The root bridges of Meghalaya
Deep in the sub tropical forests of the Khasi Hills the tribes people have been "Growing" bridges for hundreds of years.
Meghalya "The abode of clouds" or as it is also known "The wettest place on earth" A small state in the north east of India, boardering Bangladesh. Its high plateaus and waterfalls, descending into sub tropical forests, inundating Bangladesh's vast flat plains.
In 1861 Cherrapunji recorded nearly 23 metres in one years. Nowadays the village nearby, Mawsynram holds the record for " The wettest place on earth" with an annual average rainfall of 12 metres a year.
For hundreds of years the Khasi tribes have been living and working in harmony with nature, creating bridges to connect their tribes with the materials nature provides.
The Ariel roots of the rubber tree, with guidance, create living, growing bridges.
Using the straight hollowed out trunks of the betel nut tree, to trail and guide the roots to the other side, vines to hold in place, crafting, weaving and knotting, placing stones to strengthen and distribute the weight. this process can take up to 20 years or more of dedication, ensuring the future generations safe passage across the raging torrents of the monsoon rivers.
Every year getting bigger and stronger.........Eco construction at its best.
Now with increasing interest from the outside world focusing on these unique bridges, tourism is starting to have an impact. Many of the bridges are incorporating the use of cables, barbed wire and bamboo.
With the heavier stream of human traffic wearing hiking boots, taking a toll on these living structures, there is a need to protect them. with access roads being cut into pristine forests to allow coach loads of tourists to get closer to these remote bridges, the bio diversity will also be effected.
The Khasi peoples economic situation will improve but at what cost?
I spent a month in this area, hitch hiking and then trekking through the rain to these remote and enchanting bridges.