Fear of collapse looms over Rishikesh’s famous Laxman Jhula bridge as it temporarily closes on the recommendations of a team of experts. By Bayar Jain
It’s been close to 96 years since Rishikesh’s Laxman Jhula was built to connect Tehri’s Tapovan village with Pauri’s Jonk village, and it’s been standing tall since. However, incessant heavy vehicular and pedestrian traffic forced officials to temporarily shut it down, fearing ‘fail’ or ‘collapse’. A team of experts further added that the excessive load has resulted in the bridge’s tower appearing to lean on one side. Keeping the bridge operational could have been risky, they added. However, pedestrians would be allowed to use the bridge, in limited numbers.
Built in 1923, the iconic Lakshman Jhula is a 450-feet long iron suspension bridge over the Ganga river. The etymology of the bridge comes with its own share of history. According to mythology, Ramayana’s Lakshmana crossed the river using jute ropes in the exact place where the bridge now stands, thus giving the bridges its name. As a result, Hindu pilgrims flock to the bridge in large numbers. Moreover, since Uttrakhand is renowned as a centre for studying yoga and meditation (with Rishikesh being the hub), tourists from all over the world also visit this holy river. Temples, markets, hotels, and ashrams have sprung up in the vicinity of the Jhula and the entire area is a renowned attraction in Rishikesh.
While the decision to temporarily shut down the bridge will prevent impending doom, it could pose a challenge to the pilgrims during the upcoming Kanwar Yatra on July 17. Meanwhile, the pilgrims and residents will now have to walk an additional two kilometres to cross the river.
Having served as a backdrop for various Hindi movies like Ganga Ki Saugandh, and Sanyasi, we’re hoping it’s only a matter of time till the bridge is restored to its former glory.