Root Bridges, India
In Cherrapunji near the India-Bangladeshi borders, bridges aren’t made from bricks or steel. They’re made from nature – tree roots to be exact. The Root Bridges of Cherrapunji are centuries old and grow in one of the wettest places on earth. They’re formed from a species of rubber tree called Ficus elastica that grows on the slopes of the hills.
What sets these trees apart is its incredibly strong secondary roots that grow high up the trunk. When these roots grow up the river banks, they’re strong enough to support the banks and even heavy boulders. Savvy locals soon cottoned onto the fact they can be used to help them cross the riverbanks.
The roots are manipulated by pulling, tying and twisting until they form bridges. Sometimes, bamboo structures are used to encourage the root growth over them, forming strong, natural bridges that are a thing of beauty. This understandably takes years, and the bridges are only as strong as the tree is healthy – there’s certainly no way an engineer could help fix one of these bridges!
Not many of these amazing structures are easily accessible, especially to tourists. So if you do decide to visit them, don’t go without a local guide who knows where they’re going and where to cross safely.