Saturday 24 September 2016

A new Bridge.

The highway construction work on the Four-Laning of  NH 17 (now known as NH 66)  is in full swing.  Our recent installation of a Biomechanics Lab at the Department of Sports Sciences at the Manipal University, has us driving along this stretch many times. The inconveniences caused by the diversions, the pot-holed service roads all pale into insignificance when the green fields and arecanut plantations open up to show a brilliant scene of a river!  

And there are so many rivers that we cross in this 80 kms stretch.

Beginning with the Venkatapur river just before Bhatkal, the Chowtani river, the Sumna river near Byndoor, Yadamavu river just after Khambadkone, and so on.....

And then there is the breathtaking view at Trasi where the serene Souparnika river runs parallel to the  pounding Arabian sea. There is just a road separating the ocean from the river and the sight is unforgettable. It is one of our favourite tea halts.  Small tea stalls dot the stretch and you could halt at any one of them and have a cuppa, gazing at the brilliant view.

So, just the other day we were travelling yet again on this road. As we crossed the Panchagangavalli  river, Vivek noticed another bridge running almost parallel to the one we were on, but further downstream. “Hey look at that new bridge!” he exclaimed. “I wonder where it leads to”. 

Look.......a new bridge...can you really spot it?

 There was only one way to find out. Just after our bridge ended, we spotted a right turn which seemed to lead towards that bridge.  So on an impulse, we turned, and after about a km reached the brigde. It was indeed spanking new and there was no traffic on it. Just one Maruti van overtook us in a tearing hurry, stopped just as the bridge ended, dropped off a little school boy and raced past us back to the main road. 

We went at a leisurely pace and found that where the bridge ended - the road too ended. There was nothing beyond except a few houses and a mud path leading further into the greenery.  The little boy was handing over his school bag to his mother who had been waiting there for him. They both watched us as we reached the end of the road. “Is this a new bridge?” I asked her.  She nodded an affirmation. “What did you do before this was built?” I asked her.  “Used the boat of course” she smiled as she walked down the little mud path. 

A ferry for people crossing the Souparnika river.

We enjoyed the glorious scene for a while and then turned back.

Later,  I checked on Google maps and found that we had visited an island called ‘Kannada Kudru’ . Apparently the bridge was built and inaugurated just a few months ago. There are about 60 families living on this little island located in the confluence of the Panchagangavalli river and the Kollur river. Depending solely on the ferry to take them to the mainland, these locals must have had it very tough until the bridge was built.

Surely a lot of unseen good work is being done in these remote locations whose residents have silently borne their lot all these years!

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