India since eternity has been the playing ground of the nature’s way of showcasing its artistic point of view of life, be it the countless rivers flowing through the enormous green forests jumping in joy in the form of waterfalls. A place where nature has been really kind and the view that you thought was restricted to the paintings is observed and lived by the locals, that place is in the north east part of India and its Meghalaya .The giant cliff surrounded by clouds and mountains leads up into a hidden world ,the world where nature and humans go hand in hand and you tend to witness things anyone could even imagine.
Somewhere inside the magical forests of Meghalaya is one of the wettest places on earth and the roads are not built there nor are the bridges but they are grown.
The bridges so grown with a technique exclusive to the Khasi people of Meghalaya are called the Living Bridges. The locals especially Khasis took advantage of the fact that the roots of the rubber trees were flexible and had great strength and hence saw the opportunity to make bridges using these trees.
The Khasis use betel nut trunks, sliced down the middle and hollowed out, to prevent the roots from spreading out and growing in the direction needed. When the roots reach the other side of the river, which may even take decades to happen, the root branches are2 then grown into the soil. The gaps are then filled with stones. The bridges can endure the weight of up to 50 people, and as the bridges are alive -not kicking for sure – and still growing they gain strength over the time. Some of the root bridges are more than a hundred years old. This basically is an extraordinary example of organic engineering.
The village is not just known for its cleanliness and community based eco-tourism drives but also for the picturesque trek to the living root bridge.
The most famous village which boasts of being the cleanest village in Asia is also in Meghalaya called Mawlynnong. Not only the name of this place is different but the attitude of the people living here is also different .The presence of bamboo bins wherever you need them and the greenery surrounding the place is mesmerizing. And the best part is that this village leads to another village called Riwai which is famous for the presence of the oldest living bridges.
To reach Mawlynnong you can start from Shillong , which is approximately 90 km away, in an MTDC bus . The scenery like always leaves you gasping for more varying from Dense forests which gave way to pretty meadows, hills dotted with multiple waterfalls, the clouds following you everywhere you go.
When you reach the Rawai village its easy to hear the soft gushing water from below. When you reach there and witness the living root bridge the thought of being tired after traveling flows away like the water flowing below the living bridge. Pictures cant speak a lot ,its what the mind feels, that cannot be easily described.
Fare to reach Meghalaya from Delhi via Shillong : Rs 5000
Feast at a mid way restaurant : Rs 500
Time : 18 hours
Contributed by Manish Kukreti