03 December 2011

Northeast India Trip - Sacred Forest & Living Root Bridge

Khasi Monoliths near the Sacred Forest
We took a few side trips from our guest house in the city of Shillong, traveling on crazy mountain roads that reminded me at different parts of the journey of Ireland, the Peruvian Andes, lush Costa Rica and the Canadian Rockies.

My brother James and his wife have a peaceful piece of property in a beautiful valley. He built a comfortable cabin and has wood cut and drying ready to build a few more that will eventually make a peaceful retreat for travelers looking for a base to explore the area. We had lunch, snooped around his solar panels and the wind turbine already in place, crossed the river and hiked up to the Sacred Forest.

Maplepine Cabins, Mawphlang
School kids on a picnic eager to practice their English
Memorial monoliths in the Sacred Forest at old sacrificial sites
Khasi Chief's Meeting Hall
We passed this structure on our drive to the forest and were invited in for a partial tour. The village courthouse is next door. A piece of string tied in a secret way is sent to area village head men to announce the date and time of their meeting. This entire building is built without a single nail. 


Along the road we passed many of these tiny thatched shacks built out of flattened mustard seed oil tins. Roadside workers were constantly at work chipping rocks into gravel for road repair and they built these shelters along the way.  The lady in this one worked as a school teacher in the morning and made extra money smashing rocks in the afternoon. She welcomed us in for tea when I asked to stop for a photo op.

Driving to the Living Root Bridge took us to a little village called Mawlynnong which was a complete surprise. It looked like a flower garden and had wicker basket dustbins tied along the paths. It is billed as the cleanest city in India and I could easily believe it. I had to duck my head to avoid hanging blossoms to enter the tea shop for lunch.


Blossoms in Mawlynnong


The Living Root Bridge was one of the coolest things I've ever seen. I'd seen it on a National Geographic video a few years ago. Tree roots are gradually woven and trained to completely cross a river. It is strong enough that paving stones are put in place. It was a lovely spot. Googling to find a good link I found this travel entry from some years ago by a photographer who mentions my brother helping him find the village and bridge.

Living Root Bridge - Mawlynnong
 

Farewell committee

This is today's entry. I'll post a couple more of these and then get back to my usual Charleston photos! This is a good exercise in sorting and remembering my visit.