City Landmarks – Empress Market Clock Tower


“Can I go further to the top”

“I would not recommend that. Only jiyalas go further to raise flags of their respective parties”

I was talking to someone who helped me climb the staircase to the legendary clock tower of Empress Market. It was in desolate state as expected. The clock machinery looked like a marvel of century old tradition of making clocks at top of the iconic buildings which have been deemed redundant in our times. They played an important role in 18th century society when people did not have watches and home clocks were rare. The striking clocks reminded people of passing hour and helped them plan their days and nights. Now they are a mere testimony to aesthetics and care which gone in designing and constructing them.

The staircase leading to the clock tower is usually blocked by the merchandise probably to discourage people from climbing up. You have to convince the pathan guy to take them away and make room. The staircase is narrow and you have to be careful climbing it. The grills at the first floor are designed beautifully. You can get the aerial view of Empress Market and the road from here. The life runs at a maddening pace here. It is difficult to take time out and cherish the decaying beauty of Empress Market but it remain a darling of denizens of Karachi. Someone once asked me that why one should feel connected to British Colonial heritage. People see these landmarks differently even if they were built by the British. I love the way the great Urdu short story writer Initizar Hussain puts it; he says that such buildings are like trees that have roots within people. Therefore a structure like Empress Market, even if it is named after the Queen of England is revered by the people because it serves a social purpose and once it does that, it becomes part of our folklore, our stories, our life.

You can continue your ascent using the steel ladder. It will lead you to the actual clock tower where four fronts of the clock are connected via rods to the actual machinery which is installed in the center. A ladder goes further to the canopy but the floor is in shaky condition. Daredevils still dare to go further than this but it could damage the floor so is not advised.















Categories: City Landmarks

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