Field Marshal’s daughter unveils plaque containing history of the bridge
Udhagamandalam: The reconstructed black bridge at Wellington, near Coonoor, re-christened as ‘The Manekshaw Bridge’ was thrown open to traffic on Monday.
Participating in a function which marked the occasion, the Commandant, Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), Lt.General H.P.S.Klair inaugurated the bridge and unveiled a commemorative plaque. Sherry Batliwala, daughter of Field Marshal Manekshaw, unveiled a plaque containing the history of the bridge. The General Officer Commanding Andhra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka, Major General E.J.Kochekkan participated. The Station Commander, Wellington, Brigadier V.P.Kashyap distributed mementoes.
Tracing the history of the bridge, the Commandant, Works Engineering, Colonel R.Kumar said that it was almost as old as the Garrison itself and dated back to 1858 when work on constructing the bridge across the Mynala river first began. It was completed in 1878 and named the ‘Waterloo Bridge’. However, its popular name was black bridge.
Adverting to the origin of the name, he said that according to one theory it came to be called black bridge because the dark skinned natives were not permitted beyond the Mynala river and according to another the bridge was made with Burmese teak and was painted black.
In the early 60s, the bridge was found to be unsafe and the surface was replaced with reinforced concrete. Since it was again found to be unsafe for vehicular traffic in 2005, it was closed and the prestigious task of reconstructing it was given to the Military Engineering Service. Despite constraints it was completed in a record time at Rs. 1.65 crore, thanks to the help extended by organisations like the Border Roads Organisation. It was proposed to plant about 120 saplings near the bridge. Since the bridge links the Ooty-Coonoor highway with the cantonment its reconstruction will be of immense benefit to the local people and tourists. The Garrison Engineer, Major Dominic Lazarus explained the salient features of the bridge.