Unique Living Bridge of Cherrapunji, India

Unique Living Bridge of Cherrapunji, India

Have you ever wanted to go to forest or in some kind of magical places? Northeastern India is one such place where the majestic environment will give you a unique experience of its kind. The southern slopes of Jaintia and Khasi hills are humid, warm and streaked due to many swift flowing rivers and mountain streams. At the same place you can also find several species of Indian Rubber tree thrives and flourishes. These trees have gained out many secondary roots from their trunks, which combine each other & hold like bridges over the floating water, making it look like live bridges on the water. Isn’t it exciting and magical?

Cherrapunji lies in the heart of the Indian state of Meghalaya-the abode of clouds. It is the traditional capital of a hima, Khasi tribal chieftainship constituting a petty state, known as Churra. Today, climatic changes have designated Cherrapunji as the topmost ‘wet’ slot on eath, but it still retains its pristine beauty, its unusual facets and the perpetual clouds.

Places of tourist attraction in Cherrapunji

  • Mawkdok / Dympep Valley View
  • Sohra Market
  • Rama Krishna Mission Museum
  • Nohkalikai Waterfalls
  • Riat Mawiew / The Grand Canyon of Cherrapunjee
  • First Presbyterian Church, Tombs of Welsh Missionaries, Anglican Cemetery
  • David Scott Memorial
  • Eco-Park
  • Mawsmai Lighted Cave
  • Nohsngithiang Waterfalls
  • Thangkharang Park / Kynrem Waterfalls
  • Khoh Ramhah / Pillar Rock
  • Daiñthlen Waterfalls
  • Living Root Bridge – Exclusive to Meghalaya
  • Double Decker Root Bridge – Unique in the World
  • Cherrapunjee Meteorological Observatory

Getting there

Cherrapunji is 58 km from Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya. A steep motorable road, almost perpetually covered in mist of clouds as it climbs upwards on the last lap, leads up to Cherrapunji. You will get buses and taxis to head towards Cherrapunji from Shillong.

Best time to visit Cherrapunji

Cherrapunji is perhaps the only place in India, which has just one season: the monsoon. The rainfall varies from light to medium to heavy, but there is no month without rain. Another surprising fact about Cherrapunji is that it rains mostly at night. Day-to-day activity is not really disrupted by the rain.

Unique Living Bridge of Cherrapunji

Living tree root bridges are the specialty to the Cherrapunjee region, the wettest land on earth. The living bridges of Cherrapunji, India are made from the roots of the Indian Rubber Tree ‘Ficus elastica’ tree. It may sound magical or even exaggeration; the root bridges of Cherrapunji are really alive. Unlike any other part of the world these bridges are grown, not built.

These trees flourish in the lower regions of the Khasi and Jaintia hills. This tree produces a series of secondary roots from higher up its trunk and can comfortably rest on atop huge boulders along the riverbanks, or even in the middle of the rivers themselves. They have adapted themselves to the high soil erosion caused by these fast flowing streams and rivers. This region is warm and humid making it favorable for the growth of Ficus Elastica in large numbers on the shores of the rivers that run through the jungle.

The War-Khasis, a tribe in Meghalaya, long ago noticed this tree and observed its powerful roots. They saw an opportunity to easily cross the area’s many rivers.

In order to make a rubber tree’s roots grow in the right direction, the Khasis use betel nut trunks. These trunks were sliced down the middle and hollowed out, to create root-guidance systems.

These root bridges, 53 feet, 56 feet, 70 feet and even over 100 feet long, may take 10 to 15 years to become fully functional. But they’re extraordinarily strong, strong enough that some of them are capable of supporting the weight of 50 or more people at a time.

Tourist attraction

One even has two bridges stacked one over the other and is fondly known as ‘Double Decker Root Bridge’. Now the villager Nongriat, where the said bridge is located at the bottom of the valley, gets thousands of international tourists who flock every year to see the bridge. This bridge is it is the only one of its kind in the entire world.

Media coverage

A Japanese T.V. Crew had made a detailed documentary on these live bridges over a period of two weeks (22nd June to 6th July, 2004) that was aired in Japan on 17th October 2004 by Ashahi TV. BBC London and BBC Wales have made similar documentaries on the Living Root Bridges. BBC London’s documentary was telecasted on BBC2 under the series “How the Earth Made Us” on 26th January 2010, the Republic Day of India.