Meghalaya is a natural wonder. It has rich tropical forests full of nature’s mysteries. The mighty Himalayas are in the backdrop and the Khasi hills surround them in every turn.The infinite mysteries of time and nature take life in Cherrapunji’s double-decker root bridge. This ancient structure represents what we can achieve when we live in sync with nature.
In 2018, I took a trip to Meghalaya. I’d been there before, however, I had not explored it in this much depth earlier. Here, the earth and sky kiss, and clouds run amongst us. During this trip to Meghalaya, I got a chance to explore the mysterious root bridges of Cherrapunji.
I started for Cherrapunji in the morning from Shillong. In the North-east states, the sun rises quite early and disappears even faster. Still, waking up early is worth it. Meghalaya has the most breathtaking sunrise views. The moment the sun’s golden rays touch Meghalaya, everything comes to life. It looks as if life is waking up from a deep, misty dream.
The trek to the double-decker bridge begins at the small village of Nongriat. There is a flight of stairs downhill leading to the bridges. The stairs are steep and quite tiring. But all my fatigue went away when I came across my first root bridge. Passing this narrow bridge provided me the adrenaline kick I needed. Living Root bridges are made by guiding the roots of a strong tree into a shape you desire. Such a creation reflects man’s strength and will to endure. It also shows how willing nature is to survive with us and provide for us.
I can’t forget the first time I set my eyes on the double-decker root bridge. I was surprised to see, how man and nature together can create and mold marvelous wonders. A single living root bridge takes years to form and strengthen. But it isn’t something you build and forget. Unlike our modern-day structures, root bridges are alive and strengthening with each passing day. They are growing with us and supporting us to travel.
The root bridge runs above a small stream of clear water. Lush green trees, the cold water, and the canopy of leaves above surrounded the bridge. Sunshine peeked in between the trees like hope in my heart. Such was the sound of the flowing river that I couldn’t resist taking a swim. The stream cascading over a tiny waterfall was a treat for the eyes. It offered me a moment of peace, a feeling of connecting with nature. The root bridge was a living thing, and it helped people move across places. It was a comforting feeling to know that a tree, more ancient than anything I’d seen was holding me, making sure I wouldn’t fall.
Cherrapunji’s living root bridges brought me closer to nature. They offered me comfort like no other. Such an experience remains with you wherever you go. If you tell me today, to close my eyes and go to my happy place – I’m at Cherrapunji, below the bridge, taking a swim in the clear water, looking at the trees above.
Getting to Cherrapunji is quite easy. Firstly, for people who prefer to travel by air, Umroi Airport in Meghalaya is the closest to Cherrapunji. Once you land at Umroi, Cherrapunji is a two-hour drive away. You could also take a flight to Guwahati and travel by bus or a car from there.
Secondly, for those of you who prefer traveling by train, the closest railway station to Cherrapunji is Guwahati. To travel from Guwahati to Cherrapunji, you can either rent a self-drive car or catch a bus from Guwahati to Shillong. Finally, from Shillong, you’ll have to change buses to reach Cherrapunji.
The best time to visit Cherrapunji is from March to June. Although, it’s summer season, however, the weather stays cool. It is comfortable to travel in these times as Cherrapunji witnesses’ excessive rainfall during most parts of the year. The summer season would give you an opportunity to step out and explore places.