I had read many travelers rave about the fascinating “living roots” bridges in Meghalaya, grown naturally by the Khasi tribe from the roots of the Ficus Elastica tree. These bridges take decades to grow and are extremely strong and one of a kind in the world. This was enough to get me excited and go see what the fuss is all about 😉 So on a beautiful October afternoon in Meghalaya, me and my friends see out on this exploration.
We had an option to choose between the Double Decker Living Roots bridge and the Long Living Roots Bridge – as the name suggests the Double Decker bridge is two bridges, one underneath the other and approximately 3200 steps one way from the starting point. The Long Bridge is a single bridge, about 1600 steps one way from the starting point and takes about two to three hours to complete. It was already afternoon, coming back in the dark seemed tough, and since everyone wasn’t in the mood for an extended trek, we decided to check out the Long Bridge.
Truth be told, I was disappointed! I mean, here we were in Meghalaya, within trekking distance of a supposed natural wonder and we weren’t doing the whole jig! A three hour trek seemed so trivial, and I was grumpy, but I decided to accept the popular opinion (silently thinking I will run one way and back and then laugh at everyone who supported doing the shorter trek 🙂 ) Ah, I guess we are all heroes in our own minds!
My lovely readers, I don’t really want to dissuade you all into doing this trek, but you do need to be a little prepared else this can turn out to be fairly tiresome. Firstly, 1600 steps one way is not catastrophic but these are not regular sized steps, they can be long, short, high or not and that can get very exhausting for your ankles. Secondly, the trek is a climb down first and you need to save your energy for the obviously tougher climb up. We didn’t carry enough water or snacks which was a bad move (and you will not get anything on your way).
Anyway, along we moved, passing by other trekkers, stopping on the way to speak to the villagers and just observing the views, flora and fauna. We passed one house whose inhabitants were happily enjoying an afternoon siesta outside their hut and waved hello to us.On being asked how they sustain a living, the lady of the house informed us that they grow betel leaf and sell it in the city. I also suspect they were laughing in their heads seeing us tired and sweaty since they do this trek almost daily to fetch their supplies and other essentials.
We reached the Living Roots Bridge and it is fascinating that such a bridge has grown and stayed put, all naturally. We crossed the bridge, five people together, amidst the sound of roaring water below. It is slightly tough to walk without holding on to the rails as the bridge is narrow, and in places the gaps on the side railings are big enough for a person to slip through, so you need to be a little careful. I crossed the bridge and back, and it was so much fun that I wanted another go at it (see the video below which I shot while crossing the bridge) !
On the way back, we came across a small stream and took a break to wash our faces and rest. The journey back was definitely tiring with no water to get us going, the only solace was the wonderful green views. An hour and a half later, I reached our car exhausted but extremely excited as the overall experience is great!
My tip : The trek is very doable if you have a reasonable level of fitness, and do not have knee issues – all you need is comfortable cotton clothing, good walking shoes and water by your side.
How to reach: Go past Cherrapunji town, till you reach a small village called Nongriat. You will see signage leading you to the Living Roots Bridges.
Have you completed this trek? If so, how was your experience?