Chakzam Extension At Tawang Shocking Old Designing Wonder

If you’re looking for an ancient but stunning example of engineering and natural beauty, look no further than the Chakzam Bridge in Tawang (also spelt as Chagzam Bridge), Arunachal Pradesh. This breathtaking bridge spans the Tawang River, offering visitors a unique perspective on the surrounding landscape and a thrilling experience unlike any other.

Chakzam Bridge: A Must-Visit Destination

Introduction to Chakzam Bridge

The Chakzam Bridge in Tawang Arunachal Pradesh is a true engineering marvel that has become a popular tourist attraction in recent years. This suspension bridge spans the Tawang River and offers visitors stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The bridge is not only a feat of engineering, but it also holds significant cultural and historical importance for the local community.

Chakzam or Chagzam itself means an iron bridge in Tibetan language and it could mean any one of the hundreds of iron bridges in the Himalayan regions of India, Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal. However, we refer to the bridge in Tawang as ‘the’ Chagzam bridge as this one is an ancient, centuries old, special iron bridge.

Exploring the Chagzam Bridge, Tawang, an experience of a lifetime

Oh, how time flies! I can still vividly recall the day we visited the Chakzam Bridge, nestled in the breathtakingly beautiful Arunachal Pradesh, about 25 km from the Tawang Monastery. It was quite a journey, taking us over an hour and a quarter, although the distance as the crow flies was only 7.5 km! But the winding mountain roads made it seem like an eternity. The road was good for most part leading to unmetalled, gravel road for the last few kilometers.

Before we hit the gravel road, we passed by a quaint little village called Shernup. There were flowers of many hue blooming on both sides of the road. Our friend it was called the Cosmos Flowers (Scientific name – Cosmos bipinnatus) or the Mexican Aster. The local youngsters often call it “I Love You” flowers. Probably the Monpa boys woo the girls with these flowers! We made a mental note to stop here on our way back.

Sange, out friend, said it was still not the season. During season, the fields and sides of hills are full of these pretty flowers. At Chug valley near Dirang, Ziro valley and many other valleys, these pop up magically.

As we got down from our vehicle we were greeted by the faint sound of river flowing nearby. It was indeed music to our ears. We were then directed to collect the keys to the bridge from the house of the village elder (Sarpanch). It was quite surprising to learn that the bridge was locked!

A few years back one of the villagers had noticed that some of the iron chain links from the bridge were found not found, probably stolen. These fetch a lot of money in the black market because of its historical value, so some thieves might have stolen the same for a quick buck. To prevent further pilferage, the bridge -was shuttered and locked.

We climbed down the steps on the side of the river bank and soon we could hear the river crashing against the rocks in a huge roar and soon we got our first view of the magnificent historic Chagzam Bridge. I had goosebumps, just imagining how this engineering marvel was accomplished 600 years ago.

We passed a short structure with a bunch of prayer stones, which may have held a few prayer wheels as was the norm in those days. You can see prayer wheels almost everywhere in Arunachal Pradesh. The housing wall had some stone inscriptions in Tibetan which we could not decipher. Chakzam bridge is about 60 Metres including the housings at both the ends. The iron chain links start at the beginning of the housing.

Excitement was building when we opened the lock and threw open the shutter. The 8-metre long housing or the rooms were neither too big nor impressive. It was purely functional. But what lay beyond them was what we had come to see. And there it was, the Chakzam Bridge in all its glory!

There it was. At first Chakzam bridge looked like a combination of bamboo, cane, straw and rattan bridge, the entire length of which was covered with long strips woven to form a kind of a mat. The bridge was swaying due to the wind. There were the ubiquitous prayer flags, strung along the length, fluttering noisily. These flags have Buddhist mantras printed on them and serve to protect the bridge.

At the first instance it did not look safe at all. No one wanted to step on the weak looking bamboo bridge. All the travelers around me were suddenly extremely polite saying ‘you first’ (pehle aap). haha. On a closer look I could make out the steel chains and thick wire mesh peeking through gaps in the mat. My thoughts were “Wasn’t some chain links stolen from this bridge?”, but I couldn’t resist the urge to cross it.

I opted to go first. Gingerly I stepped on to the bridge. My feet sank a bit and so did my heart! I took few more steps a bit more boldly now. It was not easy to walk as the bridge was like a hammock and the bottom was quite narrow, just enough for one foot at a time!

Soon I got the hang of it and walked length of the bridge to the other side which was also shuttered and probably locked. I even lay down on this huge ‘hammock’. The bridge was about 40 M

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *