The bridges of Ahmedabad
Headline: Bridge Across The Sabarmati Intro:
The bridges of Ahmedabad are an important chapter in the history of the city. Have you ever wondered how each of these bridges has come into existence? Why were they built? How were they planned? Let us go on a tour of the bridges that have connected the old and the new city from decades….
Before the British Raj established itself completely in Ahmedabad, there was no bridge to cross the river Sabarmatiand go to the other side of the city. So people used to cross the river through boats from areas like Dudheshwar, Shahpur,Usmanpura and Vadaj and when the water was too low for navigation, they used to wade across the river. Around 1869-70, a wooden bridge was built – called Lakkadiyo Pool. This bridge used to be closed during the monsoon season. This bridge was narrow, accessible for smaller vehicles like carts and horse cart sand not suitable for motorized transport. The establishment of this wooden bridge began the history of bridge-building in Ahmedabad creating an infrastructure that all of us use today to access different parts of the city.
Built in : 1873
Started in : 1893
Area: Town Hall – TilakBaug
The government had sanctioned only 5, 49, 210 rupees to build the Ellisbridge when it was built in the 1870s. It was a wooden structure with a very small percentage of iron, so it used to be known as the ‘Lakkadiyo Pool’ in those days.But within 5 years of it being built in 1870, the 1875 floods caused the water levels to rise and enter the city, the railway bridge near Shahibaug and the ‘Lakkadiyo Pool’ broke down. Realizing the dire need for a rebuilt bridge, a Gujarati engineer, RaoBahadurHimmatlal, was appointed to build the bridge again. RaoBahadur changed his place of residence and built a tent on the banks of the river from where he administered the building of the bridge. For the building of the bridge, a special type of iron was imported from Birmingham, UK. Twice the iron cargo carrying ships sank due to the weight but, finally, the third trip successfully brought the iron to India. It is said that the bridge has enough iron to build 3 more bridges The Gujarati engineer did such a great work of building the bridge that he finished constructing it before the estimated date of opening Ellisbridge to traffic.
To the east of the bridge is the walled city,including the Bhadra Fort and on the west is the popular Town Hall. The`pool’ was called Ellisbridge after the British North Division Commissioner, Sir Buro Herbert Ellis, and it is amazing and important to note that in those days, there used to be a toll tax for vehicles to cross the bridge. Mahatma Gandhi,SardarVallabhbhai Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru, Queen Elizabeth of Britain, Russia’s Zar were among the important people who have traversed this bridge.
Around 1973, the population of Ahmedabad had doubled, and it was considered necessary to modify the bridge in order to ease congestion of traffic and commemorate the 100years of Ellisbridge. Ellisbridge, being an important witness to the history and heritage of the city of Ahmedabad, it was decided to retain the original structure of the bridge and make it stronger than it was before. So the bridge was widened from six to 12 meters and the length was increased to 480 meters. Modern extensions suitable for heavy traffic were built on either side of Ellisbridge, On June 27, 2000, the then home minister L.K.Advani inaugurated the bridge, renamed Swami Vivekanand Bridge. The new bridge was built with a budget of 18 crores. In order to retain the bridge’s original name as Ellisbridge the west side of the bridge was called Swami Vivekanand Bridge and the east side was known as Manekburaj in the memory of Manekbawa. You also see the statue of Swami Vivekanand built by JasubenShilpi built with an expense of 3 lakh rupees.
Today the bridge is around 125 years old and it has withstood the test of time, it is an important landmark of Ahmedabad. In the last 125 years, there were many controversies regarding changes to be done to the design, colour, shape and plans of the bridge. The connectivity provided by this bridge, between eastern and western Ahmedabad, supported the creation of the first upmarket area of western Ahmedabad, called Ellisbridge, which boasts posh residential areas, commercial buildings,colleges, schools, hotels, restaurants and government buildings.
2) Gandhi Bridge
Built in: 1939
Area: Income Tax circle –Shahpur
Gandhi Bridge, opened in 1940, connects the NavarangPura area (west city) to Shahpur (old city). The bridge was widened in late 2000. This bridge is also used by West Ahmedabad citizens to reach airport and the Civil Hospital.The bridge was built to handle the traffic congestion resulting from the and development of the city on both sides of the river.
The Mahatma Gandhi statue that is built in bronze stands tall as you cross it to go to the Gandhi Bridge is an important landmark for Amdavadis for many years now. The statue was built by Padma Shri award and a well-known artist and sculptor Kantilal Patel. Deeply influenced by Gandhiji’s vision and principles, Patel built the statue using the lost wax method. The Income Tax Office, All India Radio – Akashvani office and Gujarat Vidyapeeth are among the many important landmarks near the Gandhi Bridge.
