Oont Kadal: 17th century Kashmir’s Mughal era bridge

Oont Kadal is a stone masonry bridge which was built in late 1670s during the Mughal rule

Heading towards the world-famous Mughal Garden Nishat, a hump-like bridge – Onte Kadal in the middle of Dal Lake, grabs the attention of every traveler. The arch-like structure is more than it looks. The bridge has succeeded in alluring local, national, and international visitors who tread the path of Dal Lake.

Oont Kadal is a stone masonry bridge which was built in the late 1670s during the Mughal rule. The bridge was essentially part of the erstwhile Chaudhri Soth also called Soth-i-Chodri that started at end of the Naidyar bridge in Kralyar, Rainawari and opened at Ishber Nishat and was believed that the length of the causeway was supplemented with a series of bridges, including some timber made walkways, which however could not survive the transmutations from time to time.

This hump-shaped bridge had been featured in several Bollywood movies. Before the nineties, the bridge located in the middle of picturesque Dal Lake in Srinagar was seen in movies like Aarzoo, Jab Jab Phool Khiley, Kashmir Ki Kali etc. The idea of featuring the bridge in several Bollywood movies attracted thousands of people living far away from Kashmir, to this place. Like in the past, this arch-shaped bridge still fascinates visitors who come to visit the valley, especially Mughal gardens like Nishat, Shalimar etc.

This iconic 17th-century bridge, according to historical evidence, had been a point of trespassing and whose edges were covered up with poplar trees. There is evidence that from 1980 to 1960 the bridge witnessed lush green surroundings which had been a focal point of attention for international tourists. 

The bridge gives a unique look from the height of Zabarwan hills. From five-star hotels – Taj’s Vivanta – or Mughal Garden Nishat, the bridge looks like a camel’s hump and the reflection of the sunset in peak summers adds to its beauty. The magnificent look of Oonte Kadal has brought several filmmakers to Kashmir and it continues to this day. 

In September 2018, a German-based company came forward and sought support from the Government to develop the heritage site. Meanwhile, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), a non-profit organization with the mandate to protect and conserve natural and cultural heritage, took several steps to preserve its uniqueness and reconstructed it in its ancient style.

“In 2018 we utilized our efforts and got permission from the Government to bring the construction material to the site as the bridge comes under the Green Belt Area (GBA) where construction is strictly prohibited. However it takes us two to three months to get approval and accordingly, we started work”, Anjum Rafiq, an office-bearer of INTACH told Kashmir Post.

He said the construction work on the bridge is over now. “We used high-tech pumps to clean the water in the surroundings of the bridge, strengthened the layer below the water, replaced broken bedrocks, and most importantly we rejuvenated it according to its historic style,” Rafiq added.

For a visit to the place can contact JKL Travels, Travel & Event Management Company Based in Srinagar (J&K).

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