Living tree bridges of Cherrapunjee – slice of heaven

Cherrapunjee, Meghalaya, one of the rainest places in the world also inhabits one of secret locations of the tree bridges. If you watched Lord of the Rings, imagine this is what Tolkien’s land of the Ents would be like. Those tree giant creatures definately be walking among us.

Back in the days before climate change, this area experienced a lot of rain almost on a daily basis. Recent years, the cutting down of jungle forests and coal mining has changed the area. This year 2013 saw a series of droughts and water shortages, an unknown phenomena to Megahalaya.
Megahalaya is also famous for its matrilineal culture, call the Khasis, indigenous people. In this state of NorthEast India, women-power rule here, unlike much of the rest of India, known for their recent treatment of women. The Khasis tradition states that all wealth and property goes to the last daughter of the family. The children takes after the woman’s name and belongs to the family. The Khasis women are allowed many husbands and lovers, and there is even a special all female queue in all government offices. You can see why I would want to come visit.

This would be my final spot after a long exhaustive tour around North East of India. Since then has become one of my top favorite places to spend time in the world.

Cherrapunjee, or to be exact, Nongkriat village is what heaven feels like, clean, pristine, quiet and magical, very tolkienesque. For those into the spiritual side of things, you could almost feel that fairies and elves roam this magical place.

A fairly strenuous climb down along with a series of bridge crossings and more climbing up and down stone paved stairs, I finally reached this magical village of Nongkriat surrounded by gorgeous tree bridges that take at least 50 years to grow. Generations are needed to grow these bridges, some tree bridges have claimed to be 500 years old.

I loved staying here at the community village guesthouse, it was a quiet season and practically had the whole area to myself, along with the series of water pools that I was in every day that are just a few minutes away from my guesthouse.

The Khasis people of this area lived closely with nature, their intricate beliefs and their communal with nature can be a great anthropical study. They had the great foresight and patience to grow bridges with trees which are self renewing, as the tree grows and ages, the bridges strengthen and grows along with it.

The locals saw trees are spirit beings and cutting them down for resources were forbidden, rituals and prayers were needed in order to even cut down a tree. Their relationship with the trees were deep and often incorporated into their spiritual beliefs and practise. Prayers were chanted should they need to harvest from certain trees,  should a plant or a tree be harmed, their future generations might be harmed.  Over time, gradually the Khasis had lost the art of bridge growing when the government built steel bridges across the many rivers and streams surrounding this area. With the introduction of Christianity, many of their relationships with nature were lost, deemed too paganistic for the modern world.  Many old living bridges were abandoned and were in disrepair.

Most tourists would spend only a day walking around the village, but I would recommend spending a few days here, doing little treks around the many sub-villages to discover many other root bridges. The local Khasis are great gentle spirits who would be glad share their stories on their ancestors and talk about their knowledge on the root bridges. Come during the harvest season of April and you will be celebrating the Thanksgiving festival with them.

A few years back, a Japanese documentary crew visited the area and along with some tourist interest few years back, the locals became interested in their old traditions and have relearnt the ways of the ancients on growing bridges and have started passing down their traditions to the younger generation.

My images cannot do justice to this magical area, maybe this video would.

Cherrapunjee living tree bridges

The famous double decker bridge in Cherrapunjee. This is the only one that still exists in working condition. The popular place to visit for many curious tourists.

Cherrapunjee living tree bridges

The newer bridges in process of being grown. It would take at least 50 – 100 years before a bridge is full developed. It takes 2 to 3 generations to tend to these bridges, frequently needing to shape and develop the vines and branches. Bridges do not grow on their own, careful tending needed on a regular basis!

Cherrapunjee living tree bridges

Cherrapunjee living tree bridges

That’s me on the first day after a long hike down to this magical realm, could not wait dashing into the rock pools after a sweaty climb down.

Cherrapunjee living tree bridges

Stepping onto the bridges require some careful concentration, especially on a rainy day, mossed covered stones can be quite slippery.

Cherrapunjee living tree bridges

View from the top bridge! Can be scary for those with height phobias, including me!

Cherrapunjee living tree bridges

The famous double decker bridge in Cherrapunjee. This is the only one that still exists. Great rockpools to just relax from all that heat!

Enhanced by Zemanta

A Carnival in Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Hill tribe area of Bangladesh

If I would show you these images, you would think they are shot in Burma, not Bangladesh, known to be more Indian, than having any ethnic people.

This is a little known area in Bangladesh, where most ethnic hill tribe people live. The tribal people are widely marginalised by the Bangladeshi governments, often badly discriminated against.

The Bangladesh government are rather paranoid about having tourists visiting. I had secret plain cloth policeman following me around, wondering what I was up to, there would permits to be handled, I was not allowed to certain places, not able to get on board of the local passenger ferries.   Needed a guide to bring me along, who was’nt a pleasant person to be around, but handy for he spoke the local dialects as well as Bengali.

The tribal people of Chakma and the tripura people are mainly buddhists, being in a pro Muslim Bangladesh is tough for these tribal people who face repression, racism and awful discrimination from the muslim bengalis.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Ladies, this is Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Scene of Old Dhaka

Old Dhaka, Bangladesh feels gritty and incredibly photogenic. Compared to the clean and almost surreal modern Dhaka with new modern buildings, this is what those who never been to Bangladesh would imagine what the country look like

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Cyclos of Dhaka

Bangladeshis put great pride in their cyclos, each owner take time to put beautiful decorations on their cyclos. Almost like great art works

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Biggest Hookah I have ever seen

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Hill tribe area of Bangladesh,  near to Chittagong

The great big bamboo Hookah!

Hello Dhaka.

 
Bangladesh

Mixed feelings about Bangladesh, especially in Dhaka. Don’t really like the whole city and the people. Being a female here really sucks, Being an Asian female here sucks big time. Got robbed, molested more times here than in India.  There are more men here than females, hardly see many females out in the public. I can understand why.

Photography wise, it is amazing to be, the Bangladeshis love the camera, often staring right into the lens, sadly didn’t enjoy much being here, hence the images look pretty sad. It was tough being here in Bangladesh, should I have given the country a little more chance, maybe. After a one month, I was pretty much relieved to have gotten out.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

 

Galle Face in Colombo

During the long weekend of Vesak festival in Colombo, Galle face became extra special, where all the local Colombo families would come and gather at this great location beside the ocean. It had been such a hot and humid week, quite a welcome relief from the cool winds coming from the ocean

Did I mention the Kites!

Colombo Sri Lanka

Colombo Sri Lanka

Colombo Sri Lanka

 

 

If only coconuts have wings

Always wondered if Coconuts can fly, and now I know.

Colombo Sri Lanka