Indian people

The network of bridges on which a million Indians depend to cross the Ganges

A huge and seemingly precarious network of floating bridges makes life possible for the millions of people who have built their lives on the banks of the Ganges in India.

The 18 wooden bridges, which stretch for nearly half a mile, are all completely handcrafted by those who live in the neighborhoods along the river.

More than a million people make the 10-minute journey every day across the floating bridges in Allahabad, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

Photographer Ramakrishna Dhanasekaran from Chennai, India took these stunning photos of the daily travels of Indian people.

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Flea market: more than a million people use a complex, but apparently precarious, network of floating bridges to make their daily journeys across the Ganges

As far as the eye can see: the 18 wooden bridges, which stretch for nearly a kilometer, are all entirely handcrafted by residents of the riverside neighborhoods

As far as the eye can see: the 18 wooden bridges, which stretch for nearly a kilometer, are all entirely handcrafted by residents of the riverside neighborhoods

Vital: More than a million people make the 10-minute trip every day on the floating bridges in Allahabad, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

Vital: More than a million people make the 10-minute trip every day on the floating bridges in Allahabad, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

Most live on one side of the river and earn a living on the other, making handcrafted bridges essential to their survival.

So crowded with people that the wooden planks that hold them together are barely visible, the rows of bridges offer an almost eerie sight, stretching as far as the eye can see.

They are connected by planks to the banks and rest on large empty metal tanks, anchored to the bottom of the river with ropes on the upstream side of the bridge.

Although the floating tanks can support trucks weighing up to 10 tonnes, the maximum weight allowed to cross is set at five tonnes for safety reasons.

Crossing: Although floating tanks can support trucks weighing up to 10 tonnes, the maximum weight allowed to cross is set at five tonnes for safety reasons.

Crossing: Although floating tanks can support trucks weighing up to 10 tonnes, the maximum weight allowed to cross is set at five tonnes for safety reasons.

Busy people: Millions of people have made their living alongside the Ganges, living on one side and earning a living on the other

Busy people: Millions of people have made their living alongside the Ganges, living on one side and earning a living on the other

Sacred Site: Thousands of naked Naga Sadhus make the 10-minute crossing on one of the bridges.  Tens of millions of Hindu pilgrims descended on Allahabad in 2001 for the Maha Kumbh Mela, which is held every 12 years at one of India's four holy places.  The festival lasts almost two months and is considered a particularly auspicious time to bathe in the river to cleanse oneself from sin.

Sacred Site: Thousands of naked Naga Sadhus make the 10-minute crossing on one of the bridges. Tens of millions of Hindu pilgrims descended on Allahabad in 2001 for the Maha Kumbh Mela, which is held every 12 years at one of India’s four holy places. The festival lasts almost two months and is considered a particularly auspicious time to bathe in the river to cleanse oneself from sin.

The creation of the bridges required an enormous amount of manpower, each of the 1,537 pontoons requiring 20 workers to put it in place.

Photographer Ramakrishna explained: “Once the pontoons [barrels] were laid on a section connecting the two banks, wooden beams were laid diagonally creating an apron.

“This bridge was then filled in and covered with sand, mud and hay. It was designed so that trucks and ambulances can easily cross the river.

But the bridges are mainly used for pedestrian traffic and are one-way during rush hour, with people moving in the same direction on both bridges.

Massive effort: The creation of the bridges required an enormous amount of manpower, each of the 1,537 pontoons requiring 20 workers to put it in place

Massive effort: The creation of the bridges required an enormous amount of manpower, each of the 1,537 pontoons requiring 20 workers to put it in place

Handicrafts: Each of the floating bridges is attached to the banks of the river with wooden planks and poles, and is supported along its entire length by floating metal barrels.  When the river is at low tide the barrels rest on the bottom

Handicrafts: Each of the floating bridges is attached to the banks of the river with wooden planks and poles, and is supported along its entire length by floating metal barrels. When the river is at low tide the barrels rest on the bottom

Dawn: a cyclist and two rickshaws cross the Ganges, surrounded by mist, early in the morning, before the neighborhoods wake up

Dawn: a cyclist and two rickshaws cross the Ganges, surrounded by mist, early in the morning, before the neighborhoods wake up

Aerial view: so crowded with people that the wooden planks that hold them together are barely visible, the rows of bridges provide an almost eerie sight, stretching as far as the eye can see

Aerial view: so crowded with people that the wooden planks that hold them together are barely visible, the rows of bridges provide an almost eerie sight, stretching as far as the eye can see

This rule was put in place after a stampede in 2012 caused a bridge railing to collapse, forcing many people to fall into the river.

At least 18 people were killed and many more injured in the stampede, as people returned home after a Hindu religious ceremony in Patna, in the eastern state of Bihar.

The devotees had offered a prayer at sunset to celebrate the Chhath festival, dedicated to the sun god Surya.

The bridge, made of bamboo, collapsed due to the large influx of people – mostly worshipers and their families.

Livelihoods: The banks of the Ganges are a vibrant and colorful place to live, but are also full of dangers for residents

Livelihoods: The banks of the Ganges are a vibrant and colorful place to live, but are also full of dangers for residents

Cramped: Hundreds of thousands of people have built their lives on the banks of the Sacred River, flaunting their wares for their neighbors

Cramped: Hundreds of thousands of people have built their lives on the banks of the Sacred River, flaunting their wares for their neighbors

Structure: Bridges are primarily used for pedestrian traffic and are one-way during rush hour, with people moving in the same direction on both bridges.

Safety concerns: The pedestrian rule was put in place after a stampede in 2012 caused a bridge railing to collapse, forcing many people to fall into the river

Safety concerns: The pedestrian rule was put in place after a stampede in 2012 caused a bridge railing to collapse, forcing many people to fall into the river

Stampede: At least 18 people were killed and many more injured in the stampede, as people returned home after a Hindu religious ceremony in Patna in the eastern state of Bihar.

Stampede: At least 18 people were killed and many more injured in the stampede, as people returned home after a Hindu religious ceremony in Patna in the eastern state of Bihar.

Gorgeous: Against the glowing lights of the ramshackle neighborhoods that have sprung up along the riverbanks, the floating bridges make an eye-catching sight

Gorgeous: Against the glowing lights of the ramshackle neighborhoods that have sprung up along the riverbanks, the floating bridges make an eye-catching sight

Rescue: Millions of people rely on bridges to connect their homes to their places of work in bustling Uttar Pradesh state

Rescue: Millions of people rely on bridges to connect their homes to their places of work in bustling Uttar Pradesh state


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