We welcome you to the Bio Engineering marvels of the Khasi and Jaintia tribes of Meghalaya ~ the Living Root Bridges.
The kind of Bridges that mankind has developed over the course of time is commendable. Be it Arch Bridge, Beam Bridge, Bamboo Bridge, Cantilever or so, they never fail to amuse us. So how can nature fall behind! The Living Root Bridges in the Indian State of Meghalaya are a clear cited example of its kind. The complexity it possesses in itself might twist the minds of even the best!
While across the World, most of the bridges are built, here in Meghalaya, these bridges are grown. The Living Root Bridges are a perfect example of how the indigenous people of North East India are harnessing the gifts of mother Nature. These Living Root Bridges are grown from the roots of the Rubber Tree (Ficus Elastica) by guiding the roots of these trees to grow across in a particular direction mostly over a stream or a river. The roots are often tied together to make them stronger and more powerful.
When it comes to speaking about the astonishing man-made natural wonders, one particular thought comes to mind. This thought is that of the Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya. Located in the deep dense tropical forests of the Indian State of Meghalaya, these Living Root Bridges are a one of a kind native to North East India invented by the Khasi and Jaintia tribes of Meghalaya. These unique Living Root Bridges are a form of tree shaping and are hand made by allowing the aerial roots of the Rubber tree to grow in a particular direction. These Root Bridges can be easily said to be among the World’s most unusual man made structures.
The Khasi and Jaintia tribes of Meghalaya have tried and tested several methods of growing these Living Root Bridges. In one technique, wherein the Living Root Bridges are grown by hand, the roots of the rubber tree are pulled, tied, twisted by hand and allowed to merge with one another. Over time, these roots form the desired structure and grow into a fully functional Living Root Bridge. In another technique, these Living Root Bridges are grown by training the roots of the rubber tree to grow over scaffolds made from wood or bamboo. The roots are wrapped outside of the perishable material and the scaffold are replaced over years to make the Root Bridge stronger.
While the above techniques are commonly used for guiding and growing root bridges across Meghalaya, a one of a kind technique is observed by the Khasi tribes of Nongriat village. Nongriat village is renowned across the World for being home to one of a kind and only Double Decker Living Root Bridge. Other single decker Root Bridges can also be spotted near the vicinity of this village. In this technique of growing the Living Root Bridge, the villagers train young roots of the rubber tree to grow across hollowed-out trunks of the Areca Nut trees. The roots are then made to grow through betel tree trunks that have been placed across the streams until the fig root attach themselves to other sides. The trunks of the Betel tree serve to guide the roots, protect and also provide requisite nutrients as the root decay. In order to stabilize the growing root bridge objects like stone and sticks are used. A time consuming process, such Living Root Bridges need 15 years to grow into a fully functional bridge. However, once completed these Living ROot Bridges can last for around 500 years. These root bridges are strong enough to hold 500 people at the same time. While most ron bridges are damaged by corrosion due to rain, these root bridges grow stronger with more rain.
The attribute of discovering and promoting these unique Bioengineering marvels of the tribes of Meghalaya across the World goes to the promoter of the Cherrapunji Holiday Resort – a unique Resort located very near to the Umshiang Double Decker Root Bridge. Mr. Dennis P Rayan a retired banker and a nature lover would often set out on treks into deep forests of the Khasi Hills in search of the gifts of Mother Nature. In one such expeditions when he had gone out for a prayer service at Tynrong village with a group of local Khasi men, during his return way back he sighted these unique bridges made up of living tree roots and vines around 30 feet long and used to cross a small mountain stream. The very sight of this bridge intrigued Mr. Rayen who immediately clicked pictures of this Living Root Bridge and once the Cherrapunji Holiday Resort commenced its operations this picture album was presented to its guests to encourage them to take this trek and sight these Bioengineering marvels and in turn promote them across the World. Mr. Rayen’s dividends paid off after sometime and visitors started to flock to this amazing natural construction in many numbers. Today these Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya are renowned across the World and people from various parts of the World come to visit these Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya.
