Karachi CLOCK Towers

Tic tic toc on the tower

By Jamil Khan

KARACHI in 1797 was a village known as ‘Krokala Krotchey’ but with the passage of time the name of the place was changed many times. It was called ‘Kalachi’, ‘Kurrachee’ and finally it came to be known as Karachi. The British Raj in the subcontinent left a rich heritage of magnificent buildings in the city which describe the importance of the city and the glory of the past.
In the old Karachi area, there are many buildings which date back some 100 years and are still being used. Some of these buildings are famous for their clock towers, making it a sight to behold. Here we offer glimpses of these timeless towers.

One of the landmarks of British Raj built during 1884-89, it has a tall tower almost 140 feet high boasting of clocks that are visible from all sides.
This Gothic style building was constructed as a market at the site which was at that time visible from a long distance but now it seems lost in a flood of high rises. There are four galleries, each 46 feet wide, surrounded by a large courtyard.
A large number of shops, stalls and encroachments seem to mar the beauty of this structure. Unfortunately the clock erected in the tower has been out of order for a long time as a fault in the mechanism that cannot be rectified.

The Merewether Memorial Tower located at the intersection of M. A. Jinnah Road and I.I. Chundrigar Road was constructed during 1884-92. The medieval style tower displays great carving and is named for General Sir William L. Merewether who served as ‘Commissioner-in-Sinde’ from 1868 to 1877. The tower stands on a platform of 44 feet from elevation and rises to a height of 102 feet. It is visible from a long distance. This is the only clock tower that is in working condition in the city with the assistance of the management of Karachi Stock Exchange.

Once the tallest building in Karachi, the Italian style Trinity Church was completed in 1855. The original plan consisted of a five storey tall clock tower around 150 feet high. In 1904, the upper two storeys were removed for safety reasons but later in 1970s the original structure of the timber-frame pitched roof with a coffered barrel arched roof of concrete was restored. The well-maintained building is still used as a church.

Another simple but attractive Gothic style building on M.A. Jinnah Road, the Denso Hall was built in 1886. This two-storey building earlier provided the facility of a public hall, reading room and library for the residents of the area built in memory of Max Denso, a prominent citizen and six-time president of Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The building also had a clock on its east side but now only the structure is visible. Presently, the water and sewerage complaint centre of Sadar Town is situated in this building.

The first major Italian style building was built in Sadar near the Empress Market in 1882 and was used as a charitable dispensary. A Parsi philanthropist, Edulji Dinshaw, donated a huge amount of money to provide a medical facility in the area. The building is still being used as a dispensary under the auspices of the city government’s health department.
This two storey building also has a clock on its tower but due to lack of proper maintenance the machinery was damaged thus as a result the building lost its charm.
Recently repair work on the ground floor, where the dispensary is located, was in progress, but the upper portion and façade is not in good condition. The wooden stairs are in a dilapidated condition.

The building that hosts the Jaffer Faddoo Dispensary also boasts of a clock tower. Here the poor are provided with medical facility, too. The building was constructed by a Muslim philanthropist Jaffer Faddoo in 1904. This clock tower is slightly different from the rest of the clock towers in Karachi. The well-maintained Jaffer Faddoo Dispensary belongs to the Kutiyana Memon Association and is part of a newly built hospital.

The most impressive Anglo-Mughal building, the Karachi Municipal Corporation Office on M.A. Jinnah Road was completed in 1931. A fine combination of Jodhpur and Gizri stones has been used in the construction of this three-storey building, which gives the structure a majestic look especially early in the morning and just before sunset.
The foundation stone was laid in 1895 but the proper construction work started on November 5, 1927 and the building was completed on December 31, 1931. The building is in use of the city government and fortunately the clock is working properly.

Another market was constructed in old Karachi to provide ample space for hundreds of shopkeepers under a single roof to fulfil the daily requirements of the people. Measham Lea, the Chief Engineer of Karachi Municipality named this market in 1931. The clock tower with an out of order clock capped with a cupola and now surrounded by hundreds of vegetable and fruits stalls is a heart wrenching sight and speaks volumes of the management’s apathy towards this age old structure.
-Publish in Young World-Dawn | Dec 11, 2004

3 Responses to “Karachi CLOCK Towers”

  1. Brilliant post. wish you can post directions and more pictures.

  2. please write about Ranchorline Bazar clock Tower,keamari clock tower.Qamer house clock tower.

  3. Look at the gorgeous view you get from the top. It was just what I needed to relax and cheer me up. The food was delicious and colorful!

    Ocean Terrace

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