The Rajabai Clock Tower is a clock tower in South Mumbai, India. It is located in the confines of the Fort campus of the University of Mumbai. The tower stands at a height of 85 m (280 ft).
The Rajabai tower was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, an English architect. He modeled on Big Ben, the clock tower of the UK houses of Parliament in London.
The foundation stone was laid on March 1, 1869 and construction was completed in November 1878. The total cost of construction came to Rs. 2 lakhs (Rs. 200,000), a princely sum in those days. This entire cost was defrayed by Premchand Roychand, a prosperous broker who founded the Bombay Stock Exchange on the condition that the tower be named after his mother Rajabai.
Premchand Roychand’s mother was blind and as a staunch follower of Jain religion she was supposed to consume her dinner before evening. The evening bell of the tower helped her to know the time without anyone’s help.
The tower was closed to the public after it became a frequent spot for those attempting to commit suicide.
A file photo of University of Mumbai taken in 1870s. Rajabai Clock Tower here seen shrouded in scaffolding was completed in 1878
The tower was built in a fusion of Venetian and Gothic styles. It is built out of the locally available buff coloured Kurla stone. The tower has one of the best stained glass windows in the city.
The ground floor has two side rooms, each measuring 56 × 27.5 ft (17 × 8.5 m). The tower forms a carriage porch 2.4 m² (26 ft²), and a spiral staircase vestibule of 2.6 m² (28 ft²). The Tower, over the carriage porch, has a square form up to the gallery at the top of the first level which is at a height of 68 feet (20.7 m) from the ground. The form changes from a square to an octagon and the height from this gallery to the top of the tower is 118 feet (36 m) and the third stage to the top of the finial is 94 feet (28.7 m), thus making a total height of 280 feet (85 m).
During its time, it was the tallest structure in the city of Mumbai.
During the British Raj, it played the tunes of “Rule Britannia”, “God Save the King”, “Home! Sweet Home!” and “A Handel Symphony”, out of a total of sixteen tunes, which changed four times a day. It currently chimes only one tune every 15 minutes.