can we not learn from Gandhi.
    If not he, then Mandela?

    The Trumps, and his ilk-who are many all over the world- with hatred and divisiveness as their flags, have only brought destruction. Not rebuilding, and Co-operation that nations like ours need today.

  18. Dear Arun , As it happens , every monument has it’s own interpretation by it’s maker and the trail of humanity who try to interpret the same & one of the best example is Clock Tower ! Look at Calcutta (now Kolkata) , the capital of British Empire in the East . British made many Clock Towers in Calcutta but mostly in Churches i.e. St Paul’s Cathedral, St John Church , St Andrews Church & St Thomas Church. & General Post Office. The recent Clock Towers at Lake Town & New Town are evidently inspired by such monuments. What intrigues me, the reason at the time of erecting? Would like to be enlightened if you or any of our friends here may please.

  19. Ghantagar ki char ghadi, Charon mein zanzir padi……That’s superb.

    Your thought provoking Blog on the relevance of Clock Towers and with it chronicling the importance of time is like adding manure to the pot of flower for a quick perfect blossom. It lets memories flood in, for I’m sure each one of us has sweet memoirs wound across Clock Towers in his or her city.

    Dr Y. P. Singh, YP to me as we were batch mates in our Alma Mater, and you our senior, chose Civil Engineering and I Mechanical after initial two years but being in the same hostel and the same batch it was comradeship to the bones. Shouting hoarse for our hostel, our batch or for our College while competing with others is what gave the kick. His letting me know only few months back of having pursued his hobby of photography clubbed with his interest in historical Clock Towers, culminating into compiling a pictorial Coffee Table book is what pushed my Adrenalin with joy. Covering several Indian cities and numerous countries during his professional career and letting his passion flow unabated he managed a vast collection which now after retirement he is letting the world have a peek-a-boo. A lovely feat deserves applause, and here I’m applauding the loudest. Our common interest again brought us together. Thoughts and interest synchronized, and blossomed once again with the manure of – writing and publishing. So Arun ji, you the senior, the mentor… we try to imbibe you in our endeavour which gives us immense joy and satisfaction

    As any other having read your Blog, I too am reminiscent of totally being awed by looking at Big Ben in London. It was my first ever foreign trip. At 34, enthusiastic, full of energy and with ‘fear me not’ attitude, I as Vice President Projects traveled alone to inspect ‘Screw Pumps,’ (Each 16 Meters in length, 1.6 Meter in diameter and weighing 16 Tons each) which we had ordered on a Dutch Company for our Turnkey Project under Ganga Action Plan – cleaning the Ganges by setting up a treatment plant at Konia, Varanasi. That it was a project in itself to carry this huge consignment by road from the Indian port to Varanasi project site is a story in itself….possibly some other time. Landing at Amsterdam and after three days of inspection, I took an overnight ferry to London. For a week in London, besides traveling to nearby towns and meeting Companies for a possible collaboration I got a chance to explore the city as well. Standing on the bank of river Thames flowing with all its grandeur, watching the clock tower housing the massive Big Ben bell in itself was mesmerizing, a never to be forgotten moment. That it has survived till date with BBC continuing the tradition of broadcasting the chimes on 31st December in itself is a testimony to the architectural, engineering and aesthetic beauty and importance of this Clock Tower. I fully agree and endorse your capturing the surreal moment.

    From, the striking gongs of some Clock Towers heard from far off, to steady tick – tock chimes, to visibility from a distance and for some viewed from all sides there still are many functional Clock Towers world over. Iconic, identifiable, monumental and a pictorial picturesque spot is what delights one and all. A historical land mark at all places. But as the old saying goes, Time and Tide wait for none. While standing tall and upholding the historical splendor of yester years, it surely has been sending a message time and again, and in your words, an arrow once left from the bow cannot be retrieved.

