For a nature lover, Maldevta is an ideal location away from the city where one can relax in a serene and captivating environment. It is located nearly 20 km from the clock tower in Dehradun city.
There is a seasonal river formed where two brooks meet at the base of lush green hillocks. The river slithers gently along hills spreading a carpet of small pebbles of different shapes, sizes and colours over the riverbed. During the rainy season it swells, but most of the time, it is just ankle deep.
During the British days, a huge stock of minerals was discovered across the river, which enabled local people to earn tidy sums. Hence the name “Maldevta”, the story goes. An iron bridge was constructed to ferry the minerals.
During a flood in 2014, it got deformed and took on an interesting shape of aesthetic beauty. Though a new bridge was constructed, the old iron bridge remained a star attraction.
During many photo sessions, the bridge was always the main focus of my camera. The bridge no longer exists but it still has a haunting presence.
Two visits to the bridge are fresh in my memory. Once, I could hear it whispering about its glory days when it was a hub of activity, source of prosperity and happiness. I felt its pain and agony devoid of the hustle and bustle around it.
During my next visit, the bridge looked depressed. The atmosphere around was gloomy and insipid. The bridge was being dismantled. Its last muttered words still reverberate in my ears. “Good that you came, my friend, now my last days have come. People are going to forget me forever, I doubt that any history book will ever mention me.”
Its earlier charm and festivity flashed in my mind. How it had stood witness to turmoil and tranquility, hardships and affluence. How it had rendered a rare service to the community, helped them to derive both material and mental gratification.
The enthralling water momentarily saddened me. The memory of this bridge, the time spent around it, shall remain ingrained in my mind for all times to come.
I visited the spot again the next day.
The bridge had been dismantled and its skeleton lay on the floor of the river. I looked at it with a sense of bereavement. I had lost a good companion indeed.
Maldevta remains as enthralling as ever. On a moonlit night, the melody of the gentle river resonates.
(The writer is a former Director General of UP Police)