Why February has only 28 Days?

February comes from Februus

The name February comes from the Roman God Februus.  Februa in Roman language also signifies the festival of purification that was celebrated in Rome during this month.

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Why does February have only 28 days?

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Julian Caesar

Julius Caesar who ruled Rome around 40 CE introduced the Julian Calendar.

Julius Caesar wanted to make his name not just popular but eternal.

Towards this purpose, he included his name Julius as a month in the calendar and thus came July, bearing his name. He also ensured that the month with his name had the maximum days and hence July has 31 days.

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Julius Caesar

Augustus Caesar

His successor Augustus Caesar, not wanting to be left behind, also wanted his name in history. He added his name to the following month and called it August. As he did not want his month August to be inferior to Julius in any way, he ensured that his month too had 31 days.

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Augustus Caesar

February to pluck

From where did Julius and Augustus pick their additional day from?

The month of February was there for them to pluck out the days from and add to their months.

National Science Day

Discovery of Raman Effect

National Science Day is observed annually on 28th February, the day Dr. C.V. Raman discovered the ‘Phenomenon of the Scattering of Light’ which has now come to be called, ‘The Raman Effect’. This day was constituted by the Government of India in 1986, on the recommendation of National Council of Science and Technology.

Definition

The Raman Effect is defined as the change of wavelength exhibited by some of the radiation scattered in a medium.

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Raman Effect Illustration

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Dr. C V Raman

Dr. C. V Raman wins Nobel Prize

Dr. C.V. Raman performed his experiment on scattering of lights while working at the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science in Kolkata (IACS). For this discovery of his, he became the first Asian to get a Nobel Prize in the field of science in 1930.

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Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science in Kolkata (IACS)

Dr. K.S. Krishnan

Dr. Raman’s colleague, Dr. K. S Krishnan worked along with him. On February 28th  1928 evening, Raman had to go out of the laboratory on some pressing work. Dr. Krishnan who was researching in the laboratory, fortuitously observed for the first time the ‘Phenomenon of Scattering of Light’. An elated Dr. Krishnan recorded it in his worksheet. Dr. K.S. Krishnan thus became the first person to observe the ‘Raman Effect’.

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Dr. K. S. Krishnan

Rayleig

Before the discovery of Raman Effect, the prevalent concept was that of the English physicist Rayleig who in the 1870s tried to explain the blue colour of the sea and the sky.

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English Physicist Rayleig

Rayleig had expressed that the blue sky was the reflection of blue sea.

Dr. C.V Raman’s Research

Dr. C.V. Raman was not satisfied with this explanation. His fascination for the colours and their reasoning was further accentuated during sea voyage in 1921. He studied the scattering of the sun light by the air molecules to explain the blur colour of the sky. He also studied the scattering of light by the water molecules. This study led to his findings being termed the Raman Effect.

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Dr. C.V. Raman in his laboratory

Why the Sky and Sea appear blue?

When the sunlight hits the particles, the blue light is scattered the most and the red light the least. Due to this, both the sea and the sky appear blue.

He expressed how the water particles selectively absorb the red light and reflect the blue because of which we see water as blue.

Further Research

Dr. C.V. Raman continued his research in the phenomenon of light scattering, in other liquids and solids as well. This persistent research revealed the newer aspects of the behaviour of light.

Rigour and Diligence, not costly equipment

The apparatus with which Raman Effect was discovered cost less than Rs. 200 then. It consisted of a pocket spectroscope, a pair of complementary glass filters, a mirror, a condensing lens, and some liquid samples. It shows that even with simple instruments, it is possible to do path breaking research in pure sciences. What is needed is rigour and diligence and not just costly equipment.

National Science Day

This discovery of the ‘phenomenon of scattering of lights’, is regarded as one of the great achievements of modern science in India and is commemorated every year as National Science Day.

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Marathi Language Day

Marathi Language Day is observed in Maharashtra, every year on February 27th. This day commemorates the birthday of Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar, an eminent Marathi author.  It was officially established by the Government of Maharashtra to celebrate the Marathi language.

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Marathi, A Popular Language

Marathi is one among the ancient languages of India, and is substantially derived from Prakrit. It is the official language of Maharashtra, and is also co official language in the union territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu. It is the fourth most spoken language in India. It has around 8 crores / 80 million speakers. It is listed among one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. . Marathi is included as a part of the eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution, and thus it holds the status of a scheduled language, i.e. it is one of the official languages of the Union of India.

