Living root bridge in Meghalaya, India

Photo: Amos Chapple/Getty Images

Among the most beautiful places in the world is the Indian state of Meghalaya. Conjure up heaven on Earth and you might picture it: Chiseled by majestic waterfalls and carpeted in lush rain forest, misty gorges characterize the landscape. "Meghalaya" literally translates as "abode in the clouds."

Life doesn't just grow in Meghalaya, it flourishes. Drunk on the region's countless rivers, roots and vines thrive and tangle in a seamless weave. Clouds blanket the terrain in an air of mystery and magic.

Though it may sound too ethereal to be accessible, the people of Meghalaya have adapted to traverse this impenetrable paradise. Over the centuries, they have invented an ingenious form of natural engineering: the living root bridge.

The powerful but malleable roots of Ficus elastica, or Indian rubber tree, can be woven into latticework structures that, over time, form robust bridges. Because they are made from living trees, the bridges do not rot like conventional bridges might. In fact, they only grow stronger as the tree's root system matures. The resultant bridges are nothing short of breathtaking.

Take a look at some of these remarkable living bridges here:

Living root bridge in Meghalaya, India

Photo courtesy: TravelWithNeelima.com

Living root bridge in Meghalaya, India

Photo: rajkumar1220/Flickr

Living root bridge in Meghalaya, India

Photo: t.saldanha/Flickr

Living root bridge in Meghalaya, India

Photo: t.saldanha/Flickr

Living root bridge in Meghalaya, India

Photo: t.saldanha/Flickr

Bryan Nelson is a writer, adventurer and activist.

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