The southern part of the North Eastern state of Meghalaya in India has a number of living root bridges. Living root bridges are mostly made by Khasi and Jaintia tribes of this region by directing and intertwining the aerial roots of rubber trees by a process known as inosculation.
|Interwined roots forming a living root bridge|
The roots are guided across small streams by using bamboo and wood as scaffolding materials, which can be changed as they degrade. The roots of the rubber tree are good at anchoring themselves on slopes which makes the bridges quite strong. They grow stronger over the years, as the roots grow stronger, and can last for hundreds of years, for as long as the tree is healthy. This is an architectural marvel where humans have collaborated with nature, to build something useful,without causing damage to the nature.
|Double decker living root bridge at Nongriat|
The double decker living root bridge, in the tiny village of Nongriat, in East Khasi hills district is possibly the most popular of root bridges. The two living root bridges decked one over the other over a stream of water is a sight worth going up and down 3500 steps, which brings us to how to reach there.
How to reach Nongriat?
From Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, you can hire a shared cab from Bada Bazaar to Cherrapunji or Sohra, as it is locally known. If you have a more liberal budget, you can hire your own cab and driver. There are several bike and scooter rentals in the city from where you can rent your own motorbike or scooter. My friend rented her scooter from this shop, whose website is linked below, and based on her personal experience, she highly recommends it. This shop is in Shillong.
From Sohra centre, you can hire another shared cab or maybe even hitch-hike with other travellers going to Tyrna, a tiny village, 32km and 45 minutes drive from Sohra. This is where you start your hike. There are plenty of guides here. The rates are mentioned on the board, Rs. 500 for a day and Rs. 1000 if you wish to go to the Rainbow falls as well. You do not need a guide, because it’s pretty straightforward, however, the decision is entirely up to your own discretion.
How much time do you need?
Depending on how much time and stamina you have, you can see it all in a day or spend a few leisurely days, exploring the area at a slow pace.
Squeezing it all in a day:You can start early in the morning, descend 3500 steps and see the double decker root bridge. The hike should take you around 2 hours. You can then choose to walk 45 minutes towards rainbow falls, spend upto a couple of hours there and head back.
A more leisurely pace: You can descend 3500 steps one day, visit the single root bridge on the way for a small entry fee of Rs.10 or so, and stay at Nongriat for the night.
|Single root bridge along the way|
|Single root bridge|
You can enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way to the rainbow falls and spend the day there. You can choose to head back the same day or based on your preference, spend a few more days there. Based on your network provider, you may or may not have internet access. My network had no service which was, in a way, de-stressing. I and Priyanka, who I had met on the trek to Noh ka Likai falls trek the same day,perks of travelling solo, spent our time playing carrom and just chatting away. I lost, but we had a good time.
|There are quite a few streams like these with clear blue waters|
|Can you spot the spider and the gigantic web it spun?|
|Nature along the way|
Where to stay?
I stayed at Serene homestay. There are very few options to stay so make sure you pre-book a guesthouse beforehand. You can ask your local guesthouse in Shillong or Cherrapunji for number of the guesthouse owners in Nongriat. There are few other villages on the way as well and you might be able to spend some time there.
Rainbow falls: The three step Rainbow waterfalls that form a rainbow where the water strikes against a huge rock in the clear blue pool formed by the waterfalls. The view throughout is beautiful with butterflies fluttering around your head, surrounded by trees and bushes,single root bridges and chirping of birds, not to mention, small clear blue pools formed by small waterfalls.
|That’s me, photobombing the falls and I don’t have another picture from the same angle|
|Trek to Rainbow falls|
|Single root bridge along on way to rainbow falls from Nongriat|
It’s unfortunate that many people do not carry their trash back and you can see plastic wrappers and bottles lying around. The local people clean after the tourists. The only ways to transport stuff around this area is through porters. You will meet many porters carrying heavy luggage on the way. Please do not add to their burden by leaving your trash there. The nature there is still beautiful so please carry your trash back. Carry a reusable water bottle, you can fill your bottles up at guesthouses and small tea stalls.
I hope you have a wonderful trip there.
Picture Credits: All pictures were clicked by my friend Priyanka Kunwar, a travel enthusiast, who was kind enough to share them with me. You can follow her on instagram, her instagram handle is priyankakanwar, the link is shared below:
You can also follow her on Facebook: