Crossings of the River Rangeet (1)- The Mangitar Bridge

Last month, while I was reminiscing about my second trip to the North East of India, I related a rather jolly stroll that I took, from Darjeeling to the market town of Jorethang. On the way I crossed the River Rangeet, which marks the border between the two states of West Bengal and Sikkim. And so what better way to round up my journeys through India this year, then by ending my rambling words on a tiny little footbridge strung high above the valley of this raging torrent of the Himalaya…

This is one old bridge – 110 years old to be precise. And it is pretty good nick all things considered. This has had to put up with the freezing winters, monsoon rains and the ‘cyclones’ that come up the valley. In fact it was a cyclone that necessitated the construction of this footbridge as the old cane bridge was washed away in a nasty storm.

A little history is needed here. The whole area was once part of the Kingdom of Sikkim, but the British leased some land south of the Rangeet River for the hill station in Darjeeling. Sikkim remained a Princely State, which meant it was de jure independent, but the reality was that the British controlled the affairs of the area. On India’s independence, it retained its autonomy as a Princely State until 1975 when it joined India after a referendum. And so, to cut this down to basics, this bridge was once an international border crossing!

But enough politics and onto the bridge. Now there is no wikipedia entry for me to paraphrase, so I will have to go on my own observations. It is basically a narrow suspension bridge, designed for pedestrians, but I am sure that the odd scooter will roar over this bridge. The flooring is of wooden planks and so you can quite easily see the torrential flow of water below (and I was in the dry season). Unlike other crossing points into Sikkim, there is no one from the Sikkim State Police entering your details into a book and checking for your Inner Line Permit (an easily available piece of paperwork needed by foreigners to enter the state). So it is a whizz for anyone who just wants to take a peek into a life a little less known. Just like I did…

(Getting there and away)

The Mangitar Bridge is a two minute stroll from Mangitar village or a long jeep ride from Darjeeling. Alternatively, you can do a day hike to and from Darjeeling, or if you have an ILP, you can approach the bridge from the Sikkimese side. And take a look below the bridge as well, there is a lot of life on the river banks of the Rangeet. This is a place I must return too…

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2 Comments

Filed under asia, india, places, travel

2 responses to “Crossings of the River Rangeet (1)- The Mangitar Bridge

  1. richard dominy

    Its been many years since i was at rangeet river, what fantastic days they were too and never to be forgotten. would love to go back just one more time, may be next year 2012. My boy hood days at Mangitar, just fabulous… richard dom.

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