Root bridge series more than 500 years old

Sometimes bridges are not built by humans. They planted them for hundreds of years to turn them into a solid path.

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Northeast India is one of the famous wet regions. On the slopes of the hills south of Khasi and Jaintia, the Indian rubber tree thrives. They have strong, vigorous roots. Secondary roots grow from the trunk, easily reaching the top of giant rocks along the riverbank. This plant is known as the red-multi bud (or multi-rubber).

War-Khasis and War-Jaintias are two tribes with an old relationship in the state of Meghalaya (Northeast India). They inherently notice the strong roots of the redbud banyan tree. The idea of turning them into bridges over the river, serving the living needs, was born.

According to the BBC, at first, the War-Khasis built bamboo bridges. However, extreme weather makes bamboo bridges unable to withstand the destructive power of storms. The birth of a tree root bridge changed their lives.

The people of Meghalaya have many ways to build bridges with the roots of banyan trees. Sometimes, they tie it up with their bare hands, twist it together, and wait for the roots to form the desired shape. According to tradition, the War-Khasis people started with planting trees on either side of the bank. They then thread and twist the roots around a temporary wooden bridge that leads to the side. When the roots grew to the other side, people planted it in the ground. Over time, the roots absorb nutrients, become stronger, and form strong bridges.

The time for root bridges to develop can be as long as 30 years. This depends on how people take care of the roots, the weather ... However, once they are strong enough, the tree root bridges can withstand the weight of more than 50 people. According to Atlas Obscura, in addition to their stability, the root bridges are also resilient. Some ancient bridges around Cherrapunji town are more than 500 years old.

Since the way the roots are shaped is different from scratch, these special bridges are quite varied in style. Some root bridges are 51 m long and 25 m high, spanning streams. Most are just a single bridge. However, some bridges have special stacking designs such as Umshiang that make many visitors curious. In the coming time, this bridge will probably "grow" another third floor.

However, the fate of the root bridges is probably about to come to an end. According to The Living Root Bridge Project, people in Meghalaya are tending to use modern materials such as metal to build bridges. The construction will be significantly faster than waiting for the roots of the multi-rubber tree to develop. Still, a number of others are working to maintain this identity.


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