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A Bridge Between Flawless Design and Aesthetics: 9 Iconic Bridges in India That Will Leave You Agape

For most of us, the journey packs a stronger punch than the destination. Whether you travel by bus, train, or flight, nothing diminishes the thrill of looking outside the window and taking in the beauty. If you travel frequently, we assume that you must be acquainted with arid deserts, lush forests, and cold snow, despite being on the road. You must also be familiar with multitudes of tunnels and bridges. Each road, each tunnel, and each bridge is a testament to the architectural mastery and the engineering marvels. Today, we bring to you, 9 beautiful bridges in India which do not merely embellish the cityscape, but their grandeur serves a functional purpose as well.

Kolkata Howrah Bridge

While thinking of Kolkata, our mind would undoubtedly wander to the most iconic symbol of its cityscape – The Howrah Bridge. The bridge built between 1939 to 1942 runs over the Hooghly River and connects the cities of Howrah and Kolkata. This gigantic cantilever bridge is approximately 705 meters long and 71 feet wide. What bewilders the locals and tourists alike is the fact that the bridge is suspended without any nuts or bolts, relying on rivets to hold its massive structure together. Despite being renamed Rabindra Setu in 1965, the vernacular knows it as ‘Howrah Bridge’ only. The bridge has been featured in several Indian and international movies, spanning across multilingual cinema.

Courtesy – Hotel Travelia

The Howrah Bridge is an eight-lane bridge, accommodating growing traffic. Two footpaths run along either side. We have to give flowers to the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) for overseeing its maintenance as it has continued to be a vital and crucial artery for transportation since 1943. The Kolkata Howrah Bridge was constructed using high-tensile steel (26,500 tons), making it one of the largest steel structures and quite resilient. The bridge is supported on one end while the other extends freely allowing it to withstand the daily onslaught of vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The Howrah Bridge’s silhouette against the Kolkata skyline, especially when illuminated, contributes immensely to its aesthetic significance.

Mumbai Bandra Worli Sea Link

One of the famous bridges in India is The Bandra Worli Sea Link Mumbai. The cable-stayed bridge is an engineering marvel which has become a staple of the Mumbai skyline. It connects the suburban areas of Bandra (West Mumbai) and Worli (South Mumbai) across the Arabian Sea. The eight-lane bridge spans approximately 5.6 km in length and 126 m in height. The Bandra Worli Sea Link bridge’s cable-stayed design incorporates pre-stressed concrete-steel viaducts and towers, making it an architectural wonder and an efficient transportation link.

Courtesy – Mageba

The bridge was constructed using over 90,000 tons of cement and steel by the Hindustan Construction Company between 2000 and 2009. Its constant upkeep is done by the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC). Concrete towers rise from the sea supporting the prestressed cables, effectively distributing the weight of the bridge. The high-strength concrete and corrosion-resistant ingredients lend to the Bandra Worli Sea Link’s longevity and resilience. At night, the bridge is illuminated by LED lights transforming into a dazzling spectacle.

Lakshman Jhula Rishikesh

The renowned Lakshman Jhula is a suspension bridge in Rishikesh, which sits atop the Ganges River. The bridge derives its name from the deity Lakshman from Ramayana, who was said to cross jute ropes, where the current bridge stands. The pedestrian bridge spans approximately 450 feet and is suspended at an elevation of around 70 feet above the river. Lakshman Jhula was built while the East India Company was still plundering the subcontinent. However, the current iteration was built by the Uttar Pradesh Public Works Department (UPPWD) between 1927 to 1929. It was officially inaugurated in 1930. The bridge connects Tapovan (Tehri Garhwal) and Jonk (Pauri Garhwal). Since the bridge was built in the Holy City of Rishikesh, it has become an integral part of the religious and cultural landscape, receiving a colossal footfall of pilgrims, tourists, and devotees annually.

Courtesy – Chardham Yatra

Since 2020, the bridge has been closed to both pedestrians and vehicles owing to its deterioration. Instead, a new bridge, ‘Bajrang Setu’ is being built. The Lakshman Jhula was constructed using iron and steel to form a simple yet sturdy design. Its suspension structure contains several cables which support the deck, allowing a gentle sway with the onset of heavy winds and pedestrian movements. Being on the bridge is therapeutic as it offers panoramic views of the Ganges and the surrounding mountains, while the engorging waves tingle the auditory senses, creating a serene and spiritual ambiance.

Rameshwaram Pamban Bridge

The Pamban Bridge is India’s first sea bridge which connects the town of Rameswaram (Pamban Island) to the mainland via Mandapam (Tamil Nadu). Stretching across the Palk Strait, the bridge is approximately 2.065 km long and stands at an impressive height of 12.5 meters above sea level. The Old Pamban Bridge was built between 1911 to 1914 and officially opened for traffic in 1915. Its strategic location allows it to open up, lifting its central part, to accommodate the passage of ships through the busy shipping channel.

Courtesy – The Financial Express

The Pamban Railway Bridge was constructed with reinforced concrete and steel. The bridge has a double-leaf bascule design, allowing it to lift and create a vertical clearance for ships. The distinctive rolling lift span mechanism assists in clearing out maritime traffic. Due to it crossing the expansive Bay of Bengal, it has quickly become a popular tourist attraction in addition to a crucial transportation link. In 2022, owing to the corrosion of a bascule, the transportation on the bridge was indefinitely suspended. To make up for it, a New Pamban Bridge was proposed. This new Pamban bridge spans 2.07 km and is expected to open up by February 2024. It is also going to be India’s first-ever vertical sea-lift bridge.

