Will Wellesley Bridge, Srirangapatna built by late ruler Krishnaraja Wadiyar, be back to old splendor soon?

200 plus year old Wellesley bridge Srirangapatna

The department of archaeology, museums and heritage took up the repair of famous Wellesley Bridge, Srirangapatna in December 2020. This 200 year old  aesthetically designed majestic bridge across the Cauvery on the Bengaluru-Mysuru highway was built using old native engineering know-how. Dimension of the bridge: length 500 meters, width 20 feet and  height 22 feet  above the water. The masonry bridge is supported by corbelled arches surmounted by stone girders on which the road was carefully laid. The overlying additional weight and down stress are tackled by pillars capped with two or three layered stone corbels. Construction of corbeled arches need special care. Corbel arches and vaults need the support of  significantly thickened walls and an abutment of other stone or fill to counteract the effects of gravity, which otherwise would tend to collapse each side of the archway inwards. Prior to 1200 CE in India most of arches were either corbelled or trabeated.

Corbelled arches brainly.in

The purpose of this technique is to withstand the overburden and heavy force of water during monsoons. Being in a mountainous terrain with down stream gradients, water may gush in with extra force.   Work on the bridge completed in 1804 when Purnaiah was the Diwan of the princely state. This bridge survived this far because of the combined effect of  hundreds of monolithic stone pillars, corbels, girders, slabs and use of lime mortar sand, etc in right proportion. 

Damaged Wellesley bridge, Srirangapatna. KAthehindu.com

Another bridge came up in 1967 parallel to this one and since then the upkeep of this road bridge had been on the decline. Heritage lovers and historians want this old bridge restored and conserved so that the future generation of people could get to know the ingenuity of the early builders of dams who carefully designed monolith stone pillars with corbeled arches in the intervening spans to withstand heavy water flows more than 80000 cusecs. 

Prolonged negligence by the PWD department made this old stone bridge structurally weak with too much overgrowth of vegetation and plants that caused cracks in the walls and in the piers. The protected monument was pushed to a dilapidated state from which redemption is a daunting task.  If the river is in spate during SW monsoon and if the crest gates of Krishnaraja Sagar reservoir have to be lifted in between  June and August, fear grips the authorities and the people who feel  the heavy flow in the Cauvery might wash away the bridge.Structurally, the bridge is weak. 

Maharajah Krishnaraja Wodeyar  thelogicalindian.com

Above image:  Maharajah Krishnaraja Wodeyar,   the benevolent leader of the erstwhile princely State of Mysore  was a great administrator and his primary concern was the welfare of his subjects. He was instrumental in building  the Krishna Raja Sagar reservoir,  providing  water to many farmers across the state.. Though one of the wealthiest men in the world, despite his opulence he led a simple and saintly life. He ascended the throne at the age of 18 and in the later years he made Mysore a modern state...........

 Richard Marquess Wellesley

Above image: Richard Wellesley first made his name as fifth Governor-General of Bengal between 1798 and 1805.  In 1799, his forces invaded Mysore and defeated Tipu, the Sultan of Mysore, in a major battle. Tipu died in that war. He also initiated the Second Anglo-Maratha War. His brother Arthur Wellesley (Duke Wellington) was a major participant in the final Anglo-Mysore war. Later Arthur won the war against Napoleon at Waterloo, one of the classic victories in world history.........

After a prolonged  hibernation, the state government woke up from slumber to save this bridge for the posterity. The  old bridge played a vital role in the area of commerce and trade and served as an important trading link  between the then port towns of Madras and Cannanore, Kerala. The English transported arms and ammunitions through this bridge  to confront Tipu Sultan buring the final Angelo Mysore war. An inscription on the stone slab at the bridge reads: “Dedicated To Richard Marquess Wellesley, Governor General of India by Krishnaraja Wodeyar Bahaudur in a public testimony of his gratitude and as a lasting monument of the benefits conferred on the people and country of Mysore, under the care of Poornaiah Dewan.” 

Dimension of the bridge: length 500 meters, width 20 feet and  height 22 feet  above the water. Will the old stone bridge with historical value commissioned by none other than Mysuru ruler Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar, be restored back to old glory and splendor?