The nearly 150 year old clock of the church in the quaint little hill station of Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh is ticking once again after being in a state of disrepair for pasts several decades, thanks to the efforts of the local Infantry Brigade of the Army and a good samaritan from Chandigarh.
Locals are hard pressed to remember when they had heard the clock, housed in an imposing clock tower, chime the hour. By some estimates, the clock is in full working condition after nearly 50 to 60 years.
But it is now working in its full glory after the local Army brigade’s Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME) workshop stepped in to give its help and managed to repair a machine which had been imported from the United Kingdom in the latter part of the 19th century.
It was Ashwini Kumar, an employee of Chandigarh’s Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, and a regular visitor to Kasauli, who noticed that the clock of the imposing church building was not in working condition during his various visits to the hill station over the last decade.
Speaking to The Indian Express in the courtyard of the Christ Church, Ashwini Kumar, said that he had often spoken to the caretaker of the Church as well as the local pastor about the reason for the clock being out of order.
“I was always told that there was no mechanic who could repair it and I took it upon myself to examine the complex levels and gears of the machinery at the top of the church,” he said.
Ashwini found that the clock was a weight driven assembly and that it had most probably been manufactured sometime around 1870s. The church itself had been founded in 1844 and the building came up around 1852.
Ashwini spoke to several clock agencies who offered to put an electronic clock in the place of the original machine driven one, but that was not acceptable to him as he wanted to restore the original work.
He even approached a Kolkata-based company and paid Rs 5000 out of his own pocket for them to send an engineer to have a look at the clock. It was at this point of time that he got help from a retired Army officer, Major General Surjeet Singh, who too was a regular visitor to Kasauli.
Being a retired EME officer himself, the General spoke to his contacts in the Army and the EME Workshop of the Kasauli brigade, which is located in adjoining Dagshai, was approached for help.
The troops of the workshop, under Major Sudhansh Rohilla paid several visits to the Church before it was ascertained that several new parts would have to be fashioned in order to make the clock work. And with precision and time bound discipline which is the forte of an Army unit, they managed to do what many thought was not possible.
The Army engineers found that the clock was still eight to ten seconds ahead per hour and they have persevered and reduced the margin of error to three seconds per hour and are now working towards ensuring zero error.
The pastor of the Church, Reverend Nathaniel, is understandably very pleased with the results. “Several individuals gad come forward in the past few years to help get the clock repaired but none showed the resolve of Ashwini,” he said adding that the main effort would now be to ensure that the machine is kept in a working condition.
Devinder Kumar Gupta, an old Kasauli resident who runs a provision store right opposite the church, says that he has never seen the clock working and that it was the sheer passion of a tourist to the town and the Army which has given Kasauli a new landmark.
Kasauli has had a deep connection with the Army ever since the town was founded in 1842. An important cantonment during the British-Raj protecting the summer Capital of Shimla, the town has had a steady presence of Indian Army troops after independence too.