One of Kolkata’s most famous landmarks and officially Rabindra Setu, though few use this new name, Howrah Bridge ( is 97m high and 705m long, spanning the river in a single leap to make it the world’s third-longest cantilever bridge. It was erected during World War II in 1943 to give Allied troops access to the Burmese front, replacing an earlier pontoon bridge that opened to let river traffic through. With its maze of girders, it was the first bridge to be built using rivets, and is still used by millions of commuters. Despite the removal of the tramlines, its eight lanes are still perpetually clogged with vehicles, and in the 1980s became so worn out that a man pushing his broken-down car is said to have fallen through a hole and disappeared. Don’t let that put you off; the bridge has undergone major repairs in recent years, and joining the streams of pedestrians who walk across it each day is a memorable experience. Vidyasagar Setu, the second Hooghly bridge built 3km south to relieve the strain, was 22 years in the making. It’s a vast toll bridge with spaghetti-junction-style approaches high enough to let ships pass below. Through sheer incompetence, the agency in charge of managing the tolls posted a loss of over $7 million in 2006; it has since been privatized.

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