Making sound for the past 100 years


The bronze bell at Central Prisons of Mysore. dh photo

The Central Prisons, Mysore quietly celebrated an occasion with the onset of 2011, that’s historically significant. It was the centenary celebration of a bronze bell, a virtual clock for all — from jail staff to inmates.

The only record to confirm the age of the bell is, the year 1911 engraved on the same. Installed in the front, it’s still in use round the clock.

Chief superintendent of the prison T H Lakshminarayan told City Herald that the bell is regularly rung every half an hour. For example, if the clock strikes 10 am/pm, person assigned with the job pulls the rope tied to the bell twice for five times with a brief pause. After half-an-hour, it is being pulled only once — meaning it’s 10.30 am/pm.


Early in the morning around 6.30 , the bell is rung nine times signalling the staffers in and around (including those in the residential quarters in the same complex) that all the cells are opened without any chaos.

Also in the evening hours, around 7, it is rung only twice, signalling all the cells are closed for the day. During emergency, the same act is repeated 10 times calling staffers to take position. When the situation calms down, it’s repeated again twice.

The officer said, the practice obviously dates back to the period British era. Earlier, ringing the bell was the only clock for prisoners to know the time. Gradually, wall clocks have adorned the barracks and an electric siren has been installed. But still the sound of the bell resonates.

The Mysore jail that was opened in 1862 has already completed 149 years of existence. According to the officer, as on Friday (June 24) it has 984 inmates — men and women (including both undertrials and convicts) in 40 rooms.

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