THE LIVING ROOT BRIDGES OF THE KHASIS

LOCATION | Meghalaya

TYPOLOGY | Bridging & Damming
SYSTEM | Living Root Bridge
PEOPLE | Khasis

One of the world’s most innovative examples of indigenous infrastructures are the living root bridges and living root ladders of the Khasi tribe of Northern India. Discovered and first documented by a young Scotsman named Henry Yule in 1841, these obscure constructions are created by growing sacred trees across the riverine corridors of the Jaintis Hills region. The Khasis are an indigenous hill tribe from the state of Meghalaya, which translates to ‘abode in the clouds’. Their forested lands overlook the plains of Bangladesh in a monsoonal rain shadow with the highest levels of precipitation found on earth. During the monsoon, travel between villages is cut off by floodwaters that transform the landscape from a thick canopy to isolated forest islands. Over several thousand years, the Khasi have developed the only bridges able to withstand the force of the monsoonal rains.

Illustrations by Despoina Linaraki

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© 2019. Julia Watson Studio

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