December 7, 2011
The state Meghalaya in north-eastern India is home of the Khasi Hills. This area experiences particularly high rainfall at certain times of the year – several villages here fight for the title of being the rainiest place on earth. The humidity is so high, that their bridges can’t be built from dead wood – they would simply rot away after a short time. But the people of East Khasi Hills district came up with a unique solution: Living bridges.
Made from living vines, roots and branches, these bridges grow stronger over the years. The incredible latticework can support up to 50 people at one time. To start the bridges, bamboo is used to bridge a river and a species of fast growing ficus is planted on each bank. The roots and branches are then wound around and along the bamboo, until they meet in the middle and grow stronger and thicker than their support. Gaps in the roots are filled with stones and as a last stage the bridges are improved with hand rails and steps.
The region is still largely untouched by tourists, only few westerners find their way to this remote region. And why would they, with the wet fame of the area? Well, the bridges and even more so, the people and culture of the region are definitely worth a visit. For more pictures and descriptions, read this wonderful article by Timothy Allen.