Early Marathi works

The earliest Marathi works can be traced to the works of many saints, and are philosophical and devotional in nature. An early Marathi inscription was found at the foot of Bahubali statue at Shravanabelgola.

Bhaskarbhatta Borikar and Mukundraj

Bhaskarbhatta Borikar is one of the early known poets, who composed many hymns in Marathi. Mukundraj is another Marathi literary giant, dating to 1200 CE. His work Vivek Sindhu consisting of 18 chapters and 1671 verses is one of the earliest books in Marathi. He also authored the Param Amrit, which has 303 verses in 14 chapters. These works deal with the Advaita philosophy.

Sant Jnaneshwar

Sant Jnaneshwar is a literary giant in Marathi literature, from the 13th century. He is a revered saint, a devotee of Lord Vithhala, who composed Amrutanubhav, a work on his experiences in yoga and meditation. He also wrote Bhavartha Deepika, also known as Jnaneshwari, which is an extensive commentary on the Bhagavad Gita.

 

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Sant Jnaneshwar

Sant Namdev

Sant Namadev is another Marathi poet saint, contemporary to Sant Jnaneshwar, who composed many Marathi poems in praise of Lord Vithhala of Pandharpur. He also composed many devotional hymns in Hindi, which has been included in the Sikh holy book, Guru Granth Sahib.

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Sant Namdev

Sant Eknath

In the 16th century CE, Sant Eknath was another literary figure who composed many devotional songs, and also authored many works such as the Eknath Bhagavat, Bhavarth Ramayana, and many other works.

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Sant Eknath

Sant Ramdas and Sant Tukaram

In the 17th century, when Chatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj who established the Maratha Empire, Sant Samarth Ramadas and Sant Tukaram were the famous poet saints during his times. Samarth Ramadas, who was the Guru of Chatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj, authored Dasbodh in Marathi, which are his teachings on the way to liberation.

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Sant Ramdas with his disciple Shivaji Maharaj

It is to be noted that all these works of the poet saints revolved around the divinity of Lord Vithhala, the deity enshrined at Pandharpur, in Maharashtra, which to this day is a famous pilgrimage centre. Much of the works in Marathi is owed to the devotion inspired by Lord Vithhala. Another Marathi devotional work, which comes to mind is Bhaktha Vijaya, a book on the lives of the saints who propounded the Bhakti Rasa . This was composed by another Marathi literary figure, Mahipati, who lived in the 18th century.

Image result for lord of pandharpur

Vithhala, the Lord of Pandharpur

In recent times, Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar is one of the Marathi giants in literature, whose birth is today officially recognized as Marathi Language Day.

Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar

Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar is one of those Marathi scholars and author who popularized Marathi, through his poems, short stories and novels. He was born on 27th February 1912, and passed away on 10 March, 1999. In a career that started from pre independence days, this eminent poet wrote 16 volumes of poems, three novels, 7 volumes of essays, 8 volumes of short stories and 18 plays.

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Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar

Famous Works

Some of his famous works like Vishaka, published in 1942, was an inspiration for the Indian Freedom Movement. Another popular work of Vishnu is in the field of plays. His play Natsamrat in Marathi is regarded as one of the masterpieces in the history of Indian literary. He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award for this work of his.

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Vishakha, the famous work of Vishnu Viman

Recipient of many awards

Vishnu Vaman has been the recipient of many state and national awards for his achievements in Marathi literature. He was awarded the Danyapith award in 1987 and Padma Bhushan in 1991. He was the chairman of Akhil Bharatiya Sahitya Sammelan, a Marathi Conference forum, for many years.

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Marathi language Day

Thus to honour his contributions in Marathi Literature, the government of Maharashtra found it fit to celebrate his birthday as Marathi Language day every year. On this day, the government organizes various events on Marathi languages, which include seminars and essay competition that are held in schools and colleges.

All in all, a day to honour the Marathi Language. Cumulatively all Marathi authors and their works are celebrated on this day.

Khajuraho Dance Festival

Khajuraho, A World Heritage Site

The Khajuraho Dance Festival owes its name to the town Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, where the festival is celebrated. Khajuraho is a World Heritage Site consisting of a group of monuments, temples.

Khajuraho, The Capital of Chandella Dynasty

Khajuraho was the capital of Chandella, a dynasty that ruled between 10th and 12th century CE.

Khajuraho, Etymology

 The word ‘Khajuraho’ comes from the word Kajur, meaning, ‘Palm Dates’. The place abounded in ‘Palm Dates’ and hence was named Khajuraho.

Khajuraho Lakshmana Temple

The famous Lakshmana Temple is located in Khajuraho.

