MURNAD: Built across River Kaveri in Bethri, the Bethri bridge is one of the important bridges in Kodagu. Part of Virajpet-Baindur state highway, the bridge connects the towns of Madikeri and Virajpet. Even though there are other routes to connect the two towns, the road via Bethri bridge provides the shortest travel distance between Madikeri and Virajpet. One of the oldest bridges constructed after independence, it is built in arch shape. According to some estimate, more than 1000 vehicles move along the bridge daily.
Colonel O S Bedi, IPS, then the chief commissioner of Coorg had laid the foundation stone for Bethri bridge on March 29, 1953. It was inaugurated by then Union Minister for Transport and Railways Lal Bahaddur Shastri on May 29, 1955. Coorg was a ‘C’ state at that time.
Kambiranda Kittu Kalappa, a retired teacher near Bethri, recalls when Lal Bahadur Shastri was in Coorg for the inauguration of bridge, he had visited their ancestral house and had a cup of coffee with snacks. Kumbera Subbaiah, a septuagenarian resident of Arapattu village, recalls that Apparanda Thimmaiah’s Mercedes Benz car was the first vehicle to move along the bridge after inauguration.
Bethri Bridge, which is 63-years-old, now has additional concrete walls and aluminum railings for more safety. Last month, after a gap of 10 years, River Kaveri flowed over the bridge during heavy rains. When many bridges of 21st century are in dilapidated condition, Bethri bridge is classic case of long-lasting quality construction of 1950s. With good maintenance, Bethri bridge should serve Kodagu for another 50 years.
(Text and photos: Hareesh K G)