Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Travelling the highways and byways of Bangladesh, ruined bridges are a common sight. Periodic inundations overcome the often rather hastily constructed bridges of the last 50 or so years.
Many of the great bridges, especially those built to carry railways, from the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th Century continues to carry a considerable burden of traffic, such as Harding Bridge over Padma, and the much used Rail Bridge over Karnaphuli River.
But the earliest real bridges were built by the Mughal administration from the 14th Century. They also continued to use rivers as their main form of transport and communication, a usage continued in the British period. After all, with over 700 rivers, branches and tributaries, this great deltaic country has plenty of waterways.
It comes as something of a surprise, nevertheless, to find a Mughal period bridge simply standing, no longer bridging anything but a footway, beside the busy N2 route between Dhaka and Sylhet, just north of Madhabpur.
They built their bridges to survive, as a number of such rather lovely masterpieces of engineering around Bangladesh bear testimony.
Constructed with the evident appreciation of appearance as well as function that is noticeable in other constructions of the period, palaces, forts, temples and mosques, this survivor is easily missed as you hurry past, but is worth a stop, and a few minutes enjoyment.

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