The Single-Decker and Double-Decker Living Root Bridges are in itself a sight to behold. The Khasi Tribes of Meghalaya have been trained to grow these Living Root Bridges across the raised banks of streams to form a solid bridge, made from roots. The Living Root Bridges are made from the roots of the ‘Ficus Elastica’ tree, which produces a series of secondary roots that are perched atop huge boulders along the streams or the riverbanks to form bridges. It would be a misconception to assume that the Living Root Bridges are built by hands. They are instead grown. Such is the art and the complexity that it takes around 15 years to be functional and precision has to be spot on. Meghalaya’s Double-Decker and Single-Decker root bridges are unique in the world and are a sight to behold. The Living Root Bridges are tangles of massive thick roots, which have been intermingled to form a bridge that can hold several people at a time.
The Living Root Bridges, some of which are over a hundred feet long are extraordinarily strong – strong enough to support the weight of fifty or more people at a time. These Root Bridges are alive and still growing and gain strength over time. The State of Meghalaya has many number of these Engineering Marvels with the longest Living Root Bridge being located at Pynursula very close to the State capital of Shillong ~ the ‘Scotland of the East’ and ‘India’s Rock Capital’!
Some of the prominent Living Root Bridge examples of Meghalaya are ~
1| Umshiang Double Decker Living Root Bridge ~ Nongriat Village
Of all the Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya, the grandest is the Umshiang Double Decker Living Root Bridge. Locally known as the Jingkieng Nongriat, the Umshiang Double Decker Living Root Bridge is located at Nongriat village near Cherrapunji. What separates this village from Cherrapunji is a flight of around 3500 steep stairs. One of the most popular treks of North East India i.e the Double Decker Root Bridge trail trek will lead you to this Bio Engineering marvel at Nongriat. This trek is a rewarding experience as you cross across a virgin forest surrounded by betel nut and bay leaves, cross two hanging bridges over rivers with crystal clear waters and spot a varied species of insects on your way to reach one of India’s finest offbeat destinations. Considered challenging, this trek is sure to test your fitness! However, the locals use this route daily to reach the road that leads to Cherrapunji town. The total time for this trek to sight the Double Decker Root Bridge and come back takes around 5 – 6 hours.
Nongriat is a small village in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya. A place with vast natural beauty surrounding it, Nongriat is a must visit place for anyone who admires the beauty of nature and would want to spend time far away from the hustle and bustle of a busy city life. The Umshiang Double Decker Living Root Bridge is located very close to the village and one can also choose to halt at Nongriat for a night or two and continue the trek up to the Rainbow Falls. From the Rainbow falls you can also continue the trek to reach the summit of the Nohkalikai Falls and finally arrive back at Cherrapunji.
To reach the Umshiang Double Decker Living Root Bridge at Nongriat Village from Cherrapunji you have to cross over 3500 steps across hills, and rickety rope pathways to reach this beautiful place. A total time of six (6) hours is required to trek and come back after visiting the Root Bridge. On your way you will also spot the Single Decker Living Root Bridges of Cherrapunji at Tyrna Village and the one at Nongriat Village. Trek further from the Double Decker Living Root Bridge to reach the Mawsaw Bridge and the Rainbow Waterfalls at Nongriat Village.
The trek to the Double Decker Living Root Bridge starts from a village near Cherrapunji and continues upto the Nongriat village. A dense forest awaits you on this trek with soulful chirping of birds and sounds of the gushing rivers greeting you. A descent down a flight of stairs marks your trek beginning leading you to your first halt at the Tyrna village junction point. On the right is the Tyrna village and the path to the left leads to the Double Decker Living Root Bridge at Nongriat. At Tyrna one can get to spot a set of three Single Decker Living Root Bridges and a chance to get some refreshments. One can continue from Tyrna village to Nongriat on a separate path that would join the original path to Nongriat village or you may choose to skip Tyrna and continue on the path to the Double Decker Living Root Bridge.
After crossing the Tynra village junction you continue your trek across the forests to Nongriat village. On this journey one crosses a Khasi Sacred Grove forest to reach a river crossing that needs to be crossed over a suspended hanging bridge. A similar hanging bridge will also greet you just prior to your arrival at Nongriat village. The entire pathway is well paved so one doesn’t need to have any fear of getting lost. Also, the local villagers keep crossing and one can expect greetings along the way so that you do not feel lonely on your trek to the Umshiang Double Decker Living Root Bridge.
