Tree Root Bridges – Natural Living Structures, India
In the lower reaches of the hills Khasi and Janta in the north-east of India are flocking many rivers and mountain streams. Due to the very warm climate here is very high humidity – this place is one of the most crude in the world. On the slopes of these hills among dense undergrowth common species of Indian rubber tree “Ficus Elastic”.
The peculiarity of these trees is the huge number of secondary roots, they produce directly from its tree trunk supported by these roots can grow so much that sometimes reach the bottom of the riverbed.
The ancient tribe of warriors in Hasi Megalae paid attention to these properties of wood and adapted them for their own purposes – the trees have turned to the living bridges over the many rivers flowing here. The process was quite simple – people were cut from the trunks of hazel rods long and tossed them across the river, letting them young roots of ficus. Roots grow, gradually reaching the opposite shore, and strengthened.
These bridges can withstand up to 50 people at a time, and the rise up to 30 meters. The entire process of creating these bridges take up to 15 years, but after that they continue to get stronger every day. Some of these natural works have been there for more than five hundred years. Live bridges are widely used by villagers to this day, and are a great example of how people and nature can coexist without harming each other.
Dennis P. Wright is a pathfinder of these unique bridges. He was so interested in unusual plants, he could tell for hours about them to everyone, and even organize special tours to India so the Europeans could appreciate the beauty of the “living crossings.”