‘Asia’s cleanest village’- well, this term might not have that significance and create such a sensation in the yesteryears when the world was not this polluted and dirty. But, the scenario has much changed today and being clean and that is too, the ‘cleanest’ bears quite a significance in today’s date. At a time when the whole world is fighting to be ahead of one another in terms of modernization, development, industrialization and economic prospects, cleanliness and pollution-free is something pretty rare to see and hear. But it is in this world only, in fact, in our very own north-eastern region of the country that we are today the proud owners of the cleanest village in Asia and that is now other than the Mawlynnong.
Based in Meghalaya, Mawlynnong is just 78 km away from Shillong and travelling to this small village with just 500 people in it is a beautiful journey trailing amidst the beautiful greeneries and misty green hills. The most attractive thing about the small village and its people is that its people are perfectly organized and educated enough to know how to utilize their wastes and maintain cleanliness in and around the village. One can see bamboo waste bins hanging here and there in the entire village with the lanes and roads perfectly clean and green indicating the tourists to maintain the same while being in the village.
However, the cleanest village is just the beginning and it is even more exciting and memorable for one to explore who passes through the village to go down to the living root bridge, the Riwai root bridge. An amazing living root bridge prepared by intertwining the roots of a living rubber tree is just the icing on the cake with its mesmerizing view and the unforgettable experience of passing the rushing waters of the Thyllong River through the bridge. Tourists and travellers coming to explore the hidden beauty of Meghalaya have even admitted witnessing “some of the world’s most unique architecture” in Meghalaya.
Patrick Rogers, an American traveler describes his experience with the living root bridge near Mawlynnong like this, “They are practical, but also beautiful; they cost nothing to build, yet can render centuries of effective service; they are ancient, and yet could provide inspiration for dealing with a multitude of 21st century problems. No other form of architecture becomes naturally stronger over time, but as a root bridge is composed of living elements, so long as the tree it is a part of remains healthy, the structure will self-strengthen and continue to do so indefinitely.”
The Riwai root bridge is made by intertwining two large India rubber trees based on opposite banks of the river. This particular type of tree sends out aerial roots towards each other, in a rather slow process over the decades and finally, they meet each other to form the 30-metre long bridge.