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Construction : Web Exclusive | December 2012 | Source : Construction Update

Root-based foot-bridges are Meghalaya's new attraction

In Meghalaya's southern part, foot-bridges built on tree roots help villagers cross rivers and streams. The footoverbridges have emerged as the new attraction in this Himalayan state. No wonder, the foot-bridges have been nicknamed by tourists as 'living foot-bridges' which take shape over 12-15 years, and they are the sole effort of the villagers sans any government help.

Mostly found in the southern slope of the state, these foot-bridges, or rather root-bridges, span across rivers as wide as 50 meters and swift streams to allow villagers to negotiate rough waters during monsoon. What seems to be an easy job is actually a fruit of skill and boundless patience.

The roots belong to the 'Ficus elastica' tree which grow higher up its trunk in addition to original underground roots. These roots are then carefully laid across the streams using hollow betelnut trees as a root support system. The thin, tender roots, prevented from straying by the betel nut trunks, grow flat across the rivers.

When they reach the other side of the river, they are allowed to take root in the soil thus providing a solid natural base. Over time, they develop into a solid walking platform.

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