This huge rail bridge is a true construction marvel. The country’s first sea bridge, it was opened on 24th February 1914 and has a double-leaf bascule section midway, which can be raised to let ships and barges pass through.
With 143 piers, spanning two km between the mainland and the island, it is the second longest sea bridge in India, after the 2.3 km Bandra-Worli sea link.
The bridge is all set for a makeover. IIT Madras has given technical approval to a proposal to carry out a few repairs to the bridge, reports The New Indian Express.
Well, what makes this bridge special? Here are eight reasons.
1. It spectacularly opens up to allow ships and vessels to pass through, thanks to the ingenious design by German engineer Scherzer, who made the central body of the bridge flexible, to allow vessel movement. 10-15 boats and small ships pass beneath the bridge every month.
2. Till 1988, this bridge was the only link between Rameswaram and the mainland, till a road bridge running parallel to it was built. Hundreds of pilgrims would pass through the bridge to visit the temple on the island every day.
3. In 1964, the bridge survived a cyclone, that flattened the port town of Dhanushkodi. The bridge survived and was bolstered within 46 days, by none other than E Sreedharan, the man behind the construction of the Delhi Metro.
4. The bridge has been vying to be in the UNESCO World Heritage List, which would confer upon it the status of a heritage monument–something people flock from all over to see. As of now also, people watch in awe as the two leaves of the bridge open up to let ships pass through.
5. The huge bridge is a construction marvel, located 41 ft above sea level, and 2,065 metres long. It has two lifting spans, with each half weighing around 415 tonnes. The two leaves of the bridge are opened manually with levers.
6. The plan to construct this bridge was made in 1870, as the British Administration wanted to increase trade with Ceylon. In August 1911, construction began, and the bridge was opened on 24 February 1914.
7. The bridge would only carry metre gauge trains, connecting Mandapam on mainland India, to Pamban. The Indian Railways upgraded it to carry broad gauge trains, and work got over on 12th August 2007. From Pamban, the railway line splits, one heading toward Rameshwaram, and another branch line of 15 miles that terminates at Dhanushkodi.
8. There have been only two recorded mishaps. One occurred when a storm surge overturned a train in 1964, and another occurred in January 2013, when the barge drifted into it.
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Well, now the bridge is set for a new lease of life, courtesy IIT Madras. The Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) has been entrusted to replace the existing 2-leaf structure. Designs have already reached the IIT Madras for approval, according to an RVNL official. Bolstered and strengthened, we are sure that the bridge will stand tall for many decades to come!
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)
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