Goa has a very rich history and everything in Goa has some great story behind it. From big Portuguese houses to the roads and bridges build by the Portuguese are the legends of the Goan history. One such place is the famous “Raibandar Bridge” which is one of the oldest and said to be the longest bridges in the world then, very few knows that this bridge starts from the old patto bridge, which is connecting the capital city of Panaji to Raibandar and the former capital city Goa “old Goa”.
It was built by Portuguese in just one year’s time 1633-1634 who ruled Goa for more than 450 years. The name Ribandar originates from “Rayachem Bandar” meaning the wharves, docks or portage of the Rayas or Kings. It is unclear which kings are meant here. Raibandar is separated from Panjim by the Rio de Ourém (River of Gold), whose junction with the Mandovi River here forms a large, wide, and marshy estuary a big salt pans spread across in several hectors of land. It is also known as “Ponte Conde de Linhares” in Portuguese which means the Count of Linhares who was one of the viceroys of Portuguese India after whom this historic bridge was christened. A new road to the south of Ponte Conde de Linhares provides one more link to Ribandar, Chimbel and Old Goa from Panjim. The islands of Chorao and Divar lie to the north and north-east of Ribandar respectively. The ferry wharf at Ribandar is one of the major means of transportation to these two islands.
Goa was ruled by a break-away branch of the Kadamba dynasty belonging to native Kannada language speakers of Karnataka. It was conquered by Sultan Allauddin Khilji’s General Mahmud Ghawan for the Delhi Sultanate, became part of the breakawayBahamani Sultanate, and conquered by Vijayanagar, Yusuf Adil Shah I of the Sultanate of Bijapur before being conquered by Afonso de Albuquerque in 1510.
The original structure of the Raibandar bridge was designed and built by the Jesuits of the College of St. Paul in Old Goa. It was built on alluvial soil and stabilized with the trunk of the iliadola briformis, a tree called Benth, locally known as Zambo. Laterite stone was used in the construction of the bridge superstructure. It was built to handle the load of horse drawn carriages of its time but has handled the load of heavy motor vehicles since then. The causeway is supported by three arches on the eastern side, while thirty-eight arches support it on the western side. It was built at a cost of £3,333. A local tradition states that the bridge was built by the Jesuits in a single night using the light of a single lamp. On 22 June 1634, the bridge, as well as the surrounding land was handed over to the municipal chamber of the city for its maintenance and upkeep.
In 1980s, planting of Mangrove trees on the southern bank of the river was undertaken by the forestry department to prevent erosion of the bridge. The bridge had been damaged due to continuous tidal motion in 2011 and 2014. To prevent it from further damage, construction of a protective wall was initiated by the Goa Public Works Department. In order to prevent further damage, the Public Works Department diverted the movement of heavy vehicles from Panaji to Old Goa. Speed restrictions were imposed to slow down vehicles, with plans to further enforce them with the installation of traffic cameras.
The Government of Goa had proposed the plan to build a parallel bridge for traffic and add attractions such as food stalls and toy trains for tourists on the existing structure. The state government sought funds from the Government of India to beautify the causeway as well as put up a proposal for a bridge parallel to the causeway which could be used as a marina. But with the upcoming new Mandovi Bridge may not allow that plan to get on its way.