Deep within the wet tropical forests of Meghalaya’s Khasi Hills, gnarled, moss-covered roots of the Indian rubber tree (Ficus elastica) stretch across waterways, forming unique “living” bridges. The consistently high rainfall swells rivers and streams, which leads to the decay of wooden bridges, stranding locals. Over generations, the indigenous Khasi people have created alternatives by directing entwined rubber-tree roots such that they grow into sturdy bridges. Some of these tangled, strong webs are nearly 200 years old and up to 30m long. Many are found around Cherrapunjee and Mawlynnong; the most spectacular is the Umshiang Double Decker Bridge at the Nongkriat village, where two bridges run one above the other across the Umshiang River. To get to the double-decker bridge it’s a knee-grinding day-trek from Cherrapunjee, through the forest, past natural swimming holes, down and back up more than three thousand stairs, and past other, smaller root bridges.

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