Wellesley Bridge at risk of being swept away

Heavy flow in the Cauvery likely to damage the historical bridge in Srirangapatna

July 29, 2018 11:11 pm | Updated 11:11 pm IST - Mandya

   In neglect:  Heavy flow into the Cauvery is posing a threat to the historical bridge in Srirangapatna. Trees and bushes have grown around the bridge and roots have been damaging the structure’s strength.

In neglect: Heavy flow into the Cauvery is posing a threat to the historical bridge in Srirangapatna. Trees and bushes have grown around the bridge and roots have been damaging the structure’s strength.

The uninterrupted turbulence in the Cauvery has raised fear among authorities concerned over the safety of the historical Wellesley Bridge, constructed across the river in Srirangapatna during British era.

The river is in spate since the crest gates of Krishnaraja Sagar reservoir were lifted on July 14. It already swept away a part of Wesley Bridge, another bridge of British reign near Kollegal in Chamarajanagar district, a few days back. The fear of the Srirangapatna bridge meeting the same fate has escalated following heavy flow in the Cauvery.

The aesthetically designed majestic structure is considered as an engineering marvel. Hundreds of stone pillars, corbels, girders, slabs, and lime mortar have been used for the longevity of the bridge.

The notified “protected monument” is in a dilapidated condition now, owing to neglect by the authorities concerned. Trees and bushes have grown on and around most parts of the structure and the roots have been damaging its strength.

The bridge is a witness to developments subsequent to the end of the Hyder-Tipu supremacy. It was constructed at a cost of ₹5.5 lakh between 1802 and 1804 on the then Madras-Canannore Road (present Bengaluru-Mysuru highway). The bridge has immensely contributed to the growth of many places between the then trading port towns Madras and Cannanore.

“Cannanore is the anglicised name of Kannur in Kerala. The road was extensively used for over a century to transport goods as Kannur and Madras had trading ports. The necessity of the bridge was observed during the Anglo-Mysore wars to shift ammunitions to Srirangapatna. But the construction was taken up by the British authorities, with the support of the Mysore royal family, only after the death of Tipu,” said K.T. Veerappa, retired director, Prasaranga (publication division) of University of Mysore.

An inscription erected on a stone slab installed at the bridge reads: “Dedicated To Richard Marquess Wellesley K:P: Governor General of India by Krishnaraj Wodeir Bahaudur in a public testimony of his gratitude and as a lasting monument of the benefits conferred on the people and country of Mysore, under the care of Poorniah Dewan.”

The structure was named after Mr. Wellesley considering his contribution in strengthening the British military forces and restoring the Hindu dynasty, said Mr. Veerappa said.

The continuous flow may cause damage to the bridge, said local residents.

When The Hindu contacted B. Yashodha, Assistant Commissioner (Revenue), Pandavapura subdivision, she stressed on the need to preserve such monuments. “We will write to the authorities concerned to preserve the historically significant monuments and the need for restoration of Wellesley Bridge,” she said. Ms. Yashodha is one of the members of the district-level committee that was formed to take care of the historical monuments.

Oldest bridge

Wellesley Bridge is the only oldest bridge on the Bengaluru-Mysuru highway still handling vehicular movement, as cars and motorcycles of local residents are allowed to move on it. But the movement of heavy vehicles was banned during the ‘80s as the Public Works Department had observed the weakening of the bridge.

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