Mawlynnong and Cherrapunjee: Fascinating Root bridges
Within 2 ½ hours we made our way to Mawlynnong - touted as the cleanest village in Asia, on the border of Bangladesh. Of course you notice –how impeccably clean – the village is. The cement pathways and bamboo bins are common and justify the truth that Mawlynnong indeed is India’s and Asia’s cleanest village. Honestly it didn’t feel like a village at all -more like a park with flowers! They even had a bamboo cottage on top of a tree to offer a ‘view’ of Bangladesh from afar. This was my second experience of a border town with a neighboring country! We were warned not to stray close to the border area as it could be risky
We tasted local fruits here - Meghalaya has abundant flora fauna and the fruits were naturally nectar like - large red grapes, pineapples, sweet oranges, sweet blue berries - all very yummy. Some of the locals we met spoke fluent English - our driver informed us that people in this village were all literate and had a high awareness about environment. Sweet place.
Our next halt in the day was Cherrapunjee, the ever present mist continued to waft across this town making us feel like we were passing through dream like vistas. Dominated by colours green (ravines, forests) and white (the mist, the clouds, the waterfalls) – It is touted as the ‘wettest place on earth’. Soon the mist gave way to a sunny hot day with no cloud cover whatsoever! No rain either. Btw the reason Cherra receives so much rain is because the rain laden clouds travel unhindered for 100’s of kilometers before they crash into the Khasi hills. The topography (funnel like shape) captures the rain and keeps Meghalaya so lush! The sad part is once the rain water is captured- it needs to find the earth eventually –so the waters move into the stupendous looking plains of Bangladesh below - which is why we hear of floods in Bangla-land often.
The day was getting warmer, equipped with good walking shoes we had a 7-8km walk ahead. Steep steps looked daunting and I nearly turned away not sure if I would ever be able to climb back on return. With some nudging and motivation from others and even in parts had to go barefoot on the slippery granite places – I overcame my inhibition and (as much as I hate walking) with much anticipation moved ahead- almost as if something were calling out to me. Full of excitement not knowing what lay ahead, I walked onwards, sweat trickling down the forehead and back, legs quivering with the climb up and down, we heard the water from a nearby river, heart beats accelerated! Sure enough a little distance ahead stood the first of many living root bridges that dotted a hamlet deep inside the forest.
Since their discovery in the Cherrapunjee region, Living Root Bridges seem to have become quite an attraction. What a mechanism to cross a stream flowing beneath. Fichus or rubber trees are planted on both the banks, as their roots grow, they are entwined around bamboos to shape them up like a bridge. It is a very slow process taking hundred years or more but the end result is an amazingly sturdy bridge.
We were abuzz and borderline ecstatic when we saw this mammoth Living Roots Bridge. A 200 year old rubber tree whose roots had been trained to grow across the stream -gushing water underneath the bridge - as I gingerly walked over it, testing its strength!! The roots hold strong in a glorious organic network. What an experience! There are plenty of root tree bridges in this part of the world. We even saw the 'double deck' living root bridge that is unique (the only known double decker in the world - another record for India).
A tip for those who may venture into these parts at some point: Remember, there are people living here in the forests. If they can climb up and down those steps, cross the waters on this living roots bridge so can you...enjoy it, respect it and love it!
Posted by Mee at 00:19