“Watery grave for Tehri’s historic Ghantaghar” by Jaskiran Chopra
By Jaskiran Chopra
March 20, 2006
DEHRA DUN: It withstood the test of time and massive temblors that ravaged the region from time to time, only to fall to the rising waters of the Bhagirathi river.
The famous Ghantaghar (clock tower) built in 1897 by Tehri’s fourth ruler Kirti Shah in honour of British Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee of accession to the throne has found its final resting place in a watery grave.
It took nearly five months for the structure known for its intricate architecture to submerge after Tunnel 2 of Tehri Dam was closed on October 29.
The “Purana Darbar” of Tehri’s erstwhile rulers had submerged in Bhagirathi’s depths in December. But the 110-feet tall clock tower the last landmark of Tehri’s glorious heritage vanished on Sunday. It took so long to disappear as it stood about 250 feet higher than the low-lying bazaar area of the town.
So far the rising water of the dam’s reservoir have submerged Sonadevi, Bhagwatpur, Malideval, Siroin, Godi and several other villages.
Among the other landmarks that fell was the 100-year-old house of environmentalist and “chipko movement” leader Sunderlal Bahuguna in Siroin village. The house had been built by Bahuguna’s father Amba Dutt.
The yellow and white Ghantaghar had played a vital role in the social and cultural life of the people of Tehri. Four years ago, its four antique clocks were stolen, but the culprit is still at large.
“Generations of schoolchildren and housewives in Tehri measured time by the tolling of the clocks of the Ghantaghar.
Few people used watches in Tehri and were used to the time marked by the Ghantaghar,” said Rajiv Nayan Bahuguna, son of Sunderlal Bahuguna and an old resident of Tehri, adding nostalgically that after surviving earthquakes, it had to fall to a dam.
Recalling the prestigious place the Ghantaghar had in the hearts of Tehri’s people, Lt Col (Retd) Prabhat Chandra Saklani, who lives in Doon, says that in the days of the rajas, a Naubat was sounded every morning from the Ghantaghar to wake up the people.