The nearly half a kilometre stretch of stairs suddenly opened up in front of an arched gateway to the living root bridge - a massive and magnificent banyan tree. The slightly triangular, pyramid-shaped trunk was one of the tallest in the surrounding forest. Its roots spread across the breadth of the rapid to meet with the roots of another banyan tree planted on the other bank. It was a fantastic sight, something that had an air of something unreal.
Created about 150 years ago, the bridge is an art in organic engineering. It was created by planting two bamboo trees on each bank of the rapid. A bamboo was initially planked across it to secure the roots from both the trees. With time the roots superseded the original bamboo plank and then over the centuries weaved themselves around it in intricate networks across. So much so that it became strong enough to lay stone pavements on it as well as to implant handrails, which are of course extensions of the roots themselves.
The bridge was created to endure the frequent and often ferocious flash-floods in the area. These floods would blow away any normal bridge but for the root bridges; it’s different as nature finds a way here. Due to its make, there are numerous pores in the bridge. During the flash-floods, the water from the rapid channels through these pores as well as other natural outlets, leaving the main structure intact.
Till date, every single day, the bridge is maintained by the community who lives in the village about half a kilometre above.
On a fairytale morning, in a fantasy world
Somewhere down the rapid, near the bridge, the centuries-old majestic banyan tree reflected off the flowing water of Wahthyllong rapid. Its roots kept hanging over the rapid‘s crystal clear water. Soft, early morning sunlight was streaming on to the water, weaving a fantasy world of light and shadows beneath the bridge.
There was a massive, brownish rock under the water with evenly curved holes in it. Those were the fish nests. Strange green mosses clung themselves around these nests. Green and a vermilion tinged yellow formed a strangely beautiful triangle over the rest of the sun-bathed water…
Somewhere around a reddish dead leaf had nestled itself around a green, moss-laden, beautifully crafted stone-hole.
And amidst all that flowing life, there was a small, almost circular stone-hole near the rapid-bed. Rainwater had filled it to the brim earlier and the miniature natural mirror now reflected the branches of the mighty tree beside in its tiny crater.