Root bridge
Villagers busy removing stones from the root bridge at Nohwet village. Image credit - Northeast Now

The people of Nohwet village in Meghalaya set themselves on a task to save the nearly 200-yr-old living root bridge which has been the symbol of the close relationship that exists between the local people and the surrounding nature.

In the past, people had lined the root bridge with large stones to help ease walking but these same stones are proving to be the bane for the bridge as they slowly put stress on the roots, damaging them in the process.

On June 22, 2019, the entire village under the leadership of the headman, Bose Swell Khongthohrem, came together and removed the stones to allow the bridge to recover.

Also read: Meghalaya’s living root bridges: symbol of Khasi Pnar benevolence

In their place, dead wood from jackfruit trees mixed with a light layer of soil was used which according to the locals is a great source of nutrients for the roots.

On top of this, areca nut trees are laid so that people could walk on the bridge without stepping directly on the roots to prevent further damage.

Nohwet, situated in the southern slopes of East Khasi Hills district, is home to a wide range of indigenous knowledge which has been passed down through multiple generations.

This entire exercise was done as part of the village’s cleaning drive and saw a number of tourists and visitors participating in the activity.

Along with this, the community also planted a number of new Ficus elastic or Dieng Jri as it is locally called, with guidance from Drunkwell Khongkrom, Lahshwa Khongsni, Koneda Khongtiang, Orin Tham and Kumarbha Khongknaw, who are some of the few locals having knowledge about growing root bridges.

The village hopes to see these new plants grow into amazing bridges one day which would be used by their children and grandchildren.

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