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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bridge connecting two mountains - Mathur thottipalam

Bridges are attractive and play a vital role in connecting places (sometimes people too).  There are geographical barriers – created not only by rivers, lakes and seas but sometimes by mountains and landscapes also.

Over the years there are some massive constructions – engineering marvels which span kilometers connecting two places.  As one travels on a bridge, one occasions to see many things below – trees, lands, picturesque surroundings, scenery, water  et al.    During my recent trip to many temples in and around Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari (in the southernmost tip of India)  - many spoke of the tallest and longest bridge in Asia, arousing interest and curiosity.

Have travelled many a times on the Godavari bridge near Rajahmundry, which I believed to be the longest railway bridge – over the vast expanse of river Godavari.  This one was at Mathur, a hamlet of Aruvikkarai revenue village in Thiruvattar Panchayat across the river Parazhiyar.  It is situated closer to the capital of Kerala and one can experience Kerala – you get to hear lot of Malayalam, the ride is through the green groves of rubber and banana, seemingly without break.  Small winding roads – coconut trees and rubber on either side of the road.  Pleasant greenery with waterways everywhere – indeed a land of riches.   It attracts tourists..

Mathur thottipalam as it is known is around 70 km away from Kanyakumari and around 50 km from Nagercoil.  This indeed is a 115 foot high bridge, completed way back in 1966 conceived as a drought relief measure for the purpose of carrying water for irrigation from an elevated level of one hill to another feeding the taluks of Vilanancode and Kalkulam by the visionary CM K. Kamarajar.  

This thottipalam across the river Parazhiyar has 28 huge pillars and stuns the viewers with its height, greenery  and the shadowy mountains around.  The rivers meanders below the bridge.  The bridge is not a wide one but is actually a trough of about 3 feet wide – heard of a man who cycled on the parapets of the bridge for an entry in Guinness World record. 

More than calling it a bridge, it is factually a aqueduct or hanging trough over Parazhiyar (also called Pahrali).  It will certainly qualify to be the longest and highest aqueducts.   The river Pahrali is a small river that originates in Mahendragiri Hills of the Western Ghats.  Mathur Aqueduct carries water of the Pattanamkal canal for irrigation for a distance  closer to one kilometer.  It is a concrete structure held up by 28 huge pillars, the maximum height of the pillars reaching 115 ft. The trough structure is 7 ft in height, with a width of 7.5 ft. The trough is partly covered on top with concrete slabs, allowing people to walk on the bridge and also see the water going through the trough.  It is stated that water flows through the trough for a major part of the year save the peak summer.  

Walking across the thottipalam was a pleasant experience as the wind laden with moist was caressing and view everywhere around was green and replete with fruits of plantains, jack fruits and more.

Contrary to my thinking, read that Nehru Setu Bridge near Dehri on the river Sone is the longest railway bridge in India. The bridge  near Sasaram on Kolkata-Delhi Line is 3.065km long and has 93 spans of 30.5m each. Next to Nehru Setu is the Narnarayan Setu bridge over the Brahmaputra. The bridge links Jogighopa to Pancharatna (in Assam). It has a total length of 2.3km and has 18 spans, each about 120m, with 2 spans of 30.5m.   

There are longer bridges in the World spanning more than 2 kilometers and of the top ten, seven are reportedly located in China.  The claim for the tallest bridge goes to Panvalnadi bridge on the Panval river in Ratnagiri District of Maharashtra The tallest pier of the bridge is 64m above bed level  (which would be around 210 feet)  This bridge was built for Konkan Railway and was the first bridge built in India using the incremental launching technique.  There are also reports that a bridge over River Chenab will have a height of 359 m !!!

Irrespective of the height statistics and tall claims, this one is much pleasant and serene offering calm undiluted enchantment of the nature for the tourist

Regards – S. Sampathkumar

1 comment:

  1. hi i would like to know, is it safe to go with kids and family members? i heard from people....some drunken people always roam around this place....