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We grow bridges here at Cherrapunji

Updated on May 14, 2013

Place where these bridges grow:

Can anyone imagine about bridges that grow? But Cherrapunji does have such growing bridges.

Cherrapunji is a beautiful wetland place in Meghalaya State. Meghalaya is the Northeastern state of India. Meghalaya means- "Land of Clouds". The economy here depends mainly on agriculture. Languages spoken here are Khasi, Garo, and English. Capital city of this state is Shillong, or Lei Shillong. Climate at this place is cool throughout the year.

Growing Bridges

Beautifully woven bridge:

Ficus Elastica trees and the War Khais:

Cherrapunji is the highest annual rainfall falling region known all over the world. It has recorded highest rainfall of 26,461 mm (1,042 inches) in a year and also 9,300 mm (366 inches) in a month. It is also famous for its living bridges. These bridges are built in a special way. They are not actually built but are grown.

Tribals, even though far away from civilized world, have their own ideas of growing these bridges. When the water streams and rivers here are taken into consideration, huge funds for construction of bridges are required. If the tribals here wait for the Government to help them in this matter their wishes might not get fulfilled as they are in the most remote places. But people here aren't lazy. Instead they use their intellelligence to finish this task.

In this region, a Banyan tree variety known as Ficus Elastica grows. For buliding bridges, the Ficus Elastica helps the people a lot. Roots of this tree grows rapidly and faster. It doesn't spare even huge rocks or a flowing rivers. Countless roots grow from these trees.They grow above the ground level and are very strong. These trees also have long hanging roots like in a Banyan tree. So these natural growing roots are smartly used by Cherrapunji's bridge buliders or engineers. These tribals are called "War Khasis". These people grow Ficus Elastica wherever there is a need for bridge.

Cherrapunji's bridges:

Two phases of construction or growing a bridge:

During the first phase, the trees Ficus Elastica are grown in nearby places wherever a bridge is needed. Or places where this tree variety grows, a plan is made to spread the roots so as to create a bridge.

In the second phase, Arecanut or Betel nut trees are cut and used for the construction work of natural growing bridge. Keeping in mind the width of the river or stream below, the length of bridge is decided. The lengthy trees are cut and slit into two. Then the fibre portion within them are removed and again they are joined together to form a pipe shape. These strong pipe like structures help them hold the growing roots. If the stream or river width is too much, then two arecanut trees are tied one after the other to cover the full length. A tender root of the tree is let inside this pipe and the root starts growing all along the length of the pipe. When it reaches the other end it comes out and holds firmly there to the ground.

In the same way, 2-3 roots are let grow from one end to the other. Within 1-2 years these holow areca trees get destroyed but the job of showing the path for growing roots is accomplished. Later, when the branches start growing they are nicely weaved to get the shape of bridge to walk on.

In about 8-10 years people get a strongly built bridge. As they grow daily, the bridge gets strengthened further. After 15 years these bridges will be capable of holding 50 or more people at one time when they walk over it.

Double decker bridges?!!

Cherrapunji has got bridges as old as 500 years. These War Khasis have experimented with them also. Double decker bridges ( bridges standing on over the other ) are visible only in this part of the world. They named the Double decker bridge as, " Umshiyang double decker live bridge".

Cherrapunji's bridges stand amongst one of those rare construction works which we donot see anywhere else.


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      Issam 3 years ago

      Thanks, everyone! Abraham, no it isn't pink just the lingtihg. I used a mild HDR effect to bring out the colors.Oregon once had 600 covered bridges, and now only 51 remain. Very sad, but efforts are being made now to preserve the existing bridges. That's why Jordan Bridge is in a park now. It would have been torn down otherwise.

    • vivekananda profile image

      vivekananda 7 years ago from India

      Hi suny...thanks for the comment and sharing the experience you had when you visited Shillong. Those North eastern states are really wonderful in many ways.

    • suny51 profile image

      suny51 7 years ago

      I have visited this place 2 times when in Shillong and liked the places very much with lot of places to see specially in Shillong,though the places are a bit mysterious.I saw the BOW & ARROW game on a hillock in Shillong way back, as a tribal Competition with money on stake.Thanks Vivekanada.

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      sunny 7 years ago

      awesome......i wil surely visit dis place

    • vivekananda profile image

      vivekananda 8 years ago from India

      Rose west...thank you for those encouraging comments

    • Rose West profile image

      Rose West 8 years ago from Michigan

      Wow, that is so interesting! Thanks for the great hub!

    • vivekananda profile image

      vivekananda 8 years ago from India

      prasetio30..Thank you for that encouraging comment.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      nice information. you have nice topic here.I like the bridge picture. excellent

    • vivekananda profile image

      vivekananda 8 years ago from India

      agusfanani...thank you for those kind comments.

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 8 years ago from Indonesia

      This is another wonder in nature. Great hubs for its unique fenomena.