Howrah Bridge Kolkata

Howrah Bridge Kolkata

Kolkata, the metropolitan land of India is globally well-known for its architectural treasures- one of them being the Howrah Bridge or the Rabindra Setu. It is enormously situated on the banks of River Hooghly. The Bridge serves as the gateway to Kolkata as it connects the Howrah station to the rest of the city. Soon your arrival you can fetch a phenomenal sight of this engineering marvel as you traverse across its pavements. The expansive Cantilever bridge ranks up as an iconic site of Kolkata tourism and is beautifully acclaimed as one of the “wonders of the world” by the locals.

Amidst the chaotic pedestrians and millions of jostling vehicles, the bridge never fails to captivate you with its quaint little charm. Its antiquity is long celebrated amongst tourists from all over. The architecture is a pride for the entire city attracting many to witness its charm.

History of Howrah Bridge

An insight into the history of the 1862-Calcutta reflects that the Englishmen secured their seats on the banks of the Hooghly river and consequently, the need arose for the inception of a bridge to inter-join the cities of Howrah with Kolkata. In 1862, the Government of Bengal launched the experiments on the probability of the foundation of a bridge over the river. On March 29, the Chief Engineer of the East India Railway Company, George Turnbull placed the requisite designs for the bridge. Due to financial adversity, the construction was detained.

The foundation spirit did not demise and eight years later, the erection of the bridge found its first base. The then Lieutenant Governor of Bengal resolved the crisis by announcing that all the responsibilities of the construction of the bridge would not be directly borne by the government. A trust issued in 1871, was entrusted with the construction of Howrah's first floating bridge.

The construction originally dates back to the late 1800s when a pontoon bridge or a floating bridge on the Hooghly River was established. Below the bridge, a middle-open arrangement was set up and an approximate measure of 200 feet could be dissected to allow the movements of the ship-steamers. The bridge was intended to be periodically closed during the passage of the ships. Between 1907 and 1908, 3,020 ships-steamer-launches went through the Howrah Bridge.

Sir Bradford Leslie laid forward the old Howrah Bridge design. When the small lath of Bengal was made in 1871 by the 'Howrah Bridge Act', the toll was placed at the bridge crossing. After the enactment of a law in 1871, Sir Leslie was bestowed with the management of constructing the bridge. On his return to Britain, he started crafting the deck of the floating bridge and the floating flat 'boat'. The first stride proved to be a success and enormous vessels made its way and reached the Kolkata port.

In 1874, the bridge gave passage for the traffic movement. The British administration, which was planned in 1855, was implemented after 19 years. During the establishment, Leslie sahib invested 22 million and the total toll collected from the bridge amounted to 34 million, 11 thousand rupees.

Due to the massive failure of the floating bridge in handling the teeming traffic generated between the two cities, the pontoon bridge was reconstructed as the Howrah Bridge by The Braithwaite Brun and Jessop Construction companies. In 1911, the plot of the new Howrah Bridge was sought and a total of nine global organizations put forward their respective 18 designs. All the blueprints were solely based on the early Basakul models, that is, the middle-open setup.

The New Howrah Bridge Act was passed in 1926. Perhaps, Howrah Bridge is the first bridge in the country, whose construction and maintenance held the element of legitimacy. In the year 1930, 15 March, the Governor of Bengal finalized the construction of the bridge. The evolved Howrah Bridge Act was revised in 1935 backing the World War 1, and the-1,528 feet long and 62-feet wide Howrah Bridge was established by August 1942. The present Cantilever Bridge was inaugurated in 1943 and was renamed after the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore as the “Rabindra Setu” since 1965. In time, it ranks as the sixth-longest Cantilever bridge in the world.

Architecture of Howrah Bridge

The bridge was surprisingly formed without the use of bolts or nuts but by riveting the entire steel structure. The bridge was 1,528 feet long, 48 feet wide with 7 feet pavements on both sides. The fourth busiest Cantilever bridge holds outstanding engineering significance accomplished by the British government. The rivet stands strong with its 26,500 tons of high-tensile steel, supported by 2 piers. The architectural establishment expanded to cost at Rupees 333 Cr. Howrah Bridge astoundingly can withstand the peril storms that originate in the Bay of Bengal. Its architectural splendor does wonder while handling on one million bustling vehicles to ten million pedestrians every day.

Attractions of Howrah Bridge

Howrah Bridge is embellished with illuminating lights all over its stretch and presents a vibrant view in the evening. The ferry ride on the banks of Hooghly is a must-do to get a ravishing view of the Bridge as you sail across the waters. Besides the boat ride, the bridge offers alluring views of the sunset and sunrise also.


The fourth busiest Cantilever bridge is situated on the Hooghly River and confluences the eastern bank of Howrah with the western bank of Kolkata.

How to Reach

The bridge is easily accessible from any part of Kolkata via local buses, taxis or rented cars. Howrah Station is the nearest 5-minute-way railway station. Besides, Kolkata is connected to the rest of the world by airways.