|Thatched cottages in Riwai Village|
Contd from the first part : . It took us a little more than three hours to reach Riwai Viilage which is just two km before Mawlynnong .The outside temperature at 31C was pretty hot for Meghalaya .Sun was sharp .Pranab did a good thing to bring a Sun Cap .We parked our car near first way to the living root bridge (another was just few mt away) .We had heard so much about the living root bridges of Meghalaya and finally we were about to see one . There was this small sign board which pointed at the narrow pathway to the bridge.
To quench the thirst visitors can buy fresh and very juicy Pineapples if they want .The local sellers peel ,cut and beautifully serve it on a stainless steel plate with some red chilli flakes and salt . Pineapple is one of the major fruit crops of Meghalaya.The area smelt of ripen Jackfruits which we saw in abundance here.
Villagers occupied with their daily work hardly noticed the visitors until called . They were polite,friendly and readily agreed to let us photograph them.Broomstick has always been a fence crop here and most of the villagers are engaged in the business of making and selling brooms. A biodiversity paradise that Meghalaya is ,it is home to a large number of medicinal plants .
The beauty of the path and it's surrounding took my breath away .I kept on looking back and around .Walking this path barefoot i felt so alive .After walking for ten to fifteen minutes we heard the sound of river water splashed against rocks.We were about to reach this fantasy land .It was like a place from the movies Harry Potter / Lord Of The Rings.
|living root bridge Riwai : view as you approach|
First glimpse of the bridge almost stopped my heart beats .I was looking at one of the most extraordinary piece of art and engineering work done by human and nature as a team.As an old tradition Khasi's have been growing / creating living root bridges to cross the rivers.Most of these bridges are fully functional and are being used till date.Khasis used/use Rubber Plants (Ficus Elastica) for it as the tree grows many secondary roots.Some of these bridges are over hundreds year old.
|Thanks to Pranab for this picture : stone path on the bridge|
The process is long and takes great deal of care and patience .Rubber trees on the banks of the river are selected. A root guidance system is used by hollowing out a Kwai/Tamul (Bettel Nut) Tree trunk .This hollow helps in containing and guiding the young and soft roots of the rubber tree from spreading out till they reach straightway to the other side of the river.They are further allowed to take roots in the soil .As the time passes by they become strong .Later stones are added to the gaps in between to create a path .The whole process takes ten to fifteen years the bridge to be fully functional.Some of these can bear the weight of up to fifty people at the same time.
|a view from the back|
|stone and root path over the bridge : thanks to Pranab|
|A top view : image courtesy Pranab|
We almost forgot about Mawlynnong. Took lots of pictures .There were not more than six to ten visitors there.But we did notice many villagers passing through .Even the concrete bridges shake a little when the vehicles or people pass over it but not this one .
To Be Contd