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Lakshmana Temple, Khajuraho

Khajuraho Dance Festival

Khajuraho Dance Festival is a one week festival, organized by the Madhya Pradesh Kala Parishad. The Festival was started in the year 2010 and is conducted every year in the first week of February.

Bringing together Dance and Dancers

The Festival brings together some of best players in the field of dance and showcases a rich variety of Indian Classical Dances such as Kathakali, Odissi, Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi and Manipuri.

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Khajuraho Dance Performance

In Backdrop of Temples

The performance by various exponents of dance and music are conducted in open stages in the backdrop of the beautifully lit Khajuraho Monuments.

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Dance Performance during Khajuraho Dance Festival

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, born on May 28, 1883, was a major player in India’s Independence. He was a poet, a writer and a politician, who shaped Indian nationalism through the concept of Hindutva, a term that was coined by this leader.

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Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

Concept of Hindutva

Hindutva has been a much misunderstood word these days, for, the term Hindu has been equated with the religion, Hinduism and many people have termed this concept as an idea of following and promoting one religion.

Hindutva, a Value System

In actual sense, what Sarvarkar meant was a value system based on the culture and traditions of this land. It was a value system that revolved around the core principles of Universalism, Humanism, Positivism, Pragmatism and Rationalism.

Savarkar believed in influencing the masses towards independence, by reminding them of their unique cultural identity.

Activities as youth

Savarkar’s pro independence activities began from his student days in England, where, as a part of the India House, he founded the twin student societies, Abhinav Bharat Society and Free India Society to encourage the youth to participate in Indian revolution for independence.

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Veer Savarkar and his friends

Img: courtesy Flickr

Publications

He also brought out many publications towards this effect. “The First Indian War of Independence” was one of his major works highlighting the Indian struggle of 1857 against the British misrule. The work was banned by the British administrators.

Fighting untouchability and casteism

Savarkar was against religions, untouchability and openly spoke out against castism. He thereby played a vital role in forging unity among masses. He is credited to have facilitated in discarding the practice of untouchability in the remote areas of Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, in less than 10 years.

Netaji on Savarkar

Netaji in his speech of June-25, 1944, acknowledged Savarkar’s perspicacity.

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Savarkar with Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose

Starting Ganesh Utsav

Savarkar was also one of the leaders along with Bal Gangadhar Tilak who started the Ganesh Utsav that became and is still one of the major festivals of Maharashtra, to build national and cultural unity.

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Ganesh Utsav

In Jail

For all these, Savarkar was arrested in London in 1910 for carrying out anti-colonial activities. While being shifted to India in a ship, Savarkar tried to escape when the ship reached Marseilles by diving into the water and escaping to the shore. But, the alaram bells were rung before he could be saved by his friends and he was rearrested. He was now sentenced to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment, i.e, 50 years in jail and was shifted to the Cellular Jail in Andaman and Nicobar islands. His brother was also in same jail at the same time for many years, but both did not know of each others’ presence.

Cellular Jail, Savarkar Cell

This did not impede Sarvarkar as he carried out his pro independence activities from jail. He wrote his biggest work on Hindutva while serving his sentence.

In 1921, Savarkar was released on the condition that he would not hence forth encourage and carry out any revolutionary activities.

Speeches across land

Once outside jail, Savarkar concentrated on travelling across the country and giving speeches on the concept of Hindutva that he had formulated while in prison. As an able orator and poet, he was able to greatly influence the minds of the people towards his idea of India.

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Veer Savarkar giving speech

President of Hindu Mahasabha

He was elected the president of Hindu Mahasabha in 1937, which he served until 1943.

Against partition

Savarkar was vehemently against partition. His position on partition has been aptly summarized by Ambedkar in his work, ‘Pakistan or Partition of India’.

“Mr. Savarkar… insists that, although there are two nations in India, India shall not be divided into two parts, one for Muslims and the other for the Hindus; that the two nations shall dwell in one country and shall live under the mantle of one single constitution…”

After Independence

After Independence, Savarkar continued his agenda of promoting Hindutva through his oratory, poetry and writing skills. He had to sail through a few controversial moments when he was accused in Mahatma Gandhi assassination case, but was later acquitted.

‘Veer’ Savarkar

Savarkar passed away on 26th February, 1966. Around 2000 Rastriya Swayam Sevaks conducted a grand funeral for this great freedom fighter. The term ‘Veer’ was added to his name in recognition of the great courage he had shown in fighting the British Rule.

We, Hari and Hema got the opportunity to visit his cell in Andaman Jail. We recollect with pain to have seen the many torture tools that were used then.

