A grand old-timer who still keeps time

Chiming past:Methan Mani in front of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram.– Photo: C. Ratheesh Kumar  

Amongst the attractions associated with the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple, is a forgotten piece of engineering marvel that was once a crowd-puller.

‘Methan Mani,’ a grand old clock, stands tall on the eastern side leading to the temple entrance, majestically facing the Padmatheertham pond.

Believed to have been built during the reign of Karthika Thirunal Ramavarma, the clock has been a silent witness to many a rise and fall in history. The exact year in which the clock was erected continues to be a contested topic among historians — some maintain that it in the 1840s, while others claim that it was during the 1790s.

The antique object, which has on its dial a bearded man’s face with two goats on either side, is said to have been installed by a person named Kulathooraan, who later came to be known as ‘Soothram Asaari’ (carpenter adept in tricks). The intriguing element is revealed whenever the clock completes an hour. A man opens his mouth as the two goats butts him on both his cheeks, producing a loud chime. Komala Kumari, a retired teacher from Karod, has fond memories. “Back in my childhood, we used to stand in a row waiting beside the Padmatheertham to see the clock in action as it strikes. Such a sight is a distant memory now”, she recounts.

“It is said that the chimes from the bell was heard till the area where the Secretariat stands at present,” says Sreepadam R. Sukumaran Nair, a souvenir shop owner.

According to historian M.G. Shashibhooshan, the clock has a connection with the erstwhile Travancore kingdom. It was installed to silently mark the event of Tipu Sultan’s withdrawal from the battle of Nedumkotta.

‘Methan Mani,’ which works on a pulley system, became defunct several times. “There are almost no technicians alive acquainted with the technology, hence, getting it repaired is near to impossible now,” says Mr. Nair.

“The winding, if not done from time to time, slows down the clock gradually,” says Rajaraja Varma, administrator of the temple trust.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 12:28:14 PM |

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