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My Photo scholarship 2011 entry

India | Tuesday, 8 November 2011 | 5 photos

Living Root Bridges, excellent examples of bio-engineering innovation are exclusive to Meghalaya, a remote Indian state. As the name suggest, these functional bridges across streams and rivers are live and consist of tree roots only.

The lower reaches of the southern slopes of Khasi and Jaintia hills in this region receive an enormous amount of rainfall – on an average 12000 mm annually. The region is humid, warm and is streaked by many swift flowing rivers and mountain streams. This makes moving across the canyons an uphill task for the hill dwellers. Steel or concrete bridges in such remote areas are impossible to think of even today. Also, termites and white ants would eat a wooden bridge away in no time. Centuries ago the local Khasi tribe came up with an innovative solution to their needs. The roots of Indian Rubber, Ficus Elastica are guided across the streams through hollow areca nut trunks and are then allowed to naturally intertwine with other roots and there comes up a bridge after several years! It can last as long as 200 years, can carry load of as many as 50 people on it and cannot be damaged by insects. Some of these bridges are as much as 100 feet long. Further innovation by the local people has also led to creation of double decker bridges that have two-tier structure. Living Root Bridge is a real wonder with immense utility value and can still be found around Laitkynsew village in Cherrapunjee area of Meghalaya – however, you need to trek through hill tracks to reach one.

I am an amateur photographer and off-beat traveller. I have travelled and trekked the wide expanse of the Himalayas over the years. I live in Chennai, India. I visited Laitkynsew village and Living Root Bridge at Siet in October 2011.

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