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Darjeeling Capitol Clock Tower to get replica, new to set at Chowk Bazar

Darjeeling Capitol Clock Tower
Darjeeling, May 10: Darjeeling's most famous landmark, the Capitol Clock Tower, is set to get a replica but the new one will not be chiming to the tune of Big Ben in London.
The Rotary Club of Darjeeling has decided to set up the new clock tower at Chowk Bazar as the old one on Ladenla Road is no longer visible from all parts of town because of mushrooming of concrete structures. Rotary Clock Tower will be acting as a fire fighting unit with a water tank and fire extinguishers.

The turret clock at the Capitol Hall, set up by Darjeeling municipality in the early 1920s, was one of the most visible landmarks in town until the skyline changed with the construction of high rises. This is not to say that the tower is no longer a landmark in Darjeeling.
"When we were small, we could see the clock from most parts of the town. This is not possible now. So, we decided to replicate the clock tower and set it up at Chowk Bazar, one of the places from where the tower was visible earlier," said Tashi Pencho, the project chairman of Rotary Club of Darjeeling.
However, the new tower will not be seen from all parts of town either.
"The replica will have four clocks facing four directions. There will also be space to store at least 12,000 liters of water and about 20-30 fire extinguishers so that the tower can act as a centre of response in case of emergencies," said Suresh Periwal, the president of the club.
In the past five years, there have been at least four major fire incidents within a 200m radius of the spot where the clock tower is coming up.
"Since it will take time for fire engines to reach town from Dali, situated 5km from Darjeeling, the water and the extinguishers should be of immense help. We are planning to train volunteers from all 32 wards of Darjeeling on how to use the fire extinguishers. The keys will be kept probably at the police station," said Pencho.
Pencho had played an instrumental role in repairing the clock at the Capitol Hall in 2006. The renovation had also been funded by the Rotary Club that spent Rs 1.5 lakh. The clock had stopped working since the mid 1980s.
"We plan to start the Rotary Clock Tower project from Monday. We are looking at completing the project in six months. The total cost is likely to touch Rs 12 lakh and at the moment, our members have pooled in around Rs 3 lakh. We also plan to seek public support," said Mukesh Singh Adhupia, the president elect of the club.
Apart from fire fighting mechanism, the two-storied tower will also have a centre where one can check blood sugar and pressure.
A small library for children with story books will also be built in the tower. While the Capitol tower clock chimes to the same tune as Big Ben in London, the new clock will not ring. The old clock chimes between 6am and 9pm and stops for the night so that town is not disturbed.

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