The iconic landmark of Kolkata, Howrah Bridge is a massive steel structure which is considered as one of the longest cantilever bridges of its type in the world. Also called as Rabindra Setu, it extends across the Hooghly River and connects Howrah and Kolkata. It is also regarded as one of the busiest ones among them as it carries a daily traffic of over 100,000 vehicles and countless pedestrians. For those who wish to see the grandeur of the bridge, you are recommended an excellent ride in the ferry services between Kolkata and Howrah, offered from Launch Ghat. The view of the city from the ferry, especially in the night, is priceless, to say the least.
Howrah Bridge was the third longest cantilever bridge at the time of its construction, but now it is the sixth longest one of its types. It was renamed as Rabindra Setu on June 14, 1965, after the name of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. It spreads about 1500 ft over the Hooghly River and is 71 ft wide. There is a total of 8 lanes of strand road, bicycles, and pedestrians. What makes this bridge unique is the fact that it was built without a single nut or bolt and is held together by rivets.
The Howrah Bridge has been shown in numerous movies since the 1950s like Do Bigha Zameen, China Town, Amar Prem, Parineeta, The Namesake, Love Aaj Kal, Barfi, Gunday and many others. You can walk across the bridge and admire the gigantic construction or glide underneath on a boat ride on the Hooghly River. Once you are here, you will question the notion yourself: who said that Kolkata is an archaic city stuck in the Stone Age?
History of Howrah Bridge
The Howrah Bridge serves as the lifeline of Kolkata. Its construction was undertaken in 1939. The Government of Bengal wanted to bridge over the Hooghly River and asked an engineer of the East India Company to come up with a proposal which never materialised. Sir Bradford Leslie built a pontoon bridge in 1874. However, it had to be redesigned to accommodate the increasing traffic across the Hooghly River. So, the Howrah Bridge was constructed in 1942. Because of this reason, it was named as the New Howrah Bridge. It took seven years to complete the construction and was finally opened to the public in February 1943. Sir Rajendra Nath Mukherjee was the chief engineer for the project. The steel for the bridge was supplied by Tata Steel.
The total cost of constructing the Howrah Bridge was INR 333 crore. 26,500 tons of steel was used in its construction. It was renamed as Rabindra Setu but is still popularly known as Howrah Bridge. The first vehicle to travel over the bridge was a solitary tram. The Howrah end of the bridge has the Howrah Junction Railway Station which is India’s oldest railway station. The bridge is therefore also known as the gateway to Kolkata.
Construction of Howrah Bridge
The bridge was designed by Rendel, Palmer, and Tritton and was constructed by The Braithwaite Burn and Jessop Construction Company Ltd. The construction began in 1936 and ended in 1942. The bridge was opened on 3rd February 1943. The length of each pillar of the bridge is 468 feet, and the anchor arm is 325 feet. It carries almost the entire traffic to and from the Howrah Junction Railway Station. The bulk of this traffic comes from cars and buses. The bridge carries much more than the expected load. It is flanked by broad footpaths and is thus swarmed by pedestrians.
The Howrah Bridge is maintained by the Kolkata Port Trust. The bridge has undergone considerable damage by vehicles due to rash driving and corrosion due to atmospheric conditions. Corrosion has also been caused by bird droppings and human spitting. The Kolkata Port Trust has taken the responsibility of cleaning it on a regular basis.
Howrah Bridge In Movies
The Howrah Bridge is of great cultural significance, standing as the major landmark in the city of Kolkata. It is synonymous with this majestic city and the magnificence of this bridge has inspired numerous filmmakers to showcase it in their movies. The Howrah Bridge featured in movies like Do Bigha Zamin, Parash Pathar, Neel Akasher Neechey, China Town, Amar Prem, Paar and Ram Teri Ganga Maili. Shakti Samanta made a movie called Howrah Bridge which had the famous song Mera Nam Chin Chin Chu. This iconic bridge has also been featured in several award-winning movies including Mrinal Sen’s National Award winning Bengali movie Calcutta 71 and Richard Attenborough’s Academy Award winning film Gandhi.
In the more recent times, Howrah Bridge was showcased in movies like Yuva, Parineeta, The Namesake, Love Aaj Kal, Kahaani, Barfi!, Gunday and Piku. It also featured in the 2016 Academy Award nominated film Lion.
Kumbhalgarh is a true feather in Rajasthan’s triumphant touristy cap. It has everything that helps make Rajasthan so attractive to travellers- it has temples and forts and the old wartime glory hideouts, with an occasional shopping site thrown in here and there. The added bonus is that it contains World Heritage Sites, proving how worthy of acclaim it really is, historically, architecturally, culturally, and so on. The area of Kumbhalgarh spreads fairly into and around the Aravalli Hills too, with major destinations located here, and that increases the overall appeal of it all.
