We are presently looking at a special kind of bridge which not only has an uncanny feeling to it but boasts of being a living one too. Living? Yes, you absolutely read that correctly. The bridges have been constructed from growing roots of Indian rubber trees. Located in Meghalaya, which is one of the north-eastern states of India, these bridges provide connectivity across various rivers and streams.
The rubber trees actually produce secondary roots that grow at a higher level from the ground. When the local people realized the potential of these living extensions, they thought of using these roots to build bridges. The process involved hollowing up of a betel nut tree trunk and the insertion of the young roots into the hollow. With time the roots grew in a particular direction which on reaching the opposite bank were allowed to grow in the soil resulting in strengthening of the bridge. As years passed by, the bridges grew sturdy on their own.
Although these living root bridges take years [10-15] to grow but when ready can withstand the weight of 50 or more people at a time.”One special root bridge, believed to be the only one of its kind in the world, is actually two bridges stacked one over the other and has come to be known as the Umshiang Double-Decker Root Bridge.” While some of the bridges may be around 500 years old, presently, there are more being grown!