Nongriat is situated in the East Khasi hills of Meghalaya and is renowned for their living root bridges. These bridges are formed over small streams by aerial roots of banyan tree over a long time. Locals used these regularly to move in the jungles and nearby villages.
After a stressful start to our northeast trip we started our journey from Guwahati, the capital of Assam. On the way we stopped at Umium lake and reached Shillong in 3 hrs. After visiting some churches and waterfalls we headed to Cherrapunji in the afternoon. Cherrapunji (aka ‘Sohra’ by locals) was once the “wettest place on the Earth”. We were lucky enough to get a dry afternoon. There are limited budget options to stay in Cherrapunji as most hotels we looked up were very expensive. Our plan was just to spend the night and head on for Nongriat the following day.
Nongriat is renowned for its living root bridges, the aerial roots of banyan trees had grown for over thousands of years and have entangled with each other forming natural bridges over the streams which the locals used regularly for moving from one place to another.
Early next morning we headed out for the 17 km drive to Tyrna the starting point of the trek. The road journey was through lush green jungles and diverted from the village of Mawshamok towards Tyrna village. It was time to start the hike and we bought the tickets. It was said that women of Meghalaya, like other north eastern states, were the active members of the family. That was exactly what we saw in reality! Women were the active working members of the family, making tickets, checking tickets as well as guiding the tourists towards the trail. The trail started with around 3000 stairs which one had to climb down, amidst lush green tropical rain forest.
We were lucky once again as we had a bright sunny morning on one of the wettest place on the planet. After a 30 minute walk down the stairs, we reached the first of the two iron bridges on the way. The bridge was made of wood and iron rods clustered with wire and seemed shaky. The stream which it crossed had light blue crystal clear water and it provided us with a huge stimulus to take a plunge in it. We crossed two other hanging bridges and reached the a small area which had a few houses. A arrow pointed us to the first single decker bridge aka Long bridge. After paying the entry fee of Rs 5 we headed through the trail and reached the bridge. It was known as Jinkien -Ri -Tymmen in local Khasi language.
It was a unique natural creation, hanging about 20 metres above ground. The roots on either side coiled towards the edges to provide a platform leading to the bridge.Walking along it seemed like we had entered into the jurassic age. The path, however, was narrow and a steady balance with support on either side was of utmost necessity. Its not very convenient for people afraid of heights. We crossed it and enjoyed this unique creation from a distance. It took around 1 hr to reach the long bridge.
After a short break we headed ahead through the jungle trail. In another 45 min we reached our final destination. A few shops and houses which we could see from the in distance while starting our trek was visible. The arrow board directed towards the Double Decker Bridge. A short through stairs took us to this amazing double storied bridge, made naturally one above other. A pool next to it provided a nice place to relax. Trekkers took the opportunity to relax in the water of the pool there. Locals told that first there was a single tier bridge which used to get submerged during the rainy season for most part of the year. Years later the upper bridge gradually developed forming a two storied structure. The bridge was very shaky and had a signboard for one person at a time to cross it. After loads of clicking, we came to know there were some fresh water pool ahead for us to take a look. The trail lead to a graveyard around the corner of small sized football ground. After a short walk, we came to another bridge which was not in a very good shape. We went off the trail to the pool for a swim. The water was so clear that even the pebbles on the base of the river were clearly visible. On our way back, it was time for some maggie and tea along a riverside cafe.
After an hour or so, we headed back to our vehicle and moved ahead to Cherrapunji. A short hiking trip in the tropical rain forest was surely a a highlight of our northeast trip.
TIPS FOR TRAVEL :
- Winter months are November to march when the weather is comparatively dry
- Rest of the year there is plenty of rainfall so be use to carry rain protection/ ponchos and umbrella.
- Carry swimsuit or a alternate pair of dress because the fresh water pools are absolutely irresistible and u gotta take a dip sometime.
- If you plan to make a day trip from Sohra it preferable to start early and come back by 4 pm as transport is scarce.
- Shared car and reserved cars are available from Sohra regularly. Do check local timings.
- Enquire about the last bus from Tyrna to Sohra.
- Entry fees are nominal and are used for the development of the place
- If you are planning to camp ask the locals for a suitable place. The football field near the double decker bridge has a graveyard just next to it. So take a look around
- Total distance from Sohra to Tyrna-17 km
- Distance from Tyrna (starting point of hike) to Nongriat- 3 kms
- The trek is through 3000 stairs followed by a well marked jungle trail.
- Link to more images – CLICK HERE