As part of the Madras Week celebrations I plan to conduct a tour around the Choolai area of Madras/Chennai. Ambling about the place with Karthik Bhatt (someone has said that we must have been property-brokers in our previous birth), I came across this narrow park dedicated to Selvapathi Chettiar (of whom more in a later blog), running along one side of Demellows Road and flanking one wall of what was once Binny Estate. And at one end of the park, there is this massive clock tower.

Whenever anyone has asked me about stand-alone clock towers in the city, I have always been able to name only 3 – Mint, Doveton and Royapettah. There is a fourth in Tiruvottiyur I am told. If so, this must be the 5th. It was declared open in 1948 by Dr U Krishna Rau (son of this blog’s old friend, Dr U Rama Rau) a famous surgeon, sometime Mayor of Madras and a Minister in the Congress cabinets of the 1950s. The clock’s mechanism was made by Gani & Sons, a firm that I only knew of as GNB’s asthana watch supplier. Young Bhatt informs me that they specialise in these massive clocks and in that context, this site is interesting –

This clock however does not work and I presume that the Corporation has forgotten about its existence. The park is well-maintained as are most of Chennai’s parks and well-patronised. Can we hope that something will be done to the clock tower also (by which I dont mean demolition)?