HomeArchiveImagesPhoto Stories 6: History of Pahadi Bridges

Photo Stories 6: History of Pahadi Bridges

Uttarakhand is the state of rivers and many other small water streams. These water streams need to be crossed as frequently and thus it needs bridges. Understand the history of bridges in Pahad through these 12 old images.

Rope Bridge in history
Image 1: Crossing the Rhamani river with the help of a rope (bridge) hanging on the river. This river was more in the form of glaciers than flowing water. This is located in the Rishi Kot mountain region. This must have been a risky and fearsome practice but perhaps the only options locals had. (Source: The Ascent of Nanda Devi by Tilman Porter, John Tilman, Harold William)
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Image 2: Local Porters crossing the Bhagat Kharak Valley. These porters were the only source of load-carrying labor for the trekkers coming to the Himalayas on various expeditions. These potters were made to cross the river with around 100 kg of loads on their backs. These practices for crossing the river were very risky. (Source: ‘Garhwal Life’ by Andre Roach)
Snow Bridge over Alakhnanda
Image 3: Snow Bridge over Alakhnanda river. This is a naturally made structure in the deeper Himalayas. These structures were never permanent as snow gets melted and reformed every year. (Source: Kamet Conquered by Frenke Smythe)

Read This Too: इस विश्व पर्यटन दिवस भार-वाहकों (कूली, पोर्टर, शेरपा, डोटियाल, नेपाली, बहादुर) का इतिहास ?

Rope Bridge
Image 4: Rope Bridge somewhere on Alakhnanda river. Such practices to cross the river are still used in the hills of Uttarakhand. The contemporary version of this technique for crossing the rivers is called ‘Ropeways’. (Source: Kamet Conquered by Frenke Smythe)
Bridge at Badrinath
Image 5: Suspension Bridge at Badrinath. This is made out of local timber and grass ropes by locals. (Source: Kamet Conquered by Frenke Smythe)
Image 6: Yak Crossing the Bridge on Rishi Ganga river near Rishiganga Valley. This structure is built by locals with the help of locally found stones and tree timber. (Source: Kamet Conquered by Frenke Smythe)

Boating in the high flow of rivers at their early stages in the upper Himalayan region used to be almost impossible and highly dangerous. So were the other means of crossing the river including temporary bridges made out of grass ropes or hanging timbers. It was only after the British rule started that the concrete bridges were constructed over various rivers. These colonial structures were made to primarily serve the British Empire rather than locals as most of the bridges were constructed on roads that were important for the British officials.

Colonial Bridges:

Thomas Daniell 1749–1840 British Library Srinagar
Image 7: Suspension Bridge on Alakhnanda River in Srinagar Garhwal town. This structure has a long history as it existed even before the British established their rule on Garhwal. This structure was rebuilt time and again as this was the only structure connecting Garhwal state with Kangra State. (Source: British Library, painted by Daniell, Thomas)
1858 The Indian Empire by R Montgomery martin Grass rope bridge at Teree Gurwall
Image 8: Grass rope bridge at Tehri Garhwal, 1858. The is made by locals are usually from ropes made out of local grasses tighten together. This used to be quite similar to suspension bridges. (Source: The Indian Empire by R Montgomery Martin)

Read This Too: (Photo Stories 2: 1906 में ग्वाल्दम से नीती-माणा का सफ़र, चित्रों की ज़ुबानी)

Khyrna Bridge on the road to Ranikhet Lawrie and Company G.W. 1895
Image 9: Khyrna Bridge on the road to Ranikhet from Almora. (Source: Lawrie-and-Company-G.W.-1895)
Gwaldam Bridge
Image 10: Bridge Over Pinder River between Gwaldam and Wan Village. Anyone going for trek to Tapovan, Nanda Devi, Valley of Flowers or Kuari Pass, etc were made to cross this colonial structure as they start their trekking from Lohaganj near Gwaldam. This structure was constructed by the British government to make their expedition towards the higher Himalayas easier. Pinder is still believed to be one of the most violent rivers in India.
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Image 11: Gartang Gali Bridge, constructed by a trader from Peshwar during the 17th Century for the smooth running of Indo-Tibbet trade via Uttarkashi in Nelang Valley. Movement on this 500-meter long wooden structure was prohibited since the Indo-China war in 1962. Movement on this bridge has been resumed for tourists this year after reconstruction. This is a great example of how a historical bridge could emerge as a famous tourist destination. Source Link
No Bridge for Cattle at Dhaoli River
Image 12: Animals crossing the Dhauli Ganga River. Dhauli Ganga meets Rishi Ganga to flow as Alakhnanda river from Tapovan. Many a time these animals drown in the river. They always had risks to their life. (Source: Kamet Conquered by Frenke Smythe)

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Sweety Tindde
Sweety Tinddehttp://huntthehaunted.com
Sweety Tindde works with Azim Premji Foundation as a 'Resource Person' in Srinagar Garhwal.


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