Voice of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Friday, October 7, 2022

“The Cunningham Clock Tower” also called Ghanta Ghar

The Ghanta Ghar of Peshawar lost its grandeur due to the negligence of government.

“The Cunningham Clock Tower” in the centre of Peshawar City commonly known as Ghanta Ghar is one of the most ancient buildings of the city established under the reign of Queen Elizabeth of UK. Back in 1900, the clock tower in all its glory was once known as the pride and national heritage of the country, however the great historic tower lost its grandeur because of the encroachment and mismanagement of the local administration.

Architectural masterpiece by Sir James Strachan, an architect and engineer by profession, Ghanta Ghar was a fascinating piece of work from this municipal engineer at the time when he notably also designed many buildings in British India, including the metropolitans of Peshawar and Karachi among others.

Currently, this historic tower is surrounded by a huge fish market which has turned the tower into a pile of dirt and heap of garbage and the provincial government neither does nor bother to take any action in order to save this national heritage from being destroyed.

The Clock Tower is situated in the most crowded vicinities of Peshawar City in the Bazar Kalan, meaning a Great Market. Presently, this bazaar has lost its splendour and therefore is of no interest for the visitors due to many highlighted problems which the successive governments have failed to address on time or in delays.

Besides, it is also important to mention here that due to its historic importance, the control of the building should actually rest with the K-P Directorate of Archaeology and Museums having the required expertise and experts to preserve such valuable sites. However, since years and decades, the Directorate has no authority over Ghanta Ghar at all.

According to the archaeological experts, the government should come forward to hand over this building to the Archaeological Department operating in the town. This is the only way to preserve any archaeological site, for the experts with proper skill and knowledge along with the instruments to restore the site.

While talking to Voice of KP on the Ganta Ghar, Dr. Alam Said, Assistant Professor of Archaeology at a college in New Zealand, said that the government is responsible for such “sorry state” of the historical building as they should pay attention towards renovating the historical site. He maintained the opinion persisting the fact that our history is associated with such historical towers and destroying its ancient beauty means that we are destroying our history through our own hands. Dr. Alam Said further added that such buildings speak for the past times the nation has gone through.

Undoubtedly, the most important inscription on Ghanta Ghar is the valour and bravery of the people of Peshawar in World War I. From this city, 200 men went to the Great War in 1914 till 1919, and from them, 10 lost their lives and beloved in the war.

Furthermore, Rehmat Ali 90, who has been living in Ghanta Ghar Bazar since his childhood told the Voice of KP that almost all his friends have died, and he is the only one left behind. It was due to his emotional attachment with the place that he did not feel alone, and when he does, he images the Ghanta Ghar as his friend since he has countlessly many memories associated with this historical tower. He mourned the fact that a few years ago, this clock used to tell time functioning perfectly, but since then, the clock has stopped forever and there is no one left to repair the clock of the tower. He lamented that due to the negligence of the government and the common masses, this tower has also lost its beauty and importance and very soon this tower will be vanished, crying, he added.

As a closing plea and argument, it is pleaded here that the government should play its role in the protection of such historical buildings which are associated with our history. Besides, its hold should be given to the Archaeological Department of KP, because municipal committees never had anything to do with the historical and archaeological buildings as per the law and rule of the country.

Nonetheless, solely the government cannot be blamed because as a common man, it is a responsibility of all the citizens of any part of the globe to keep clean and protect such historical buildings of the country telling the tales of their legacy.

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