living example of medieval Odishan architecture, Atharnala bridge was constructed
by Bhanu Deba of the Ganga Dynasty in the 13th century on the river Muthiya and
is still in use. Atharnala is a combination of two words, 'Athar' and 'Nala'. In
local oriya language 'Athar' means 'Eighteen' and 'Nala' means 'Passage', so 'Atharnala'
combinely means 'Eighteen Passages'. There are 18 brick passages on which the bridge
has been made. It is considered to be an architectural marvel and is one of the
most historical tourist attractions of Puri in this day and age. It defines Odisha's
engineering marvel of the ancient times and is truly the gateway into this beautiful
city. The bridge is situated at the entrance of Puri town, welcoming all of its
proud locals who use it on a daily basis as well as all tourists who travel to the
Holy city of Lord Jagannath.
The bridge is spread over a length of 85 meter (280 feet) and breadth
of 11 meter (36 feet). The mighty historical testament grabs attention of tourists
due to its testimony and architecture as the bridge encompasses eighteen arches
ranging from seven to sixteen feet across. On top of the original brick bridge the
present bridge has been constructed directly. Atharnala bridge is a protected monument
by Archeological Survey Of India. To preserve the spectacular structure of the 13th
century old bridge and also for the safety of the travelers, heavy vehicles are
not allowed to use the bridge now a days.
The Atharnala Bridge is of special importance to
the pilgrims. The pilgrims can get a spectacular long distance view of the Lord
Jagannth Temple by standing on the Atharnala bridge and often come here to offer
prayers to their Almighty.