"A Bridge Too Far"

The idiom “a bridge too far” is typically used to reference something that is too ambitious or drastic to be realistic, or to describe an action that is very complicated and challenging to execute. Nature has been exceedingly kind and has endowed the beautiful Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh with diverse forests and magnificent wildlife. Cane and bamboo form the raw materials which meet the requirement of everyday life, from house building, to making baskets, fishing trap, items of dress, and construction of suspension bridges. A locally grown species of thin walled bamboo with a small diameter is used for the bridges. The Adi tribes in Siang district are known for constructing long cane and bamboo suspension bridges. The bridges are sometimes over 200 metres in length, spanning a river from bank to bank.

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                                                                 Suspension bridge spanning the Siang River

About one third of the way across the wind started to pick up and the bridge began to sway. There was a sudden downward feeling as one of the local Adi started to cross from the other side.There were gaping holes in the bridge where old bamboo had decayed and fallen off. I turned abruptly, and decided I would return to solid ground. I found the swaying unnerving but I was glad at least I had made the attempt to experience something that the locals take for granted. 

©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
The green forest is reflected in the river as it flows through Arunachal Pradesh, where it is called the Dihang (or Siang) River. The river then flows into the plains of Assam, where it is known as the Brahmaputra.

 
 
©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved ©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
                                Bridges have always played an important role in the history of human settlement 
   

Guangxi Province, China

The Chinese word 'Yulong' refers to 'meeting a dragon'. Local legend has it that a dragon from the East Sea strolled across the Yulong River and, being deeply impressed by the attractive landscape, decided to stay there forever. The villagers living on the river bank saw the dragon several times, and hence the river is named.

Fuli Bridge: This is the largest stone arch bridge in Yangshuo County being 60 meters long, 9 meters high and 5 meters wide and the span is 18 meters, It was built in the Ming Dynasty A.D. 1412. I was impressed by its primitive simplicity ethnic characteristics. On both sides of Fuli Bridge, vines enlaced the railing with green Chinese wisteria. 

©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved

 

©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved

            The reflection created in the water forms a perfect circle, and is called full moon bridge by the locals.

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              Yulong Bridge or Dragon Bridge is located in Baisha town Yangshuo county, on the Yulong River

 


 

Guizhou Province, China

Nestled among the mountains of Guizhou you can find countless villages that are home to the vast majority of the Dong ethnic group, a people who have preserved their unique traditions for over 2,000 years. The Dong people typically build their villages on rivers, so bridges are essential. Every village, whether it’s large or small, needs these special structures known as wind and rain bridges. The wind and rain bridge is an interesting characteristic of the Dong village. They are called so because you see this roof, it protects you from the rain and wind. Besides serving as just the bridge, it serves as a form of art. The wind-and-rain bridge is the only entrance to this village. I discovered it was “blocked” by a red silk ribbon. More than ten lovely Dong girls came forward to greet me extending cups, proffering toasts and singing local songs. My guide explained offering the “blocked-gate” wine was their grandest reception ceremony for guests. If I was reluctant to drink but still expected passage,I would have to sing a kind of duet with a local girl.I must at least take a sip of wine to pass the “barrier” and be in everyone’s good graces.

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                                                                    Chengyang Wind and Rain Bridge

Chengyang Wind and Rain Bridge, also called Yongji Bridge or Panlong Bridge, spans the Linxi River of Sanjiang County. Built in 1916, it is 64.4 meters long, 3.4 metes wide and 10.6 meters high. Constructed with wood and stones, the surface of the bridge is paved with wooden boards and both sides are inlaid with railings. On the bridge itself, there are five tower-like kiosks with 'horns' and eaves which resemble the flapping wings of birds.

 

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No nails were used in the building of the bridge, pieces of wood in the bridge are closely jointed. Long stools were set up on both sides of the bridge for people to rest. The bridge not only offers traffic convenience to people, but also serves as a gathering place.

 


 

Sichuan, China

On my way to Bifengxia Panda Base the giant panda breeding facility in Ya'an, Sichuan, China, my guide asked me If I would be interested in taking a slight detour to see something quite unique.

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                                Ya'an Covered Bridge (Lang Qiao) over the Qingyi River (Yazhou Gallery Bridge)

 


 

Northwestern Frontier Province, Pakistan

Located in the remote remote region of Gilgit-Baltistan surrounded by the mountains of the Karakoram range in northern Pakistan, the Hussaini Lake Borit suspension bridge crosses lake Borit upstream of the Hunza river.

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Not only is it hanging high above the extremely wide and raging Hunza River, swaying in the gusts of wind  it is way-too-wide! One can't grab hold of the sides using both hands-so you could concentrate on not to fall through those very generously spaced broken planks: most planks are missing, many were only half of what they used to be.The six main cables are hung from one bank to another. A previous, older, broken bridge hangs in shambles next to the "new" one. It is very dangerous to cross the Borit Lake and rapidly flowing Hunza River.

©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved

          The local people , especially the women, often use this dangerous bridge to cross the river to Zarabad.

©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved ©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved

UPDATE: It is believed this bridge was washed away in a 2011 monsoon storm. If this is not the case, I hope someone will update me to the latest news.


Comments

Vanishing Cultures Photography
Very kind of you Priya, Thank you!
Priya Balan(non-registered)
This is fantastic capture of the great bridges that you saw in three different places.. Lovely architecture and I loved how you captured the bridges. The scenery and the way you shot it is fantastic.. The ones in Pakistan and the one in India is super scary and I hope you did not walk it. I really loved the full moon bridge.. It is beautiful.. Your artcile is fantastic.. I really enjoyed reading and seeing new places..
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