Pamban: world heritage

Pamban bridge to join elite club?

C. Jaishankar

Railway officials to seek World Heritage Site status

  It is 2.06 km long and has 146 spans

  A major attraction for tourists

RAMANATHAPURAM: The Pamban Railway Bridge, the longest and oldest railway bridge across the Palk Straits, may soon join the list of World Heritage Sites along with the Nilgiris Mountain Railway (NMR) and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR), as Railway officials have started collecting data for approaching the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation to get the special status.


The UNESCO declared the NMR and the DHR World Heritage Site in 2005 and 1999 respectively.

 Built in 1913  

The Pamban Railway Bridge, which connects the mainland with the Rameswaram Island, was constructed in 1913. The 93-year-old bridge is one of the major attractions for tourists visiting from all over the country.

It is 2.06 km long and has 146 spans. The bridge was constructed at a time when technology was primitive.

According to the railway records, the stones used for the bridge were brought by rail from a quarry 270 km away and sand from 110 km away. The viaduct was built in just 18 months. Nearly 5,000 tonnes of cement, 18,000 cft of crushed metal, 2,600 tonnes of steel and 80,000 cft of boulders were used for constructing the bridge.

The openable part is undoubtedly the star attraction of the bridge. It is named after Scherzer, who designed and executed it. It opens whenever ships want to pass the bridge. The Railway officials are of the view that it deserves the status of World Heritage Site.

J.P. Batra, Chairman, Railway Board, who inspected the bridge a few days ago, told The Hindu that he had discussed the issue with officials. “We need to check whether this bridge is the only one of its kind in the railway system in the world,” he said.


It is not that the bridge escaped nature’s fury. But it had withstood the 1964 cyclone that ravaged Dhanushkodi. Though several girders were washed away, the Indian engineers made it operational within a short time.

Now, engineers have successfully completed the broad gauge conversion on the existing bridge by strengthening it but without altering the basic structure.


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