Category Archives: Clocks

Suicides & the Sensational Rajabai Tower Case

1 September, 2016
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Clocks: Rajabai Clock Tower (1878)

Mayo Road (presently Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil Marg), Fort.

The sensational Rajabai Tower Case of 1891, in which two girls aged 16 and 20, were found dead at the foot of the Rajabai Clock Tower, firmly established that with advent of the high-rise, the nature of suicides had changed in Bombay.

Formerly Bombay’s distressed inhabitants ended their lives in other ways. Consuming arsenic or opium and drowning in wells were the most common means; knives were also used, to slit throats and wrists. Coroners’ inquests from the mid 19th century suggest that several of the deceased were terminally ill.

The 280-foot Rajabai Clock Tower changed the landscape, with more and more inhabitants choosing to end their lives from the Tower’s top gallery. The problem became so acute that the authorities had to eventually close the Tower to the public.

Photo by Rahul Patel, who stood safely on the ground.

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Hello Mr Halai Bhatia

19 November, 2015
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Clocks: Hallai Bhattia Mahajanwady

Kalbadevi Road, Kalbadevi.

When scholars title their articles “Why Bhatiyas are not ‘Banias’ and why this matters”, it is time to take inter-community differences more seriously.
Both the Bhatias and Banias are Hindu Vaishnav trading castes and each of them comprises of numerous jnatis or sub-castes.
In Bombay, in the mid 19th century, the most prominent Bhatia subcastes were the Kutchi Bhatias and the Halai Bhatias and the well known Bania subcastes were the Kapol Banias, the Nagar Banias and the Dasha Shrimali Banias.

The Hallai Bhattia Mahajanwady complex on Kalbadevi Road is a good example of the Halai Bhatias’ marking their presence in the city.

*All the different spellings of ‘Halai’ and ‘Bhatia’ coexist in this post, in keeping with the Blog’s policy of tolerance.

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Battle of the Clocks

25 February, 2014
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Clocks: Victoria Terminus (VT) (1888)

Clocks: Victoria Terminus (VT) (1888)

Bori Bunder (presently Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus {CST}, Dadabhai Naoroji Road).

Guest Post by Dr. Prashant Kidambi.

In the early twentieth century Bombay witnessed an extraordinary ‘Battle of the Clocks’. The controversy erupted in July 1905 when the Government of India, invoking the imperatives of science, civilization and commerce, introduced a Standard Time for the whole country. The Victoria Terminus, like other railway stations in the city, fell in line and adopted Standard Time. But across the road, Indian nationalists in the Bombay municipality orchestrated a vociferous public movement against the decision, and succeeded in overturning an earlier Corporation resolution adopting the new time. They thereby inaugurated a tradition of local resistance to Standard Time that lasted until March 1950.

Hersh Acharya captures the clock that compromised first.

Dr. Prashant Kidambi is a Senior Lecturer in Colonial Urban History at the University of Leicester.

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Lahore ki Lakshmi

21 June, 2013
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Lakshmi Insurance Building (1938)

Clock: Lakshmi Building (1938)
Pherozeshah Mehta Road, Fort.

Lakshmi Insurance Building is a rare and wonderful example of an Art Deco structure with an Indian goddess and a clock at the top. The structure housed the Bombay branch of the Lakshmi Insurance Company of Lahore.
The placing of Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity, above the clock is no doubt a reassuring sight for policyholders and the public at large.

It is a shame that the chiming clock is in such disrepair on the building in Bombay and that the Lakshmi representations are missing from the sister structure in Lahore.

The photograph is shot by Dj Murty on Kodak 400 ISO film.

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