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Howrah Bridge, Kolkata Overview

An iconic landmark of Kolkata, Howrah Bridge is a massive steel bridge constructed over the Hooghly River. It is considered to be among the longest cantilever bridges in the world. Also known as Rabindra Setu, it connects Howrah and Kolkata. It carries daily traffic of over 100,000 vehicles and countless pedestrians and is as historic as it is grand. The opulence of the bridge, however, comes alive in the night time as it is all lit up. You can also take a ferry ride as it runs between Kolkata and Howrah, from the launch ghat. The view of the city from the ferry, especially in the night, is priceless, to say the least.

Howrah Bridge was the third longest cantilever bridge at the time of its construction, but now it is the sixth longest one of its types. It was renamed as Rabindra Setu on June 14, 1965, after the name of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. It spreads about 1500 ft over the Hooghly River and is 71 ft wide. There is a total of 8 lanes of strand road, bicycles, and pedestrians. What makes this bridge unique is the fact that it was built without a single nut or bolt and is held together by rivets.

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History of Howrah Bridge

The Howrah Bridge serves as the lifeline of Kolkata. Its construction was undertaken in 1939. The Government of Bengal wanted to bridge over the Hooghly River and asked an engineer of the East India Company to come up with a proposal which never materialised. Sir Bradford Leslie built a pontoon bridge in 1874. However, it had to be redesigned to accommodate the increasing traffic across the Hooghly River. So, the Howrah Bridge was constructed in 1942. Because of this reason, it was named as the New Howrah Bridge. It took seven years to complete the construction and was finally opened to the public in February 1943. Sir Rajendra Nath Mukherjee was the chief engineer for the project. The steel for the bridge was supplied by Tata Steel. 

The total cost of constructing the Howrah Bridge was INR 333 crore. 26,500 tons of steel was used in its construction. It was renamed as Rabindra Setu but is still popularly known as Howrah Bridge. The first vehicle to travel over the bridge was a solitary tram. The Howrah end of the bridge has the Howrah Junction Railway Station which is India's oldest railway station. The bridge is therefore also known as the gateway to Kolkata.

Construction of Howrah Bridge

The bridge was designed by Rendel, Palmer, and Tritton and was constructed by The Braithwaite Burn and Jessop Construction Company Ltd. The construction began in 1936 and ended in 1942. The bridge was opened on 3rd February 1943. The length of each pillar of the bridge is 468 feet, and the anchor arm is 325 feet. It carries almost the entire traffic to and from the Howrah Junction Railway Station. The bulk of this traffic comes from cars and buses. The bridge carries much more than the expected load. It is flanked by broad footpaths and is thus swarmed by pedestrians. 

The Howrah Bridge is maintained by the Kolkata Port Trust. The bridge has undergone considerable damage by vehicles due to rash driving and corrosion due to atmospheric conditions. Corrosion has also been caused by bird droppings and human spitting. The Kolkata Port Trust has taken the responsibility of cleaning it on a regular basis. 

Howrah Bridge In Movies

The Howrah Bridge is of great cultural significance, standing as the major landmark in the city of Kolkata. It is synonymous with this majestic city and the magnificence of this bridge has inspired numerous filmmakers to showcase it in their movies. The Howrah Bridge featured in movies like Do Bigha Zamin, Parash Pathar, Neel Akasher Neechey, China Town, Amar Prem, Paar and Ram Teri Ganga Maili. This iconic bridge has also been featured in several award-winning movies including Mrinal Sen's National Award winning Bengali movie Calcutta 71 and Richard Attenborough's Academy Award-winning film Gandhi.

In the more recent times, Howrah Bridge was showcased in movies like Yuva, Parineeta, The Namesake, Love Aaj Kal, Kahaani, Barfi!, Gunday and Piku. It also featured in the 2016 Academy Award-nominated film Lion.

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Kolkata Reviews

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Soumita Ghosh 1 year ago
This place is notorious for pickpockets and your wallet or phone can easily get stolen amidst the crowd. This place can get extremely crowded and there is generally traffic congestion, especially during office hours. Since Howrah Station is nearby, the place is well connected and there is no dearth of transportation system here. Fruit sellers are present at frequent intervals so you can purchase fruits if you want. Apart from this, there are several tea stalls which also sell lassi and snacks. To appreciate the beauty of this bridge, you can hire a boat and sail across the river and witness the beautiful architecture in all its glory.

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