Nongriat – A Montage of All Things Green

A quaint little village nestled in the tropical rainforests of Meghalaya.

The perfectly rounded moon glistened as it’s bright white reflection fell on the crystal clear waters of Umshiang River that flowed through in shadows of light and dark, right below the double root bridge. It was a December night but not as cold as one would expect. The sky was clear with not a single cloud. It could have been full moon that night, I can’t say for sure but I couldn’t care less.

I seated myself on a flattened rock right beside the double root bridge watching the moon dance in the ripples of the river. There was magic in the air and my heart was strumming a random tune. In this utterly romantic setting, the only thing missing was the prince of my dreams…… Sigh!

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Pic 1: The jaw-dropping wonder of the Double Root Bridge

We were at Nongriat village, in the interiors of Meghalaya – a state in North-East India that houses lush green mountains, thick tropical rainforests, gorgeous water falls, rivers with clear waters and several other wonders of nature. Situated at a distance of 10 Km in the south of *Cherrapunjee, Nongriat’s fame is attributed to the three functional root bridges. Of these, the double root bridge is outstandingly significant.

[* Cherrapunjee, known as Sohra locally, previously held the distinction of being the wettest place on earth, which is now taken over by Mawsynram, another place in Meghalaya.]

The quiet village with its few tiny houses scattered around a thick canopy of green is like a soothing balm to sore eyes and tired legs. Trees of bay-leaf, betel-nut, jackfruit, pepper, bamboo, rubber, a variety of shrubs, ferns, and herbs converge in multiple shades of green creating a healing effect of harmony and freshness. Every household had an artificial beehive just outside their homes making us wonder if bee-keeping was an obsession with the villagers.

Nongriat is accessible only by foot and the pathway constitutes an almost continuous flight of 3600 steps, spread over 3.5 Km. After an early lunch, we had started walking from Tryna village, which is also located in Cherrapunjee. The steps are concrete man-made, which start with a continuous descent that go on incessantly and is merciless on the knees. On the way, we stopped at a single root bridge and our wobbling knees got some much needed respite.

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Pic 2: We start off from Tryna village, there are railings for support but only initially.
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Pic 3: The single root bridge enroute to Nongriat

The steps continue in the same way, interrupted only by a few precarious hanging bridges made of iron rods. These bridges sway dangerously the moment you step onto them threatening to throw you off onto the gorgeous greenish-blue river with huge boulders that lie below. The swaying becomes even more erratic when several people cross simultaneously and if you encounter someone coming from the opposite direction, you may just want to send a prayer heavenward.

Quite an adventure, indeed!

Just before reaching Nongriat, the steps go upward and the descent suddenly changes to a pretty steep climb.

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Pic 4: Those continuous steps take a toll on your knees
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Pic 5: Those bridges were absolutely exhilarating!

The entire stairway is through lush green tropical forests with leaves and roots brushing up against you. This region gets copious amount of rain and it’s fairly common for people to experience heavy rainfall while walking this trial. Not surprising as rains and rain-forests are like bedfellows and you cannot expect one without the other.

Having been born and brought up in the state of Meghalaya, I have seen enough of rains in my lifetime – and ugh, I am so not a rain person! Thankfully it was winter and the weather was pretty good.

And by the way, don’t be surprised if you encounter rain during winter, it rains throughout the year in this part of the country. The winter ensured something else though – no leeches! God knows how much I dislike them!

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Pic 6: The surrounding greenery takes away all tiredness in an instant
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Pic 7: Carpet of ferns, aren’t they gorgeous!
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Pic 8: The final ascent as we arrive at Nongriat

Apparently, the Government is planning to build a road to Nongriat. While it will be immensely beneficial to the local people of the village, I selfishly hope that doesn’t happen. Nongriat will lose its uniqueness. Besides, the ills that will come with a road will surely jeopardise the delicate balance between man and nature in this gorgeous little paradise on earth.

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Pic 9: A village home. This is not in Nongriat, but enroute just after the single root bridge. Khasis have great taste when it comes to home decoration, even a village home will tell you that!

Life is by no means easy for the villagers at Nongriat. The village has no school. While some children study in boarding schools in Cherrapunjee or Shillong, others walk these steps (~ 7000, both ways) on a daily basis.

