The Indian peninsula is connected with Rameswaram Island through a road and a railway bridge, these two bridges are commonly referred to as Pamban Bridge.
Pamban railway bridge is the first Indian bridge which is built across the sea. It is generally referred as The queen of Indian bridges. The idea to build a bridge across Pamban channel (Palk strait) was proposed in around 1870’s by the British government. However, the construction of Pamban bridge commenced only in 1911 and was commissioned in 1914.
The following Table depicts the short historical notes on Train service to Rameswaram island
|1902||Train service started from Madurai – Mandapam|
|1906||Railway Tracks laid between Pamban and Rameswaram|
|1908||Train service started between Pamban and Rameswaram|
|1911||The cantilever Rail bridge across the sea was commenced|
|1914||The Pamban Rail bridge has been completed and train service started|
Until 1988, Pamban rail bridge was the only connecting path between Rameswaram and the mainland of India.
This bridge started its service of connecting Rameswaram island from February 24, 1914. Being a cantilever bridge, it has two arms fitted to the piers extending from either side and meeting at the center without supports.
The bridge, as a whole, spans a length of 6776 feet (2.065 meters) and has 143 piers. In the center of the bridge, there is a double leaf bascule section which opens up and let the ships and boats to cross. Based on the records, an average of 10 to 15 ships (coast guard boats, cargo ships, container ships etc.) passes beneath this bridge every month. The bascule was designed by Scherzer, a German engineer. In his honour, the bascule part of the bridge is called as “Scherzer rolling type lift span”. Boasting a length of 220 feet and weight of 200 tonnes (each leaf weighs 100 tonnes separately), these heavyweight leaves are lifted manually by workers by operating levers on either side.
On December 23, 1964, a super cyclonic storm struck the Pamban bridge bearing winds of velocity about 240 Km/hour. It swept away the entire region of Dhanuskodi and upturned the Pamban – Dhanuskodi Train with 150 passengers. Part of the Pamban Railway bridge was shattered and broken owing to the catastrophe.
The Indian Railway upgraded this bridge to broad gauge on August 12,2007.
The 100th year celebrations of the Pamban rail bridge were held in 2014. It was also nominated for UNESCO’s heritage status in 2013 by the Indian Railways Department.
Crossing numerous catastrophic events, accidents, flowing tides for a hundred years, the Queen of Indian bridges – The Pamban Bridge stands with an everlasting smile in the Palk strait as a gigantic engineering marvel.
The Pamban Road Bridge connects the National Highway (NH 49) with the Rameswaram island. It stands on the Palk strait and between the shores of Mandapam (place on the Indian mainland) and Pamban (a fishermen town in Rameswaram island) standing parallel to the Pamban Rail Bridge.
After the cyclone of 1964, a plan for a road bridge parallel to the existing railway bridge was proposed by the Tamil Nadu Government. But it was denied and dropped by the Indian Railway Ministry. Many years later, the construction works of Pamban Road bridge commenced on 17-11-1974 by the Indian Highway department. The cost for its construction was estimated to be a whopping 537.57 Lakhs at that time and contracted to M/S Neelakandan Brothers Engs, Madras .
Hit by a cyclone once again in 1978, the work was carried out slowly following that. After a few more years, the construction work contract was handed over to the New Gammon India Ltd., Government of India revised and sanctioned the contract amount to be 16.6514 crore INR by 1986. The work was completed finally in 1988. It took 14 years to complete this engineering marvel. This Road Bridge was named as ANNAI INDIRA GANDHI ROAD BRIDGE and inaugurated by the then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on the date of October 2, 1988.
Standing in the world’s second most corrosive environment and a high cyclone prone zone, it was proposed that anti-corrosive coatings should be applied every 5 years. On January 2013, the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways sanctioned Rs.18.57 crores to renovate the existing bridge. Sources said that the piers were painted with coal tar epoxy, and the non-splash zone with epoxy primer. The 592 old bearings were replaced and the electrical cables and the lamp posts were repaired.
Unlike the Pamban Rail Bridge, the road bridge does not have any bascule structure to provide a passage through the sea. The arch-shaped architecture of the bridge and its height from the sea level let the ships and boats pass beneath it without any disturbance. Detailed facts and figures of the Pamban Road Bridge are stated below :
|Opened on||1988, 2nd October|
|The structural Design||Arch Bridge|
|The Length of the Pamban Road Bridge||2.345 KM|
|The Total Number Of Pillars (Piers) holding the Bridge||79 Pillars|
|Number of Pillars (Piers) Stands inside the Sea||64 pillars|
|The Maximum Height of the Bridge from the sea level||17.68 M|
|The Number of Electrical Lamp posts on the bridge||174 Lamp Poles|
|Connecting Places||Mandapam and Pamban|
|Region||Over the Palk strait|
|Location||2824167° N 79.1889222° E|
The ship that was towing the naval barge from Kolkata to a port near Mumbai first went aground hitting rocks on January 10th, 2013 following the bad weather. It was a disaster waiting to happen as the vessel remained stuck just 50 metres away from the rail bridge. The barge that was afloat around 100 metres away hit the Pamban Rail Bridge on 13th January causing substantial damages to the structure of the bridge.
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