Sunday, January 26, 2014

An Unknown Living Root Bridge

Tyndrong Bridge 

[Note: All of the spellings of Khasi villages below are merely my idea of how they should be spelled...I don't pretend to have a system, and many of these names I've never seen in writing. I have encountered the spelling "Tynrong" for "Tyndrong" a few times, and that does seem to be the more common version. However, I think for practical purposes, "Tyndrong" is a more useful English rendering of the word, as whenever I've heard it pronounced it definitely contains a rolled "D" sound between the "N" and "R" sounds, and if you were asking directions from some random Khasi in the middle of the jungle, I think you would be more likely to be understood with "Tyndrong" than "Tynrong."]  

A few months back, I decided to go exploring in the rugged jungle canyonlands west of the Khasi village of Nongriat, in a part of the northeast Indian state of Meghalaya which has seen almost nothing in the way of tourism. While on this expedition I discovered, quite accidentally, a living root bridge which I am now reasonably certain was previously unknown to the outside world. It runs across a stream just below the village of Tyndrong, which is about three hours of moderately difficult hiking from the world famous Double Decker living root bridge of Nongriat. Living root bridges are exceptional given that they are among the only forms of architecture that are grown rather than built. Given that there are less than twenty known examples in the world (which are all in the East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya, except for one in Indonesia), finding a new one is no small thing. However, I think that what stumbling upon a new living root bridge primarily indicates is that there are probably many more out there which are unknown to the outside world. There would seem to be a great deal more exploring to be done in the canyonlands of Meghalaya. Of course, saying that the bridge was "undiscovered" would not be true. Locals use it everyday, and presumably have for the past few hundred years. But what is notable is that no word of Tyndrong Bridge had reached people just a few 
villages over.