Jembatan Akar: A Bridge Made of Banyan Tree Roots Aged Over a Century

Nagari Puluik-Puluik

Once upon a time, a small village named Puluik-Puluik separated by swifty dangerous river Batang Bayang with another small village named Lubuk Silau. People from both villages, which incorporated into one bigger community called Nagari Puluik-Puluik, wanted to have interactions, as well as sharing of knowledge, especially on religion education. A pious scholar named Pakiah Sokan had an idea to make a bridge from old Banyan Trees that grew on both riverbank sides. So, people collected the roots and started to knit it. Knot by knot, time through time, until the roots grew very long, crossing one another and extending over Batang Bayang’s stream. It took around 26 years to knit the roots into bridge, while also waiting for the roots growing longer as Banyan Trees became bigger and stronger. The bridge too, growing from weak to strong site over the time. The roots knitting was started from 1890 and the bridge finally can be used in 1916.

The bridge is still used until today, and become one of interesting places to visit in Pesisir Selatan Regency, West Sumatera Province of Indonesia. The bridge length is 25 metres, width is 1.5 metres, and height from river surface is around 3 metres.

Like its name, Selatan, Pesisir Selatan Regency is located on southern side of West Sumatera, Indonesia. It also become West Sumatera’s borders with other provinces, such as Jambi and Bengkulu. see map

Located 88 km in the south of Padang, the capital city of West Sumatera, this site can be reached using public bus from Padang, but tourist still have to continue the journey with local transportation. Or better, bring a car or rent one from Padang city. It’s not too expensive, even with paid driver. That way, many other hidden places can be reached too.

Afternoon Adventure

It was a cloudy afternoon when my family and I came to the place. From where the car is parked, we still have to climb up some steps, then walk on a narrow path.

Finally, we arrived!

Not just as nature wonder, Jembatan Aka / Titian Aka , that’s how locals call it, also an object of cultural wonders. It represents the strong wills of traditional villagers to survive and make connections among them, as well as creative use of nature to maximum level.

When crossing the bridge, people are asked to walk slowly and carefully. It’s quite a long path and the river stream below is very swifty, with rocks on some spots. Nowadays, they limited 2-3 people only can cross the bridge at the same time. You have to be in queue if more people coming. But it’s for safety reason, just follow it. It’s better to take the shoes off when in doubt and passing the bridge barefoot. Don’t be panicked if the bridge swinging by the wind when you’re in the middle. Stay calm, just hold on to the nearest big roots to you, and keep walking. Honestly, i didn’t have any strength to hold camera when i’m on the middle. The stream looked more swifty and dangerous when you’re on half-way!

After crossing the bridge, we were having family quality time while sitting on riverbank and enjoying nature. Sound of river flows and birds chirp are combined harmoniously. The Old Banyan Trees standing still, watching story by story passing by. It has lived over a hundred years, maybe a hundred more.

Glossaries

Batang (Minangese) = Sungai (Bahasa Indonesia) = River (English)
Titian (Minangese) = Jembatan (Bahasa Indonesia) = Bridge (English)
Aka (Minangese) = Akar (Bahasa Indonesia) = Root (English)
Kampuang (Minangese) = Kampung (Bahasa Indonesia) = Village (English)
Nagari (Minangese) = Negeri (Bahasa Indonesia) = Bigger Village/Nation; varied in context; (English)
Selatan (Minangese / Bahasa Indonesia) = South (English)

Note : Minang is one of Indonesia tribes who originated from West Sumatera Province and having their own traditional language, Minangese.

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