The Living root bridge: off the bucket list

5th Jul 2020
Photo of The Living root bridge: off the bucket list by Ankita Biswas
Day 1

Ever since I was a kid, I always heard stories about the wonders of the world. The stories of mysteries and unusual accounts that have happened. And all my innocent heart wanted was to explore them. I still remember, my teacher telling me about the incredible Living root bridge,a man made natural wonder, she visited during her excursion. The story was embedded in my heart since then.
Almost after 5years I finally got the opportunity to live my embedded story.
Even today I remember the mountainous terrains crystal clear.
My chest was about to explode, plams were sweating profusely, legs were trembling and my heart pumped unusually high. The body was filled with the adrenaline rush. And I was jumping as high as I could. "Hurry up, we'll miss it" I said. "The bridge is here for many uncountable years. It's not gonna go anywhere" said my friend. I could clearly sense the irritation from his looks. But all I could think was to see what I imagined and embedded in my head for years.
It was a few minutes hike from the place we parked our car. As we walked through the narrow lanes of the village Riwai. We were guided by direction symbols painted on the small green boards. The more I approached the site the more sounds of the water gushing down streams got clearer. There were small stalls selling raw fruits and boiled eggs and sticks for the steep stairways. The stairways got more steeper as we got closer. We were stopped in one of the checkposts where we had to buy tickets before entering and I had to pay extra for my camera as always.  We were stopped again in another checkpost where they checked did we got a ticket or not. I hurriedly showed my ticket and passed through the guards. On reaching the site I stood steel. I could no longer hear the chatting of the people, locals hawking their fruits and sticks or the murmuring sound of the water gushing by. All I could hear was silence as if it was only me and the bridge left in the entire universe and the rest were snapped out. My heart experienced the utter most joy. "How can mother nature and men be so creative?" I asked myself.
"Shall we go forward?" My friend interrupted. We walked forward and finally I was walking over the living root bridge. "Living" as the name speaks itself.
As I walked through it my skin touched the cracks of the branches, tangled like a web with one another for uncountable years. And I finally crossed out its name from my bucket list, being reserved for almost 5years. "Guess what? It may take time but it's gonna happen for sure" I told my friend as he stared clueless into my eyes. And that was my journey to the man made natural wonder.

About of the Living root bridge?
The living root bridges are suspended in the mountainous terrains mainly in the West Jaintia Hills district and East Khasi Hills district. This one is from the village called Riwai, few kilometres away from  Mawlynnong.
It is formed of living plant roots by tree shaping. They are common in the southern part of the Northeast Indian state of Meghalaya. They are handmade from the aerial roots of rubber fig trees (Ficus elastica) by the Khasi and Jaintia people of the mountainous terrain along the southern part of the Shillong Plateau. They can have a life designed upto 500 years. The Khasi do not know when or how the tradition of living root bridges started. The earliest written record of Sohra's (Cherrapunji's) living root bridges is by Lieutenant Henry Yule, who expressed astonishment about them in the 1844 Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.
It takes around 15 years for a new root bridge to become strong enough to bear the weight of people crossing it. However, it will continue to grow and strengthen even more over time.

How to get there?
It is a 3hr drive to reach Riwai village, few kilometres away from Mawlynnong. Then it's a 15 minutes one way walk to reach the site.
You can either take personal cab or avail the public transport services.

Pro tips:
1. Carry your own water and food as no such proper food courts are available.
2. Take raincoat and umbrella with you
3. Wear proper shoes as the way gets really steep as you reach the site.
4. Do not liter the place.
5. If carrying a camera, you'll be charged extra Rs.40-50.

Photo of Living Root Bridge, Mawlynnong by Ankita Biswas
Photo of Living Root Bridge, Mawlynnong by Ankita Biswas