Journey through Bangladesh
The Eliot Bridge
The Eliot Bridge is a glorious part of heritage in Sirajganj town. Popularly known as “Boropul”, thousands of people around the country still flock to visit this bridge. The bridge is a great asset for the town dwellers, as visitors from all over gather here to enjoy the attractive feature of the glorious bridge. It was implemented over the Baral River in the middle point of town without any pillar or plank connecting the Eastern and Western parts. When the bridge was erected, there was no bridge so large in that town at the time. It was quite an engineering feat to build it without any pillars.
A massive earthquake in the Jamuna Canal changed its course creating a new flow in 1762. The Jamuna became a large river as lots of flood water from upstream and Tista, while it was overflooded. At that time, the Jamuna started to flow through Sirajganj town and fell in to Hurasagor in down stream. The mixed flow leads to the river Baral.
Since then, the Jamuna has formed into a major river. In 1787, the part which is now known as Sirajganj town was a huge sandy area. Boats on this river used to anchor here giving rise to habitats on the western bank. Most of this land was owned by Jaminder Siraj Ali Chowdhury. He estimated the importance of this place and tried to establish a river port here in 1808. Gradually the area of the river port increased and expanded up to the west bank of the Baral river. Sirajganj was named after him.
In 1869, Sirajganj municipality was set up here and a thana was set up later. Separated from Mymenshingh district, Sirajganj was included in Pabna district. It became a district in 1984. In the eighteenth century, the current of the Baral River was very sharp. Then boats and steamers were found to move through the river. The railway was not set up then, goods entered Sirajganj and through Sirajganj town passed in to Assam as well as other parts of West Bengal. Trade and Business was rampant on both the banks of the river.
In 1892, the Englishman Bitsonbell was Sub-Divisional Officer of Sirajganj. Later on, he became government of Bengal and Assam. One day he was returning to the East bank from the West. He heard the groaning of a needy man. The man had not a single paisa after he had bought some food with what he had earned all day long. But, the boatman did not allow him on board to reach the other bank without the money. Then Bitsonbell himself helped the man to cross the river. After the event, he formed a committee. All the businessmen contributed in the committee and the district board granted Tk. 1500 to build a bridge on the river Baral.
Sir Charles Eliot, the then governor of Bengal and Assam laid the foundation of the bridge in August 6. 1882 and the Eliot Bridge was named after him. The bridge is 180 feet in length and 16 feet wide. Stuart Hartland, a British contract firm constructed the bridge on the Baral river pillars. This pillar-less bridge with only one arch was built at a cost of Tk. 45,000. The bridge was repaired recently for the sake of the town's beauty. It still draws visitors.
(R) thedailystar.net 2007