Bridge turns hawkers' paradise

TYPICAL SCENE: The Puranapul bridge being used by hawkers. Photo: Mohd. Yousuf  

J. S. Ifthekhar

Two-wheeler riders manage to squeeze through with difficulty

Hyderabad: Once a bridge of love, today it has become hawkers' paradise. Where is Puranapul - one is left wondering as one approaches this 428-year-old bridge. Vegetable vendors, fruit sellers, garment traders and push carts occupy every inch of it. A close look will show a couple of drunkards spreadeagled in a corner.

Puranapul is almost closed to vehicular traffic. With the hawkers extending their wares on to the road there is just no place for vehicles to move. Two-wheelers manage to squeeze through with difficulty. On the other end leading to Puranapul Darwaza, autorickshahs are parked in a row blocking the way. Though the police sub-control is situated here the cops seem to be of little help in controlling the chaos.

"Of course there is a parallel bridge for the heavy vehicles to move. But the old bridge can be properly maintained for pedestrians and slow moving vehicles to go," says Verma, a resident.

This ancient bridge was built by Ibrahim Qutub Shah in 1578 so that his son Mohd Qutub Shah could ride safely across the Musi to meet his beloved, Bhagmati. Purnapul was rebuilt again in 1820 during the reign of Sikandar Jah when floods extensively damaged it.

Neglected look

Today it wears a neglected look. Potholed roads and overflowing drainage is a perennial problem here. The ongoing pipeline laying works have thrown the traffic out of gear. Three years ago this place had its hour of glory. It hogged the limelight as the World Tourism Day was celebrated here with much fanfare.

The entire area was decked up. The bridge itself was cleaned and repaired and the 150-odd hawkers cleared off. The MCH spent Rs. 10 lakhs to a lay a fresh road. But now things are back to square one. What happened to the Government's plan to preserve Puranapul as a monument?

Puranapul corporator, S. Raj Mohan, admits that the hawkers are giving an ugly look to the bridge. "They are poor persons and have been there for years. If they are removed it will be a big problem," he says.