Satpula bridge: A long lost wonder

Located across a collection of malls in Saket, the untouched relics of Satpula bridge lurk

(All photos: Rohan Chauhan)

A 15 minute ride from the Malviya nagar metro station takes one to the Satpula Bridge, a 14th century architectural miracle that once acted as a weir, as well as, a defence wall during Muhammad Bin Tuglaq’s reign.

“Satpula” translates to “seven bridges”. Seven of the stone dam’s eleven sluice gates and bays are on the ground level. A marvel of construction and planning, it was utilised to gather water from the Yamuna river.

Eleven arches make up Satpula (the “Bridge of Seven Piers,” with four subsidiary and seven central openings). The slots in the side walls of each of the seven great arched gates, where the sliding wooden sluices would have fitted, can still be seen.

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Since the Sufi saint Chiragh-e-Dehli used its water to perform ‘wudu‘, the ritual of ablution before namaz, it has long been believed that the waters of Satpula have healing properties (prayer).

Over the years, the area turned arid due to the rising temperatures and irregular rainfall and a section of the lower wall on the interior side appears to have broken off. It no longer fulfils the function of a dam.

Further, due wear and tear, the plaster paint comes off as a result of the neighbourhood boys using it as a playground, besides the encroachment it suffers.

Although the Satpura Dam is no longer the cultural and geographical icon that it once was, it nevertheless boasts several noteworthy features.

The monument’s primary construction, which includes the bridge with its seven arches and bastions, remains very much intact and visible. However, the water tunnels beneath these seven arches have been destroyed. Each tunnel includes a secondary opening that can only be accessible if approached from the grazing ground.

The two-story-high bastions on either end, built like an octagon, are the most notable aspect of this site; Years of neglect have turned the site into a desolate ruin in desperate need of preservation.

A visual trip:

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