The Pamban Bridge which connects Rameswaram Island with Indian mainland is the first longest sea bridge in India. The 2.3 kilometer long bridge over the Palk Strait was opened for traffic for the first time in 1914. During that period, the construction of the Pamban Sea Bridge was a challenging job, as the availability of sophisticated technologies was very much limited. Even today, the bridge at Pamban stands as a marvel of the Indian Engineering skills where the blow of cyclone-prone high velocity wind can be expected any time. The century old Pamban Railway Bridge is noted for its unique scissor style opening to let ships pass by. Bridge contains vertically raising lift section, which is still functioning superbly. Until recently, the two leaves of the bridge were lifted manually using levers. About 10 ships comprising of cargo carriers, coast guard ships, fishing vessels and oil tankers used to pass through the bridge every month.
As India’s first sea bridge, it has also become a key tourist attraction by its unique features, structure and construction. Earlier, meter-gauge trains were conducted services over the bridge. However, the Indian Railways have now upgraded it to enable broad gauge trains to move through. Rail lines are laid from Mandapam station in main land to Pamban station in the Island. Earlier, the railway line which reached at the Pamban station was diverted to two directions. One line having distance 6.25 miles (10.06 km) was towards Rameshwaram while the latter line having distance 15 miles (24 km) was to Dhanushkkodi. During the severe cyclone that blown in 1964, the Dhanushkkodi railway station and some parts of the railway line were washed off by the sea. After this unfortunate incident, the train services from Pamban to Dhanushkkodi were stopped for ever while the train services from Pamban to Rameswaram are still running in good condition. Thus, Rameswaram became the terminal railway station of Madurai – Pamban rail route.
The Pamban bridge is said to be located at the “world’s second highly corrosive environment” after the Miami in US. The scenery available by the train journey over the bridge is absolutely a breathtaking experience. The view of the widespread sea and the twine of islands on the left of the Pamban Island are simply awesome in appearance. The area comprising of coral reefs is also known for marine biodiversity. The Pamban road bridge which opened later is also strong enough from the point of construction. It is tall enough to enable small ships and Barges to go under it while all other land vehicles can go through the bridge. From the well elevated two-lane road bridge, overwhelming views of adjoining tiny islands which spread out in the crystal clear blue sea and the parallel rail bridge which lies below can be viewed comfortably.
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