Login    Forum    Search    FAQ

Board index » Sri Lanka Heritage » Landmark buildings & Constructions




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 1 post ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Medieval water carriage system and Victoria Bridge
 Post Posted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 3:51 am 
Medieval water carriage system and Victoria Bridge
A requiem for Victoria Bridge

From ancient times to this day, Kelani ganga has been navigable. King Rajasinghe I of the Sitawake period of the 16th century A.D., had strategic naval fortification where watch towers were installed on its banks. During the Portuguese, Dutch and British times, waterways were opened enabling a permanent water transport system from Kelani ganga (or better known as Kolonthota) via Wattala and Negombo to Puttalam lagoons.

By Gamini G. Punchihewa

The present dismantling of the colonial antiquated Victoria Bridge built across Kelani ganga in British times in 1895 has opened a flood gate of nostalgic memories taking us back to the hazardous conditions that prevailed in ferrying across Kelani ganga before the construction of the bridge.

Water transport system

From ancient times to this day, Kelani ganga has been navigable. King Rajasinghe I of the Sitawake period of the 16th century A.D., had strategic naval fortification where watch towers were installed on its banks. During the Portuguese, Dutch and British times, waterways were opened enabling a permanent water transport system from Kelani ganga (or better known as Kolonthota) via Wattala and Negombo to Puttalam lagoons.

This medieval water carriage system served as an inland water transport system transporting goods like rice, spice, cardamoms, cinnamon, rubber, liquor, salt, and people to and from Colombo-Negombo-Chilaw and Puttalam. The first such water canal was constructed by the Portuguese in the 16th century A.D. which ran through the well known paddyfields of Muthurajawela. Those rich rice fields of Muthurajawela after the construction of these canals were ruined by tidal waves that swept over them. Environmentalists, ecologists were working hard to keep the balance lands intact which lie in a veritable wet zone.

During Dutch times, they altered the canal routes of these waterways by constructing a canal close to the estuary of the Kelani ganga and had its destination in the puttalam lagoon via-Hendala, Negombo, Chilaw and Palavi. Came the British in the early 19th century A.D., when they altered the then existing waterways by building the famed Hamilton canal having a regular padda boat service which was operated on its navigable route. The elite of the British raj travelled in these padda boats. That ferry service across Kelaniganga was called the 'Bridge of Boats'. Dr. R. L. Brohier, in his 'Discovering Ceylon' recalls those bygone days over the Bridge of Boats' thus:-

'Incidentally this 'Bridge of Boats' was a pontoon bridge which spanned the Kelaniganga at a point called Pasu Grande (Grand Pass) by the Portuguese, ever since then know as Grandpass. This pontoon bridge usurped a ferry service and served as the sole river carriage system from Colombo which gave access to Negombo, the North Western and the Central Provinces for 73 years. It is more than a legend which suggests it was built with 21 boats anchored side by side supporting a carriage way which is precisely recorded to have had 499 feet long. For one hour, daily road traffic was stopped and two boats removed to accommodate the river traffic. The very existence of this bridge was endangered, when the river was in spate at flood time, when often the boats broke lose and were carried to the sea, oft by chance the runaway boats were not engulfed or broken up by the turbulent flood waters, they were retrieved and re-anchored. If the worst happened, another boat was requisitioned and put to service. The first lattice grider bridge to break the segregation of Colombo had been long subjected to by the Kelani ganga was built in 1895 and was named Victoria Bridge after the Queen of Britain.'

Now this heavily laden widened iron girdled Victoria bridge of over 100 years which is being dismantled. Its parts are to be segmented for the use of other bridges to be constructed in various parts of the country. So the grandeur that this hoary iron bridge that carried its heavy burdens of traffic for over a century. It would stand as a living legend now and for posterity.


Top 
  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
 
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 1 post ] 

Board index » Sri Lanka Heritage » Landmark buildings & Constructions


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests

 
 

 
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: