The end of the 17th Century Kolkata witnessed the gradual emergence of the city of Kolkata brought about by the merger of three villages - Kolkata, Sutanati & Gobindapur, on the eastern bank of the river Hooghly, the other name of River 'Ganga'.
The twin cities of Calcutta (re-named as Kolkata in the year 2001), and Howrah , were separated by the River Hooghly, and shared a common historical linkage towards the eventual construction of the Rabindra Setu, more commonly known as Howrah bridge. While Kolkata, from a small sleeping hamlet of artisans and mercantile community eventually developed , as a commercial hub of a modern metropolitan city , Howrah (virtually the store house of raw material resources) became its industrial satellite.
Kolkata was declared the capital of India by the British and remained so till 1911. The railway station at Howrah set up in the year 1906 and the bridge (later popularly known as Howrah Bridge) thus served as the logistic link with the country's one of the oldest metropolies, Kolkata. The Legislative department of the then Government of Bengal passed the Howrah Bridge Act, in the year 1871, under the Bengal Act IX of 1871.
Sir Bradford Leslie's famous floating pontoon bridge, the earlier avatar of the modern Howrah Bridge, was initially set up in 1874, almost coinciding with the establishment of the port of Calcutta in 1870 (www.kolkataporttrust.gov.in).
For the convenient plying of passenger and vehicular traffic, the pool was connected as a whole. However, this was unfastened everyday, particularly during the night for safe passage of steamers, boats and other marine vehicles. From 19th August, 1879, the bridge was illuminated by fixing electric poles at the centre.This was done by using the electricity rendered from the dynamo at the Mallick GhatPumping Station. The Bridge was then 1528 ft. long and 62 ft. wide. On both sideswere pavements 7 ft. wide for the sake of pedestrians. The 48 ft. road in between,was for plying of traffic."
The emergence of Kolkata as the political capital of the nation and expanding volume of merchandise routed through the port of Kolkata had a synergistic effect on the commercial importance of the bridge. The location of the initial pontoon bridge, was around 100 yards down-stream of the present Howrah Bridge (renamed as Rabindra Setu in the year 1965) after Rabindranath Tagore, the philosopher - bard and one of the most important nineteenth century renaissance personalities to leave a lasting impression on modern India.
Calcutta-Howrah Bridge is a feat of nineteenth-century bridge engineering and technology. The 270 ft high and 1528 ft long bridge was completed in 1874, becoming the biggest floating structure of India. Famed British professional Engineer Sir Bradford Leslie was appointed the chief architect for the project. Due to some technical reasons, a portion of the bridge was made in England and shipped to Calcutta. The bridge got partially destroyed by the great cyclone of 20 March 1874. A steamer, collided with the bridge and damaged three pontoons, amounting to total destruction of 200 ft of the massive structure. The bridge eventually got completed and was opened for traffic on 17 October 1874. It was described as a structure of novelty and originality in its design. The bridge though has gone very old but is still holding good. A new bridge, alongside the old bridge, got constructed to reduce the traffic load on the older one.
How to reach:
It is completely accessible by air. There are a number of domestic airlines that connect Kolkata with other major cities of India like Ahmedabad, Bagdogra, Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Delhi, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Mumbai, and Port Blair.
Kolkata is well linked to other parts of the country by railways. There are super fast trains like Rajdhani Express and Shatabdi Express that join Calcutta from Delhi and other nearby places. Calcutta consists of two major railway stations; one is located in Howrah and the other at Sealdah.
The city of joy is well linked with almost all the cities of India by road. The Esplanade Terminus is the main bus terminus that lies in the heart of the city. The latest development is the starting of Dhaka-Calcutta buses, which are fully air-conditioned and also very comfortable.