5/12/2009 to 5/21/2009 | India , Meghalaya

The living root bridges of Cherrapunjee

May and I returned to Shillong where we met up for a last time with Phejin at her sisters’ place.  After a few days of rest and relaxation May and I headed off to see one last wonder of the northeast, the living root bridges near Cherrapunjee.  The villagers in the lush jungle valleys below Cherrapunjee have carefully trained roots across rivers to form bridges that strengthen, rather than weaken, with passing time.  Truly a remarkable and forward thinking practice, creating a bridge in this manner takes nearly a generation but once completed it lasts for generations.  Initially the roots are trained across the river with rope or nowadays wire eventually the roots gain strength and can support traffic across them.  The most remarkable of these bridges is a double-decker bridge near the picturesque jungle surrounded village of Nongriat.  The village has also built a small 6 room guesthouse near the bridge for the guests who come to marvel at the feat, though we were its only tenants at the time of our visit.  The town of Cherrapunjee is well established on the Indian tourist map, owning in part to its claim of being the wettest place on earth, as well as the numerous waterfalls in the surrounding area.  Jeep loads of Indian tourists ply the roads around Cherrapunjee especially on weekends and holidays, fortunately the one and a half hour hike down to Nongriat keeps them away from the most remarkable sight in the area.  While a visit to Cherrapunjee itself would not make any of my must see lists, a visit to the idyllic village of Nongriat must be among the most relaxing and wonderful spots in the northeast.  With friendly locals, ample forest trails to nearby root bridges and waterfalls to occupy the days, and a nice clear stream for a cool refreshing bath in the afternoon Nongriat is a place one could easily spend a week or two.  Although we only spent a couple days before making the climb back up to the main road at the village of Tyrna, a short hitch in the back of truck away from Cherrapunjee.

With a final farewell in Shillong we all parted our separate ways, May headed down to Calcutta, Phejin back to Nagaland, and I started a marathon journey to Kathmandu, Nepal.

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