    Your quoting Charles Darwin, ‘A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life,’ is very appropriate. While the hands of the clock keep on moving in circles, appearing monotonous, doing a thankless job but in reality it is ticking away. A second, a minute and an hour moved ahead is irretrievable. Gone…life has moved on. Time is precious. Not to be wasted. To be used productively, to add on to knowledge, creativity, production, research, feelings, health whatever….the list is endless. The joys of having utilized time, created something, given something to society, country, friends relation….again endless, is immense.

    The Clock Towers, embodiment of past present and future besides stirring the nostalgic feeling of belonging and identity ushers us to understand and honour time. Honour its ticking away. A true warrior, a true conqueror is one who has mastered time management. Having seen the past, experiencing the present, but unaware of tomorrow better do whatever needs to be done now. For tomorrow is yet another black box.

  20. Thank you for sharing this wonderful article, Sir. I too recall visiting a clock tower in Mumbai, known as the Rajabai Clock Tower designed by British architect Sir Gilbert Scott, who took inspiration from Elizabeth Tower. Built-in 1878, it featured four types of stone, stained-glass windows, and limestone sculptures. A two-year restoration, the first in the 280-foot tower’s history, was completed in 2015.

    A portion of the total cost of construction of the tower was donated by Premchand Roychand, a prosperous broker who founded the Bombay Stock Exchange on the condition that the tower be named after his mother Rajabai. That is how the tower got its name.
    The tower was open to the public until it got closed as people started committing suicide from the tower.
    The tower looks magnificent and reminds one of how precious time is. And how easily time is taken for granted and not valued.
    Earlier wearing a watch was not just a status symbol but also a reminder of making every moment count.

    Like you said, in the present times the concept of making every minute worthwhile is lost. I too wonder sometimes, how great would it be if we spent each moment realizing how precious it is and once gone will bever come back. Reading your article has made me very interested in visiting Ghantaghar in Meerut. I hope to visit it someday.

  21. Dear Sir, The history of Clock Towers in India is indeed 100 years of history of India. Particularly the people coming from North Indian Towns have all witnessed their progress as they grew and a Clock Tower was always a testimony of that. In my town, Aligarh, the clock Tower is located in the middle of city in the most prominent place surrounded by District Magistrate residence, collectorate , Railway station and AMU. And as you said the clock towers are no more being maintained by the Dist authorities. But inspite of their poor condition, as and when you happen to be there, a lot of memories are flooded through your mind.

    Meerut is of course a historic town like Aligarh and I have gone and passed through the place many times to meet my relatives. I remember, once in 1972, we were on a Engineering College tour to Mussoorie. The Students were from all over the places like Bulandshahar, Meerut, Muzaffarnagr, Roorkee including Aligarh. We were therefore told to assemble at Ghanta Ghar in Meerut and Dehradun, the most prominent places in those days. Mussoorie is just about 35 kms from Dehradun. In the absence of present day multistory buildings, Clock Towers looked gigantic and majestic in those days and there fore were most recognized place in any town.

    Sir, you have very aptly related the value of time with the value of life. Present day people may be looking at the time in their fancy wrist watches or the smart phones very often but do not value the time as much. The time wasted in gossips, TV shows or simply idling is just creation of cognitive garbage in megabites every day. I fully agree that the person who wastes his time for these reasons has neither understood the value of time nor discovered the value of life.

    I feel that those days the Clock Towers might have played an important part in structuring the lives of people for living a disciplined and purposeful life but in the present day times these structures also remind you of those colonial days. Of course the importance of management of time will never go away whatever means you use to check the time. I am noticing that the present Govt and many more in India are of the view that the structures of colonial days like Parliament and many more such structures remind you of slavery and need to give way to new dwellings to represent the New India, the India of 21st century, a self reliant (ATM NIRBHAR) India. So in my view if the colonial structures are dilapidated or are removed for better utilisation or for course correction of the history, it is perfectly fine.

    In the summary, you have very thoughtfully, stressed upon the importance of time. We all have seen the movie, VAKT (Time) and may remember the famous dialog by the actor Balraj Sahni telling his children the importance of time. Indian heritage is as old as time immemorial. We need to synchronize our inner and outer clocks to understand the value of time, by following Indian ancient practices of Yoga, meditation and Pranayam, regularly. Jai Hind Jai Bharat.

