The word bridge unanimously brings forth an image of a well-built iron roadway in the city. However, how many of us have experienced the beauty of natural bridges. Bridges that have come into being not because of some architectural genius but through nature’s course.
Cherrapunji nestled in the North-East is the second wettest place on earth & is famous for its living natural bridges.
The living bridges are made from the roots of Ficus elastica tree, whose secondary roots grow above the ground surface.
The war-kharsis tribe of Meghalaya & the villagers have used these bridges for a long time now.
On an average, these natural bridges take 10-15 years to grow & turn into a bridge.
Unlike the conventional bridges, natural bridges get stronger as time passes.
Unbelievable, but some of these trees are 500 years old & can accommodate 50 people at once.
Another natural phenomenon is the formation of a unique bridge, Umshiang Double-Decker Root Bridge which actually is a combination of two bridges, one stacked on top of the other.
What is amazing is, there’s little science involved in growing it.
In order to make a rubber tree’s roots grow in the right direction – say, over a river – the Khasis use betel nut trunks, sliced down the middle and hollowed out, to create root-guidance systems.
How does this root guidance system work? The thin, tender roots of the rubber tree, prevented from fanning out by the betel nut trunks, grow straight out. When they reach the other side of the river, they automatically start spreading their roots in the soil. And in some time, you see a full-fledges bridge.