It must be very difficult these days to create new buildings and structures, bearing in mind the ecological pressures brought to bear upon architects. But the local people of northeastern India discovered many years ago that you don’t necessarily need building materials and the living root bridges are the proof.
If a bridge is needed, it’s simply grown.
The ficus elastica tree sends out aerial roots from its trunk; roots that add to the stability of the tree (rather like banyans) and by shaping and training these roots across rivers and ravines, in time a living root bridge is formed. Sometimes a rough scaffolding, made of fallen branches or bamboo, is used to help train the bridge.
Depending on the length of bridge required, they can take up to ten years to grow to a good strength that will bear large weights. But as they’re developing, they provide a tangled structure which has a beauty of its own.
Once in place these bridges, that have largely created themselves, can last for hundreds of years.
Luckily for the traveller, these bridges can be accessed and they have not, as yet, been spoiled by stands selling souvenirs, hot dogs and Coca Cola.
A small but friendly hotel, the Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort, is near to several examples of living root bridges. You can read about the hotel and the local area at their website.
Where is Meghalaya?
Cherrapungee Holiday Resort
Laitkynsew View Point Rd,
JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.