Gujranwala Clock Tower
The history of Estcourt Clock Tower, Gujranwala is linked to the spatial growth of the city during British rule (1849-1947). E.A. Estcourt, Deputy Commissioner Gujranwala constructed a red brick clock tower (locally called Ghanta Ghar literally, house of the bell) to mark the center of the new city.
History and Architecture
Estcourt Clock Tower, commonly known as Ghanta Ghar, was built in 1906. Estcourt Clock Tower was built presumably to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee reign. Queen Victoria who was made Empress of India in 1876 remains the most commemorated British monarch in the history, with statues erected throughout the British Empire. The clock tower being located at the confluence of major roads – Baghbanpura Road and Guru Nanak Pura Road, circular road is not only a symbolic feature but a surprising experience as well. The idea to build an impressive city clock tower was accomplished in 1906 at the time when Ghulab Singh was the Vice President, Municipal Committee, Gujranwala as well as the Manager Khalsa High School. The foundation stone was laid in December 1905 by E.A. Estcourt, Deputy Commissioner, Gujranwala. The construction work was carried out by the masons, Nabi Buksh and Ahmad Ali with a total cost of Rupees Ten Thousand including one rupee given as a charity by Ghulab Singh.
Estcourt Clock Tower is a unique structure of its kind in Pakistan that peaks at 101 feet topped a pyramidal dome, having white eight-petal lotus motif in relief at the base and an inverted lotus at the top. The tower stands on an octagonal base inscribed in a circle of 32 feet in diameter with each side five feet in length. The tower comprises seven stories (six-plus ground floor) of varying heights each The bottom four storeys (4th to the 1st) are marked by Gothic blind arches regularly placed on each side with white lime mortar dressing. On the third, second, and first storeys, pierced-brick lattice panels (jaali) of different designs have been carefully placed above the blind arches. The ground storey which was originally sixteen feet high can now be seen only three feet above the ground with a remaining portion buried under the ground due to an increase in the road level. over the years. Originally, the tower door was approached by a flight of 3-4 steps indicating that there was once a basement. The top story of the tower can now be reached by a spiral internal staircase with 73 steps radiating from a central cylinder of three feet in diameter. Previously, there were 101 steps, remaining lying buried due to an increase in the floor level. Due to its strategic location, the tower was seen from a distance and the chime of the clock was audible from distant places. Originally, the clock chimed at every hour and also at half an hour intervals. Though the clock turret was replaced in 1991 but it is lying silenced for the last 10 years. It is an architectural echo of the British era and should respond evocatively to the times.
Present Condition of the Tower
Presently the clock tower is surrounded by residential and commercial buildings, losing its once great grandeur. access to the clock tower is nearly impossible owing to a lack of clear communication and coordination. Heavy traffic and an untidy environment further add to the already grim situation.