Authorities in the tourist town of Rishikesh in Uttarakhand closed the iconic Lakshman Jhula on Friday due to fears that it cannot sustain more load, PTI reported.
The Lakshman Jhula is a 136-metre suspension bridge on the Ganga river connecting Tapovan village in Tehri district with Jonk in Pauri district. Built in 1923, it is one of the main attractions for tourists and devotees in Rishikesh. The bridge is used by pedestrians and two-wheelers. It was named after Hindu mythological character Lakshman as it is believed to stand where he is said to have crossed the river with the help of jute ropes.
A panel of experts from the Public Works Department found most parts of the bridge in the “fail” or “collapse” condition, said Additional Chief Secretary Om Prakash. The experts recommended immediate closure of the bridge as they felt keeping it operational was risky and “any big mishap can take place any time”.
The bridge towers appeared to be leaning towards one side recently, Prakash said.
“Due to a further increase in traffic load, there is a possibility of bridge getting damaged in future and possibilities of loss of lives then, cannot be ruled out,” an order by the state government said, according to The Indian Express.
“A decision has been taken to construct a bridge over the Ganga in Rishikesh soon as an alternative to Lakshman Jhula,” said Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat. Experts will be consulted on ways to preserve the Lakshman Jhula as a cultural heritage site, PTI quoted him as saying.
“We are in communication with PWD to develop an alternative bridge,” said Tehri Garhwal Senior Superintendent of Police Yogendra Singh Rawat. “There is another bridge, Ram Jhula. But once Lakshman Jhula is closed, load on Ram Jhula will increase. We need at least two bridges.”