PUDUCHERRY: Have you heard of a clock tower reciting couplets from Thirukkural? Here is one such vintage tower, which has got the attention of Puducherry residents after its recent restoration. Arrangements are also being made for a news broadcast from the tower with the help of All India Radio.
Old-timers used to look up to this clock tower at Muthialpet during their work throughout the day. The vintage tower was recently renovated, thanks to the efforts of Muthialpet MLA Vayapuri Manikandan.
Post renovation, the tower not only rings the bell every hour but also recites a couplet from Thirukkural with its meaning.
Puducherry, a former French colony, is known for ancient structures and heritage buildings. There are three clock towers here built during the French regime -- at Grand Bazaar, Muthialpet and Chinnakadai.
Septuagenarian N Vadivelu, a resident of Muthialpet, said, "These towers carry many stories of Puducherry with them. When we were young, the bells from these towers could be heard several km away. Counting the number of bells, people would tell the time as only the rich could afford to have watches and clocks those days. However, due to poor maintenance, the clocks at all the towers stopped working. Only the clock tower in Big Bazaar used to work, now and then."
Manikandan took the initiative to renovate the clock tower in Muthialpet and set up a small park around it. He released a sum of Rs. 20 lakh from his constituency development fund to the Puducherry Municipality and the renovation work started in June last year. The tower came back to life in the third week of January this year.
Talking to Express, Manikandan said, "I am native of Muthialpet. Since my childhood, I used to see this clock tower. I felt bad as it was not working. So, in my election manifesto, I promised to restore the clock tower as it is a pride of our constituency. As per promise, I allotted funds and the restoration works were carried out by the Puducherry municipality."
"Nobody knows the exact age of this clock tower as there are no written records or inscription on it inauguration. However, according to a few records we have, it is over 100 years old and a full-fledged renovation work was done last when Gubert was Mayor of Puducherry Municipality. Almost after 60 years, the same kind of restoration works have been carried out."
"Technicians inspected the tower and said half of the funds allotted would be spent on repairing the clock, without affecting the vintage technology. Considering the fund crisis, we opted for digital recording technology and planned to play the recorded sound of bells. I also suggested for recitation of Thirukkural couplets with their meaning too," Manikandan said.
"After trial runs, we recorded all 1,330 couplets in Thirukkural with their simple meaning and they are now being played after the bells and announcement of time. I met All India Radio officials last week and discussed about my plan to broadcast news from the tower too. They accepted to extend support and news in Tamil will be broadcast several times a day. Officials will inspect the clock tower on Monday and, on trial basis, news will be broadcast from this week by fixing receivers to get signals from AIR. If all goes well, news will be broadcast regularly from this clock tower," Manikandan said.