You might have seen unique, weird, creative varieties of walkway and bridges in the world. You may be exposed to this or may be never ever knew about this pathway. Let me take you to one of such pathways, The Arecanut pathway. Here we go,
I presumably consider that people first use resources which are available immediately to them or find ideas to make use of whatever they find in their region for their livelihood. I hail from the coastal parts of Karnataka in India where significant mass of land is unstained even in the present century. The districts that run through the coastal belt have embraced agriculture distinctly boasting the backbone of India. Arecanut plantations tops the farming chart in parts of coastal Karnataka and few parts of Kerala. In this area, wherever you see, your view is incomplete without finding atleast a couple of Arecanut trees standing perpendicular to the ground forming natural skyscrapers.
Arecanut farming has been cultivated since centuries I guess. Thus, the local people have made all the possible use of the tree. One of the best use that is distinctly seen is the walkway made out of the trees. If you visit this region, you will definitely find huge yards of greenery. Several small streams are also found. The locals in the region have used arecanut trees for walkway and bridges. This scenario is in habit ever since so many years.
The tree is a kind of palm which runs hollow inside. Post the tree breaks or dies, the long bark is used as a pathway. The hollow long stem is stacked together in parallel to construct a bridge to connect small distances. Also, they are stacked together in land to create a pathway. In this region, monsoon are always observed with extreme rainfall and thus walking on bare land becomes difficult as mud puddles throughout the area. So, the ancestors of this region came up with a solution long ago which is the arecanut pathway.
This might seem very natural but I consider the inventor to be very creative. Walking through the path laid out by the stem requires proper balance. Especially, the bridge though !!! Oh god !, hardly 2 to 3 stems will be stacked in parallel and walking across the bridge is indeed fun. If you lose your balance, you can find yourself in the stream or on the rocks… hahaha !
Bridges made out of Arecanut stem can be used across canals, streams. It can support from 300 to 400kgs on an average. Specifically the bottom part of the stem is used which is strong. They can last from 2 to 3 years. Their lifetime can be increased using chemical methods. 40% of the tree’s length from the bottom can be used for bridge purpose whereas other parts can be utilized for firewood. These bridges can be found yet in few parts in the remote areas where arecanut grows.
I have childhood memories associated with this hollow wood bridge. Since I am a city kid, visiting my native during vacations was a must. Going near the bridge, trying to balance myself walking in a single stem that lies by the side was my point of fun back then. Arms stretched out wide for obtaining balance, trembling feet moving in the side most stem I used to enjoy walking across the bridge gaining some balance and reaching the other side of the bridge without a fall was mini adventure for a city child. Trust me, even now being an adult when I visit the region, automatically I end up walking that way, hahaha the never dying child in me I must say. The wild plants and mushrooms grown in between the stem looks attractive for me.
The pathway maybe very common to the locals but from the eyes of the world this is part of the lifestyle of the region. Such tiny features mark the authenticity of a region, forming a part of culture. Apart from being a pathway, they add exquisite beauty if you see with the eyes that embrace nature. Displaying the natural patterns of the stem, these pathway have a beauty of their own.
With the present generation of globalization where the circumference of villages are getting reduced in a very fast pace, people have embraced advancements in life. Even the remotest villages are being spoilt, old age traditional bridges like these are replaced by concrete bridges in the villages. Finding these beautiful walkways have become a near to rare sight already. Yet, even after various advancements and modernization in lifestyle, one thing I am glad about is that this beautiful pathway still exists in few villages. I hope that these age old beautiful authentic ways are preserved in some villages along with the growth of generations just for its authentic beauty. I wish they survive and exist for ages in practice instead of finding them as a part of ambience in some restaurants or resorts or parks.