Living Root Bridges

Posted 20th February 2008

Yesterday morning we got up early and set out for the living root bridges. After a gentle downhill walk for about an hour we hit the steps. The steps are very steep and there are about 2,500 in the main stretch of them. At the bottom ours legs felt like jelly. After a few more twists and turns we came across our first root bridge. The tree’s roots have been teased and trained to cross the river and attach to the opposite side by the “War Khasis”. The gaps are then filled in with stones and pieces of wood. It is estimated to take about 15 years for it to be of use, but they can last up to 600 years. These bridges are about 120 to 150 years old and are growing in strength by the day. It was an incredible feat of patience and ingenuity. We passed a couple more before seeing the supreme achievement, a double-decker root bridge, with 2 bridges on top of each other, both made from the roots of the same tree. Tolkien couldn’t have imagined anything better! The steps were quite a different proposition on the way back up, and with each turn we prayed for an end in sight that never seemed to come. It was a tough day’s walking but easily worth it. The Khasi people we met en route were amongst the friendliest, inquisitive and helpful of any we have met.

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