  22. Prof Tiwari, Thank you for your keen reflection on the historical chronology icons in the Sub-Continent and many other places around the World where such exists not for their history but their place of essence in the life each of us living on this side of heaven.

    Your keen reflection brought a keen awareness of what one makes use of the given 24 hours The Almighty God gives them every single day, this then led me to looking at how best each of can understand and apply lessons that this concept brings, first by looking at a uniform meaning of time as elaborated in Wikipedia and also the Holy Scriptures:

    Time is the indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in an apparently irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future. It is a component quantity of various measurements used to sequence events, to compare the duration of events or the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change of quantities in material reality or in the conscious experience.

    Time has long been an important subject of study in religion, philosophy, and science, but defining it in a manner applicable to all fields without circularity has consistently eluded scholars. Yet time in Physics is operationally defined as “what a clock reads.

    Then I turned my attention to what the wisest man whoever lived is reputed to have said! King Solomon in his book Ecclesiastes Chapter 3:1-13 reminds us:

    “There is a right time for everything:
    A time to be born; A time to die; A time to plant; A time to harvest;
    A time to kill; A time to heal; A time to destroy; A time to rebuild;
    A time to cry; A time to laugh; A time to grieve; A time to dance;
    A time for scattering stones; A time for gathering stones; A time to hug; A time not to hug;
    A time to find; A time to lose; A time for keeping; A time for throwing away;
    A time to tear; A time to repair; A time to be quiet; A time to speak up;
    A time for loving; A time for hating; A time for war; A time for peace.

    What does one really get from hard work? Everything is appropriate in its own time. But though God has planted eternity in the hearts of men, even so, many cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I conclude that, first, there is nothing better for a man than to be happy and to enjoy himself as long as he can; and second, that he should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of his labours, for these are gifts from God.”

    This passage rightly reminds us of what matters for as long as we live, as there is a time for everything, hence your comment on the need to value our time on this planet and use it properly, as none us will live forever.

    It pays to take good care of once breath and heartbeats yes, the days, weeks and months will be borne wisely in the process. My submission will not be complete without picking a line from Moses the Servant of God, who in Psalm 90:10 – 12, eloquently talks about time in relation to our borrowed space of existence on this planet:

    “Seventy years are given us! And some may even live to eighty. ….But even the best of these years are often empty and filled with pain; soon they disappear, and we are gone. Teach us to number our days and recognise how few they are; help us to spend them as we should.”

    We shall have done well to learn how best we can number our days……., this the becomes the most important of our duties, everything else is secondary!

  23. Dear Sir, This article brought me back to my childhood and made me remember my native city, Muzaffarpur, in Bihar. The city is famous for its fruit “Leechi”. There is also a Clock Tower located in the middle of the city. It is being called Saraiyaganj Tower, just 500 m from my ancestral home, where I spent my early childhood days.

    Later I moved to Patna for my medical entrance preparation, here also I found a Clock Tower located at Patna secretariat, the administrative headquarter of Bihar. It was designed by the famous architect of Sydney, Joseph Manning and built by Martin Burn of Calcutta during 1913-17. It stands distinct from any other historical building of the city by its tall Clock Tower.

    Now, I am in Sydney, Australia and had visited Central Railway Station to view the historical Clock Tower built in 1921 by famous architect Walter Liberty Vernon. The Central station Clock Tower has kept Sydney running on time for nearly 100 years. Visitors can climb on this Clock Tower and can enjoy breathtaking open-air views across south Sydney while learning about the history of Central Station, the conservation of the Clock Tower, and how the railways brought standardised time to NSW.

    These all Towers symbolizes the importance of time in our life. It the time which make people grow or fall, our decisions right or wrong. I have a great respect to theses symbol of time, it says, Respect Time if you Respect yourself and the world will respect you in turns. We should utilise every moment of our life time in learning new things and productivity for our sole purpose of existence in this world.

