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The story behind this clock tower is a tragic one. The Ismail clock tower which was built in 1947 by the Ismail Family ( Haji Mohomed Ismail) in memory of his beloved son Mohomed Zacky Ismail who lost his life in Kadugannawa on the 14th Aug 1947.

The clock tower is a historic monument and marks the center of the Kandy city. The tower was opened by the then premier of Sri Lanka Hon. D.S Senanayaka and the mayor of Kandy in the presence of the family members.

All the machinery and equipment needed for this project was imported from the United Kingdom and the land was acquired by the Kandy Municipal Council.

Story: ” A Classic Austin 7 car left Kandy on a Friday in the 1940s with four people including one young man, Zacky Ismail, who was expected back on the Sunday. No sooner they left Kandy, Sri Lanka’s worst ever rain hit the area and the torrential downpour continued for days; so much so, the Peradeniya bridge and the botanical gardens were under water around the 12th of August 1947.

The Ismail family expected them to come back from Colombo on Sunday night and due to the communications being so poor those days, only Morse code worked through the post office and there were a handful of wind-up phones that mostly did not work. Everyone in the family started to worry by Monday when they did not appear, and late in the evening – the same day, a policeman turned up with a small parcel and said we found a number plate of this vehicle floating at Kadugannawa, is it yours?


Zacky’s father, shaken by seeing it, smashed the box and said “My God, this is my vehicle. What happened?” The policeman explained a tragic accident in which a landslide pushed the Austin 7 down the mountainside. So the following day they realised a huge boulder had come down the hills and the vehicle was buried under it. His son, his son-in-law, his driver and one of his sales assistants had all died it seemed, instantaneously. The family were very close
to all of them, and some days it was almost too much for the father to bear. For Mohammed Ismail, the only answer was to create a memorial to the four people who meant so much to him so he researched the matter and found Kandy was desperately in need of a clock tower; as at the time there was not one ”


Going back to the 1940s, people did not have wrist watches so this was a very useful contribution for the workers of the city and for buses to be on time. Today, it’s still used as a meeting point and people set their watches and meetings by it. For travelers, it is as beautiful an icon as the University and the Temple of the Tooth; built on the road leading to this incredible religious complex, originally known as Ward Street after a British Governor.


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