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A new lease of life for French clock tower in Pondy

Express News Service

PUDUCHERRY: The ancient clock tower at the Grand Bazaar Market, belonging to the French period and supposed to be the first of its kind in South India, got a new lease of life recently, in Puducherry.

The tower was donated to the town of Puducherry in 1849 by Diagou Mudaliar,  a philanthropist who had also built the Tourist Home at Uppalam  (now Tourist Guest House under the Tourism Department). He was Sarastadar in Cuddalore and a descendant of Lazaro De Motta. It was renovated by Dr Samuel Diagou, a descendant of Diagou Mudaliar and was recently inaugurated by CM V Narayanasamy.

The clock tower has occupied a prominent place in the historical records of Puducherry. Its mechanical parts were made in Paris by Engineer J. Wagner, said Samuel Diagou.

The construction, which started in 1849, was completed in 1859 and was dedicated to the public. However, Diagou Mudaliar passed away soon after the commencement of the construction work in 1849 and wasn’t able to see the completion of the tower, said Samuel.

Since then, standing tall at the Grand Bazaar market area, it has been telling time to the public. However, the clock stopped working some 15 years back and the structure also needed renovation. The wooden staircase, leading to the tower, was also dilapidated. 

Last year, Samuel Diagou approached the Puducherry Municipality to repair and renovate the structure with his own funds and workmen. After permission was granted, he used his own workmen to renovate and paint the structure. However, restoration of the old clock became a problem and no one knew how to repair the clock, said Samuel Diagou. Finally, an old mechanic in the Puducherry Municipality agreed to repair it.

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