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Howrah Bridge – The Bridge without Nuts & Bolts!

How about visiting a vintage bridge which has no nuts & bolts in its construction but still standing tall for the last 66 years? Hard to believe? The Bridge in concern - one of the busiest in the world - is located at Howrah in West Bengal. The Howrah bridge, the sixth longest of its type, has been an emblem of the city of Kolkata from its inception. So much so that the world knows Kolkata by its trams, the Victoria Memorial, and of course the Howrah Bridge. Opened to traffic in 1943, the construction of the bridge was started in 1937. The bridge has remained one of the most renowned landmarks of Kolkata. More than 150,000 vehicles and 4,000,000 pedestrians cross over the bridge every day. Technically speaking, Howrah Bridge is a "Cantilever Truss" bridge, constructed entirely by riveting, without nuts or bolts!

The present bridge, initially named the “New Howrah Bridge” was built between 1937 and 1943. On June 14, 1965 it was rechristened to Rabindra Setu, after the first Indian Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. The bridge is exposed to traffic 24 hours a day except for Inter- State transport buses, goods vehicles, and All India Tourist buses. At night, only three wheelers and goods vehicles are allowed to pass. To monitor deck level traffic and the same along the river, CCTV is being used.

One of the busiest bridges in the World

What is a “Cantilever Truss” bridge?

A Cantilever bridge is a type of bridge constructed using cantilevers only. Cantilevers are constructions that protrude horizontally into space, secured on one end of the structure! In case of small footbridges the technique is quite simple however, for huge bridges the volume of work is enormous. Steel truss cantilever (STC) was one of the newer technologies in the 1930s which was used in building Howrah Bridge. The advantage of STC was the lack of complexity in designing and implementation that included little or no falsework. Falsework, in layman’s term, is the temporary construction, provided externally to a structure, till the time it needs no extraneous support to stand on its own architecture. For lovers of vintage architecture, the finest example of the above mentioned architecture lies en route Kolkata.

In and around Howrah

If you are touring Kolkata, then the Howrah Bridge over the river Hooghly is the first link to this city, as you approach it by train. There are two more bridges connecting the city of Howrah and Kolkata – Vidyasagar Setu and Vivekananda Setu. The gigantic railway station in Howrah is one of the biggest stations in the world. The railway terminal caters to both intra-state and inter-state trains. For travellers a must-see place to visit is the Botanical Garden in Shibpur, the largest of its kind in the country. You can also spend some time in “The Bengal Engineering College” at Shibpur, one of the oldest technical Institutes in the country. If you want a place to de-stress yourself, then visit the “Belur Math”, headquarter of Ramakrishna Mission. The serenity of the place lets you forget all your torments and tensions.

Traveller’s byte: Harsh, an avid member of HolidayIQ says, “If you are going to be in Kolkata for a couple of days only, then I would recommend seeing Victoria Memorial Gardens, Birla Temple, St. Paul's Cathedral, Mother Teresa's Home, Indian Museum, Birla Museum and the ‘Kali temple’ at Kalighat. Belur Math and Botanical Gardens are a bit outside of the city and can be covered only if you plan to stay longer.”

The Old Bridge at Howrah
Notable features of the Howrah Bridge:
705 meters in length, 97 feet in width, 82 meters in height
26,500 plus mega tonne of high-tensile steel was used
Suspension type Balanced Cantilever
325 ft, length of each anchor arm
468 ft, length of each Cantilever arm
564 ft, suspended span
Deck width 71 ft, footpath 15 feet on either side
No nuts & bolts
Total 8 articulation joints, 3 at each of the cantilever arms, and 2 in the suspended portions
Carriageway Minimum headroom is 5.8 m
River traffic freeboard is 8.8 m
Ranks sixth in World’s top 10 longest Cantilever bridges
Night view of the glorious Howrah bridge
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