Living Bridges

It is cold and I shiver!
But I have to cross the river,
Look there is a road in the air next to the ridge!
I wonder if that is what people call a bridge.
The bridge is made of wood and cement,
It seems to me so still and content.


Image Credit: Flickr User tanaka_juuyoh, via CC

Humans have always been able to find a way to get across from one place to another. Bridges were invented a long time ago when people wanted to cross the rivers or valleys or cliffs. Some bridges are also built over a railroad track or a highway. Bridges require a lot of cement, iron bars and construction material. They can be of many types- Arch bridges, suspension bridges or the floating bridges. 

living bridges

Image Credit: Flickr User fixingshadows, via CC

Did you know that there are some bridges that are grown? Yes, in North East India bridges are not built but grown. What? Bridges that are alive and are grown? Unbelievable isn’t it? The rain forests of Cherrapunji are the wettest on Earth and so moisture can damage any bridge that is man made. Due to lots of rain, there are fast growing rivers and streams and bridges are a necessity for the locals.

Roots grow on both sides

Image Credit: Flickr User fixingshadows, via CC

The locals grow bridges out of roots and vines from the native Ficus Elastica (rubber tree) across rivers. Then they guide the roots from one bank to another and once the roots reach the other side they are allowed to take root on the other side. It takes almost 10 to 15 years for a bridge to develop into a strong and permanent bridge.

50 people can walk on the bridge

Image Credit: Flickr User fixingshadows, via CC

Such bridges can grow to over a hundred feet long. They can support the weight of fifty or more people. The people in Cherrapunji have been doing it for almost 500 years now. These bridges are better than traditional wooden bridges as they are alive and stay strong, since they do not rot.

Wouldn’t it be thrilling to touch and feel and then cross a living bridge in person?

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