The struggle, the freedom fighters have gone through to give us, the next generations, the freedom we are enjoying today truly leave us tearful and speechless!!!

The only words that arise in the silence are,

“Are we living up to the dreams they cherished for India, for the sake of which they underwent so much torture?”

Symbolism of Shiva

In Indian tradition, Shiva Tattva, is often represented in a distinct form of Shankara sitting in meditation holding implements such as Damaru and Trishul. He has a mark of vibhuti on His forehead. He wears a snake around His neck. He has a matted hair with Ganga flowing out from these locks. He has a crescent moon on His head as a ‘decoration’. He rides a Bull called Nandi, His Vahana, vehicle.

Is this the real form of Shiva or is it a visual representation with each of these aspects of His form having some significance?

Shankara

Shankara etymologically comes from “Sham karothi ithi Shankara”, meaning, “that which does good”.

Thus the form of Shankara brings to bearing that Shiva, the auspicious and with the potential to manifest all goodness, can only be realized through deep meditation, a state when the sound of OM reverberates through our mind, being and senses.

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Shankara

Watch Bharath Gyan Film on Shankara

 Trishul

 The Trishul as the name itself suggests, is a trident, a spear with 3 spikes to it.

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Trishul

The Trishul of Shiva seems to be conveying the significance of 3 to us.

Watch Bharath Gyan Short Film Trishul

The 3 Forces of Trinity

 At one level, this Trishul denotes the concept of Trinity in the Universe where the Trinity represent the divine forces of the Universe.

What are these three divine forces of the Universe?

In the ancient Indian texts, the Trinity or the divine forces have been expressed as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva i.e. the creator, preserver and destroyer respectively.

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Trinity – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva

The Indian Rishi, seer scientists, have expressed that for the Universe to go through its cycles, this Trinity, these 3 divine forces are an essential requisite and it is essential for these 3 forces of the Trinity to work in tandem.

This concept of Trinity has also been discussed by different civilizations in their own variant forms.

The 3 states of Divinity

At another level, the Trishul or trident of Shiva is perhaps to remind us constantly of the 3 states of Shiva namely

Arupa – Formless,

Rupa-Arupa – Formless Form and

Sarupa – With form.

 Watch the Bharath Gyan Film – 3 states of Shiva

The 3 states of Man

 Trishul also denotes the 3 modes of action in mankind and that which

drives these acts. They are;

1. Kayika, physical actions

2. Vaachika, speech

3. Manasika, to do with the mind

These 3 modes of action do find a equivalence in the 3 states of the

divinity as well, for example

  1. Kayika with Sarupa or manifested form

  2. Vaachika with Rupa-Arupa for the formless form

  3. Manasika with Arupa for the formless

It is pertinent to note here that the ancient Greek divinity of Europe,

Poseidon, also had a trident in his hand.

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Damaru

 The other prominent implement in Shiva’s hand is the Damaru.

 The Damaru is a rustic, very ancient variety of hand held drum, with a central bead attached to string which swings and beats on both sides of the drum in an alternating manner.

 What is the significance of this Damaru in Shiva’s hand?

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                               Shiva                                                      Damaru                                                                       

Shiva represents the Cosmic being and the Cosmic power that causes the cycles of creation, dissolution and regeneration which happen in regular rhythmic intervals as the acts of Nature.

The implement that best exemplifies the beat of the rhythm is a drum.

The primeval drum is the Damaru.

As Shiva oversees the rhythmic of dissolution and regeneration, the Damaru best exemplifies the implement most needed by Shiva to keep up this rhythm.

The cosmic rhythmic beat is such that, it causes everything in this Universe to merge in unison with this beat and dissolve back into Shiva. This event is therefore called Pralaya. Thus when Shiva beats His Damaru, He causes the Pralaya or natural dissolution of this Universe.

Watch Bharath Gyan Short Film – Damaru

Third Eye-Tryambaka

Tryambaka comes from the roots tri meaning 3 and Ambaka which means eyes.

The name Tryambaka for Shiva thus is said to mean Shiva the 3 eyed.

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3 eyed Shiva

Modern physiology indicates the presence of a gland called the pineal gland in the brain, behind and between the eyebrows which is considered to be the focal point for concentration. The 3rd eye of Shiva is also but a way to remind us to open our eyes and see, experience Shiva in all the three states, Arupa – the Formless state, Rupa Arupa –  the Formless Form state and Rupa – the Formful state.

The third eye is to realize Shiva in His formless Arupa state which is at once vast, terrific and terrifying.

