Iconic 'Luxman Jhoola' bridge past expiry date

Officials mull closure

Luxman Jhoola bridge, Rishikesh (Video Grab)

The iconic 'Luxman Jhoola', a suspension bridge, which had been built 90 years back on the Ganga river at Rishikesh in the hill state of Uttarakhand, was past its expiry date and it posed ''risk'' to a large number of people, who used it.

The state PWD, which had conducted a technical survey of the bridge, has said in its report to the state government that the bridge, which was very popular among the tourists and pilgrims, should be ''closed'' for the people.

''The bridge is not in a position to withstand the heavy traffic of people,'' the report said. Though 'Luxman Jhoola', with a span of 450 ft, was a pedestrian bridge, motorbikes also plied on it.

In 1986, another bridge 'Ram Jhoola' was constructed a few kilometres away, which, however, was found to be in good condition in the survey.

The PWD report has triggered alarm bells in the administration as it comes barely days before the beginning of the Hindu month of 'Shravana' during which lakhs of 'kanwariyas' (pilgrims carrying Ganga waters in earthen pitchers for offering on Shivlinga at Shiva Temples) throng Rishikesh and the adjoining town of Haridwar.

The famous 'Neelkanth' temple was also located very close to Rishikesh and the suspension bridge was used by the 'kanwariyas' to go there.

Pauri Garhwal district magistrate Dhiraj Singh Garbyal said that the administration was taking ''measures'' following the PWD report.

''We have asked the local officials to take every step to restrict the number of people using Luxman Jhoola....at the same time we will also ensure that the pilgrims on way to Neelkanth do not face any difficulty,'' Garbyal told DH over phone.

The DM said that the PWD had recommended for the closure of the bridge.

The 'Luxman Jhula was a popular spot for the tourists owing to its rich mythological associations. It is believed that Luxman, the younger brother of Lord Rama, had crossed the river Ganga at this same site.

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