Pul-e-Narva: A bridge which is older than Hyderabad

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HYDERABAD: The 441-year-old Purana Pul, a bridge across the river Musi, in Hyderabad, is one of the oldest bridges of the world. Originally named ‘Pul-e-Narva‘, Purana Pul was constructed in 1578 A.D., about 14 years before the laying of foundation of Hyderabad City. This piece of architectural marvel is still intact although it is in a state of neglect.

Purana Pul has been described as the remarkable buildings of Sultan Ibrahim Qutb Shah IV regime. It is a strong, 381 well built structure, 600 ft long 36 ft broad and 42 to 56 ft high above the irregular bed of the river, supported by 23 fine pointed arches.

Although there is a legend behind the reason that led to the construction of Pul-e-Narva, the bridge was constructed to connect Golkonda with the new city of Hyderabad, foundations of which were being laid at the time.

There are two chronograms that give the year of commencement and completion of construction. While one chronogram is “Sira-tu-hul Mustaqim“, another is “Guzargahema“. Both give the year 986 A.H./1578 A.D. While ‘Sira-tu-hul Mustaqim‘ means “straight path”, ‘Guzargahema’ means “our passage”.

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Syed Ali Asgar Bilgrami in his book Landmarks of the Deccan published in 1927 says, “According to Tuzuke-Qutbshahi (MSS), it was constructed in the course of 8 months only, at a cost of One Lac; as it was ordered by the King to be completed before the next winter and the year of its erection was 986 A.H. vide Gulzare Asafiyah P. 15. This word means ‘Its path is straight’.”

After the famous flood of 1820 AD, during the reign of Asaf Jah IV Nawab Sikandar Jah, the bridge was reconstructed. In commemoration of this incident an inscription was set by Maharaja Chandu Lal Bahadur Shadan, the then Prime Minister.

After the 1908 floods of Musi River, the super structure of this bridge was again repaired on an extensive scale during the reign of Asaf Jah VI Nawab Sir Mir Mahboob Ali Khan and masonry walls were replaced by railings of pierced Ashlar.

Despite having such a rich history, this architectural marvel of Qutb Shahi Dynasty was not drawing much attention of either the State Government or the tourist. Today, this has been confined to a vegetable market and the surroundings are so unclean that the visitors could not get access to have a closer look at this masterpiece.

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