by Ali Usman Baig
Few years back, I have visited a 400 years old Mughal Era Bridge located on Degh Nala. My inspiration to visit that place was a detailed article written on this site by Sir Salman Rasheed. In his article, Sir Salman Rasheed also point out about another Mughal era old bridge located on branch of the Degh called the Chhoti or Lesser Degh not many miles to the west.
Unfortunately, I could not able to trace exact location of this place for quite some time. At last I found it and visited this place last Sunday; it has coordinates (31°38'47.21"N, 74°14'33.37"E)
The bridge was operational in past; it was supposed heavy rains and a flood of 1976 were source of collapsing it. You will found debris lies in the stream at site.
The bridge length was found to be 30 meter, which is exactly equivalent to Mughal Era Bridge situated on main Degh River. It was an arch bridge spanning over four arches at 7.5 meter center to center distance. The bridge supposed to be constructed in later decades of sixteenth century.
The chemical and mineralogical characterization of 17th century Mughal mortars, renders and plaster have shown the type of coarse (brick, kankar pieces, slag) and fine (river sand) aggregates usually embedded in calcite lime binder. The varying binder aggregate ratio was normally dependant on the functional aspect of the masonry unit. The chemical composition (major and trace) indicated locally available raw materials for the construction of these historic monuments. In current bridge, Nanak Shahi bricks construction has seen internally reinforced and filled with calcite lime mortar.
Arch bridges are one of the most popular types of bridges, which came into use over 3000 years ago. Because of their design, stone and wood arch bridges became very popular during the Roman Empire, when architects managed to build over 1000 stone arch bridges in Europe, Asia and North Africa. Many of those bridges remain standing even today. The attribution of collapse of this bridge from 1976 flood looks wrong to me as I have seen disintegration of arch members from top crown. The arch bridge carries loads primarily by compression. Such types of failure occur in structures when over loaded vehicles more randomly crossing over it; ironically this bridge was common route of loaded tractor trolley for decades. Understandably, Mughal Architects does not design it for such wheel loads.
There is still remnant of 02 ft high and 40 meter length roadside wing wall running on both ends of bridge along the road. There are also columns at start of this wing wall. So the bridge could be visible from some distance. The bridge length is of almost double then the present Nala width, which shows the Nala width reduced as the water flow in river Ravi tremendously reduced with passage of time At present a new bridge is constructed over the debris.
In past the bridge was source of crossing the Degh for military troops of Mughal and Sikh Army’s. It has seen many centuries. Unfortunately no concerned department has ever taken any step to restore or protect it and made floods responsible for its destruction.
A history vanish forever.
Google earth view