Historical damaged Wellesley Bridge, Srirangapatna - the restoration work is almost over

Wellesley Bridge, Srirangapatna, Karnataka mysore.ind.in

Wellington bridge, named in honor of  after the Governor-General, the Marquis of Wellesley  is a pretty old bridge built with native technique, using  corbelled stone arches surmounted by stone girders on which flags of roadway are laid.  The pillars capped with 2-3 layered stone corbels jutting out  will give support to  additional  overlying weight.   Stones are widely used  in this bridge fixed with lime-sand mortar.  The bridge may not have a nice look, but it is strong enough to withstand heavy load, besides  heavy water currents  in case the river is in spate during heavy rains. 

Located on the Bengaluru-Mysuru highway, the bridge was  useful  for the  vehicular movement. Later it was closed to traffic as the bridge became structurally weak, partly due to poor upkeep on the part of govt. officials and elected representatives,  and climatic changes.  After major repairs done in the past  heavy vehicles are not allowed on the bridge. It is being used by  cyclists and motorbike riders.   A new bridge came up in 1967 parallel to the  this old bridge  and prior to that period,  people had to depend on the  Wellesley bridge to access the island

wellesley-bridge-, Srirangapatna, KA newindianexpress.com

Above image: Local historians say it is built on monolithic stone pillars. Hundreds of stone pillars, corbels, girders, slabs and lime mortar have been used to provide stability and longevity. And if it is still standing today, it clearly demonstrates the prowess of our local builders in the olden days........

Built in 1804 (work began in August 1802 and completed in October 1804) at a cost of about Rs. 5. 1/2lakh  when Diwan Purnainah was the Diwan, in charge of the administration on behalf of the king who was a minor then, despite time factor, floods in the river and  vagaries of climate, this bridge has survived this far about 217 years, in spite of heavy flow of water  in the river when the catchment area in Kodagu received  heavy rains during SW monsoon season.  The arched stone pillars had to withstand the heavy force of water moving down stream.   On some occasions when KRS dam released   more than 80000 cusecs  of water to manage the water inflow into the dam, the old bridge did face submersion problems,   Its long survival itself is a proof how ingeniously this bridge was  structurally well built across the river using simple  native  technique with no modern machinery. Dimensions: length 500 meters, width 20 feet and  height 22 feet  above the water.

overgrowth of vegetation, Wellesley bridge, Srirangapatna starofmysore.com

Way past this bridge was not in good condition owing to poor upkeep. Structurally it became weak  as the pillars supporting the bridge had to bear the heavy pressure exerted on them by the fast moving water.  Consequently, a portion of the bridge collapsed.  Major repair work included  construction of a retaining wall in the collapsed portion.  Engineers doing the restoration work carefully used limestone, small stones and burnt bricks  to retain its originality and not to compromise on its heritage elements. 

Heavily damaged historical Wellesley bridge, S.R.patna, KAdeccanherald.com

Above image: This image was shot in July 2018. Wellesley bridge at Srirangapatna in Mandya dist.,  was in a precarious state. It was not yet declared a protected monument. Yet another historical  Lushington Wellesley bridge in  Kollegal in Chamarajanagar dist., was washed away in 2018 floods as it was in poor condition. Toward the end of November 2020 step was taken to restore the bridge at Srirangapatna. The restored bridge must be strong enough to withstand the heavy flow of water and currents during the monsoon, particularly, when KRS dam may open the sluices frequently to reduce the pressure on the dam................ 

Wellesley bridge, srirangapatna restoration timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Besides heavy water flow, heavy  damage was done by the growth of  vegetation that covered much of the walls at the bottom of the pillar and all along the sides of the bridge. Mechanical weathering in the form of root wedging caused havoc to the bridge. Roots from the plants penetrated into the walls and the road sides  causing crevices and cracks that made the bridge structurally weak.  The engineers had to remove  tons   of waste materials and rubbish stuck to the pillars. at the bottom. After removing the weeds, plants, etc they  sealed the crevices by spraying chemicals to prevent further growth.  The irresponsible  people kept throwing rubbish into the river, as a result,  accumulation of debris continued without a break.  Major repair work was done by the  Department of  Archaeology  and Museum  with experienced conservation engineers and workers. The cost of repairs was about Rs. 28 lakhs.  The movement of heavy vehicles is banned. on the restored bridge.