The first sight of a small village is the sign of your journey to the Umshiang Double Decker Living Root Bridge becoming a reality. This is the village of Nongriat. Once you reach Nongriat, a short hike from the village will reach you to a ticket counter that charges a nominal entrance fee and you sight the majestic Umshiang Double Decker Living Root Bridge!
The Bio Engineering marvel of the Umshiang Double Decker Root Bridge is a one of its kind in the World found only at Nongriat Village in Meghalaya and is sure to leave any visitor spellbound! At the Umshiang Double Decker Living Root Bridge, spend your time admiring the grandeur of the Umshiang, enjoy a moment away from the hustle and bustle of city life, sight beautiful butterflies species, enjoy a natural fish spa on the waters of the stream flowing beneath the Double Decker Root Bridge, spend your day at calm or even savor a bowl of hot Maggi (which tastes so good after your trek!) and sip a cup of black tea at the local shop near the Umshiang Double Decker Living Root Bridge.
You may choose to halt overnight at Nongriat village in any of the homestays to continue a further trek to sight the Rainbow Falls and Mawsaw Living Root Bridge or continue your trek back to Cherrapunji for your onward destination.
The trek to the Umshiang Double Decker Living Root Bridge might sound like a daunting one to many travellers but the fact is it is not very tough. The only challenge is on the trek back upwards where you meet the challenge of travelling up 3500 stairs. But will a plan it can be easily accomplished. It is advisable to travel light and if you are not used to walking for long distances then carry a bamboo stick to help you along your trek. The trek might make you feel humid so it’s advisable to carry a second pair of clothes. Small shops are to found along the way serving water bottles, chips, biscuits and steaming momos. So you do not need to carry food to replenish your energy as it can be found along the way. The trek can be approached in a group or if you want to enjoy a moment of calm in the lap of Mother Nature you can choose to trek alone. The pathway is well laid out but we always recommend to use the services of a local guide who can tell you much more about the Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya. We arrange for your package tour to the Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya from Guwahati along with local guides.
2| Single Decker Living Root Bridge ~ Tyrna Village
These Root Bridges are located at Tyrna Village and can be spotted on the way to the Double Decker Living Root Bridge. Just at the point where the steep flight of stairs end, there are two paths. The one to the left leads to Nongriat Village and the one on the right leads to Tyrna village. These root bridges are at an easier accessibility than the Umshiang Double Decker Root Bridge at Nongriat and hence visitors who do not want to trek upto Umshiang can sight Living Root Bridges at Tyrna village. At Tyrna, there are a set of two Single Decker Living Root Bridges at close proximity. A short hike along a well paved stairway will lead you to the Living Root Bridges at Tyrna village.
The Umshiang Double Decker Living Root Bridge at Nongriat Village near Cherrapunji proves to be a difficult trek for many because of the terrain and hence many visitors are unable to complete the trek to spot this fantastic Engineering Marvel of the Khasi Tribes.
So that the visitors do not return disappointed, another set of Living Root Bridges has been grown at the vicinity of Cherrapunji along your journey to the Double Decker Living Root Bridge at the Tyrna Village. These are the Single Decker Living Root Bridges at Tyrna Village. There are a set of two (2) Single Decker Living Root Bridges grown at close proximity to each other. A short hike across a well paved stairway will reach you to these wonders of Mother Nature grown and nurtured by the Khasi Tribes of Meghalaya.
3| Longest Living Root Bridge ~ Pynursla
Located at Pynursla, a small town approximately 2 hours away from Cherrapunji is the Longest Living Root Bridge. This Root Bridge has a total length of over 50 m. Not known to many visitors to Meghalaya, this Living ROot Bridge is awaiting the status of the UNESCO World Heritage site and is a Bio Engineering marvel. This Root Bridge can be reached from a village in Pynursla by trek. The total trek time to visit and come back from the Longest Living Root Bridge is around 2 hours.
While most of the known Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya are frequently visited by Tourists from across India and the World across the year due to the ease of accessibility, the Longest Living Root Bridge in the World at Pynursla is not known by many we bring forth to you first glimpse of this Root Bridge of Meghalaya.
This Living Root Bridge is still being surveyed by UNESCO for the grant of the World Heritage Site status (as the other Living Root Bridges of Cherrapunji), the Root Bridge at Pynursla is located down below the hills on a rough terrain that has paved way for an adventure hike into the wilderness of the Khasi Hills at Meghalaya to reach it.
