At the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi, two British Raj clock towers stopped ticking some years back. One of the British companies that made these does not exist anymore, and the other asked for a huge amount of money merely to have a look. The President’s office started looking for local experts and finally found them at IIT Delhi. The clocks have started ticking again, and the president will inaugurate them this weekend, reports Economics Times
With no model, manual or written guide, restoring these clocks was almost like solving a jigsaw puzzle. SR Kale, a faculty of the mechanical engineering department of IIT Delhi, said:
“Under the cobwebs and layers of dust were hidden these Big Ben kind of clocks with four dials and sides. We had to be very careful as this is a heritage property. The old nomenclature of addressing these towers as schedule A and Schedule B continue at Rashtrapati Bhawan. The Schedule B clock is around 10 years older than the Schedule A clock, which is about 80-85 years old. Also, the Schedule B clock is like a cuckoo clock that works with the help of a pendulum. No one makes these clocks nowadays .”
IIT Delhi faculty and staff decided not to dismantle these clocks but instead went about the restoration in stages. Apart from Kale, others in the restoration team included Rachna Joshi, Dharminder Jaitley, Arvind SA and Harvesh.
The two Big Ben kind of clocks of the Victorian Era were noticed when the restoration work of two towers was taken up a few years ago by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). Though they tried to trace down the original companies, it was in vain. Then they zeroed on IITians.
The Schedule A tower clock will be inaugurated by the president on Friday while the Schedule B clock tower will be inaugurated on Saturday.