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Tamil Nadu’s 100-year-old Kallar bridge to become heritage site

The 100-year-old bridge was built by Jessop and Co., a Kolkata-based company for the British

Keeping in mind the sentiments of the people and their love for heritage, the Odanthurai panchayat in Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore district has decided to turn a British-era suspension into a monument.

This 20-metre, pillar-less single-span steel bridge, which is called Kallar Bridge, was built on river Kallar in 1924-25. It connects Mettupalayam with Coonoor and Udhagamandalam. It was constructed to replace a wooden bridge that had been washed away in 1891 floods.

Built at the foothills, this iconic bridge is situated at the scenic entrance to Nilgiris. An exemplary landmark, surrounded by tall trees, the bridge attracts nature lovers and history buffs in droves, was built by Jessop and Co, a Kolkata-based company for the British. It is one of the oldest steel bridges in the Nilgiris.

This place is of historical importance as before this steel bridge the English had constructed a masonry bridge in 1894. This single-lane bridge was demolished in 2015 as it got damaged. While the environmental activists criticised the authorities for this decision, many heritage lovers felt it should have been preserved. The steel bridge of 1925 with 10-tonne capacity was built next to this masonry bridge to accommodate more traffic.

Following the concrete bridge coming up in 2016, traffic on the suspension bridge was stopped yet it kept attracting people for its heritage significance.

Talking to the media, R. Thangavelu, Odanthurai Panchayat president said that following demand from diverse quarters it was decided to convert the bridge into a monument.

He added that in order to preserve the bridge, painting and repair work has been started. Also, the panchayat has decided to convert half-acre of land available near the bridge into a park.