3) Nehru Bridge
Built in : 1962
Area: Patang Hotel - Rupali Cinema
Nehru Bridge was inaugurated by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1962, and connects the old city with West Ahmedabad. This is an important commute for a person living in the upmarket areas of CG Road, Navrangpura, Ashram Road to use the bridge for going to Relief Road and further in the walled area of the city or vice versa. The important landmarks in the westside is the popular revolving hotel Patang, industrialist and vintage car collector PranlalBhogilal’sbunglow and on the other side it has the famous SidiSaiyyed Mosque, the old Ritz Hotel (no longer existent) and the Rupali Cinema (closed down). The glory of these beautiful landmarks used to be the important areas around Nehru Bridge.
Historically, the Nehru bridge was to be built as a parallel and widened road to relieve congestion on the busy Gandhi road. Relief Road would have been a straight spine starting from the railway station and would have continued straight through Sardar Park to form the Nehru Bridge and eventually meet Ashram Road somewhere near Gandhigram Railway Station.However, this path was revised by authorities as Chinubhai’s family property was situated somewhere in the middle and the bridge was then planned to be shifted slightly towards the north. These few meters shift completely created havoc in the traffic system for all commuters in the days to come by. As we now see, the SidiSaiyyed Mosque is surrounded by traffic chaos and people are busy negotiating the traffic there rather than enjoying the monument and the beauty of the lattice screens that have become a symbol of Ahmedabad.
4) Subhash Bridge
Built in: 1973
Area: Sabarmati-Vadaj area (west city) to Madhopura- Shahibag Area. (East city)
The city witnessed its worst floods in 1973, and the Subhash Bridge,built in that year proved that it could withstand this calamity. The bridge is an important connecting facility for people from the west to reach the airport. But now the construction of 132 feet ring road, makes people commute faster via this bridge to the airport. The most important landmark around the bridge is the NetajiSubhash Chandra Bose statue that is surrounded by a small garden and the Metropole Hotel. And no marks for guessing that the bridge is named after NetajiSubhash Chandra Bose, who was one of the most important freedom fighters of the country.
As you cross the bridge and go towards Shahibaug, you witness the Police Headquarters and the Police Stadium on the left side. The important landmarks near the Subhash Bridge on the west side is also the RTO office. SubhashBridge was built much later,but becomes an ideal to connect you to the airport. Gandhi Ashram is 1.5 km away from the Subhashbridge. The Gandhi Ahram shopping area is a storehouse of Khadi and can be a bliss for those who wish to buy cotton. Shahibagh stands as a residential area of Ahmedabad with more than 80 residential societies spread across this place. It has been separated from the rest of the city by a railway line in the west and Sabarmati river at itseastern side. The Ashram road and Dr.Chinubhai Patel Road are major connecting roads here.
5) Vadaj - Dudheshwar Bridge
Built in : 2011
Area :Vadaj - Dudheshwar
Also known as MaharshiDadichee bridge, Vadaj-Dudheshwarbridge over river Sabarmati was inaugurated on 14th of April 2011 by Chief Minister ShriNarendraModi.Rishi Dadhichi’sDadhichi Ashram was in Ahmedabad’s Vadaj area, a little distance away from the new bridge. ShriNarendraModi said during the inauguration that, “MaharshiDadhichi donated his bones for the fight against the evils, we have named a bridge after him so that people who don’t know that this great Rishi was from this city would start recognizing him.”On the same day BhaginiNiveditaunderbridgewas also inaugurated. It connects Suvidha shopping center cross roads and Parimalcross roads.TheVadaj-Dudheswarbridge will ease traffic over the Gandhi bridge(Income Tax-Shahpur), Subhash bridge(Shahibag-RTO) and Chandrabhaga bridge(Gandhi Ashram-Vadaj bus stand). It is a nearly 6-lane wide. It is also the costliest river bridge of Ahmedabad.While bridge’s western end will meet Vadaj bus-stand cross roads, the eastern side of the bridge will go towards two roads in ‘Y’ shape; one to Shahpur(with BRTS lane) and other to Shahibag. For those wanting to reach Ashram road from Ahmedabad airport, this bridge is one more option.The bridge has been constructed at a cost of Rs.48.78 crore.
6) Sardar Bridge
Built in: 1939
Area: NID and Town Hall – Jamalpur
On the west is the Ahmedabad Museum that houses the history of Ahmedabad and Tagore Hall that regularly holds drama and cultural programes throughout the year. You also find the Tibetean market near NID where Tibeteans make a beeline selling woolen clothes during the winter season. The famous RK’s egg eatery that has two transsexual men selling a variety of egg dishes near the Sardar Bridge on the west side is a popular hangout for youngsters and the rich and famous in the city.
7) Chandrabhaga Bridge
Area: Vadaj – Gandhi Ashram
8) Ambedkar Bridge (VasnaPirana Bridge)
Built in: : 2011 Area: Vasna–Danilimda
9) LalBahadurShastri Bridge
Area: Vishalla Hotel – Narol
10) Fernandes Bridge
Area – Near Doshiwalla Pole in old city
11) Dandi Bridge