Saturday, 29 November 2014

The living root bridges of Cherrapunji, India. strange places 02:

Root bridges,Cherrapunji,India.
Seven sisters falls,Cherrapunji,India.
Cherrapunj, (The original name for this town was Sohra, which was pronounced "Churra" by the British) in Meghalaya, NE India, is one of a few places in the world known for the highest rainfall in a year in the world. During the monsoon season - both the southwest and northeast monsoonal winds, giving it a single monsoon season. This region is the wettest place in India, and for this reason it is one of the most fertile places in the country.

An unusual example of this is the occurrences of strong and sturdy roots in the forest areas. A particular species of Indian rubber tree known as ''Ficus elastica'' grows roots that are so strong that they can, at a time, support the weight of dozens of people. They are being used by the villagers  to build bridges, using entirelt roots and some old bridges can at a time easily support 40 to 50 people. They are almost 18 inches broad and 6 inches thick and rigid. These strange natural roots form strong natural bridges that can be used and served as regular bridges upon which people can walk without fear of sudden snapping in the middle of the bridge. They are really strong and will not give-in that easily. Further, it is a tough job to cut them loose.

Khasi tribal children, Cherrapunji,India (1944 photo).
How are the root bridges built?

Engineers build all kinds of bridges world over using latest technology but the tribes living here - Khasis of Meghalaya, grow natural root bridges with skill and dexterity and the knowledge of local trees and plants,They use tree trunks for areal mobility.

Some of these bridges are more than a hundred feet long. The Umshiang Ficus Elastica or the Rubber tree produces strong secondary roots from their trunks. These have been set-up to grow in a particular direction using betel-nut trunks, forming sturdy, living bridges over decades. Some of these bridges are more than a hundred feet long. 'The Umshiang Double Decker Bridge' is truly one of a kind in the entire world. It takes 10 to 15 years for the root bridges to fully grow and join roots on the opposite side of the river. They continue to grow and gain strength as years go by. Later they become fully functional. These root bridges are more than 100 years old and there are many ancient root bridges that are over 500 years old.

No cement, no concrete, no steel and no-substandard-contractors and no hard work like sweat hogs lots of energy savings. Here the people live in the of comforts of mother Nature.

                                      Root bridges, Cherrapunji, India. Tit-bits:

''Cherrapunji" means 'land of oranges.'

Cherrapunji still holds the world record for the most rainfall in a calendar month and in a year. It received 9,300 mm (366 in) in July 1861 and 26,461 mm (1,041.75 in) between 1 August 1860 and 31 July 1861.

The local tribes Khasis follow a matrilineal culture- the husband after marriage settles down with the bride's family.