Another important spot near Pynursla to spot the Bio Engineering wonders of the Living Root Bridges is the village of Wahlynkhat. Wahlynkhat is located a few minutes ahead of Pynursla. A popular trek at Wahlynkhat is the Living Root Bridge Trail Wahlynkhat where visitors get the opportunity to sight 10 nos. of Living Root Bridges along a trek of 10km. The virgin forests and unadulterated landscape of Wahlynkhat along this trek makes it an ideal destination to spot the Engineering marvels of the Khasi Tribes i.e. the Living Root Bridges. At the Wahlynkhat village, the density of the Living Root Bridges is the highest in Meghalaya numbering 15 living root bridges in a square kilometer area. In this trek, one has to trek downhill from Wahlynkhat village through 10 root bridges at Nongblai and further proceed to climb a ridge to Rngain. Visitors also get an opportunity to cross a Khasi Sacred Grove forest along this trek. However, one has to be careful as this trek terrain is tricky with several uphill and downhill climbs.
The Longest Living Root Bridge are an Engineering Marvel of the Khasi Tribes of Pynursla. Made from the roots of the ‘Ficus Elastica’ tree, this solid Living Root Bridge are made from the secondary roots that are perched atop huge boulders along the streams or the riverbanks to form bridges. This Living Root Bridge is a tangle of massive thick roots, which have been intermingled to form a bridge that can hold several people at a time and allow them to cross Streams and challenging terrain with ease.
Adjacent to the Longest Living Root Bridge is another Single Decker Living Root Bridge.
Our trained Local Guides are well acquainted with the surroundings of Pynursla and they make you Adventure Jungle trek to visit this Longest Living Root Bridge at Pynursla a journey to cherish for a Lifetime!
4| 10 kilometers 10 Living Root Bridges ~ Wahlyngkhat
The village of Wahlynkhat is located very close to Pynursla and is the area is known to have the highest density of Living Root Bridges in Meghalaya. One popular trek here is the 10 km 10 Living Root Bridges trek. Not very popular among tourists this trek is slightly challenging as one needs to wander across the virgin forest of Wahlynkhat with no well defined pathway and the terrain has several uphill and downhill climb. Visit to Wahlynkhat is for the adventurous and can be arranged accompanied by a trained local guide.
5| Riwai Single Decker Living Root Bridge ~ Mawlynnong
The most popular with tourists among all the Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya, the Living Root Bridge of Riwai is located very close to the Cleanest Village of Asia at Mawlynnong. The ease of accessibility has made this site very popular and hundreds of visitors can be spotted here every day. During tourist season, this place sees upto a 1000 visitors every day. The Mawlynnong Living Root Bridge is comparatively newer to the other Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya. The Root Bridge is also much broader and firm than the ones at Cherrapunji which allows a person to easily cross from one end of the Bridge to the other. Local Khasi people of Meghalaya can be spotted at the vicinity of the Root Bridge carrying out their daily household chores.
The Living Root Bridge at Mawlynnong is the most easily accessible one in the State of Meghalaya. Just a short walk down across a flight of stairs will reach you here. This ease of accessibility has made this a favorite among the tourists and people throng to Mawlynnong in hundreds every day to catch a glimpse of this Living Root Bridge. Mawlynnong Living Root Bridge is comparatively newer to the other Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya. The Root Bridge is also much broader and firm than the ones at Cherrapunji which allows a person to easily cross from one end of the Bridge to the other. Local Khasi people of Meghalaya can be spotted at the vicinity of the Root Bridge carrying out their daily household chores.
6| Living Root Bridges ~ Shnongpdeng
The Shnongpdeng Village is located near Dawki – the Border of India and Bangladesh. Dawki is a popular tourist destination of Meghalaya with the prime attraction being the clear waters of Umngot River here. The water of this river is so clear that one can clearly see what’s under the river bed from the shore and the boats that ply on the waters look like as if they are floating on air. The Shnongpdeng Village is a cluster of a several scattered households with many Living Root Bridges in the vicinity. Shnongpdeng Village is a ideal destination to explore several villages with root bridges and live with the Khasi people of Meghalaya. Among the Living Root Bridges at Shnongpdeng, the most recommended are Coding Rim, Padu, and Burma. However, all of these villages at Shnongpdeng have very little in the way of tourist facilities, so for your visit to Shnongpdeng, we have to make prior arrangements and provide a local guide to show you around the village.
