Monday, March 04, 2013

A date with the Elphinstone Bridge across the Adyar river

A date with the Elphinstone Bridge across the Adyar river

This was an activity of the Chennai Bloggers Club to explore possibilities of retrieving a part of the history of the city from and giving it back to the public through blogging, media & social action.

 I volunteered for this at the outset for two reasons one the project was unusual & interesting and two my wife has done sampling in the Adyar and is knowledgeable about the environs. So I signed up for the blogging couple and our little one who could be left alone.

Surprisingly the initial enthusiasm flickered and on the eve of the visit the number of participants was a big question. But such trifles cannot defeat the administrator of the CBC so easily and the event proceeded as planned. So the confirmed participants were Bragadeesh P, Jennifer Clement & I along with Trinity of course and so after some brainstorming late into the night the plan was made. It was to catch the sunrise at the Adyar.

The big question that still remained unanswered is which bridge is the Elphinstone as some  material online seemed to indicate that it was the popular picnic spot called the broken bridge & not the one beside the Thiru Vi Ka bridge and we thought we will get some answers after our trip. We landed at the Thiru Vi Ka bridge at 6.30 AM and found that one end is occupied by a small colony of houses, shops and a public toilet. We walked up to the bridge and we were assaulted by the stench of hydrogen sulphide from the sewer pipes. We moved to the other end of the bridge when we noticed a lone photographer shooting the river and the surrounding from the top of the bridge.

The other end of the bridge (The MGR Janaki college end) is bare & mercifully not converted into a public toilet. At first glance you wonder why the space is not converted into a park in a city that is starved of public spaces.

The bridge is now supporting large sewage pipes and in an attempt to shield them from public view the authorities have built a concrete encasing over the original structure. Considering that the river below carries so much sewage, it is ironic that there are pipes carrying more sewage above.

The picture shows the original structure and the additions concealed by some whitewashing.

The view from the bridge is beautiful and the potential it has for a community space is quite high. We did not notice the stench on this side so there may be the possibility of a leak on the other end. It is a delight for the naturalists with ample bird watching opportunities and for the tree lovers you do not need to go to Pitchavaram for the mangroves, you can find them here.

Our small team had the services of our photographer and I am sure the photos will come in his page shortly.

Since we did not have more members on this visit we did not venture below the bridge and decided to check out the other claimant to the Elphinstone tag the broken bridge of Besant Nagar and so we left to Besant Nagar. The broken bridge is quite popular among the folks in Chennai partly due to the many movies that have been shot there. There were many visitors to the bridge and I noticed at least three photographers in the small crowd.

The broken bridge seems to be better suited to bird watching as the birds are in closer proximity to the bridge and even to an untrained eye like mine it is a really wonderful sight.

The broken bridge is an enigma because it really looks like the bridge to no where. However it is already a picnic spot so that alone is enough reason to focus our attention on the bridge where we started the day. Like the broken bridge more visitors will be a start but how to get more visitors there is the big question.

P.S. The broken bridge is a great place to relax over a cup of coffee.


Susan Deborah said...

I'm glad that you made it inpsite of the response. This is what we should be doing - meeting no matter people turn out or not. This is quite a comprehensive post and I'm sure in the coming months this will intensify and spread.

Looking forward to many more posts on the now found Elphinstone bridge.

Cheers to you, Bragadeesh and the missus.

Joy always,

P. S. Proud of all of you. It's because of people like you that the CBC flag flies high.

Muthiah sriram said...

cool!!awesome initiative!!broken bridge was one of the spos we friends used to hang out!!nice pics too
keep them coming

Muthiah sriram said...

cool!Awesome initiative!!broken bridge was one of the hangout spots of me and my friends!!nice pics too!!
keep them coming