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9 Facts About Living Root Bridges in Meghalaya

By: Akshatha Vinayak

Have you heard of the natural bridges which are scattered across Meghalaya? They're nothing less than a wonder for us. These astounding facts about living root bridges will make you love Meghalaya more.

You call them natural wonders or bio-engineering, these aqueducts are the natural heritage of our country. The ingenuity of the tribal people is worth praising. People had to find a permanent solution to cross over the welled up rivers and streams. That's when they thought about the living root bridges.

You'll be very surprised to know about these natural bridges!

Natural and Man-Made

Natural and Man-Made

The living root bridges were not built like concrete bridges but they were grown. Yes! It is a kind of tree shaping (bio-engineering). The rubber trees or the banyan trees were grown on the banks of the rivers. The aerial roots of these rubber trees were merged with the betel nut tree trunks which formed a horizontal path. As the years passed these roots grew and the natural bridges were formed.

Photo Courtesy: Anselmrogers

The Architects of Living Root Bridges

The Architects of Living Root Bridges

The forefathers of Khasi tribe were the original architects of living root bridges. Khasi tribe are one of the prominent tribes of Meghalaya. They had to come up with a permanent solution because the bamboo and wooden bridges could never withstand the heavy rains.

Photo Courtesy: Anthony Knuppel

Built Over a Long Time

Built Over a Long Time

Living root bridges take around 15-20 years to grow. They become stronger with age and more stronger than any modern concrete bridge.

Photo Courtesy: Anselmrogers

Centuries Old

Centuries Old

The life span of these living root bridges are very long. Some bridges around are said to be 500 years old.

Photo Courtesy: Ashwin Kumar

Many More – Scattered Across

Many More – Scattered Across

In regions of West Jaintia Hills district and East Khasi Hills district many living root bridges can be found. Among them, the root bridges found in Nongriat village and Mawlynnong village are famous.

Photo Courtesy: Anselmrogers

Double Decker Bridges

Double Decker Bridges

Double Decker root bridges are parallel bridges. The Umshiang Double Decker living root bridge in Nongriat village is the most popular one. There are 3 other such bridges which are found near the villages of Padu and Nongbareh. The Umshiang Bridge is said to be almost 2 centuries old (180 years).

Photo Courtesy: Arshiya Urveeja Bose

Mawlynnong: God's Own Garden

Mawlynnong: God's Own Garden

Mawlynnong is around 80km to Shillong and it is known as the 'cleanest village in Asia'. The people of the village put great effort to preserve their village. The green heritage and the pristine surroundings of Mawlynnong has put in a world tourism map.

Photo Courtesy: Travelling Slacker

Long and Strong

Long and Strong

The living root bridges become strong over the time. The heavy rains increase its growth and it can hold up to 50 people at a time. They grow around 50 - 100 feet long and makes a stable path for people to cross the water.

Photo Courtesy: 2il org

Stony Path

Stony Path

Once the bridge skeleton is formed properly, the people put stones on the bridge to make a path, so that they can easily walk once it becomes totally stronger.

Photo Courtesy: Ashwin Kumar

Jungles, waterfalls and pristine environment is all you see here. Indigenous people have put their best efforts to preserve their land from modernity. Nicknamed as 'the abode of clouds', Meghalaya gets the highest rainfall in India.

The waterfalls and jungles form the prominent part of Meghalaya tourism. Now Mawsynram is called as the wettest place in India. Meghalaya also surfaces in world tourism because of Mawlynnong. It is voted as the 'cleanest village in Asia' and it is also a place which has a living root bridge.

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