Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Maraimalai Adigal Bridge (Marmalong Bridge (1726-28): Bridges of Colonial Madras

Maraimalai Adigal Bridge (aka Marmalong Bridge), Adyar river, Saidapet (1726-28)
Plaque Commemorating the  construction of Marmalong Bridge by Coja Petrus Uscan (multinlingual inscriptions in Persian, Latin and Armenian)

The Maraimalai Adigal Bridge (previously the Marmalong Bridge) is one of oldest bridge in Chennai. It connects the northern banks of the Adyar river with the south. This bridge was originally built in 1726-28 at the cost of Rs. one lakh by the Armenian merchant, Coja Petrus Uscan. The merchant came to Madras in 1724 and built it by using his own money. The bridge was named after the nearby village of Mambalam which was Anglicized to Marmalan or Marmalong.

The dilapidated old bridge was replaced by a new one in the year 1966 built as part of the reconstruction and modernization efforts. Reconstructed in 1966 with prestressed concrete beams and slabs. Length of the bridge 770 ft. 12 spans of 60 ft. (average). Width of carriageway 81 ft. Width of footpath 10 ft. each. Cost of construction 42.5 lakh. The new bridge is named after Maraimalai Adigal, Tamil writer and proponent of the Pure Tamil movement.

Uscan's construction of the bridge is commemorated by a plaque at the northern end of the bridge adjoining the Saidapet bus stand. The Armenian merchant also constructed the steps which led to the historical National Catholic shrine atop St Thomas Mount in 1726. There is also a plaque commemorating Uscan's legacy.
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