Thursday, 30 October 2014

The Victoria Bridge of Mandi

The Panoramic View of Victoria Bridge at Night

The Victorian Suspension Bridge over the river Beas was built in 1877 A.D. It connects the Jawahar Nagar or Khaliar and Old or Purani Mandi areas to the main town. It was built at the cost of one lakh rupees or about $ 1700, during the regime of Raja Bijai Sen in 1877. He built the bridge with the help of the British Government which had granted protection to the state under a treaty after the Sikhs had invaded Mandi in 1840. The ropes of the bridge had been embedded with concrete under the rocks.

Before the construction of this bridge in 1877, the people used to cross the Beas river by boats. During the days of Raja Sidh Sen (1684 to 1727 AD), a number of boats used to remain anchored on the bank of the river as the water discharge was more as compared to present times.

The wife of Raja of Bhangal, was the daughter of Raja Sidh Sen. She had come back to Mandi due to the strained relations with her husband.  Raja Sidh Sen invited his son-in-law to Mandi and made him a captive. After some time the Raja of Bhangal attempted to escape from the prison in a boat, but the ferrymen recognized him. He was re- imprisoned and was thereafter murdered. The rulers of Mandi state could not build a bridge over the Beas for centuries.

The Victoria Bridge handled all traffic from the Pathankot to Kullu, Lahaul-Spiti and Leh till the construction of new bridge on the Beas in 1984. In 1987 the rocks holding the ropes of the bridge were reinforced by boring long holes into the rock which were plugged with steel rods and the cement was injected with high-pressure sophisticated machines provided by the Beas Satluj Link Project.

The bridge was strengthened by the BSL authorities and reinforced at regular intervals to bear more load. The BSL authorities also utilized the bridge for carrying small machines. For a long time only empty buses and vehicles were allowed to cross the bridge and the passengers were requested to get down. A man wearing a placard on his back used to walk before the bus to ensure its low speed. The construction of a new road above the foundations has affected the life of this bridge. 

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