Howrah Bridge: Check History, Planning and Building

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Feb 4, 2022, 5:28

The city of joy, Kolkata, is home to various monuments. Kolkata grows on you – as you wander through the busy lanes, you notice that each corner has a story to tell. Only in Kolkata can you personify certain places and build a connection that only stays within you. One such place in Kolkata is the Howrah Bridge.

If you ask any inhabitant or traveller to describe how Kolkata looks in their mind, the first thing most of them will say is the Howrah bridge. Apart from being the pride of Kolkata's inhabitants, this bridge is also one of the best-known bridges in India. In this article, we'll learn all about the Howrah bridge's history.

Howrah Bridge: The Beginning

Even though the construction of the Howrah bridge took place in the 20th century, the structure was originally made in the year 1871. Before the construction took place, a pontoon bridge stood over the Hoogly river. The pontoon bridge was later replaced with the Howrah bridge because it was risky and had limited load-carrying capacity. 

Planning and Commissioning of the Howrah Bridge

Several plans were made, and various types of bridges were suggested before constructing the Howrah bridge we see today. In 1906, the Government set up a committee to determine the new bridge's traffic requirements. Based on that report, the committee decided that building a floating bridge would be the perfect solution for all the issues. In 1921, an engineering committee named the 'Mukherjee Committee undertook the task. Later in 1930, another construction team named the 'Goode Committee' did the same.

The final takers of the task were a local organization named 'The Braithwaite Burn & Jessop Construction Company Ltd.' The construction of the Kolkata Howrah bridge began in 1936 and took 6 years to complete. The finished bridge was opened to the public on 3rd February 1943.

Building of the Howrah Bridge

Howrah Bridge was the third-longest cantilever bridge (now sixth) in the world when it was built. Tata Steel supplied 26,500 tons of steel for this purpose. Around that time, the entire process of construction cost around Rs. 25 million, which made it a pioneering marvel bridge in India.

The Howrah bridge length is 70 meters, and its width is 71. The footpaths on both sides add extra 14 feet. The builders used a piece of metal to connect two (or more) plates through holes and pressed it down on the other end to construct the bridge.

Initial Years of the Howrah Bridge

As previously mentioned, the tram was the first-ever vehicle that crossed over the Howrah bridge. Later on, two-wheelers, buses, cars, trucks, etc., came along, and traffic increased. A survey conducted in the year 1946 revealed that over 27,400 vehicles and 121,100 pedestrians crossed over the Howrah bridge on a daily basis. The number only keeps increasing each year. A survey of 2007 shows that the number of vehicles increased to around 90,000. In 1993, trams were banned from the Howrah bridge because they caused a huge increase in traffic.

Over 100,000 vehicles and 150,000 pedestrians pass daily by the Howrah Bridge. It is undoubtedly the busiest cantilever bridge that exists in the world. Another great thing about Howrah bridge is that one can enjoy its majestic view while sitting at Mullick Ghat as its beauty becomes surreal at night when it lights up colourfully.

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FAQs about Howrah Bridge

  • Where is Howrah Bridge?

The Howrah bridge is situated in Kolkata over the Hoogly river. At the end of the bridge lies the colourful Mullick Ghat Market.

  • What Makes the Howrah Bridge stand out?

At the time of construction, the Howrah bridge earned the third position as the longest cantilever bridge in the world. Another fascinating fact about this bridge is that it was built without the help of nuts and bolts.

  • What are the other names of the Howrah Bridge?

In 1965, the Howrah Bridge was renamed 'Rabindra Setu' to pay tribute to poet Rabindranath Tagore.