PANAJI: The only tower clock in the city has started ticking again. Looking down one of the city’s busiest intersections, the hands of time on this rooftop landmark had stopped moving three years ago. It ticked back to life a few days ago.
“After it stopped, we tried all local clock repairers, but no one could set it right,” says Mahesh Rao, general manager, Hotel Nova Goa. The hotel, based on Panaji’s Atmaram Borkar road, finally used expertise from neighbouring Pune.
The tower clock sits atop the roof of the hotel which opened its doors to guests in 1983. “From the time we started the hotel the clock has been on the tower,” remembers Rao. No other detail about the clock’s history is however available.
Spanning 9 ft in height, 6 ft in width and 3.5 ft in depth, the clock has Roman numerals on its dial. The minute hand is 3.5 ft long while the hour hand is about 2 ft long.
Recalling the city’s other clock tower-a mid 19th century tower that stood adjoining the old municipal building near the northern end of the Church Square in the garden-historian Percival Noronha remembers, “The building was brought down around 1957, so was the clock tower.” The building was one of the earliest in the new city of Panaji.
Another clock tower erected by the Corporation of the City of Panaji in 2001 at the city entrance, near Ambedkar garden, was also removed a few years ago. “All its four faces showed time, but often they each showed a different time!” A city resident remembered.
Maintaining a tower clock is no easy task, and the management of Hotel Nova Goa found that out soon after it stopped ticking. “After we contacted every person who could possibly repair it, we found newspaper reports about Pune-based Vijay Khadke,” Rao says.
Once Khadke arrived in Goa, the three-month-long effort to get the 26-year-old clock ticking again started. The expert is known to have repaired some of the oldest tower clocks, dating back to the British era, in Chennai and another city.
“It was a technically challenging job and Khadke visited Goa thrice to carry out research. He even took some parts back to Pune for repairs,” the GM recalls. Part of the work was also done by the hotel’s chief engineer, Terence Maciel.
“It cost over Rs 1 lakh to repair and took three months to complete. The clock now ticks again,” smiles Rao.