Howrah Bridge is probably the second most popular attraction in Kolkata after Victoria Memorial if not first. The bridge connects two districts namely Kolkata and Howrah, with a suspended span over Hooghly river, hence it also called “The Gateway of Kolkata”. If you ever came to Kolkata by train (Howrah Station), probably you have already witnessed the famous cantilever road bridge. Otherwise, on your next visit, you must visit this Bridge. Today, we are going to share some interesting facts about the bridge which also answers why Howrah Bridge is so famous.
This bridge was commissioned in 1943, by replacing the old Pontoon bridge. Those days it was named New Howrah Bridge. But 14 June 1965, New Howrah Bridge renamed as Rabindra Setu, after famous poet Rabindranath Tagore who had written our National Anthem song. The older Pontoon bridge was built in 1874 and opened for the public on 17 October the same year. That bridge had the capability to unfasten so that ferry and ocean steamers can cross it. Over time, due to the rapid increase in the traffic load, Port commissioners decided to commission a new improved bridge in the year 1905.
In 1906, the Port Commission appointed a committee headed by R.S. Highet, chief engineer of East Indian Railway and W.B. MacCabe, chief engineer of Calcutta Corporation. They considered six options
- Large ferry steamers capable of carrying a vehicular load (set up cost ₹900,000, annual maintenance cost ₹437,000).
- A transporters bridge (set up cost ₹2 million).
- A tunnel (set up cost ₹338.2 million, annual maintenance cost ₹1779,000)
- A bridge on piers (set up cost ₹22.5 million)
- A floating bridge (set up cost ₹2140,000, annual maintenance cost ₹200,000)
- An arched bridge
Finally, they decided to build a floating bridge.
Why Howrah Bridge is famous
There are many movies featuring this famous Howrah Bridge
- Hindi Movie – Do Bigha Zamin, Howrah Bridge, Howrah Bridge, Amar Prem, Parineeta, Love Aaj Kal, Kahaani, Barfi!, Piku, etc.
- Bengali Movie – Bari Theke Paliye, Parash Pathar, Neel Akasher Neechey, Calcutta 71, Ekti Tarar Khonje, etc. Learn more here.
This bridge is not only famous for its appearance in movies but also for its construction, ease of connecting two districts. Even the sunset looks quite beautiful from the nearest ferry ghats.
- The bridge does not have nuts and bolts but was formed by riveting the whole structure.
- This bridge consumed 26,500 tons of steel, out of which 23,000 tons of high-tensile alloy steel, known as Tiscrom. Tata Steel supplied this alloy steel.
- Out of 26,000 tons of steel, England supplied only 3000 tons.
- Mr. Walton of M/s Rendel, Palmer & Triton designed the Howrah Bridge.
- The order for construction and erection was placed on M/s.Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Company in 1939.
- The fabrication and erection work was awarded to a local engineering firm of Howrah: the Braithwaite, Burn & Jessop Construction Co.
- The entire project cost ₹25 million.
- The government did not have a formal opening of the bridge due to fears of attacks by Japanese planes fighting the Allied Powers.
- The first vehicle to use the bridge was a solitary tram.
- Construction started in 1936 and completed in 1942. It was made open for the public on 3rd February 1943 (77 years ago as of 2020).
- This bridge was the third-longest Cantilever in the world during that era. But currently surpassed by three more bridges which made it the sixth-longest bridge in its category in 2013.
- Howrah Bridge is a suspension-type cantilever bridge.
- It has a suspended span of 564 feet (172 m).
- On average it withstands more than 4 lakh pedestrians and 3 Lakh vehicles daily.
- Kolkata Port Trust is responsible for maintaining the Howrah Bridge.
- This bridge has participated in many famous films.
- Eastern end of the Bridge has few wheels because during heavy summer metal tends to get a minor expansion and for a fixed structure it might cracks, hence it built in such a way that if it expands, it can have space to move.
Best time to visit
The bridge remains open 24 hours, throughout the year. So, if you have to travel towards Kolkata from Howrah or Vice-Versa you can do anytime. But in case you want to visit this place as an attraction comes in the afternoon around 5 PM so that you can witness this bridge both in Day and Night-Time. Very minimalist lighting on this bridge makes it heavenly beautiful during the dark.
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