Through the Canyons of Living Bridges takes the reader deep into one of the most fascinating and yet little-known parts of the world: The Khasi Hills of Northeast India. In its pages you’ll learn about unique living architecture that is grown from the roots of trees, traverse immense jungle gorges full of danger and adventure, and meet people who live in a society like no other. With a combination of humor, firsthand experience, and detailed research, I recount a never-before-attempted trek across the Khasi Hills in search of spectacular, though largely undocumented, living root bridges. Through the Canyons of Living Bridges will appeal to a wide international audience, including anyone interested in anthropology, backpacking, geography, conservation, or travelogues about incredible places.
[Check the blog for updates starting January 2023. I’ll be posting a chapter every Friday through the middle of 2023. A download of the whole book will be available in the fall.]
The trek detailed in Through the Canyons of Living Bridges brought me through gorges where tourists had never gone before, to villages that had never seen a foreign visitor, and over living bridges that had never been crossed by an outsider. In traversing so much terra incognita, I had the good fortune of meeting people from all walks of life along the way. The backbone of Through the Canyons of Living Bridges consists of interviews with people from the lost corners of the Khasi Hills who provide interesting and rarely heard perspectives that I never would have encountered had I not crossed the entire region alone and on foot.
I’ve spent much of the past ten years travelling to and from the Khasi Hills and have written extensively on their culture and history. In 2017, my book of short essays entitled The Green Unknown: Travels in the Khasi Hills was published by Westland Books India. I’m also a co-author of the first ever peer-reviewed scientific paper on the region’s astounding living architecture, Living bridges using aerial roots of ficus elastica – an interdisciplinary perspective, which was published in Nature and reported on by CNN, ScienceDaily, Atlas Obscura, and other media outlets. Additionally, I’ve served as an advisor to the production team of Sir David Attenborough’s The Green Planet, an upcoming BBC documentary that will prominently feature the living architecture of the Khasi Hills, and I have been interviewed for an episode of the Atlas ObscuraPodcast dealing with root bridges.