Deep in the dense tropical forest in northeast India, some astonishing natural wonders have formed, known as- living root bridges, roots of ancient rubber trees, double-decker root bridge in Meghalaya, bamboo house in Mawlynnong village etc.
The root bridges provide a stable alternative to wooden bridges, which decay and get destroyed during the rainy seasons.
Mature bridges stretch 15 to 250 feet over deep rivers and gorges, and can bear impressive loads, upwards of 35 people at a time.
The mountainous plateau between Assam and Bangladesh is one of the wettest places on Earth, and the Khasi tribes who inhabit these hills have developed an intimate relationship with the forest.
Double-decker root bridges
The most popular tourist attraction is the double decker living root bridges. There are two bridges that are stacked one on the other, made because of the entanglement of roots.
Umshiang Double Decker Root Bridge: The most popular “Umshiang bridge” is located near Umshiang river at Nongriat village, which is 17 meters long and it is well-known due to its easy accessibility and resilience. This is the famous and oldest living root bridges in Meghalaya. It is about 2,400 feet long.
Mawsaw Root Bridge: It is located at Mawsaw village with a distance of thirty minutes from the Umshiang root bridge, the major attraction of this bridge is its natural swimming pool.
Living Root Bridges
Meghalaya's most famous single root living bridges are located in Cherrapunji, the place is also known as Sohra. There are around eleven functional root bridges in the area which is about two and a half hours drive from Shillong.
Ummunoi Root Bridge: This single root bridge is one of the area’s oldest known living root bridges. It is approximately 427 metres (1,400 feet) above the Ummunoi River and 17 metres (54 feet) long, this bridge is a 3 kilometres (1.8 miles) one-way trek from Laitkynsew Village. It is one of the most popular tourist spots due to its combination of accessibility and impressiveness.
Umkar Root Bridge: This root bridge was partly washed away by flash floods. The villagers in the process of growing it again. There's a waterfall alongside the bridge during the monsoon season. The starting point is from Siej village.
Ritymmen Root Bridge: This 30 meter (100 foot) root bridge is known as the longest living root bridge. The Starting point is from Tyrna village.
Mawlynnong Root Bridge: This bridge is located a few kilometers before Mawlynnong village. This village is renowned as Asia’s cleanest village; the bridge is considered readily accessible. The starting point of the bridge is Riwai Village.
These bridges have been documented as far back as 1844, in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.
Travel tip: Meghalaya is a remote area, but accessible to tourists. It is needed to find accommodation, tour operators to visit the natural wonders.