Varkala Tunnel in Thiruvananthapuram

The backwaters of Kerala once formed the backbone for an intricate canal system that is regularly listed as one among the finest transportation systems that pre-date the modern era. Varkala formed the southernmost edge of this system, where people had to disembark before continuing to Thiruvananthapuram. This break in transportation led to the construction of the Varkala Tunnel by the British in the 19th century. It began in 1867, during the reign of Travancore Diwan Sir T. Mahadeva Rao, and 14 years later, Diwan Sheshaya Sasthri saw it to completion.

Kerala had not seen such an elaborate architectural endeavour at the time. It had two tunnels, each being completed 3 years apart. Both are 2370 ft. and 1140 ft. respectively, and made the dream of a direct passageway between Malabar to Thiruvananthapuram. It facilitated trade and commerce in a huge way, before the advent of railways, air and road transport. Today it is a great reminder of an architectural marvel that is an integral part of our history.

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