Ponte de Liñhares, joining Panjim and Ribandar, built-in 1633 was considered as the longest causeway in Asia and is acknowledged as a signal feat of engineering. Measuring 3,026 meters in length, the route is flanked by River Mandovi on one side and salt pans embedded in Khazan lands – on the other.
The credit of this project goes to the 4th Count of Linhares (Conde de Linhares) Miguel de Noronha, who was then the 23rd Viceroy of Portuguese Goa.
Initially, Panaji was not connected to the mainland Ribandar Village. The expanse between Ribandar and Panaji was a very marshy, tidal area. Towards the beginning of the 1600s, a very avant-garde project was considered by the Portuguese Administration to improve connectivity between Ribandar to Panaji, and to facilitate the transfer of construction materials and other defense resources.
The services of the Jesuit Priests were requisitioned and work commenced in the year around 1632. The loose, marshy soil, parallel to the River Mandovi was strengthened by piling (embedding) tree barks, belonging to the ‘jambho tree’. It was over this strengthened soil, that a massive masonry causeway was constructed.
There were a total of 40 arches along this causeway, mostly restricted towards the Panaji side. The main arm of the causeway, between Ribandar to Panaji has only three openings, or ‘manos’, to allow seawater to enter the ‘khazan lands’ – a remarkable indigenous hydrologic system predating the Portuguese, designed to control tidal flow – for fish trapping and most importantly for ‘sea salt making’.
As your vehicle travels along the Ribandar Causeway, parallel to the River Mandovi, it seems that we are travelling along a linear route; however, the causeway is built-in arrow shape. It was so since the mounting tidal and monsoon waters of River Mandovi would be directed, sideways, towards the two rivulets at either end, possibly reducing the load on the main arm of the causeway. There are two small culvert bridges at either end of the causeway, over the Rua de Ourem Creek towards Panaji, while another spans the Ribandar creek.
Initially built for the use of bullock carts and horse-carriages, today, even after near four centuries, this causeway caters to carrying an immense load of heavy modern traffic; and till a few decades, allowed heavy 12-14 wheeled trailers over it. The most amazing factor of this Ribandar Causeway or Ponte de Conde de Linhares is that it is a contemporary of the Taj Mahal at Agra.
The Ribandar Causeway was completed between 1632 and 1634. While the construction of the Taj Mahal, the pride of India and one of the Wonders of the World, commenced in 1632, soon after the death of Mumtaz Mahal, the favourite of three Queens of the Mughal King Shah Jahan. Both stand as a proud testimony of the artisans of yesteryears. Both these marvellous edifices are located along the banks of famous rivers – the River Mandovi in Goa and River Yamuna in Agra.