Monday, 12 August 2013

Oldest bridge connecting Nilgiris with Coimbatore at Kallar lies vandalized, uncared for

Tombstone engraving martyrs died during construction used to cover a ditch 

One of the oldest bridges built over the Bhavani River that connected Ooty in Nilgiris with Coimbatore more than a century ago now lies vandalized and surrounded by thickets, uncared for by the state government and as well as public

What's worse is that a tombstone erected near the bridge engraving the names of three persons who died during the construction of the bridge in 1894 is now used as a slab to cross a ditch by locals near the site of the bridge at Kallar.

Old timers from the hills fondly remember tales of their fathers and grandfathers narrating the majesty of the hanging bridge (as it was called then) suspended between two powerful brick towers and on strong metal hooks that still look fresh.

“The bridge was built during the late 1800s after the first motor ambulance that ran on spikes was brought to the British Military Hospital at Wellington to transport ailing British soldiers to Coimbatore for treatment,” says Gordon Thompson from Karamadai, whose grandfather Major Thompson was one of the first Commandants of the Wellington Cantonment. “Even during my father’s days, the bridge was a big attraction and people always stopped here and  marvelled at the construction.”

Today, the towers that have withstood several floods and other natural forces still remain strong despite attempts to break it down for scrap. “It is a part of the history of the hills and first settlements and is a pity that nobody cares for this piece of history anymore,” Gordon says.

Local historian C. R. Elangovan points out that the Coimbatore region already has very few heritage monuments as much have been destroyed over the years. “We should take efforts to protect atleast the remaining few like this Kallar bridge. Otherwise, Coimbatore area will lose a part of its history,” he says.

While the archeological department has been by and large ineffective in this region, even NGOs such as INTACH have been slacking in preserving such heritage monuments.

“It is the duty of any heritage lover and organisations such as INTACH to preserve these pieces of history. Even if not the bridge, atleast the tomb stone should be preserved in its original location as a mark of respect for the departed souls,” says Rajesh Govindaraju, former national governing council member of INTACH.

1 comment:

  1. The sad state of this is that it is being demolished today!!!!