Howrah Bridge or the New Howrah Bridge as it was popularly known when it was first open to the public is a suspended Cantilever bridge that spans over West Bengal’s Hooghli River and is the first thing that would pop in anyone’s mind when they hear of Kolkota-The City of Joy! The Howrah Bridge is a symbol and pride of Kolkota, occupies a very high place in the history of Kolkota and has been featured as a backdrop in many Bollywood and Bengali movies. Read on to get a good insight on some amazing, interesting and lesser-known facts about Howrah Bridge.
Why Howrah Bridge is so famous?
The Howrah Bridge connects the twin cities of Howrah and Kolkota and is sometimes referred to as the “Gateway to Kolkata” for the basic fact that it acts as a bridge between the busy Howrah Railway Junction and the city of Kolkota and this is also one reason why the bridge’s existence is important for the local people. Everyday close to 100,000 vehicles use the pathway to commute between the twin cities and an estimated 150,000 Pedestrians walk over it to cross the Hooghly River, making it one of the world’s busiest suspended Cantilever Bridges. And believe it or not the first vehicle to ever cross the bridge at the time of its opening in 1943 was not a car or a bus or a bullock-cart as one would expect, it was a tram! Trams are a popular mode of public transport in Kolkota and have been in use by the denizens since 1903 but they have been restricted from using the Howrah Bridge route in 1993 due to their heavy load.
Speciality of Howrah Bridge:
Howrah Bridge is the sixth largest Cantilever Bridge in the world spanning over Hooghli River over a length of 705 meters and has a width of 71 feet, excluding the 14 foot footpaths for pedestrians on either side of the bridge. Two engineering techniques make Howrah Bridge very special- first, it is a Cantilever Suspension Bridge that uses Cantilevers and is projected into space horizontally with support from only one end! Second, there’s no use of nuts and bolts in the construction of this massive steel structure; you will only find the use of rivets for joining the metals that make up for the entire bridge.
Howrah Bridge History:
The Howrah Bridge was built as a replacement to an already existing Pontoon Bridge that connected the twin cities of Howrah and Kolkota. It took six years for the construction of this engineering marvel: started in 1936 and ended in 1942, was designed by Mr. Walton of M/S Rendell, Palmer and Tritton. Interestingly, when a global tender was placed for the construction of the bridge in 1935, based on Walton’s report, a German company was the lowest bidder for it but unfortunately due to the ongoing political friction between Germany and India the contract was not given to it and instead was given to Braithwaite, Burn & Jessop Construction Company, an Indian company. However, the order for the construction of the Bridge was placed in the name of M/S Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Company in 1939 and the bridge was opened to the public on 3rd February 1943, post completion.
An honor to Rabindranath Tagore:
Another amazing fact about the bridge is it has been rechristened as Rabindra Setu on June 14th 1965 to honor West Bengal’s iconic poet and Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Albeit the people of Bengal take great pride in their history and culture, despite the rechristening of the bridge in the name of their most-loved poet, denizens of Bengal still identify the bridge with its old name-Howrah Bridge!
What went into the making of Howrah Bridge?
Tons of steel and years of hard work and labor went into the making of this gigantic steel structure. An estimated 26,500 tons of hard steel is reported to have been used in its construction, out of which the iconic Indian conglomerate Tata Steels has supplied 23,500 tons of high-tensile alloy steel and the rest has been imported from England.
Role of Kolkota Port Trust:
The Kolkota Port Trust (KoPT) is responsible for the periodic maintenance of the iconic Howrah Bridge and ensures that the bridge is protected against corrosion due to rain and bird droppings. According to sources, an average annual expense of 500, 000 lakh Indian Rupees is incurred each year by KOPT towards the maintenance of it, the KoPT recently spent a whopping 6.5 million Indian Rupees to just get the entire Howrah Bridge painted with 26,500 liters of paint.
Best time to Visit Kolkota
The best time for sightseeing Kolkota and its many landmark attractions, including the iconic Howrah Bridge is during the months of October to February when the weather is pleasant and there are a lot of festivities happening. Now that you have got a good insight on the significance and the lesser-known facts about Howrah Bridge, you must take a travel plunge to Kolkota to see it with your own eyes! Get your cheap flights to Kolkota booked on Indian Eagle.