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Delhiwale: The bridge of beauty

Plan an early morning visit to the bridge to spot trains, admire giant arches and muse on the Hindon river

delhi Updated: Mar 06, 2018 10:00 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Composed of a series of six 70-feet-wide arches, the  red-brick railway bridge looks like a Roman aqueduct.
Composed of a series of six 70-feet-wide arches, the red-brick railway bridge looks like a Roman aqueduct.(Mayank Austen Soofi / HT Photo)

Some of us still love the idea of travelling in trains. We, at least, love to go all the way to Ghaziabad to gaze at a beautiful colonial-era railway bridge.

Composed of a series of six 70-feet-wide arches, this red-brick edifice looks like a Roman aqueduct. Spanning the banks of Hindon river, a tributary of the Yamuna, the bridge looks almost poetic at dawn. If the weather is cold, you will also see layers of mist rising from the river.

Arrive at six in the morning. The road is empty at that hour and the train traffic is heavy. Within minutes, you’ll hear the prolonged whistle of a rail engine. As the train approaches, the faint echo transforms into a roar. Then, there is a great clattering sound — the train is rushing along the bridge. A minute later, the bridge returns to its serenity, the river looks still.

While there are display boards informing us about the bridge’s length (488 metres) and the highest flood level (recorded in 1978), it is unclear when it was constructed. Once a PWD engineer did tell us that most arched railway bridges were built during the British Raj. Another rail overpass, more modern, runs parallel to the old one.

A number of superfast express trains follow one after the other on both the bridges. It gives the trainspotter a fleeting connection to the faraway places from where the trains come — Puri, Dibrugarh, Amritsar, Patna, Howrah, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Goa.

We suggest you should follow the road under the bridge, but carefully. The turn is steep and the incoming vehicles may not be able to see you. As you go ahead, the visual perspective of the arches enlarges. You see their clearer reflection in the water. Also on offer — a distant view of the Hindon dam.

Still, we try to desist from sentimentalism. The river is black and filthy, the parapet is scrawled with graffiti, the area is also not safe — so come in a group. The silence of the bridge, however, is fleeting. As the morning advances, the road under the bridge gets crowded with commuters. The magic dissipates.