Saturday 19 January 2013

The oldest Railway bridge

This is one of the oldest bridges in the world which had a regular railway track. Though the bridge was built almost two centuries before the railway tracks were laid, the bridge was and is more commonly labeled as the oldest Railway bridge in the world.
Though the bridge was built in 1735, it is still in excellent condition and it is an engineering marvel in itself.
At a time when modern bridges vie with each other for repairs and restoration, this bridge has not seen anything of that sort. It hosted the metre gauge trains from Mysore till a new bridge was constructed and the meter gauge was replaced with broad gauge tracks.
This is the Kabini bridge near Nanjangud near Mysore and it is today a heritage structure. It is between the Tandavapura and Nanjangud railway stations on the Mysore-Chamarajanagar railway route.
The bridge has a 51spans of 10 feet and before 1902 it existed as a road bridge ferrying bullock, camel and horse carriage traffic across the Kabini.
A Meter gauge Railway line was being built from Mysore to
Nanjangud in 1902 and the Railways used the arched bridge to connect to the Nanjangud railway station. This bridge was used till early 2008 when the Railways decided to put a stop to meter gauge and operate broad gauge trains.
Since broad gauge needs a different alignment from narrow and meter gauge, a new bridge was built across the Kabini. Today’s trains pass on this bridge, while giving a spectacular view of the heritage bridge.
The heritage bridge was built by Dalvoy Devaraj. Rev Schwartz, a Danish missionary, who was sent by the then East India Company as their emissary to negotiate with Haidar Ali, has recorded in his memoirs that he crossed the Kabini over
this Bridge on August 23, 1779.
He describes the structure  as “a strong bridge of 23 very substantial arches over the river Kapini built by Dalvoy Devraj about 1735. The other twenty eight more spans must have been
added later possibly at different times all prior to the 20th
The bridge is almost three centuries old and it could also be one of the oldest railway bridges in India as the first Railways steamed in India  only after 1825.
This bridge has a series of Gothic arches of 10ft span with 8ft wide intervening piers. The earth cushion over the arch crest is over 5 feet. The foundations are laid on rocky strata and built in lime concrete. The bridge is of stone masonry with lime concrete filling
and mortar.
The information board by South Western Railway near the bridge says - It was built by Dalvoy Devraj in 1735 with brick, sand and stone adopting ancient Gothic style. It was strong and wide enough to carry road traffic as well as metre guage trains, which started running in 1889. This ancient bridge today stands as an engineering marvel, which bears testimony to the skills of those who built it.”

Shivanasamudra bridge

However, the oldest heritage stone bridge in the erstwhile princely state of Mysore was built in 1818 at Shivanasamudra near Madhyaranga across the Cauvery.
This bridge is considered to be an engineering marvel.
According to an article called “Bridge Erected Over the Eastern Branch of the Cauvery by a Native” which was published in the Asiatic Journal, the bridge, which is thrice as long as the Wellesley Bridge in Srirangapatna, commenced on the 1st March 1819, and completed on the 31st March1821.
It says the bridge is the work of a single individual, Ramaswamy Mudliar who received the Island of Shivasamudram as a Jagir from the British. It was planned and built not only entirely at his own expense but also in defiance of the general opinion at that time that he was a mad man. He was brought up by Colonel Wilkes, the hero of the last Mysore war, and was employed under him for twenty - four years. The idea of this work which is a testimony to individual enterprise originated in him when he first visited the Island of Shivanasamudra with Col. Wilkes, in the year 1805. This is called the Lushington bridge.
Tipu had in 1791 destroyed the old bridge at Shivanasamudra and Mudaliar had conceived the idea of having a new bridge built to connect the small island of Shivanasamudra with the mainland.

Wellesley bridge

This bridge was built by Purnaiah, the Dewan of Mysore state, after the fall of Tipu. He named it in honor of Arthur Wellesley. The bridge is no longer in use as the Railways have constructed a new bridge. However, it is a heritage structure.  


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  2. Very nice read again..i have travelled on these bridges alot..and had some info about them..but this is a detailed report especially about the Kapila Bridge at Sujathapuram..thank you Samyuktha.