The green hills of Meghalaya state can be a treacherous trek to embark on. The area is clogged with jungle undergrowth and greased down with mud. During the monsoon rains, foot trails are filled with waterfalls and impassable rivers. Trying to navigate through these natural obstacles – in a climate where rainwater rises to 40 feet every year – requires great shape, years of experience, problem-solving skills, and mostly just a lot of guts.
Keep reading to discover the natural phenomenon found in Cherrapunji, India.
The Living Tree Bridge
People who trek these paths can witness one of the most beautiful phenomena nature can create. The living tree-root bridges of the Cherrapunji region is the locally abundant rubber tree. It produces strong rope-like aerial roots that, when lashed onto a hollowed trunk or tied to bamboo stalks, can be trained patiently over decades to grow horizontally across steep ravines and riverbanks. The roots form the rods that are supporting the footbridges and can hold up to 50 people at a time.
Stronger Than Metal Or Concrete
Contrary to the living tree root bridges, modern wood or steel bridges rot quickly. By contrast, the tree root bridge can endure up to 500 or 600 years and grow stronger over time. This structure is a rare collaboration between the human imagination and the growing muscles of nature. The bridge can carry the human body’s weight in a flexible way that concrete and metal never could. Through the living tissue of this tree bridge you can feel the immense power of joined trees.
A Little History
Some of the bridges of Cherrapunji grew when the kingdom of Ahom, invaders of what is today Mayanmar, ruled over the Meghalaya hills. They used the trees to build a bridge for walkers who were carried through, while a corrupt British colonial trader named Harry Inglis terrorized the people of the frontier region. If you’re an avid trekker, this is one adventure you will not want to miss.