The majestic Howrah Bridge at night

Howrah Bridge — the Iconic Structure That Signifies Kolkata

Though trams and yellow taxis are hallmarks of Kolkata, nothing beats the Howrah Bridge when it comes to symbolizing the city. The cantilever bridge is one of the busiest in the world and will celebrate its 75th birthday next year.

The Howrah Bridge, indisputably the lifeline of Kolkata, was later named after Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. The massive structure, connecting the city of Kolkata with its adjacent industrial city Howrah over the Hooghly River, is now called the Rabindra Setu. The classic bridge

The Howrah Bridge, at the time of its construction, was the third longest cantilever bridge in the world, but now, it is the sixth longest of its kind. The 71 ft wide bridge, spanning 1500 ft, is a wonder because it is built without using a single nut or bolt, totally held together by rivets.

The History of Howrah Bridge

The construction of the Howrah Bridge was first undertaken in 1939 by the then Government of Bengal. An engineer from the East India Company was assigned the job of coming up with a proposal, however, the plan somehow didn’t materialise at that time.

The iconic structure, as we know today, was built in the year 1942. It took almost seven years to complete the construction, after which, it was formally opened to the public in February 1943. Sir Rajendra Nath Mukherjee supervised the construction of the bridge, who was also the chief engineer for the project. The steel was supplied by Tata Steel.

At one end of the Howrah Bridge is the city of Kolkata, and at the other end, is the Howrah Junction Railway Station — Eastern India’s oldest railway station. The first vehicle to travel over the Howrah Bridge was a tram.

Construction of the Howrah Bridge

Kolkata’s famous symbol, the Howrah Bridge, was built by The Braithwaite Burn and Jessop Construction Company Ltd. The suspended cantilever structure, designed by Mr. Walton of M/s Rendel, Palmer & Triton, is an engineering marvel. The anchor arm of the bridge is 325 feet, and the length of each pillar is 468 feet.

Today, the bulk traffic comprises of cars and buses. Carrying more than 150,000 pedestrians, and approximately 100,000 vehicles on a daily basis, the Howrah Bridge, unarguably qualifies as the busiest cantilever bridge in the world.

Maintenance of Howrah Bridge

The Howrah Bridge is presently maintained by the Kolkata Port Trust. The bridge has undergone several repairing works due to damages caused by the storms of the Bay of Bengal, rash driving, bird droppings, and other unfavourable atmospheric conditions.

Besides, the spectacular lighting that the Howrah Bridge wears today is also maintained by the Kolkata Port Trust.

Howrah Bridge in Movies

The majestic Howrah Bridge, standing tall as the iconic landmark of Kolkata, has inspired several filmmakers to exhibit it in their films.

Some of the movies that featured the Howrah bridge are Oscar award winner Satyajit Ray’s Parash Pathar, Rajesh Khanna starrer Amar Prem, Roman Polanski’s China Town, Mrinal Sen’s National Award winning Bengali movie, Calcutta 71, Academy Award-nominated film Lion, and Richard Attenborough’s Academy Award-winning film Gandhi among many others.

The glory and grandeur of the magnificent Howrah Bridge can be best viewed if visitors take a ferry ride from Kolkata to Howrah. Nowadays, tourist ferries are also available that offer breathtaking river cruise over the Hooghly river. Ferry services can be availed from Howrah station, and the ‘Shipping Ghat’, close to the Millennium Park on the Kolkata side.

To put it succinctly, Howrah Bridge is not only the pride of Kolkata, but a symbol by which the city is recognised around the world.

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