Ulapane Fool’s Bridge (Upside Down Bridge) – උලපනේ මෝඩයාගේ පාලම (උඩ යට පාලම)

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This awkwardly named Fool’s Bridge lies across the mighty Mahaweli River in the town known as Ulapane in Matale. The uniqueness of this bridge is the side arches generically found on steel bridges are built at the bottom of the bridge. Thus this is known as the “Fool’s Bridge” or the “Upside Down Bridge”.

Shortly after the British occupation of the Kandyan area plantation crops such as coffee, tea and rubber were introduced by the British. The need to construct a bridge was felt to cross over the Mahaweli River at Ulapane. Work on this bridge was started in 1903 by the Public Works Department and was opened to the public on 2nd November 1904 by the British. This bridge with arch shaped structures measured 66.46 metres (216 ft.) in length and 3.08 metres (10 ft.) in width.

Folklore states that when a British high official came to ceremoniously open this bridge and saw that the bridge had been built upside down, the engineer was so embarrassed that he committed suicide.  The British then built another bridge upstream at a later date to replace this bridge. But in reality, it is said that the arch structure at the bottom makes the bridge more load-bearing and not a mistake. Such bridges are called an Inverted Bowstring Truss type bridge.

After decades of use of this second bridge, a new concrete bridge has been built around 2015. This is said to be the only place where three road bridges over Mahaweli River exist in a single location. Part of a 4th bridge also can be seen very close to the “Modayage Palama” (Fool’s Bridge).  It is said that when the Mahaweli Project was going on, the Mahaweli Authority started to build a bridge next to the Fools Bridge but after one side was completed, it was abandoned.

Although a good view of this bridge can be seen from the new bridge, it is best seen from the train. The path to this bridge is now covered with weeds and difficult to access.

References

  1. Abeyawardhana, H. A. P. (2004) Heritage of Kandurata: Major Natural, Cultural, and Historic Sites. Kandy: Kandurata Development Bank, in association with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

Also See

Map of  Ulapane Fool’s Bridge (Upside Down Bridge)

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)
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The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites

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Travel Directions to Ulapane Fool’s Bridge (Upside Down Bridge)

Route from Kandy Railway to Ulapane Fool’s Bridge (Upside Down Bridge)
Though : Gampola
Distance : 30 km
Travel time : 1 hour
Driving directions : see on google map

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