    Warm Regards,

  24. Dear Sir, What a coincidence! Today is the 125th birthday of Secunderabad Clock Tower, in Hyderabad inaugurated on February 1, 1897. Nizams were allies of the British. In 1806 the new extension of the Hyderabad city in the North by Nizam Sikandar Jah was called Secunderabad after his name. Later a large contingent of British officers and soldiers stationed at Secunderabad and it became a Cantonment. The Clock tower is 120-ft high with a park of one hectare surrounding it. The clock on the tower was donated by a local businessman, making it a perfect symbol of military, political and money power.

    The 150-year-old British clock adorns four sides of the famed Charminar monument. The clock was brought to Hyderabad from London in 1889 during the reign of Mir Mehboob Ali Khan, the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad. On the west of Charminar, near Laad Bazaar, is Mahboob Chowk Clock Tower and Chowmahalla Palace with a big clock adorning its main entrance.

    Then there is a clock tower at Sultan Bazar near Badi Chowdi. After independence in 1947, the Indian National Flag was first hoisted on it. There are indeed so many clock towers I can see dotting Hyderabad – Fateh Maidan, Mozamjahi Market, Falknuma Palace, Monda Market, James Street, and St George Church. . . It indeed gives me a good feel whenever I pass by them. Thanks for this truly refreshing writeup.

  25. Good evening Sir, I am so happy to read your post. It reminded me about my childhood memories and college days. I came to know a lot of information about the Clock Towers after reading this post. Your post also took me back to my University days, in which I gifted a small watch to my father and he was proudly showed to all his friends in the village.

    After reading your post I came to know why you are not wearing wrist watch. Even I lost interest in wearing wrist watch after my father’s departure in 2010 (I went to Kanyakumari for my Final Internship in Indo-US Foundation within a month after this incident). I Never forget your support which you gave me in that difficult situation.

    Your concluding words i.e. “stay grounded in your body, stay connected to your past, your roots and your heritage and utilise their wisdom for creating a better future for yourself and the coming generations to live in” are very much important in everyone’s life. Thank you Sir.

  26. I drove you to Meerut Ghantaghar and Loyal (Tilak) Library in the adjacent Town Hall during your last visit here. I was indeed surprised with your familiarity and comfort with the ecosystem there.

    Ghantaghar is indeed the identity of Meerut. A replica of it was used in Film “Zero”. There are two more clock towers in Meerut – At Sanatana Dharma Mandir, Budhana Gate and St. John Church, near Sardhana Road – also a hundred-year-old. In a way, the three clock towers reflect the history of Meerut as the confluence of Hindu, Muslim and Christian people.

    I also find my favorite line from Mr. Robot in the article to my utmost delight: “I mind the top one percent of the top one percent by hacking their time.” I am taking your advice of “Mind your thoughts and emotions, and see how they are hacking you,” in utmost earnest. Thank you Tauji for this beautiful and timely article.

  27. A perfect coincidence! Friends seem to have a lot in common to cherish. The town where I grew up had a clock tower too and fondly referred to as “Mani Medai”. Made in Derbyshire by Smith of Derby Group, London and presented to Sri Moolam Thirunal Maharajah of Travancore by the European LMS Missionary Rev. Duthie around 1893, the clock tower is still admired. Even though the landscape around the Nagercoil Clock Tower has been changing continuously, the Society’s collective identity has only grown stronger and memories about and around it remain etched deeply.

    The smells and sounds of that place help me relive good old days. Ice cream in Warren’s, Chukku kaapi (dry ginger coffee without milk) with murukkus (crackers and krispies made of rice flour) for just 15 paise in that small coffee shop, varieties of non vegetarian delicacies I ‘devoured’ and relished with friends in Azad Hotel, sherbet from the corner store that comes with a quick wrap up of the local news by the ‘annachi’ (affectionately referred to the shop keeper), not to mention how I tasted the varieties of bananas hanging there with my nose and movies at Pioneer Picture Palace arouses some deep unconscious memories. Unable to put those memories into words, I end this knowing that there is ‘something’ that certain places, things and food triggers deep within your past.

