Home People Traditions Have You Heard of India's Living Root Bridges?

Have You Heard of India’s Living Root Bridges?

Did you know for generations India has been using a system of living bridges created by manipulating tree roots?

These living root bridges can be found at Cherrapunji, Laitkynsew, and Nongriat, in the present-day Meghalaya state of northeast India.

Meghalaya is one of the wettest places on Earth. The flow of the rivers holds such force that in monsoon season, crossing them can be a life -threatening task.

The culture decided to work with nature, instead of against it.

And with that, they shape trees either side of the river to create suspension bridges, handmade from aerial roots of living banyan fig trees.

The process takes up to 15 years to complete, and I am sure the locals must gain valuable lessons in patience. The bridges last for 500 to 600 years, and some span over 100 feet.

They are naturally self-renewing and self-strengthening as the component roots grow thicker. The bridges can hold up to 50 people at a time and unlike a steel bridge, that grows weaker with time, these natural bridges grow stronger with time.

The Khasi people are the indigenous people of the area and can’t say how far back this tradition stems, but the first written recording was in 1844. The tradition is still strong and continues to be passed down to the next generation.

How’s that for sustainable living architecture at its finest?

Double decker suspension bridges made from Banyan fig tree roots. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Manipulated roots shaped to hold the structure. (Screenshot/YouTube)

An example of how sturdy a bridge is to walk. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Birdseye view of bridge. (Screenshot/Youtube)
Bird’s-eye view of a bridge. (Screenshot/YouTube)

A bridge can hold up to 50 people. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Double decker suspension bridges. (Flickr/Rajkumar1220)
Sustainable living architecture. (Image: Flickr/Rajkumar1220)

Jessica Kneipphttp://www.jessicakneipp.net
Jessica grew up in the tropics of North Australia. She writes about films, and occasionally gets to write and direct them. She has a love of silent films, they are the closest she will ever get to "time travel." However, on some real travels she spotted a polar bear while visiting the Arctic, and has enjoyed the view of the Mongolian plains on a train from Russia to China. Her favorite fruit is pomegranate and her most memorable gift is a Super 8 camera from her husband, which she is keen to shoot some footage of Antarctic icebergs on one day.  

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