People say that trying to take a train is the best way to explore the local life of Myanmar. But, taking a train crossing the breathtaking Gokteik Viaduct is more alive and gives the great experience.
History of the viaduct
This viaduct is situated 7 miles beyond the Naung Cho station on the Mandalay- Lashio railway. It took only one year- built in 1899 and finished in 1900 but started to run even in 1903. This was not built passing over the rivers like others but built, passing over the deep valley which is over 300 feet and then through the tunnel. This viaduct is 2260 feet long and 1100 feet high. 4311 tons of steel and one million thumbtacks was used to build the bridge on 16 steel pillars. It was really hard to build it.
This bridge is the second highest one over the world which was built by the British government in British occupation. In 1897, when the railroad from Mandalay to Bahmo was built, they figured out that they also need to build one from Mandalay to Guanglon. So, the Local government arranged to build the Gokteik Viaduct for the railroad to Guanglon. American Pennsylvania-Maryland Bridge Construction Company was hired to build the viaduct and cost 1698200 kyats since that time. The bridge was very useful and important for the transportation of Nammatuu mining and supported the economy of Myanmar too much. Because of this importance, it was destroyed by the allies during the Second World War according to their scorched earth policy. But only Pillar 2 and 5 get destroyed this time. And again, Pillar 9,10,11 and 12 were bombed from the base by the Japanese army when they retreat from Myanmar. Pillar 9 gets a little damage, Pillar 10 and 12 collapsed and the base of pillar 11 gets completely destroyed but still remains stand. Four steel bars which are 120 feet long each on those pillars fell to the earth.
Although the Myanmar government arranged to hire foreign companies to repair the bridge after gaining independence from the British Emperor, the tender price submitted by these companies is too expensive. So, only Myanmar government had to lead for the repair of the bridge. The repair was started in May 1948 but was able to finish even in August 1951 because of supplies scarcity and poor transportation. Expense was 32 lakhs in those days. The high technical construction and beautiful natural surrounding environment make the viaduct famous and include in the World’s Wonders. Moreover, until now, the viaduct remains as Myanmar’s highest one and World’s largest railway viaduct.
How to go there
The train is filled with both tourists and local people who are going up and down from Mandalay to Lashio. There are too many people who take the train from Pyin Oo Lwin to Naung Pein because almost all of them are expecting just to visit the viaduct. The train crosses the bridge only once a day. You can catch the train from Mandalay or Pyin Oo Lwin if you want to get the experience of taking the train crossing the bridge and passing through the tunnel. From Mandalay, it leaves Mandalay at 4:00 am and Pyin Oo Lwin at 8:00 am. A beautiful small train also operates just along the bridge for 20 minutes, departing between 9 and 10 am and it also makes photo stops near the tunnel. You can also take this small train as a charter train specifically aimed at tourists who want to pass over the famous Goteik Bridge in Northern Shan state. Cross the bridge over the valley, go through the tunnel and get the heart-stopping and wonderful experiences. Feel the cool fresh breeze and see spectacular view. You will see the surrounding scenery is very beautiful, especially the green sugarcane field. When you look down from the train, a creek is flowing under the bridge.
If you like to get a lifetime experience crossing this World famous Gokteik Viaduct, come and join us. We are offering many excellent packages, especially “Taking the train to Hsipaw crossing the Goikteik viaduct and trekking in Hsipaw.”