Watch Bharath Gyan Short- Shiva’s 3rd Eye

The Forehead Mark – Vibhuti

Of the 5 primordial elements, the Fire element, Agni, is associated with Shiva. This is exemplified by the story of the Lingodhbhava. Fire acts on anything and everything and reduces it to a state of ash or Bhasma. So Bhasma is a product of Agni or Shiva acting on it. It is considered symbolic of Shiva’s act of destruction for regeneration.

 The word Vibhuti means resplendent or glowing, with extraordinary powers.

 The smearing of the ash or Vibhuti is meant to destroy one’s ego and ignorance and give rise to a new self, glowing with the realization of Shiva.

Moon on head-Chandrasekhara

 The moon weaves a magic in the sky every fortnight.

 Once, the New Moon phase is reached, there is no moon visible from the earth. From there, it grows again and recreates a Full Moon again within the next fortnight as part of a beautiful celestial show of Nature. Shiva as the divinity of regeneration, in His pictorial form, has a very thin crescent moon on His head.

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Chandrasekhara

This thin crescent symbolically depicts the regenerative aspect in the monthly cycle of the moon from the thin remnants of the previous cycle.

Regeneration is also connected with fertility and what is interesting to note here is that, in humans, the women’s fertility cycle of 28 day period exactly coincides with the 28 day cycle of the moon.

The Chandrasekhara or Somasekhara form of Shiva brings out to us the intrinsic correlation between the phases of the moon, fertility and the humans.

Watch Bharath Gyan Short Film – Chandrasekhara

Nandi –The Bull

Shiva’s Vahana, Vehicle is the bull called Nandi. A bull is called Rishabha in local language and it is a Pashu. The loose translation for Pashu is animal. But Pashu is also an encompassing term that includes all living beings or bodily forms.

 Shiva as a principle of the Universe can only be realized through subtler means and not in a physical or gross form. Thus Pashu or bodily forms are a stumbling block in the way towards realizing Shiva.

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Nandi, Bull

Only when one is willing to go beyond the bodily level of understanding and hones the subtler senses, can one understand and realize Shiva Shankar and peace.

 Watch Bharath Gyan Short Film – Nandi

 This Shivaratri, let us imbibe the significance behind Shiva’s visual form as we immerse ourselves in the Shiva Tattva.

[Selective excerpts from the book Understanding Shiva in the Bharath Gyan Series by D.K.Hari and D.K.Hema Hari]

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Also watch the 19 Short Films on ‘Understanding Shiva’ here: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9QLcyiVla352leXqBX6smjKtdhJ7ZhOQ

Pamban Bridge

India’s First cantilever bridge

Pamban Bridge is India’s first cantilever bridge that connects Rameshwaram with mainland India. The bridge was opened on February 24, 1914.

It was also India’s first Sea bridge and one of the longest bridges in the country.

The bridge is the life line to Rameshwaram Island.

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Pamban Bridge

Scherzer central span

 

The 65.23 metre long rolling central span of the 2.06 km long bridge, is named after William Scherzer, the German engineer who designed and built the span.

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William Scherze

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The central rolling span

It opens up like a pair of scissors to allow vessels to pass through under the bridge.

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1964 Cyclonic storm

In 1964, even when a severe cyclonic storm hit this part of the area, Scherzer’s central span withstood nature’s fury. What is further remarkable is how this entire bridge was restored for traffic in a mere 46 days under the leadership of the man behind the Delhi Metro, E.Sreedharan, who was then posted in the Southern railway.

Of course, Rameshwaram has yet another bridge just parallel to it which was built in 1998. But that is a road bridge.

Longest for around 100 years

Pamban had stayed as the longest sea bridge of India for close to a 100 years, until it was surpassed by the 2.3-km Bandra-Worli sea link built recently on Mumbai’s western coast. But then again, Bandra-Worli Sea Link is only a road bridge.

Pamban has much more load to carry as it is a rail bridge. Starting as a metre guage railway line it was upgraded to a broad guage line in 2007 and then again in 2009 it was further strengthened to carry goods train.

Among the world’s old and historic bridges, the London Bridge is one of the more famous ones.

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London Bridge

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In comparison with London bridge

In comparison to the London Bridge, the Pamban Bridge has had to face much more fury from Nature as it is built over a Sea.

It is located in world’s second most corrosive environment after Florida which makes it maintenance a challenge and a round the year activity. It is an activity that has been going on unfailingly for the last 100 years.

A train journey on this legendary sea bridge is sure to put everyone in awe. In awe of nature power and human skills!