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The Living Bridges

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Speaking Tree
13th January, 2021 08:57 IST

I was awestruck when I encountered ‘Umkar’— the living root bridge — while exploring the woods of Cherrapunji in Meghalaya. The breathing roots of trees met, merged and melted into a spectacular living bridge.

The primitive relationship between trees and people echoes in these living root bridges, such as the legendary ‘Double Decker’ of Nongriat village. Villagers of West Jaintia and East Khasi Hills in Meghalaya create these marvels from the living aerial roots of Ficus Elastica — Indian rubber tree.


The merging bridges signify the possibilities emerging from enduring bonds among humans, and between humans and nature. These bridges implore us to build, not to burn or break. Trees and roots teach us the ancient law of existence, infinity and eternity — to rise but to retain and remain rooted.

Mother nature provides shelter, solace and sustenance. She gives us sense, sensitivity, and sanity, and sanitises our souls. We return to roots and answer our calling when we come home to her. She invites us to feast on her, on life — to drink from its abundance. Forever fecund, life pours from her pores; but we kill this very life. We pilfer, pillage and plunder.

Humanity, the most conscious member of this singularity, must keep the harmony intact for its survival. Call it an epiphany, or awakening of ecological conscience — we share the pulse of existence, and in this sharing lie human hope and destiny.

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