Senior Citizens, Clock Tower shattered by neglect in Mussoorie
The clock tower is the heartbeat of any town or city but the clock at the historic tower is shut from ages. The senior citizens feel neglected and have vented their ire at this stopped clock at the tower.
MUSSOORIE, 20 Jan: According to Chronicler Gopal Bhardwaj the Clock Tower of Mussoorie and senior citizens like Devi Dayal Goyal, often referred to as ‘Goyal Sahib’, a shop owner, have one thing in common, both are disturbed by the neglect shown towards them by society.
He says after browsing through his ‘Book of Chronicles’, yet to be published, that the Clock Tower was constructed a few years before Goyal Sahib’s family arrived in Mussoorie in 1945. He adds further that the place where the clock tower is situated, a police station guarded the border of the civil area and the cantonment in 1892. The police station was shifted later and a shop of stone masonry came into existence. The council bought the place for Rs 300 as a stand for “Jhampanis” and hand pulled Rickshaws. Bhardwaj goes on to say that the first public clock was established in 1936 at St George’s College in Barlow Gunj near Mussoorie.
JB Joyce & Co, the famous makers of high-class Church and Turret clocks, whose sterling English workmanship was renowned world over with guarantee of durability and reliability, installed the clock. The Westminster Chimes echoed in the adjacent Jungle thus keeping away the wild animals from the school. The clock became popular and the administrators of Mussoorie got the idea that another public clock for the town would be immensely valuable, especially as very few people had wrist watches at that time and it also served the English soldiers on their way to various churches in the town.
The English ladies who were impressed with the construction prowess of the contractor, late Ugrasen Verma, recommended his name to the administrator of Mussoorie from 1933-1938, Barrister Darshan Lal, for construction of the clock tower. Ugrasen Verma had many buildings to boast of against his name, such as the white sandstone Kasmanda Lodge and Kateswar Temple near LBSNAA that still stand tall as a testimony to the abilities of the contractor.
According to Harikishore Verma, the son of Late Ugrasen Verma, his father - born in 1905 - was an A-Class contractor in the council. Apart from government works, he also undertook private works at the mansions of Nawabs and Maharajahs, alike.
Harikishore Verma adds further that his father, for a sum of Rs 14000, completed the tower in 1938-39, which was also the last year of Barrister Darshan Lal as the administrator of the council. He also says that his father took pride in the construction of the clock tower as it was grand landmark of the town that was also visible from his bedroom. His last wish was to see the clock ticking again in his lifetime but died on 6 June 1992 with his eyes staring at the clock of the tower whose needles had stopped at 2.45.
The Late Ugrasen Verma is also mentioned in the book authored by Ruskin Bond “Mussoorie the Jewel of The Hills”. Devi Dayal Goyal, also called Goyal Sahib, aged 83 fondly reminisces that the clock tower existed when his family shifted to Mussoorie from Lucknow in 1945. His father owned a small departmental store fulfilling the needs of the British soldiers. He was also an ardent Congress worker who worked clandestinely for liberation of the motherland. He was at the fore of India’s Independence celebrations in 1947. In the celebrations that followed, he actively participated by distributing ‘Ladoos’ and climbing the clock tower to sound the huge bell which was run by manual key.
He also recalls the days when the nights were lively and as the clock struck 9 p.m., night life use to begin at the Savoy with a variety of entertainment shows. He authenticates it with his picture of 1970, in which the famous Cigarette Company is seen organising a dealer’s meet. He also actively participated in the Uttarakhand movement and recalls the bullet that passed his ear on the fateful 2 September, 1994. For mor details go to