The bridges of a Delhi county.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Positioned five miles outside Delhi’s eastern limits, this redbrick railway bridge is in Ghaziabad, a district in Uttar Pradesh. Composed of a series of six 70-feet-wide arches, it looks like a Roman aqueduct.
Spanning the banks of the Hindon, a tributary of the Yamuna, the bridge looks best at dawn. If it is winter, the mist might be drifting over the river.
Arrive at six. The road is empty at this hour; the train traffic is heavy. Sit down on the stairs that lead to the bridge. Can you hear the faint whistle of a rail engine? Yet another train is approaching. The faint echo is transforming into a roar. Now, a great clattering sound – the train is rushing along the bridge. A minute later, the bridge returns to its natural solitariness, the river remains limpid.
While there are display boards informing about the bridge’s length (488 meter) and the highest flood level (recorded in 1978), it is unclear when it was constructed. “Most arched railway bridges were built during the Raj,” says KP Singh, an engineer who crosses the structure daily.
Another rail overpass, more modern, runs parallel to the Colonial-era construction.
A number of super-fast expresses follow one after another on both the bridges. This gives the trainspotter a fleeting feel of connection to faraway places the trains come from: Puri, Dibrugarh, Amritsar, Patna, Howrah, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, and Goa.
Walk carefully under the bridge. The road takes a steep turn and the approaching car may not see you. Here. the visual perspective of the arches enlarges. Their reflection on the water may tempt you to write a haiku. There is a distant view of the Hindon dam.
Resist from excessive sentimentalism. The river is black with filth, the parapet is scrawled with graffiti, the area is known for its criminals, and you may also come across beggars.
“We live in a noisy city,” says Payal Singh, who has driven over from Vasundhara, a nearby neighbourhood of high-rise apartments. “But here, so peaceful.”
The quiet is as lasting as the morning dew. As the morning advances, the road under the bridge gets crowded with commuters. The magic dissipates.
Where Near Mohan Nagar Crossing, Ghaziabad Nearest Metro Station Vaishali
The dream shapes of a misty morning