The island of Rameswaram, in the south eastern extremity of India is connected to the mainland by the famous Pamban Sea Bridge.The antiquity of the bridge –it is more than a hundred years old, construction of which was begun in 1914-and the fact that it is acclaimed as India’s most dangerous train bridge makes it a huge draw with tourists. India’s first sea bridge, it was also the longest until, the opening of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link of Mumbai, in 2010. Till 1988 this was the only link from Rameswaram island to the mainland. Running parallel to the sea link is a road bridge over the Palk Strait.
At first glance, the Pamban bridge looks like any other bridge resting on concrete piers numbering 143. But look at the central section and you will see a double leaf bascule section, almost midway, which can be raised to allow large ships and barges to pass through. It is fun to watch the two sections rising up to create a path for ships to pass through.
The temple town of Rameswaram draws so many devotees but an equally large number travel to Rameswaram to experience the dangerous sea crossing by rail. It is indeed a unique unforgettable experience.
The crossing over the Palk Strait, a distance of approximately 2 km, takes only about 15 minutes with the train cruising along at a speed of 10 km per hour. The sea appears a few feet below the tracks and all around you is pristine blue water as far as the eye can see. The bridge too is only 1 metre wide which is exciting while being scary too. Our exclamations of wonder and delight were whipped away by the strong wind to be carried far far away.
There are not too many trains that run this route so plan well in advance to avoid disappointment.
The central part of the bridge was the brain child of Scherzer, a German engineer and is called the Scherzer span. This is soon to be replaced.
The central part is opened manually. This is to be made automatic.
The Pamban bridge survived a major cyclone that destroyed the port town of Dhanushkodi, which makes it an engineering marvel.
The bridge is located in the second most corrosive environment after Florida, making its maintenance a challenging job.
Indian Railways is trying to get it the status of a UNESCO world heritage bridge.
Click here to check out the five best places to visit in Tamil Nadu.