( Prajal Sakhardande – Heritage Point, Panjim Plus)
The silvery waters of the river Gomati (Mandovi) flow gently below a small bridge, which has withstood the ravages of time, standing silently to welcome every visitor that comes to the capital city of Goa – Panjim. This small bridge popularly known as “PattoBridge” is a historic monument, a mute spectator to the Portuguese rule over Goa, its ouster and the post-liberation period.
The Patto Bridge, a marvel of civil engineering and architecture, was designed along the bridges of the ancient Roman period, by the Portuguese, thus creating an everlasting monument which stands till date, unfettered by time’s ravages, while the bridges built in the post liberation period have gone down a number of times. The classic examples are the Mandovi & 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 weathers.
The Patto Bridge, known as “Ponte de Linhares” (‘Ponte’ in Portuguese means Bridge) is a continuation of the long causeway again known as Ponte de Linhares, that links Panjim to Ribandar.
Let us flash back to the 17 th Century, when the three talukas of Goa – Tiswadi, Bardez and Salcete (then Marmagoa was part of Salcete), were under the control of the Portuguese. It was the period of the Portuguese Viceroy Conde de Linhares Dom Miguel de Noronha, who ruled the three talukas from the capital city Velha Goa or Ela (today known as Old Goa).
Prominent scholar and historian, Percival Noronha gives an interesting historical account of the bridge. He elucidates that it was the Viceroy, Count of Linhares, Dom Miguel de Noronha, who linked Panjim with Ribandar village by a 3.2 Km long causeway, known as “Ponte de Linhares” (LinharesBridge).
The expertise of the Jesuits of the College of St. Paul (Collegio de Sao Paulo) in Old Goa was availed of in 1632 and the massive bridge, the longest and oldest in the whole East, was built on alluvial soil after stabilizing it with solid trunks of local timber known as “zambo” or “jambo” (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 of horse driven carriages, coming from Old Goa, today defies heavy vehicular traffic, concludes Noronha.
The entire bridge on the Panjim side and the Ribandar side was formerly 3,026 metres long, supported by 40 Roman style arches built of locally available laterite stone. Great historian – writer Antonio Menezes in his article ‘ ExploringPanajiCity’ says “in the course of time, these arches, except those on the Panjim side of the bridge were closed on the right side as rice fields emerged. The two arches of the Patto Bridge were broken when 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 Panjim side, was known as the “PattoBridge” and the area around this bridge came to be known as Patto, after the bridge. On the Ribandar side too, it is known as Patto.
As you move from Panjim to Ribandar, the Roman style laterite stone arches are still visible, and when the Mandovi waves dash against these historic arches, the scene appears very romantic and beautiful.
The Panjim side Patto Bridge is also a beautiful piece of architecture. A curved balustraded 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 “a column of the Panjim side of the bridge (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 were repaired in 1859. The entire bridge was built between the years 1632 – 34. The bridge is named after the Portuguese Viceroy Conde de Linhares, during whose tenure this major developmental activity was carried out, which till date serves the people of Goa”.
Thus the PattoBridge has become a symbol of our heritage and one of the positive legacies left by the Portuguese who ruled Goa from 1510 – 1961, for a period of 451 years, with her varying boundaries.
COMPILED BY:- SANJEEV V. SARDESAI – firstname.lastname@example.org