From the mysterious Machchindrapur to Mahore to the present-day majestic Kumbhalgarh Fort, this second-largest continuous wall of India dedicatedly protects the hidden secrets of an ancient desert city, the mysteries of a forgotten era, the unfolding of the royal heritage of an enigmatic land. This beautifully and architecturally etched edifice of Kumbhalgarh is neatly tucked on the westerly range of Aravalli Hills in the Rajsamand District in Rajasthan. Kumbhalgarh owes a lot of its popularity to the beautiful and historical city of Udaipur that attracts a lot of tourists from all across the globe all through the year.
About the departure:
Enjoy a fun filled opportunity to discover the hidden gems of India. With Udaipur gaining so much popularity, start your tour in Udaipur and revel in the beauty of the lakes, majestic palaces and authentic Rajasthani folklore entertainment. Pay a visit to Saheliyon ki Bari, boat ride at the Pichhola lake and do not leave without veneration at the famed Eklingji Temple. Proceed onto the see the gorgeous Ranakpur Jain temples, created in the 15th century during the reign of Rana Kumbha. Do not leave without a visit to the nearby ‘Sun Temple’ dedicated to the ‘Sun God’, adorned with a polygonal wall, richly embellished with the carvings of warriors, horses and solar deities riding splendid ‘chariots’, the vehicle of the ‘Sun God’.
On reaching Kumbhalgarh, visit the mighty Kumbhalgarh Fort that shined bright in a long gone era, providing refuge to the rulers in times of strife and had in it’s amalgam almost everything to withstand even a long siege. Inclusive of its magnificent palaces and array of temples built by the Mauryas, the most picturesque place is the Badal Mahal or the palace of the clouds. Proceed on to Mt.Abu for the last part of your journey and enjoy this amazing hill station in bliss and serenity before heading back to humdrum city lives.
Delhi, the capital of India has a strong historical background. It was ruled by some of the most powerful emperors in Indian history.
The history of the city is as old as the epic Mahabharata. The town was known as Indraprastha, where Pandavas used to live. In due course eight more cities came alive adjacent to Indraprastha: Lal Kot, Siri, Dinpanah, Quila Rai Pithora, Ferozabad, Jahanpanah, Tughlakabad and Shahjahanabad.
Delhi has been a witness to the political turmoil for over five centuries. It was ruled by the Mughals in succession to Khiljis and Tughlaqs.
In 1192 the legions of the Afghan warrior Muhammad of Ghori captured the Rajput town, and the Delhi Sultanate was established (1206). The invasion of Delhi by Timur in 1398 put an end to the sultanate; the Lodis, last of the Delhi sultans, gave way to Babur, who, after the battle of Panipat in 1526, founded the Mughal Empire. The early Mughal emperors favoured Agra as their capital, and Delhi became their permanent seat only after Shah Jahan built (1638) the walls of Old Delhi.
From Hindu Kings to Muslim Sultans, the reins of the city kept shifting from one ruler to another. The soils of the city smell of blood, sacrifices and love for the nation. The old ‘Havelis’ and edifices from the past stand silent but their silence also speaks volumes for their owners and people who lived here centuries back.
In the year 1803 AD, the city came under the British rule. In 1911, British shifted their capital from Calcutta to Delhi. It again became the center of all the governing activities. But, the city has the reputation of over throwing the occupants of its throne. It included the British and the current political parties that have had the honour of leading free India.
After independence in 1947, New Delhi was officially declared as the Capital of India.
Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay during British colonial rule, has welcomed travelers from around the world for centuries. Located by its natural harbor, this bustling port city has many facets – primarily as a cultural melting pot where people of all fortunes reside. Energetic, colorful and resilient, Mumbai is both the financial and entertainment capital of India, and is home to many billionaires and millionaires. Yet it’s also a booming metropolis of about 20 million people and India’s most populated city! You will never be bored as Mumbai is a city that never sleeps, with its fascinating colonial heritage, plethora of shopping avenues, vibrant nightlife, and some of the country’s oldest restaurants.
Welcome to Kolkata
Kolkata, India’s second biggest city, is a perpetually ongoing festival of human existence, concurrently luxurious and squalid, refined and frantic, pointedly futuristic, while beautifully in decay. A vibrant 350-year-old metropolis located on India’s Eastern Coast, the capital of West Bengal thrives on contradictions and imposing spectacles; nothing is commonplace in this city. Famously known as the City of Joy, Kolkata is, in every sense, the artistic, cultural and intellectual capital of the country. Kolkata’s streets are vivid, hectic, chaotic, and yet, brimming with life and creativity. Driven by the indomitable spirit of the self-made middle class, the city has created a beautiful juxtaposition of the old colonial-era charm with the nascent upcoming hipster culture that thrives amongst the city’s millennial residents.
Starting from admiring the flourishing art scene in the city to going on rewarding gastronomical explorations to wandering amidst the countless bazaars to sitting by the banks of the Hooghly and enjoying a peaceful sunset, Kolkata is soaked in layers and layers of heritage and culture, and peeling off each layer to look beneath the hood is a very rewarding, once-in-a-lifetime experience. As the famous quote goes, “If you want a city with a soul, come to Calcutta”.
