Ponte de Linhares
Category : Articles
Location  : Goa

Prajal Sakhardande,
Head of History Department.
Dhempe College,Miramar,Goa

The silvery waters of the river Gomati (Mandovi) flows gently below □ small bridge which has withstood the ravage of time standing silently to welcome every visitor that comes to the capital. City of Goa - PANAJI. This small bridge popularly known as the "Patto bridge" is a historic monument, a mute spectator to the Portuguese rule in Goa, its ouster and the post-liberaion period.

The patto bridge is a marvel of civil engineering and architecture and designed like the bridges of the ancient Roman period.

The Portuguese created an ever-lasting monument which stands till date unfettered by the ravages of time whereas the bridges built in the post-liberation period have gone down on a number of occasions. The classic examples of this are the Mandovi and Zuari bridges. Without sounding eulogistic of the colonial rule, one cannot fail to admire the strong foundations and structures the Portuguese created in Goa which have withstood a number of rough weather.

 The Patto bridge known as "Ponte de Linhares" - 'Ponte" in Portuguese is bridge is actually a continuation of the long causeway again known as Ponte de Linhares linking Panaji with Ribander. Let us flashback to the 17h century when the three Talukas of Goa - Tiswadi, Bardez and Salcete (then Marmugao was part of Salcete) was under the control of the Portuguese.

It was the period when Portuguese Viceroy Conde de Lin ha res Dom Miguel de Noronha, ruled the 3 Talukas of Goa from the capital city of Vela Goa or Ela (today known as Old Goa) Prominent scholar and historian Precival Noronha gives an interesting account of the bridge. He elucidates that it was the Viceroy, Count of Lin ha res Dom Minguel de Noronha, who linked Panaji with Ribander village by 3.2 kms long causeway, known as "Ponte de Linhares' (Linhares Bridge).

Expertise of the Jesuits of the college of St. Paul 9College de Sao Paulo) in Old Goa was availed in 1632 and the massive bridge, the longest and the oldest in the whole east, was built on alluvial soil after stabilizing it with solid trunks of local timber known as "Zambo or jam bo" (benth). The super structure of the bridge was constructed exclusively in laterite stone. Percival Noronha further states that it is indeed surprising that this bridge originally designed for light traffic or horse driven carriages, coming from Old Goa, today defies heavy vehicular traffic loads. The entire bridge on the Panaji side and the Ribandar side was formerly 3,026 meters long supported by 40 Roman style arches built of locally available laterite stone. Great historian - writer Antonio Menezes in his article 'Exploring Panaji City' says in course of time, these arches except those on the Panaji side as rice fields emerged. The two arches of the Patto bridge were broken when the Rua de Ourem was enlarged.

The Rua de Ourem creek lies below the Patto bridge. After liberation of Goa, the Ponte de Linhares bridge on the Panaji side was known as the Patto bridge and the areas around this bridge came to be known as Patto. On the Ribandar side also, it is known as Patto. As you move from Panaji to Ribandar, the Roman style laterite stone arches are still visible and the against these historic arches makes it look wonderful. The Panaji side Patto bridge is also a beautiful piece of architecture. A curved balustrade structure which is paved on both sides, supported by massive thick Roman style arches from the vicinity of the Rua de Ourem creek looks extremely beautiful. The Patto bridge is painted in white which again adds to its beauty.

Antonio Menezes in his articles says that a column of the Panaji side of the bridge (popularly called Sancoddeo) had a Portuguese inscription indicating the date of construction and the name of the Viceroy, the Conde de Linhares. This column with the inscription came down in 1973, when a bus heading towards Ribandar dashed against it and the inscription fell into the river. Some arches of the bridge were repaired in 1859. the entire bridge was built between 1632-34.

Thus the Patto bridge has become a symbol of our heritage and one of the positive legacies left by the Portuguese who ruled Goa from 1510-1961 with her varying boundaries.

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