Promoting Tourism: Sangam city’s iconic Chowk clock tower poised for restoration
Built in 1913, the Clock Tower stands as a testament to the ancient Mughal architectural style found in various parts of the nation.
PRAYAGRAJ The Prayagraj Municipal Corporation (PMC) has initiated efforts to involve an experienced conservation, heritage, and restoration agency for the clock tower’s renovation and beautification. PMC officials state that they have already initiated a request for proposal (RFP).
Built in 1913, the Clock Tower stands as a testament to the ancient Mughal architectural style found in various parts of the nation. While it continues to attract tourists year-round at Chowk, one of the city’s most historic, bustling, and lively markets, the passage of time has led to deterioration in structures and elements that contribute to the site’s user experience.
Satish Kumar, chief engineer at PMC, confirmed that the renovation and beautification work would cost around ₹57 lakh and would be completed by the agency awarded the task within 120 days of the agreement being signed.
The last date for bid submission and the opening of technical bids is December 15, followed by a technical presentation by competing agencies and the opening of their financial bids. The project will focus on renovation, reorganisation of spaces, provision of public facilities in a unified design pattern, and facelifting of built structures and other components aligned with the structure.
Officials shared that the prime features of the project would include the restoration of the built structure, maintaining material integrity, dismantling and removing incoherent material finishes, reorganising spaces for repurposing/maximising utilisation, and easing public circulation.
The hired agency’s experts will also undertake structural and architectural restoration, removal of paints and graffiti from the facade, and cleaning stone surfaces. Additionally, incongruent additions to the structure will be removed and relocated as per the planned details, and other additions will be treated with defined colours and characteristic features.
Sentinels of history & timekeepers
Prof. Yogeshwar Tewari of Allahabad University’s Medieval and Modern History department noted that clock towers in India, commonly called ‘ghantaghar,’ were built during the mid-19th and early 20th centuries as symbols of progress and development. Serving as sentinels of history and timekeepers when watches were a luxury, these towers faced weather and time-related decay over the decades.
Counted as the second oldest clock tower of Uttar Pradesh, after the one in Lucknow, the Chowk Ghantaghar was designed by Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob, a British Army officer and colonial engineer, architect and writer. It was renovated in 2007 but has since got neglected.
Prof. Tewari highlighted that in recent years, many cities have rekindled their romance with these heritage structures, removing encroachments and embarking on ambitious restoration projects. These projects recognise the clock towers as integral parts of a city’s heritage and identity.
Photo: The clock tower at Chowk in Prayagraj, set for restoration. (Anil Kumar Maurya/HT)