Mahatma Gandhi Setu Patna

The Mahatma Gandhi Setu Bihar was built between 1972 to 1982 over the Ganges. It connects the cities of Patna and Hajipur and is named after Mahatma Gandhi. It is also known as Gandhi Setu or Ganga Setu. This behemoth bridge measures approximately 5.75 km in length and 25 m in width. The bridge’s colossal structure accommodates two lanes of vehicular traffic, with an extra emergency lane on either side and two footpaths facilitating the movement of people and goods. It was constructed using reinforced concrete and steel.

Courtesy – The Times of India

The Mahatma Gandhi Setu Bridge is a girder bridge featuring 45 intermediate spans supported by piers, providing stability and strength. The cantilever design distributes the immense load imposed by heavy vehicular traffic. While the Mahatma Gandhi Setu has been a critical transportation link, it is not free of controversy over its structural integrity. The deplorable maintenance and the surge in traffic led to major repairs within the first five years of its construction. Despite that, cracks and fissures remained. This paved the way for the Mahatma Gandhi Setu Rehabilitation project which reinforced the steel superstructure and installed triangular steel trusses. The bridge was opened to the public again in 2022.

Naini Bridge Allahabad

The Old Naini Bridge Prayagraj/Allahabad, spans across the Yamuna River and connects the neighborhoods of Naini and Kydgunj. The Naini Bridge is amongst the oldest bridges in existence, completed in 1865. The Old Naini Bridge is a double-decked truss bridge extending approximately 1.006 Km. It was built during the British colonial era. The upper deck serves as an accessory to Indian Railways connecting the Naini junction to the Allahabad junction. The lower deck serves for both vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The use of iron and steel in its construction reflects the engineering techniques of the time, showcasing a blend of British architecture and Indian infrastructure needs.

Courtesy – Sahapedia

The unique architectural properties of the Old Naini Bridge Prayagraj lie in its truss design, a framework of connected elements forming triangular units. This design imparts strength and stability to the bridge, allowing it to bear the weight of vehicles and pedestrians traversing the Yamuna River. Over the years, the Old Naini Bridge has witnessed several repairs, owing to the outpour of traffic. To eradicate the issue, a new Naini Bridge (officially known as Syama Prasad Mukherjee Setu) was commissioned, finishing in 2004.

Bogibeel Bridge Assam

The Assam Bogibeel Bridge spans the Brahmaputra River and is the longest rail-cum-road bridge in India. It extends to 4.94 km in length and 125 m in width. It connects the towns of Dhemaji and Dibrugarh. The bridge, constructed with high-strength concrete and steel was built between 2002 to 2018 and opened to traffic in 2020. It took almost 200 months to complete the bridge due to the region’s dynamic environmental conditions, including heavy rainfall, the Brahmaputra’s unpredictable flow, and the frequent seismic activity. The three-lane highway on the upper deck of the bridge forms a part of NH15. The two lanes on the lower deck connect the Rangiya-Murkongselek section and the Lumding–Dibrugarh section.

Courtesy – NBM&CW

The Bogibeel Bridge is a fully welded steel truss bridge. The truss structure, consisting of interconnected triangles, imparts strength and stability to the bridge, ensuring its ability to support both rail and road traffic. Out of the 41 spans, two are navigational spans, which allow ships to pass through easily. With the capacity to withstand heavy loads and the flexibility to accommodate the region’s unique geographical challenges, the Bogibeel Bridge serves not only as a crucial transportation link but also as a symbol of progress and connectivity in the northeastern part of India.

Vidyasagar Setu Kolkata

Another bridge which graces the Hooghly River and is aptly titled the ‘Second Hooghly Bridge’ is the Vidyasagar Setu. It is a cable-stayed bridge which connects Kolkata and Howrah. It was built between 1979 and 1992 (however there was no ongoing construction activity for seven years). The Vidyasagar Setu bridge boasts a length of approximately 823 and a width of 35 m. The bridge was named after the 19th century social reformer, Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar. Since the traffic congestion on the Howrah Bridge became too frequent, the necessity of another bridge arose.

Courtesy – Navbharat Times

The eight lanes (6 vehicular and 2 pedestrian) of Vidyasagar Setu eased the traffic congestion. The bridge uses high-strength prestressed concrete and steel (reinforced cables) to withstand corrosion. Vidyasagar Setu bridge is defined by its cable-stayed design, where cables anchored to towers provide support to the bridge deck. The main span of the bridge is supported by 121 cables arranged in a harp-like pattern and the towers are designed to be asymmetrical, reflecting a harmonious blend of form and function.

Coronation Bridge Siliguri

Spanning across the Teesta River, Siliguri sits The Coronation Bridge, also known as the Sevoke Bridge. It was built between 1937 to 1941 to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George VI’s coronation. The bridge connects the districts of Darjeeling and Kalimpong. The Coronation Bridge forms a part of NH17. The colonial architectural marvel extends to a length of approximately 698 feet, width of 20 feet, and a height of 114 feet. It is constructed primarily with steel and stone masonry, blending Indian and British architectural styles.

Courtesy – Gkbooks

The Coronation Bridge is seldom called ‘Baghpool’ due to two tiger statues at the entrance. Due to the depth and the unpredictable river current, the bridge takes support from the two mountains on either side. The two ends are fixed on the rock layers, while the bridge is supported by a fixed arch. With its truss design and a framework of connected triangular units, the bridge is a work of both beauty and immense strength. One may also see a hint of Roman inspiration due to the presence of a spandrel-arch.

Image Courtesy – India State Book

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