“Bridges” – we all know about them right? They are used mostly to cross strong rivers, deep gorges, between two cliffs etc. How many types of bridges do we know? Pontoon bridge, cantilever bridge, suspension bridge – and many more. But ever heard of a bridge made of living roots?
Yes, this unique wonder exists in Meghalaya, a north-eastern state of India and a plateau geographically, placed just on the “shoulder” of Bangladesh. This is the place receiving the most amount of annual rainfall in the world (the village in Mawsynram). Being situated at the windward side of Eastern Himalayas, this place is gifted with lush green vegetation of tropical evergreen rainforest. Numerous streams run through the rough terrain, creating a lot of waterfalls on their way. These waterfalls and the streams are normally gentle but becomes pretty rough during the monsoon rains – creating troubles to cross them, for the indigenous tribal people of this area – the Khasi tribe.
In order to overcome this barrier, the elders developed a unique way around 200 years back. Rubber tree roots are collected and made to grow at one side of the river, through the Areca Nut trees, commonly found in this region. These roots are supported firmly with the help of sticks, stones etc. so that they get a strong hold of the ground. Then these roots are gently nurtured and guided to the other side of the river. The whole process of building a web of roots from one side of the river to the other takes 15 to 20 years to get completed.
The most interesting fact about these bridges are they grow stronger with time – in contrast to the conventional bamboo bridges which worn out fast. These bridges are capable of handling around 500 people and last nearly 500 years. Age of most of the strongest bridges present here are 100 years or more. The most spectacular and famous one is the Umshiang double-decker bridge – on the river Umshiang. This bridge is about 180 years old.
Today’s prompt “survival” goes so well with this unique strategy of devising natural solutions to survival issues – that’s why I selected this topic for today.
For more information and Image source – Click Here