Tuesday, April 24, 2018

U is for Umshiang Double-Decker Root Bridge of Meghalaya #AtoZChallenge

"We build too many walls
and not enough bridges."
Isaac Newton
(Please note that there is some ambiguity about which Newton really said those words: 
Sir Isaac Newton or Joseph Fort Newton)
I was looking for a quote (I'm still feeling quite quotish. I blame Q!) when this one caught my eye.

We're back in Meghalaya today. Back in the home of the clouds and the wise Khasi people who almost 200 years ago devised an ingenious way to cross rivers swollen with monsoon rains by planting Indian rubber trees on the banks of their rivers and training the roots of these trees through hollowed out trunks of the Areca palm to form sturdy, long-lasting natural bridges.

For a succinct and extremely well written account of the history and ecology of this unique phenomenon, click on this BBC travel story , where Neelima Vallangi's professionally taken photos will make you go wow. The extract below is from the same link:

"There are many living root bridges scattered across the dense valleys of Meghalaya’s Khasi Hills region, but the most spectacular and arguably the most famous is the Umshiang double-decker bridge, which is more than 180 years old. It is found just outside Nongriat, a small village that’s reachable only by foot, about 10km south of the town of Cherrapunji. The bridge’s two levels span the Umshiang River, and local villagers are adding a third level, hoping it will further attract tourists. (Neelima Vallangi)"

And for a wander through these dense, humid, lush forests filled with insect noises, bold butterflies, spider webs and fallen leaves, come this way...
 We have to cross a few scary bridges first.




 Almost there
 Here we are
Wave and smile:) 
They're the  best group of girls to go gallivanting with in the greens of Khasi Hills.
The next hour was spent immersed in this cool pool of water. It's a welcome relief after climbing down 3,500 steps in the sticky sub-tropicalal heat.
The first time you step in, you squeal--the water is so cold, unexpectedly so.
You settle in and then you go 'ouch' -- little fish have started feasting on your feet even before you've made yourself comfortable on the mossy rocks.
Lots of hilarity, more squeals and squeaks follow.
I followed a pair of butterflies. 
Perched on top of a rock, sitting very, very still, I clicked lots of photos and a short video which I've shared on my N post.
It was time to start the climb back. 
Yes, 3,500 steps!
So glad I packed my folding fan.




You can always stay in the forest if you like. Arrangements can be made.
But, please, please take your rubbish with you. Or better still don't bring any plastic bottles or bags that you'll feel tempted to chuck anywhere you feel like.
These are people's homes and their villages. 
The Khasi people have looked after their trees and their rivers for generations.
As a visitor, you're morally bound to leave their heaven as you found it.
******
Have you built or crossed any bridges recently?

25 comments:

  1. Hari OM
    I believe this A-Z challenge has enabled bridges to built... after all, here are you reaching over the ether to us, and here are we, crossing over to see! YAM xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true Yamini. This challenge has been a super bridge builder.

      Delete
  2. Wow Arti- this bridge is just fantastic! I had heard of it but reading your post has made it come alive for me. I wonder if I will ever be able to visit it for myself. BTW I wouldnt have climbed down 3500 steps as they need to be climed UP too ;-)

    U is for an unorthodox lovestory #atozchallenge

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Funny you should mention it--there was a young one (in her 20s) who whined all the way while climbing those 3500 steps. It worked in our favour--we hurried on ahead to keep our distance:)

      Delete
  3. Fantastic living bridges of Meghalaya. What a fantastic photo essay. Yes many bridges are being built and crossed thanks to the A to Z, as Yamini pointed out in her comment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank to these bridges, I'm actually looking forward to my next trip to Delhi. So thank you Kalpana:)

      Delete
  4. Lovely photographs again from an amazing place. The bridge looks unique.
    https://iainkellywriting.com/2018/04/24/u-is-for-uppsala-sweden/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is unique and beautiful. I was told, even little children tuck any new roots they see into the main frame so the bridge gets stronger every year.

      Delete
  5. I have seen these root bridges in a travel show some time back. What an amazing and fascinating man-made natural wonder. You have taken some AWESOME shots!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Shilpa. You must put this on your itinerary when you visit the North East.

      Delete
  6. all the bridges doesn't look sturdy to me but I guess I have to be there to really know. that double-decker bridge looks like another world, like some fantasy of sorts.

    have a lovely day.

    my latest a-z is: unbelievable impractical information

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are super sturdy Lissa. Families and groups of 10 or more pose for pictures standing on the root bridges. In fact, they have put down slabs of cement on top of the roots (that's how wide and strong they are) to make it easier for people to walk.

      Delete
  7. How I would love to cross thse bridges! Amazing pictures

    A-Z of My Friend Rosey!

    ReplyDelete
  8. So, you know one of my middle names is Weenie Girl, right?
    *That* spider on *that* bridge?!?
    I...
    I...
    I...

    ... will just admire the pictures, thank you.
    (Is there more ice water, please?)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No fear when Arti's here...at your service Jz. Shall click and share wild and wonderful things for you to enjoy from your armchair. After all, what are friends for?

      Delete
  9. You take so beautiful pictures!
    About bridges, and sticking to my blog theme... isn't mail a kind of bridge?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It sure is. Snail mail is longer lasting that any electronic version Eva. It;s such a joy to read old cards/letters. There are not too many of them now, but the ones from when we used to send letters are treasured.

      Delete
  10. Those bridges are amazing. the root one looks sturdier than the first one, but the sides are so low, I would picture myself being sucked over the side.
    http://findingeliza.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're absolutely right Kristin. The metal ones were sooooo wobbly--I was petrified to cross them--so I kept my eyes on the trees on the opposite end and just went for it.
      The root bridges (even though their sides are low) feel very very secure to walk on. There's this tree house feeling--like the tree will take care of you. It's hard to explain but it felt wonderful to be up there.

      Delete
  11. 3500 steps?????? I'm in awe of this as much as I am by those bridges made approx 200 years ago, by using and training the roots of rubber trees to form long lasting bridges that wouldn't be washed away by monsoons.

    Your photos are beautiful! Thank you for this lovely post Arti!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Your descriptions and photos make me want to be there right now or at least as soon as I wake up tomorrow. Incredible, amazing! Well done once again, Arti!

    Thank you for including the request that people pack out their trash. Wish I could make a little heart emoji here on blogger. <3 You know, that one.

    Emily In Ecuador

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheers Emily.
      I get your heart:) My heart hurt to see empty plastic bottles and bags lying around in this green heaven. The Khasi people are very gentle and soft spoken so they request the tourists not to litter. The rowdy tourists do just the opposite. Don't know how this can problem can be fixed.

      Delete

I would love to hear from you. Please leave your thoughts and comments here.