|Photo: Prashant Awale|
Rubber Tree (Ficus elastica) is native to North-Eastern India. The tree is characterized by long, strong roots. People of Meghalaya, have traditionally used these trees to come up with an amazing Bio-Engineering feat, the Living Root Bridges. They use roots of living Rubber Tree to construct bridges across small rivers and streams.
The way a bridge is constructed is as follows. First a betel nut tree trunk, halved lengthwise, are hollowed out and the roots of a Rubber Tree growing on the bank, are passed throught it. The roots start growing in a directed fashion. This process is repeated till the roots reach across the river/stream. On the other bank, the roots are made to naturally enter the ground. Several of such roots, thus form a very strong support between the two ends.
In luckier situations, the bridge is made from two trees growing on opposite banks. The pictures here show a Double Decker Bridge on a river at Village Nongriat, Sohra near Cherrapunjee, Meghalaya.