City Landmark – The Commonwealth Bridge, Mathura Road
The pleasures of a white elephant.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
In our benighted city notable for ruins, this relatively new pedestrian bridge has also succumbed.
Built to promote Delhi’s hosting of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the steel footover bridge on Mathura Road, near Pragati Maidan, is usually shunned by pedestrians. Abandoned and unadmired.
Cynics might despair at the wasteful costs of deserted landmarks. But in fact this bridge is worth the visit, if only for its surreal beauty.
It’s reached by a modernist spiral staircase, this evening covered with leaves. There are elevators as well, but of course they don’t function and this evening at least they are wrapped in a white ribbon making them look like somebody’s bandaged possessions. The broken glass walls add to the somber mood.
Whatever, stepping onto the bridge is akin to a no-man’s land. There’s this sense of seclusion, even as the traffic below seems like a sighting from another planet. To say nothing of intriguing views of the centuries-old Purana Quila monument, whose ramparts and domes look like a faded painting.
Now the sun is setting, providing a poignant backdrop to the dilapidated edifice.
Do turn up with a good book to while away an hour or two on one of the bridge’s metal benches—very comfy seating! You won’t be disturbed—the bridge is yours alone, barely anybody comes over here. And in this derelict landmark, still reeking of its ambition, you may then be reminded of certain lines by the English poet Shelley:
“Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
Commonwealth Bridge, well named after the ultimate in white elephants.
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