India’s Living Bridges

In “The Land of Clouds” of India, Meghalaya, is the land of living bridges. People here find Ingenious natural solutions for fighting the forces of Nature. They have come up with a unique construction technique that harnesses nature in its purest form – they grow their own living bridges! Using the roots of the Ficus elastica tree (rubber fig tree), the residents have woven an elaborate system of living bridges, some of which are thought to be over 500 years old. These extraordinary examples of living architecture are also lessons in patience, since they take about 15 years to grow. With age though, the living root bridges grow stronger and can often support the weight of 50 or more people at a time!

Since the area receives around 15 metres of rain every year, a normal wooden bridge would quickly rot.

But because the growing bridges are alive and still growing, they actually gain strength over time.

For more than 500 years locals have guided roots and vines from the native Ficus Elastica (rubber tree) across rivers, using hollowed out trees to create root guidance systems. When they roots and vines reach the opposite bank they are allowed to take root.

In time, a sturdy living bridge is produced. Some can take ten to fifteen years to become fully functional.

Living Bridges Made of Trees in India

When man and nature work together the results are always spectacular! Kasim Khan – Team EiC