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   xoxoxoBruce  Monday Aug 31 12:11 AM

Aug 31, 2009: Bridges of Cherrapungee County

Well, Cherrapungee District I guess, deep in the heart of northeast India.

The southern Khasi and Jaintia hills are humid and warm, crisscrossed by swift-flowing rivers and mountain streams. On the slopes of these hills, a species of Indian rubber tree with an incredibly strong root system thrives and flourishes. The Ficus elastica produces a series of secondary roots from higher up its trunk and can comfortably perch atop huge boulders along the riverbanks, or even in the middle of the rivers themselves.

The War-Khasis, a tribe in Meghalaya, long ago noticed this tree and saw in its powerful roots an opportunity to easily cross the area's many rivers. Now, whenever and wherever the need arises, they simply grow their bridges. In order to make a rubber tree's roots grow in the right direction - say, over a river - the Khasis use betel nut trunks, sliced down the middle and hollowed out, to create root-guidance systems. The thin, tender roots of the rubber tree, prevented from fanning out by the betel nut trunks, grow straight out. When they reach the other side of the river, they're allowed to take root in the soil. Given enough time, a sturdy, living bridge is produced.

The root bridges, some of which are over a hundred feet long, take ten to fifteen years to become fully functional, but they're extraordinarily strong - strong enough that some of them can support the weight of fifty or more people at a time. In fact, because they are alive and still growing, the bridges actually gain strength over time - and some of the ancient root bridges used daily by the people of the villages around Cherrapunjee may be well over five hundred years old.

In more recent times, it's much easier to throw up a steel bridge that you don't have to wait 10 or 15 years to use. But the management of Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort sees the bridges as a major tourist attraction, and convinced the locals to not only protect the existing bridges but start new ones.
Money talks.


ZenGum  Monday Aug 31 12:29 AM

Yet another great IotD; thanks!

Those bridges are way cooler than steel bridges, and have many advantages - low resource, low cost, minimal maintenance, long life; more of it, I say!

Griff  Monday Aug 31 06:26 AM

Great find Bruce!

SPUCK  Monday Aug 31 06:49 AM

Um.. Kinda Gigerish

MrsBug  Monday Aug 31 10:47 AM

I'm thinking Hobbits...

Is anyone else seeing something out of LOTR? Awesome!

monster  Monday Aug 31 11:24 AM

I want one!

monster  Monday Aug 31 11:25 AM

(I'm more thinking Monty Python and th Holy Grail when it comes to movies, though )

xoxoxoBruce  Monday Aug 31 12:08 PM

Originally Posted by monster View Post
I want one!
Grow your own.

Sheldonrs  Monday Aug 31 12:14 PM

A root canal often leads to bridge work.

dar512  Monday Aug 31 12:31 PM

Originally Posted by Sheldonrs View Post
A root canal often leads to bridge work.
Shel's back.

Shawnee123  Monday Aug 31 12:31 PM

omg Shel...too funny!

Sheldonrs  Monday Aug 31 01:51 PM

Originally Posted by dar512 View Post
Shel's back.
And I have never been so glad to be back from vacation in my life!!!!

wolf  Monday Aug 31 01:58 PM

Those are some patient people.

ZenGum  Monday Aug 31 08:57 PM

Double points to Shel for that one. How was Jersey? What enormous presents did the family bestow on you this time?

Sheldonrs  Monday Aug 31 10:24 PM

Originally Posted by ZenGum View Post
Double points to Shel for that one. How was Jersey? What enormous presents did the family bestow on you this time?
My best presents on this trip were meeting my new Great Nephew and being reminded why I NEVER WANT TO MOVE CLOSE TO MY FAMILY EVER!!!!

You know it's a bad vacation when the best part is finding out from the pilot on the trip to NJ that we were almost in a mid-air collision due to a tower goof sending up a plane as we were heading down.

monster  Monday Aug 31 10:26 PM

WAIT! I think I see the image of FSM in that second pic! It is a blessed bridge!

wolf  Tuesday Sep 1 02:06 PM

Sheldon in Joisey? Crud. I didn't miss a meet-up, did I?

What part of N.J. ... Rangers, Devils, or Flyers?

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