  28. Sir, A very thought provoking blog on a simple topic – clock tower. Only you can a bring a connect between the clock tower and how the future of a person gets shaped. As you rightly brought out every reasonably big town has a clock tower. Each one of us remembers the significance of the clock tower, we in Bidar (My district Headquarter in Karnataka) used to wait for the BELL sound at 12 O’ clock in the night. The day time sound was not audible. Of course during the summer it was quite audible because we used to sleep on the rooftop.

    The two interesting phrases you used are are “Obsessive compulsory Disorder” and “Cognitive Garbage”. Both the phrases very precisely explain the present state of affairs. Once we get on to the mobile we donot know how we waste our time and by the time we realise that we would have spent more than hour and doing nothing sensible or productive but for generating Cognitive Garbage. It is a very big addiction and most of us got addicted to. I understand now so many applications are being developed to de-addict people from usage of mobile. As G B Shaw says “‘If Science can solve can solve one problem it can create ten new once”, though it may sound cynical but it is true.

    We have to derive some message and meaning from WASIM BARELIVI”s share and try to save ourselves to shape our future:

    ये मैं ही था जो बचा कर ले आया खुद को साहिल पर
    समंदर ने बहुत मौका दिया था डूब जाने का ।

    There was every opportunity given by the sea for drowning but I could save myself and returned to the shore.

    As you have rightly brought out, we need to decide and shape our future using the available time productively and there is no mechanism of retracting the time that has gone by. Sir thank you once again for an interesting and educating blog.

  29. Dear Sir, this blog indeed touches the heart. Kudos to Dr YP Singh for writing on the innocuous subject of clock towers, and you to intensify its emotional content. I can feel right now my childhood memories of Almora and its clock towers at Baden Memorial Church, Bhadreshwar Temple and Chaughanpata. You can see the entire Almora town standing at the Badden Church Clock Tower. None of them is functional now but it is in fact the sign of a new age where everybody minds the “personal time” and hates to be overstated by the “collective time” which a clock tower is all about.

    The Ghantaghar of Chandini Chowk in New Delhi is no more. After being damaged in an earthquake, it was never rebuilt again. But Ram Swarup Clock remains the most famous landmark of North Delhi. It separates the sprawling market of Kamla Nagar from Roshanara Bagh and Club, another famous structure from the colonial era. And it is functional! Then there is Ghantaghar in West Delhi built around 1950 in the memory of Diwan Hari Singh. The original clockwork and other equipment were imported from England. I understand, Infosys is planning the world’s tallest clock tower at their campus in Mysore.

  30. Dear Sir, A very refreshing theme indeed. And I am teleported to my childhood in Rajkot and the majestic Raiyanaka Tower. Also a gate of what used to be the fortifications of the old walled city of Rajkot. The clock was built in 1892. With bustling Kansas Bazaar with its arrays of local shops around it, it’s like the beating heart of Rajkot.

    Your words, “Time moves like an arrow. It never returns. You can use it to hit a target or shoot it into the dark. Eternity is indifferent to what you are doing with your life, like an envelope carrying a letter, not concerned with its content.,” are indeed a wake-up call. The other day, on my almost weekly trip to Mumbai by train, I was wondering, how many thousands of hours I had been sitting there! Had I clocked 100,000 hours?

  31. Dear Sir, I am indeed fortunate to know Dr YP Singh and he shared this book with me. But it is today, after reading your blog, I realized its importance.

    Your article, with a picture of Big Ben, took me to my time in Allahabad University (2001-2005). The clock perched at the top of the senate hall building in the arts faculty of the university resembles the Big Ben. The clock manufactured in 1912 got stopped working in 1999 and waiting for repairs since then.

    Then there is a Big Ben on the road to the Kolkata airport. As we drive along the Kazi Nazrul Islam Sarani, popular as VIP Road, as the Lake Town starts it is there. It has four giant clocks facing each direction. Named “Kolkata Time Zone”. But it is not a historical monument. It has been built recently by the local municipal body as a part of the drive to beautify the city.

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