Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Ellis bridge, Ahmedabad - Gandhiji declared Dandi March from here!!

Ellis Bridge (Vivekananda bridge). Wikipedia

Ellis Bridge connecting  the western and eastern parts of the Ahmedabad city city across the Sabarmati riveris is a popular land mark and is more than a century old. This bowstring arch truss bridge  the first bridge of Ahmedabad  was constructed in 1892 in the colonial period. The old bridge was closed to traffic in 1997. In 1999, as the population and vehicular traffic expanded manifold, to cope with them new concrete wings  came up on  either side  at cost of Rs 180 million, and the original steel bridge is preserved as a heritage landmark. The new bridge was renamed as Swami Vivekananda Bridge but is still known to people by its old name. Foundation block of Ellis Bridgeis  at Sanskar Kendra.

Originally, it was a wooden bridge built in 1870-1871 that was washed out in the 1875 floods. Since the bridge across the river was a vital one, a new steel bridge was constructed in 1890 and 1895 by  engineer Himmatlal Dhirajram Bhachech. Besides government money, there was private subscriptions to meet cost.  It was named after Sir Barrow Helbert Ellis, the then commissioner of the North Zone. Imported steel was used for the construction and engineer finished his work a cost of Rs 407,000 which was lower than the budget of Rs 500,000. The government grew suspicious and an enquiry revealed that the construction was of superior quality and there was no trace of low grade steel in the construction work.The government was all in praise of prudent spending of the government money far within the allocated budget.  For saving government money, Himmatlal was subsequently honoured with the title of Rao Sahib.

For some unknown reasons, the he Foundation Block of Ellisbridge was later moved to the Sanskar Kendra. It reads, The Ellis Bridge - So named by Government after Sir Barrow Helbert Ellis : 
"K.G.S.I. was built in 1869 and 1870. At a cost of Rs:549,210 destroyed by the great flood of 22 September 1875 and rebuilt in 1890 and 1895 by Government, Local Bodies and Private Subscribers. At a further cost of Rs. 407,564. This  First Stone of the new bridge was laid by His Excellency Donald James eleventh Lord Reay C.C.I.E.LL.D. Governor of Bombay 19 December 1889".

It was from this Bridge the nation saw Gandhiji declaring his Dandi march on 8 March 1930  to protest against salt tax imposed by the British Government. Ultimately he collected a handful of salt on the beach near Dandi and made history.

The bridge face near demolition during a few periods in 1973, 1983 and 1986 but all were rejected. Later Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) declared Ellis bridge and its boundary, Manek Burj and the natural water drain near one of the banks of Sabarmati river as protected sites in May 1989.
After the documentation, the Manek Burj was partially removed and Ganesh Bari, built  by the Maratha, was reconstructed to make space for the bridge.