Stunning ‘Living Root Bridges’ of India are Grown, not Built and Last for Centuries
In India’s North-Eastern State – Meghalaya, you’ll find amazing examples of ‘bio-engineering. Local people or native tribe ‘Khasi’ has learned to grow bridges out of living roots of rubber trees.
Cherrapunji, the wettest place on earth that witness about 75 feet annual rainfall, needed a durable solution. Bamboo bridges were no good as there were enormous water streams furiously flowing in various parts of the lush green tropical forests, making it a challenge for locals to cross them.
The Khasi tribe had invented this incredible solutions centuries ago. The rubber tree, ficus elastica, has secondary roots that crawl over the surface and boulders. The villagers learned to guide the roots to grow them in the desired direction using the betel nut trunks. The trunks are sliced down the middle and hollowed out to shape root-guidance tool.
These betel nut trunks prevent tender roots from fanning out and instead make them grows straight towards the other side of the rivers or water-streams. The roots reach the other side and get hold of the soil again. In this way, living roots are woven to form a living system of bridges. While the roots are growing, rocks are placed along the bridge’s sides to improve the footpaths.
It takes 10-20 years before the bridge is ready to take the load of as many as 50 people and withstand the force of swollen rivers for centuries. As time passes, the roots grow stronger. These bridges can last for centuries. Apparently, some of the existing bridges in Cherrapunji are over 500-years-old.
Not even a single nail or any artificial tool is used to grow these living bridges that can be as long as 100 feet. That’s not it. The forest has even double-decker bridges too. These bridges are known as ‘Umashiang Double-Decker Root Bridges’.
The bridges are believed to be one of its kinds in the world, and that is what makes them a luring attraction for travelers and hikers around the world. Most of these bridges can be reached after a couple of hours of hiking and walking into the dense forests of Cherrpujni.
Image Credits: Imgur/DailyMail/Rootbridges.Blogspot