A sundial that doesn’t see the sun
When naturalist, and poet Narendra Narayan Roy Chaudhury, landlord of the Estate of Baldha, established Baldha Garden at Wari in Old Dhaka back in 1909, a sundial was also installed on this property.
Besides being popular among tourists for being surrounded by greenery, the oldest botanical garden of the county also received a lot of traction for this ancient timepiece.
A sundial is a clock that determines time with the help of sunlight. History says this was the first natural means made by man to measure time. Such clocks originated in Egypt and Babylon approximately five and a half thousand years ago.
The watch is located in the Sibley (Goddess of Nature) section of Baldha Garden, which is divided into two parts by a road in the middle.
After entering the garden and walking down this road, one will come across "Shankanand" pond on their left. On the right is a semi-circular cement structure surrounded by wrought iron, which slopes towards the west and rises again. The time is marked there from 6:30am in the morning to 6:30pm in the evening. There is an iron rod in the middle.
Because of the tall buildings in the garden's eastern part, the morning light doesn't reach the clock. However, if the weather is sunny, the time can be told on this watch from 11:00am.
As the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, the shadow of the dial indicates the time from morning to evening. The sun goes from east to west and the shadow of the rod goes from west to east. One can tell what time it is by tracing the shadow.
However, due to the high-rise buildings on the eastern side, the path of light is mostly blocked during the morning. Hence, the age-old sundial of Baldha Garden doesn't work in the morning.
As the day progresses, the watch remains functional for some time at noon on a sunny day. Again, before afternoon, light in the garden dies quickly due to the trees and other structures on the western side. So even on a sunny day, the watch doesn't function after 2:00pm.
Wohidul Islam, the park's forester, said, "Because of the tall buildings in the garden's eastern part, the morning light doesn't reach the clock. However, if the weather is sunny, the time can be told on this watch from 11:00am."
This correspondent noticed that the time stamps marked in the sundial's centre has erased.
At that time, visitors of the park stopped in front of the clock. As the time of the sundial coincided with the time of their mobile phone, their eyes were filled with joy.
Ananyo Kumar Dey, a visitor, told this correspondent, "This is the first time I've seen a sundial. But I'm disappointed since it doesn't work properly."
Sumaiya Jaman, who came from Tikatuli, said, "It's a historic piece, but authorities don't take care of it."
When asked about the missing time marks in the middle of the clock, Wohidul said, "We've also noticed this. The issue of repainting the clock is in process."