A Bridge That Never Failed Until It Retired

A Bridge That Never Failed Until It Retired

Nowadays bridges are falling down in their initial period of service (joining time) or soon after inauguration, in such times it becomes necessary to remember the contribution of the historic Chalthi bridge. Built in 1955, this bridge is situated on the Ladhiya river passing through a place called Chalthi between Sukhidhang and Champawat on the Tanakpur-Pithoragarh road. The unique design of this bridge was prepared by Indian engineers and the construction was also done under their supervision. At that time there were no computers for help nor advanced technology like today, yet this quality construction, which is an unmatched example of engineering, is still standing at its place.

In the fifties, Tanakpur Road was the only road connecting Pithoragarh to the plains which remained closed during the rainy season because the makeshift bridges on this road would get washed away. After being transferred to PWD, this road was improved and bridges were constructed. This wonderful bridge of Chalthi has been associated with my three generations. My late father was employed in the Pithoragarh Sub-Treasury from 1954 to 1957. When he had to go to Pithoragarh from Almora, he used to travel on foot (Panuwa Naula – Jageshwar – Naini – Bharda – Amlaghat – Bans – Chandak).

In 1955, when he came to Pithoragarh from Almora with my mother, he could not come on foot, so he had to cover a very long distance which was as follows – from Almora to Ranikhet-Kathgodam, from there by train via Bhojipura to Tanakpur, then by bus via Sukhidhang-Chalthi-Champawat-Lohaghat to Pithoragarh. Since childhood, I had been hearing praises of the Chalthi bridge from my mother. In 1988, when I was serving in Nainital Bank Baheri, I saw this bridge for the first time while going to Pithoragarh with my wife and then got the opportunity to cross this bridge many times. In the third generation, my son and daughter-in-law, while coming to Pithoragarh from Noida, have been crossing this bridge till he retired. When I took this picture on 27 April 2024, I felt an emotional attachment, it seemed as if I was meeting a retired person who looked calm and satisfied after successfully completing his service period. Lakhs of vehicles passed through this historic bridge, heavy machinery and other construction material of the Dhauli Ganga project also reached Tawaghat through this bridge. The specialty of this bridge was in its design in which the entire weight of the bridge was on two arched cement beams which distributed this weight among many vertical columns. This important and strong bridge never failed which makes its existence even more relevant and inspiring in today’s situation. All that can be said about the bridges under construction these days is – “A bridge is a bridge, why trust a bridge, if it falls, it falls, what can be done.”

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