(PART 2)
  • 10 Jun - 16 Jun, 2017
  • Mariam Khan
  • Feature

A need that rests on the wrists now, was once a luxury. Until the 20th century wrist watches were rare. To go about the daily chores, people needed to know time. To keep the people informed, clock towers were constructed that now speak avenues of a nation’s culture, heritage and style of architecture. Initially the towers did not have faces, but striking bells. From one of the first clock towers, the Tower of the Winds in Athens, that estimated time based on the position of the sun, to about a dozen time tellers in the economic hub of Pakistan, MAG brings to you a series of clock towers that speak a timeless tale.

Jaffer Fuddoo Dispensary

Named after a philanthropist, this clock tower that has an octagonal cupola was built in 1904. Always wanting to serve the people of his city, Jaffer Fuddoo after getting done with his matriculation, worked at the Civil Hospital as a trainee medical practitioner. This dispensary served the destitute in a city that was developing. For his dedicated work, Fuddoo was awarded the Coronation Medal by King George V in 1911. In the present day, this dispensary belongs to the Kutiyana Memon Association, a hospital. It was one of the structures that would have been deconstructed in the 1990s, but the city was lucky enough to not having been evaded of this ancient time teller.

Sindh Madressatul Islam University

"Enter to learn; Go forth to serve" is the motto of the institute which was the alma mater of the father of this very nation. Formally opened on September 1, 1885, the Sindh Madressatul Islam (SMI) was designed by an architect whose association with several Indo-Gothic structures of the city have an uncalled for stamp marked out by him; none other than James Strachan designed the main building and when requested to supervise the construction of the building, he did so voluntarily. This one of a kind institute which was being constructed in Sindh, had the foundation stone of its main building being laid by Viceroy Lord Dufferin in a glorious ceremony, one that is recalled by the then Principal of SMI, Mr Wali Muhammad effendi "as the largest gathering in the history of Karachi". Amongst the leading men who enrolled in SMI, one of the most prominent was the Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah who enrolled in July 1887 and studied here till January 30, 1892. A few prominent names in SMI's alumni include Sir Abdullah Haroon, Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto, Sir Ghulam Hussain Hidayatullah to name a few.

A.O. Clock Tower

To give the city's Central District a landmark, this very clock tower was erected in 2009 by a renowned orthopaedic surgeon, the late Dr Muhammad Ali Shah. Previously if you crossed the Nazimabad flyover near the Board Office, the cream-coloured tower would mark out its presence effortlessly. But the tower was razed to the ground to give way to the Green Line Bus Rapid Transport. According to the Karachi Municipal Corporation, the clock tower's dismantling was in the public's interest, and this structure, was not a heritage site, neither did it have any period roots so taking it down wasn't an issue. However, a similar clock tower in place of the A.O will be built in the future, in a close-by location.

Empress Market

Located in the business district of the city, the 'Empress' keeps a keen eye on the goings-on of everyday activities of the passers-by. Stamped with a colonial history to it, the Empress Market was constructed in between 1884-1889, making it one of the seven markets of the city in those days. The clock tower, that traps the beholder in a trance is 140 feet high, standing tall, guarding the grandiosity of the past era. The structure was built to pay homage to Queen Victoria, the Empress of India at that time. Designed by the master architect, James Strachan, it was under A.J. Attfield, an English firm, that the foundations of this Indo-Gothic structure were laid. The construction was looked after by Mahoomed Hiwan and Dulloo Khejoo, a local firm. Occupying an area of 130 feet by 100 feet, Empress Market has four galleries, each marking out to be 46 feet wide. All the galleries had spaces for shops; in all there were 280 shops that catered to the needs of the citizenry. Spin the time wheel to present day, and the populace throngs the market to get fresh produce, be it fruits, vegetables, meat and many of you reading this, can name the rest.

Karachi Municipal Corporation

When taking the historical M.A. Jinnah Road (previously Bunder Road) an Anglo-Mughal edifice stands tall. All those whose eyes are pulled by the structure's magnetic pull, are stopped in their tracks and revere the architectural masterpiece. Built from Jodhpur red sandstone and yellow Gizri sandstone, 'the foundation of the Karachi Municipal office was originally laid on the currency office site on Bunder Road by His Excellency Lord Sandhurst, Governor of Bombay on 14 December 1895. The present site was selected thereafter and the foundation was completed in the year 1915. The superstructure and foundation of East Wing was commenced on 5 November 1927 and completed on 31 December 1931. Designed by James C Wynnes of Edinburgh, the foundation was completed under the supervision of Measham Lea, Chief Engineer of the Karachi Municipal Superstructure has been erected under the supervision of Mr Jehangir N. Setna Executive Engineer. The Moorish dome of the clock tower was added to the building in 1935 to commemorate King George V's visit to India. Recently the clock has been repaired, chiming through the hours of the day. It was in 1932 that the structure was completed, bearing a cost of Rs. 1,775,000 and inaugurated by the citizens of Karachi led by the President of Karachi Municipality, Jamshed Nusserwanji.

Metropole Rado Clock Tower

To one side, it has Avari, whereas on the other, the Quaid-e-Azam House Museum (formerly called Flagstaff House) acts as a neighbour to this brick wall frame. Marking its spot in the contemporary list of clock towers of the city (out of which this is the only one), this time narrator is situated at a busy junction assisting people to reach their destinations timely.

Poonabhai Mamaiya Tower

Located in one of the oldest settlements of Karachi, is a tiled-edifice; one that has two different hues of blue used. The Poonabhai Mamaiya Tower can be spotted in Ranchor Line, an area where the residents mostly belong to the Salawat community. Close to the tower is the Lakhpati Hotel which was known for its fine tea in its golden days; another guiding light to this landmark is Jamia Masjid Badami. The tower houses a bell inside which is made by a Swadeshi company; according to the residents of the area the bell was rung on special occasions, the likes of which included August 14, Eid and Eid Milad-un-Nabi. This structure has a clock on all four sides which needs winding.