Meghalaya, in the north-east of India is a beautiful state with myriad of lush green forests, magnificent mountains, marvelous waterfalls and other breathtaking natural sights. Fortunately, the ambience of Meghalaya has the touch of nature still alive. The overwhelming environment with original simplicity welcomes the tourists from all over the world.
Well! Herein, I will narrate the story of the Living Root Bridges found on the serene land of Meghalaya. It is noteworthy that Meghalaya is renowned all over the world for its double-decker and single-decker root bridges. The most astounding fact is that these bridges are the huge tangles of the colossal thick living roots of the Rubber Tree, Ficus elastica. These intermingled strands of roots are capable of holding numerous people on the bridge. Yes, you can easily cross the river via these bridges.
Meghalaya is the place receiving the highest amount of rainfall on this planet earth. Mawsynram, the village in Meghalaya is recorded to have received 11,873mm of rainfall thus, establishing the record of the ‘wettest place of the Earth’. Due to the heavy rainfall, it was very difficult for the people of Khasi and Jaintia to cross the rivers. The bamboo bridges built by these tribal people used to rot and break down due to the downpours of rains.
Around 180 years back, the ancestors of the Khasi people devised a one-stop solution to sort out the problem of the people who remained stranded during the rains and were not able to cross the rivers. The roots of the Rubber Trees were escorted in the hollow canes of the Areca Nut Palms from both the sides such that they met in the middle across the stream. The roots were looked after and nurtured for years. Well! This ardent task bore fruits. With passage of time, these bridges became strong enough to hold the weight of humans.
The most spectacular Living Roots Bridge is built over the Umshiang River outside Nongriat, just 10km south to Cherrapunji. This legendary Umshiang Double-Decker Bridge is about 180 years old; still standing upright thus, adding to the pride of Meghalaya. Apart from this, there are many stunning bridges made from the living roots of the rubber tree found in the interior regions of Meghalaya, Nagaland and other north-eastern states.
However, with the advent of modern technology, the art of building these bridges is dying out since past 20-25 years. Now, these bridges are replaced by modern bridges made up of steel and other metals. However, the single-decker and double-decker bridges made from the living roots of Ficus elastica are the major tourist attraction from all over the world.