Monday, May 14, 2012

Living Root Bridges : Cherrapunjee

“Living Root Bridges”weird….How can Bridges live?
 Someone trying to fool me…..

The First One standing upright
That’s exactly what I thought when I came across the fact that there are bridges made out of roots and that roots are actually one  from a full fledged living tree.  The irony is that I belong to the place, grew up there (70kms from shillong) and it took me more than 30years to  experience the beauty of nature with a human touch.
March 2010 was one of my friend wedding which bought be back to shillong. All credit to him which allowed me to experience the awestruck beauty of nature.
The resort
It was afternoon  when three of us, who otherwise should  have been involved in wedding chorus  took a cab to cherrapunjee. CHERRAPUNJEE!!! The wettest place on earth. It took us almost two hours to reach cherrapunjee. However the destination is further and I thank those few minutes that I spent in Guwahati Airport in the small cabin serviced by Meghalaya Tourism officials, who suggested about the only resort around the location.
Well!!  I was wondering about the decision to come here when  our car was negotiating the slopes. In fact, I was cursing myself for the decision of coming down here as it was getting dark and there was no sight of the resort. Another 20kms deep inside cherrapunjee near the international borders to a village spelled as “Laitkynsew” I came across my destination …”The Resort”. One of the most captivating  place within nature where you can speak a lot about silence.
The dark handsome gentlemen welcomed us with tea and the nearby bon fire. The cold was almost  taking my breath away.  
The silence itself was so enamoring that it cannot be explained with “English words”. Believe me you have to come here to experience the feeling.
Well after the dinner, I was told that a trek of almost 15kms is awaiting us in the morning and “Robert” would be our valued guide.
The morning came little too early and we were ready to plunge in the beauty of nature. 
After a trek of 10kms we came across the river upon which the Bridges were woven  by nature for almost 20years to100 years , so that mankind can thrive  in the adversity of the place.
I came across the first of its kind and was mesmerized by the intricate stunner of nature.
The root bridges, some of which are over a hundred feet long, take ten to fifteen years to become fully functional, but they’re extraordinarily strong – strong enough that some of them can support the weight of fifty or more people at a time. Because they are alive and still growing, the bridges actually gain strength over time – and some of the ancient root bridges used daily by the people of the villages around Cherrapunji may be well over five hundred years old.
The roots belong to commonly called “rubber  tree” also known as “Ficus Elastica”.
Grown from the roots of a rubber tree, the Khasis (tribe in Meghalaya) use betel-tree trunks, sliced down the middle and hollowed out, to create "root-guidance systems." When they reach the other side of the river, they're allowed to take root in the soil. Given enough time a sturdy, living bridge is produced. 
Once the roots have been trained across the stream bed, they anchor in the soil of the opposite bank, providing the foundations for a living bridge. Usually, several roots are threaded together for strength, while others provide handrails and supports for longer spans. Flat stones from the stream bed are used to fill gaps in the bridge floor and, in time, these are engulfed by woody growth and become part of the fabric of the bridge itself.
A root bridge takes around 20 years to become fully functional. Once complete, however, it will probably last for several hundred years and, unlike its non-living counterparts, will actually increase in strength with age.
Known in the Khasi language as jingkieng deingjri (‘bridge of the rubber tree’), the bridges may be anywhere from ten to 30 metres in span. Unlike most artificial structures, they are able to withstand the high level of soil erosion brought about by monsoon rains and, being living material rather than dead wood, are resistant to the ravages of termites.


  1. Great shots!!Weare planning to visit Cherra so was just checking out and stopped by to say Hi!


  2. awesome.. Thanks for sharing..