Sunday, 15 November 2015

A Neglected 400 year old Mughal Era Bridge

The Ravi river has five major tributaries namely; Ujh, Bein, Basantar, Deg and Hudiara. These are all called nullahs now, except for Hudiara which is interestingly identified as Hudiara Drain. The upper catchments of all these nullahs lie in Indian Occupied Kashmir. The largest tributary is Deg Nullah, which is 256 km long with a catchment area of 730 km2. 

Historically Deg Nullah has never lost its significance till to-date. For Sheikhu of 1620s, it was an obstacle holding hostage his royal entourage through the swell of its banks, due to the ferocity of monsoons.  Closer to history, in addition to having been a witness to the biggest tank battles since Second World War during 1965, Deg still retains its military significance while dividing the Shakargarh salient which is jutting into Indian Occupied Kashmir, having significant military implications.
 

Every nook and corner of this country holds thousands of years of history in its bosom. The insignificant Deg is one such unsung and speechless geographical entity. 
Great travel writer, Sir Salman Rasheed visited this place few years back and narrated related history of place as under,

“Toward the fag end of the monsoon of 1620, Jehangir was encamped with his wives and court at Jehangirabad. It was the month of October and the monsoon had not yet petered out. As the court began the short journey back to Lahore, the rains continued to fall. And they fell with a vengeance.

Now, the Degh River that rises in the hills below Jummu, flows past Sialkot and dumps itself into the Ravi south of Lahore, lies between Jehangir’s hunting lodge and Lahore city. As the royal caravan neared its banks, it was found to be a roaring, surging alluvial-red torrent. It was impossible to get across even astride the elephants. For four days the royal court was held up until the sodden tents became too much for the king and his family.







To forestall a future repeat of the hold up on the Degh, Jehangir ordered the throwing of a bridge across the river that is normally fordable. To this day the bridge spans the river and serves as a connection between the village of Kot Pindi Das and the Lahore-Sheikhupura highroad.




The bridge is actually two separate structures about thirty meters apart. The one to the south has two arches while the main structure is lop-sided with a main arch flanked by two smaller arches on one side and one on the other. And the once-good river Degh that flows beneath now stinks with dark untreated poison that it carries down from the factories of Kala Shah Kaku.

Thirty years after this bridge was built, in October 1652, Shah Jehan face a similar situation as his father: the rains had persisted and the Degh was flooded. Only this time, the flood was so high that even the bridge was submerged. Once again the royal camp had to halt four days because ‘certain members of the forward party of the entourage had already been swept away ‘’

I planned to visit this site long ago. Luckily visit this place on last Sunday, It is located near village of Kot Pindi Das, which is roughly 10 kms from University of Engineering Technology Lahore Kala Shah Kaku campus. One has to travel on dirt village roads to reach the place. Currently the bridge is not in good condition, serious cracks configurations have started under the arches that could be a result in collapse of whole structure in near. The bridge is still operational and heavy sand loaded trolleys were crossing on it.

This 400 year old bridge constructed in era of Mughal Emperor Jahangir. It has significant historic importance in past. But Nobody from Government and Archeological department have done any effort to rehabilitate or conserve this site. In few years this place will be gone forever.