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Government and Villagers Join Hands To Preserve 200-Year-Old Living Root in Meghalaya

Written by North East Bureau

Nohwet village of Meghalaya is one of the biggest villages in eastern Riwar, in the southern part of Pynursla. Located around 73km away from Shillong city, the main attraction of Nohwet, is the famous Living Root Bridge, a marvelous feat of human ingenuity, nurtured by Nature herself, and is now a shining example of symbiosis between Man and Mother Nature.

Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said the government was committed to protect and promote the living root bridges of the state.

To preserve this heritage is not only the responsibility of the Government as people of Nohwet village 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 southern part of Pynursla. Located around 73km away from Shillong city, the main attraction of Nohwet, is the famous Living Root Bridge, a marvelous feat of human ingenuity

 

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.

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

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 local people who are knowledgeable on growing root bridges.

Meghalaya Government too is giving its dedicated effort to preserve these heritage as it has hired consultants, who in consultation with the stakeholders, are moving ahead so that the living root bridges could be enlisted under UNSESCO’s World Heritage sites.

Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said the government was committed to protect and promote the living root bridges of the state.

Chief Minister Sangma said the Meghalaya Basin Development Authority (MBDA) is taking everyone into confidence while conducting the survey..

According to Sangma, the MBDA is developing scientific process and guidelines to protect the bridges. “We also need experts to guide us to get the UN tag as experts know how to get such tags,” the chief minister said.

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

These living root bridges are considered a marvel of nature and a big attraction among tourists visiting the northeastern state.

Nohwet, which is 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.

 

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North East Bureau

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