There is no health care center, villagers rely on their herbal and natural medicines but for serious issues the only way out is again through the stairway. There are no shops in the village except one that sells Maggi and biscuits to travellers. Villagers have to get everything, including grocery all the way from Cherrapunjee.

Hence, devising a way to provide these basic necessities instead of building a road would do good to the villagers.

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Pic 10: The homestay at Nongriat where we stayed that night.

Most people come to Nongriat for a day trek. Our idea of staying a night at Nongriat turned out to be a great decision.

Nongriat is fascinating for nature-lovers – a picture perfect destination to experience nature’s abundance. Besides the forests, rivers, bridges, Nongriat is home to the fascinating Rainbow Falls. And, that sure deserves a separate post.

Author: neelstoria

Traveling, Gardening, Trekking, Hiking, Storytelling, Writing, Nature, Outdoors, Yoga, DIY

20 thoughts on “Nongriat – A Montage of All Things Green”

  1. Its always a pleasure to read your posts Neelu. They are so detailed and beautifully written. Wish I could have accompanied you to this little piece of heaven on earth.

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  2. Wettest place on earth, that is interesting.
    All these stuffs you have here it is so refreshing. I was feeling so low. It helped me. Im glad I visited your blog. I was once a trekker. 🙂
    Btw I am so scared of leeches. I hate when it starts to itch. You always know there is a leech.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am beyond happy to hear that this piece uplifted your mood a little :)…..probably you should start trekking again.
      And talking about leeches…..I just find them soooo creepy. I wrote about my first encounter with leeches “A date with leeches”, do read when you have time.
      And, thank you so much for spending time and reading this.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I will do that. I want to do it when I’m free. Without needing to take a break.
        I did go for a unplanned hike just yesterday. The never ending hills (I’m sure you’re familiar with it) were amazing. Everything was green. It was a wonderful experience.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I can imagine the green rolling hills. Good that you stay in a place where you can do a unplanned hike like that. I live in the congested city of Bangalore with not much scope to do anything like that unless I step out to the outskirts, which needs quite bit of planning. I hope you get that free time soon so that you can do one to your heart’s content 😊

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          1. I live in the valley, Kathmandu valley. I am surrounded by hills. I love the hills.
            Abt my hike it was fun but that forest had tigers and leopards.(not so much and the locals told us its safe. They also told abt tigers eating their cattles n sometimes dogs leaving only the head). That was scary. There was always this fear.

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            1. Wow! Now I am really so jealous….I was born and brought up in the hills too….but in a city now due to job…I so want to visit Nepal, someday I sure will….
              Hiking a forest having tigers and leopards!! Now that is quite something…

              Liked by 1 person

              1. With tigers and Leopards. It is fear lols. I have 2 feiends from Bangalore. Both like it here. The residential areas can be similar to what we have here. They told me that. Its the hills and mountains they love.

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  3. Night-stay at Nongriat – wouldn’t have known had I not read this blog. I’ve only known people doing day treks. A full moon night would be even better. Your obsession with Nongriat and its double-decker living root bridge is understandable – such a unique creation. 😊😊I don’t know if any others exist. Even if they do, their number would be very few. Which brings me to the point that I’d read an article recently about a young American travel writer, Patrick Rodgers running a crowd-funded project to map the living root bridges of Meghalaya, a heritage unique to the state. The link is here: https://www.google.co.in/amp/indianexpress.com/article/express-sunday-eye/bridges-across-forever-5146572/lite/.

    It also mentions some of the same issues you mentioned – too many tourists leading to degradation of places, and endangering the living root bridges, risking their breaking down. And I agree with you that providing food, and health and schooling facilities would work much better than building a road and inviting too many tourists, which, though might lead to economic upliftment, but would come at the cost of both environmental and social degradation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First of all a very warm welcome to my blog. It’s been a while since you visited :)….Thank you so much for the link, I just read it and can totally relate to it – ‘hordes of tourists stand over its gnarled roots’ – have seen this with my own eyes and stood there feeling helpless!

      As for staying at Nongriat, yes its a great thing to do. Many people stay there for days!

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