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Bridging the gap: Historic Konodas Bridge finally gets some attention

By Shabbir Mir

GILGIT: Once serving as the only connection between what was then known as Gilgit Agency and the Central Asian states, the Konodas Bridge — like so many historic sites in the region — lies in a dilapidated state.

However, the relevant authorities appear to have woken up to the reality that this structure is in desperate need of repair. It has started maintenance work on the bridge – a rare occurrence indeed.

The decision comes as a welcome surprise to locals.

“Finally, someone looked into the matter,” Alam Dar, a trader told The Express Tribune on Sunday.

The repair work was carried out after the gap of a decade. Under the repair work, broken wooden plates were replaced and broken wires that hold the suspension bridge together were replaced. Built over a period of 10 years between 1895 and 1905, it is well over 100 years old.

“If it remained unattended, chances were that it would simply fall apart,” Dar said.

The flawless design of the bridge is the reason why the structure has survived various natural calamities over the years, including floods which have washed away several other bridges and roads in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Konodas met the transportation needs of thousands of people living on either sides of Gilgit River. It only had a small period of reprieve when the RCC Bridge was made operational. The structure is used as a foot bridge now, but its historic importance is much greater than mere functionality.

According to historians, the bridge was the only facility before Partition that provided access from Gilgit Agency to the Central Asian states.

The legendary Gilgit Scouts Commandant between 1943 and 1948, William A Brown, also mentioned Konodas Bridge in his book called The Gilgit Rebellion 1947.

He said it was used to access scout lines on the other side.  An official of the works department said maintenance would be completed within the stipulated time.

Another suspension bridge near Chinar Bagh, Gilgit has also been opened for traffic after three years. The Konodas Bridge is a rare remnant and its preservation is considered vital for the region.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2016.

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