Formerly the capital of the British empire before the government was shifted to Delhi, Kolkata has a distinct tinge of its royal past lingering in every nook and cranny of the city. If you want to soak in some of the city’s regal past, take a walk along the streets of North Kolkata, which houses some of the oldest mansions in the city, swathed with vines and a persistent sense of aristocratic pride. Kolkata is home to Rabindranath Tagore’s ancestral house, which has now been converted into a museum and houses a staggering collection of family portraits and paintings. There are plenty of ghats all over the city where you can sit and enjoy a sunset while sipping on tea, one of the most noted of these being the Prinsep Ghat, which offers stunning views of the Vidyasagar Setu in the backdrop. Close by is Millennium Park, which is a beautified waterfront park from where you can avail boat rides and cruises.
Kolkata has a very lively nightlife, and the entire stretch along Park Street houses innumerable bars and pubs where you can party the night away. Kolkata’s street food is famous all across the country, and the city is lined with eateries and food stalls at every corner, where you can savour local Bengali food, or try out local snacks such as Jhalmuri, or Ghugni Chaat.
OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of India, Bharat
FORM OF GOVERNMENT: Federal republic
CAPITAL: New Delhi
OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: Hindi, English, 21 others
AREA: 1,269,345 square miles (3,287,590 square kilometers)
MAJOR MOUNTAIN RANGE: Himalaya
MAJOR RIVERS: Ganges, Yamuna, Indus, Brahmaputra
India’s earliest known civilization arose about 5,000 years ago on the Indus River in what is now Pakistan. Archaeologists uncovered the remains of two huge cities with brick houses, piped water, and sewer systems. Nobody knows why, but these cities, called Harappa and Mohenjo Daro, were abandoned in 1700 B.C.
The Aryan people were farmers from Central Asia who arrived in India around 1500 B.C. They spoke Sanskrit, one of the world’s oldest known languages. The Vedic Scriptures, writings that form the basis of the Hindu religion, were written during the Aryan reign.
In the 200-year reign of the Gupta Empire, starting in the fourth century A.D., arts, crafts, and sciences flourished. During this time, the Indian astronomer Aryabhatta determined that the Earth revolved around the sun. This was long before the Western world accepted the theory.
Beginning in the 16th century, following a series of invasions by Muslim forces, a Mongol leader named Babur founded the Mongol Empire. The Mongols oversaw a golden age of art, literature, and architecture in India between 1527 and 1707. They built roads, mosques, gardens, and enormous tombs, including the grand Taj Mahal.
In the late 1400s, Europeans arrived in India and began setting up trading companies. In 1757, Britain gained control over most of the country. Uprisings against British rule began in 1856. In 1920, the famous Mahatma Gandhi began nonviolent protests to push the British out. In 1947, India had independence.
India is part of the continent of Asia. Most of India forms a peninsula, which means it is surrounded by water on three sides. The world’s highest mountain range, the Himalaya, rises in the north. The southeast is bordered by the Bay of Bengal, and the southwest is bordered by the Arabian Sea.
India’s terrain varies widely, from the Thar Desert in the west to jungles in the northeast. A fertile area called the Ganges Plain covers much of northern India. This formation was created from soil that was deposited by rivers running from the Himalaya. In some places, this layer of silt is over 25,000 feet (7,620 meters) deep.
PEOPLE & CULTURE
Society throughout India is divided into social ranks, called castes. Caste is determined by birth and there is almost no way to change it. High castes include priests, landowners, and soldiers. So-called Untouchables have no caste and do the most menial jobs.
India is a very spiritual country. It has no official religion, but more than 80 percent of Indians are Hindu. About 13 percent are Muslim. Other religions include Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism, which all began in India.
GOVERNMENT & ECONOMY
India’s parliamentary government was inherited from the British. After independence in 1947, one party, the Congress Party, and one family, the Nehru family, dominated politics in India for decades. Now, however, many parties compete for elected positions.
India’s economy is growing so fast that experts predict it will soon become one of the world’s leading markets. Indians are hard workers. And though many are poorly educated, there are many others who are highly trained college graduates.
For thousands of years, since the Hindu religion first evolved, respect for animal life has been an important part of Indians’ beliefs. Cows in particular are sacred and cannot be harmed. They are even allowed to wander through city streets, which often causes traffic jams!
India’s varied climate zones support about 65,000 animal species, including elephants, pythons, river dolphins, and rhinos, and 12,000 types of flowering plants. It is the only country in the world with both lions and tigers. It’s also a bird watcher’s paradise.
On the coast of the Bay of Bengal is the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest. Here, tigers swim in the same rivers as dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, and saltwater crocodiles. This unique landscape is constantly under threat as sea levels rise and humans hunt illegally and clear trees for firewood.
The Himalaya mountains provide a home for some of India’s rarest animals and plants. The most elusive animal is the snow leopard. Bears and black buck live lower down, and in the northeast, the tiger and one-horned rhinoceros can be found.