How to reach Living Root Bridges from Kaziranga National Park ~
These Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya are all accessible from Cherrapunji in Meghalaya. Distance to Cherrapunji is mentioned below:
By Road – Cherrapunji is located at a distance of around 300 kilometers from Kaziranga National Park. It takes around 8 hours by road to reach Cherrapunji from Kaziranga. Private Taxi operators ply from Kaziranga National Park to Cherrapunji. We operate our Taxi Service to Cherrapunji from Kaziranga National Park. Our well maintained fleet makes your journey from Kaziranga National Park to Cherrapunji a comfortable one.
By Air – Cherrapunji is well connected to the Guwahati Airport by road. You can choose to fly to the Guwahati Airport. We operate taxi service from Guwahati Airport to Cherrapunji.
By Train – Cherrapunji can be reached from Guwahati Railway Station. We operate taxi service from Guwahati Railway Station to Cherrapunji.
Sample Itinerary for Visit to the Living Root Bridges at Meghalaya ~
DAY 1 ~ Guwahati – Cherrapunji (5 – 6 Hrs. Drive)
Arrive at Guwahati Airport. Upon your arrival, you’ll be met by our representative. We directly hit the road to Cherrapunji. The roads are good, so enjoy the lovely drive through the lush green hills. Lunch/Snacks on way, depending upon the flight timings. Check in to a Hotel/Homestay at Cherrapunji.
DAY 2 ~ Cherrapunji ~ Nohkalikai Falls, Seven Sister Falls, Mawsmai Caves, Double Decker Root Bridge Trek (Duration of Trek ~ 6 Hrs. (Complete))
After Breakfast, we will visit the Tallest Plunge Waterfalls of India ~ the Nohkalikai and the Seven Sister Falls at Cherrapunji. Also visit the Mawsmai Caves at Cherrapunji. Later in the day we will kick start the Double Decker Root Bridge Trek to reach Nongriat Village. On your way you will spot the first Root Bridge of your tour at Tyrna Village. Check into a Homestay at Nongriat Village.
DAY 3 ~ Nongriat Village ~ Double Decker Living Root Bridge, Mawsaw Bridge, Rainbow Waterfalls and Dainthlen Falls
Spend the first half of your day admiring the Wonder of the Umshiang Double Decker Root Bridge at Nongriat Village. Trek further from the Double Decker Living Root Bridge to reach the Mawsaw Bridge and the Rainbow Waterfalls near Nongriat Village. Trek back to Cherrapunji at the trek start point. Later in the day visit the Dainthlen Falls.
DAY 4 ~ Longest Root Bridge Trail Trek ~ Pynursla (Drive 2 Hrs. & Trek Duration 2 Hrs.)
Today after breakfast, we’ll drive to Pynursla. From there we kick start our trek to the longest Root Bridge accessible in the East Khasi Hills
Highlights of the Trek:
- Longest Living Root Bridge
- Virgin Wilderness
- Picturesque Views
- Lunch can be arranged as time suitable. After Lunch we can go to Mawlynnong for stay overnight
DAY 5 ~ Mawlynnong & Dawki
Today is our day in the beautiful village of Mawlynnong, settled in the wilderness of East Khasi Hills.
Morning after breakfast we visit the Living Root Bridge of Mawlynnong. You spend the day simply enjoying the nature of the place. Get your camera out, make notes of the place, read a book or anything that unwinds you.
For Sightseeing Options are
- Asia’s cleanest village
- Watch Tower (Take a view of the plains of Bangladesh)
- Balancing Rock
- Village Walks
- Dawki ~ Clear Water Boating on the Umngot River
- Border of India and Bangladesh at Pillar 1275
DAY 6 ~ Mawlynnong – Shillong – Guwahati
After Breakfast depart to Shillong. At Shillong, visit the Elephant Falls, the Shillong Peak and the Don Bosco Museum. Depart and arrive at Guwahati.
DAY 7 ~ Kamakhya Temple – Guwahati Airport
Early morning visit the Holy Maa Kamakhya Temple at Guwahati. Later in the day we drive to the airport and you fly to your onward destination. Tour Ends. Bid Adieu!
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