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Thursday, October 29, 2020

Symbol of the Pride of Bengal: The Howrah Bridge

The pride of Kolkata never fails to charm its visitors

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Pradeep Chamaria
Pradeep Chamaria
I am a photojournalist. Love to travel to unknown and unexplored vistas. Since 1992, I make places desirable for other travelers through experiential Travel Writing.

INDIA. Kolkata, West Bengal. The gigantic steel structure known as the Howrah Bridge is the first thing you notice once you deboard your train at the Howrah station. If you are curious enough to look out from your train’s window, you will see the looming structure from miles away. The pride of Kolkata never fails to charm its visitors.

The City of Joy, Kolkata (Calcutta), has its charm and never fails to please visitors or residents. This city is proud to claim the magnificent Howrah Bridge as its own, at the center of the joyful city.

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Kolkata is a rare mélange of the past and the present, which never fails to enchant artists, poets, writers, filmmakers, photographers, and tourists. It is also the only city in India where Chinatown still exists.  

The city has something for everyone. Places like the Victoria Memorial, the Ghats along the river Hooghly (Ganges), the (still) running Tramlines, Dakhineswar temple, Belur Math, Eden Gardens, Mother Teresa House, Kali Ghat, and more. For those looking to explore on the cheap, there are yellow taxis, mini-busses, fish market, and the famous hand-pulled rickshaw, a remnant of the British era. The rickshaw is the lifeline of north Kolkata and helps you traverse the city´s narrow lanes, which pose quite a challenge for any four-wheel vehicle to maneuver.    

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For people born here, the magnetic charm of the bridge forces them to stand still for a moment and admire the beauty before proceeding.

Howrah Bridge illuminated on special occasions (Pic: Pradeep Chamaria)

Memories make people nostalgic and they start recollecting times spent walking on the bridge, visiting the flower market that is held on a weekly basis in the by-lanes on the bridge.  Feeling the movement of vehicles zooming past, taking a tram across the bridge, and feeling the minute swings of this cantilever masterpiece. Spending time admiring the thousands of rivets on this viaduct is an activity one can easily indulge themselves in. Standing in the middle and watching the ferries cross the river on a cloudy evening can also be hypnotizing.

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Although another bridge over the same river was commissioned to reduce the workload on the old one, most people prefer to use the original. Many will vouch for not having used the new bridge to cross over the river.

Busy Howrah Bridge with Trams, Buses and Pedestrians (Pic: Pradeep Chamaria)

The iconic Howrah Bridge connects lives across two banks of the river Hooghly, between Kolkata and Howrah. The bridge has seen the myriad of struggles, joys, and hopes of Calcuttans as they go about their everyday business. The bridge has been witness to countless lives crossing its footpaths by aspirants who come to the city in search of joy and livelihood for their families back in their native places.

There are 4 bridges on the river Hooghly which joins Kolkata with other cities. The others are the Vidyasagar Setu (Second Hooghly Bridge), the Vivekananda Setu, and the newly built Nivedita Setu.

The Howrah is a propped cantilever bridge with a suspended span over the Hooghly River and was commissioned in 1943 to replace a pontoon bridge floating in the same location.  On 14 June 1965, it was renamed Rabindra Setu after the great Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore, but many still call it the Howrah Bridge.

The Howrah is the sixth-longest bridge of its type in the world. Howrah Bridge stands on two 270 feet high pillars and this is the only cantilever truss which was constructed without using any nuts and bolts. Instead, it was built by riveting the entire structure.

This symbol of the pride of Bengal is the busiest cantilever bridge in the world. It carries a daily traffic load of more than a hundred thousand vehicles and possibly more than 150,000 pedestrians. The Howrah Bridge stretches across 705 meters and has a width of 71 feet, plus 14 foot wide footpaths on either side.

So whenever you go to Kolkata, don’t miss to enjoy the splendor of this iconic bridge of the city of joy. You certainly can´t miss it.

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