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Living root bridges in Meghalaya which are must visit in 2020

By Chandru - May 20, 2020
Umiam Lake

Meghalaya, a lovely small hilly state in Northeast India, also known as the Abode of the Clouds and living root bridge makes it a paradise with its matchless natural beauty and awe-inspiring tourist attractions. It used to be a part of Assam and it’s famous for being the wettest place on earth which makes it a popular monsoon travel destination for those who love the rain. Khasis (the largest group), Garos, and Pnars — who predominantly earn their living from cultivation are the majority of the state’s population. Khasi Hills (Central range), Garo Hills (Western range), and Jaintia Hills (Eastern range) are the three main hills which the state is made up into. Out of these three hills, most tourist places are located in the Khasi Hills. It has remained unexplored by the tourists for quite some time.

Mawlynnong Village
Credits – Unsplash

Meghalaya offers plenty of things to do that’ll leave you mesmerized as it is a blissful state full of ambrosial hills entrancing lakes, rapturous valleys, bewildering caves and peerless waterfalls! One such wonder is the Living root Bridge! Shillong is the capital of the state and unmatchable in its beauty and some of the locations and attractions in the state are renowned internationally. Cherrapunji is a popular location that receives the highest rainfall in the world. Shillong has been called as the Scotland of the East, due to its natural scenic beauty.

History & Facts about Living root bridge

Some two centuries ago (180 years precisely), when veterans of Khasi clan living in Meghalaya put rubber tree roots into hollow canes of Areca nut palm that met halfway across the stream is when the whole idea of Meghalaya’s living bridges came into the picture. Until they grew enough to reach the opposite bank, get completely entwined with each other, and make themselves capable enough to carry heavyweight – the roots were nurtured and cared for properly.

Mawlynnong's Living Root Bridge
Credits – Wikimedia

Also read: Things to do in Meghalaya

Below are some interesting details/facts about these bridges:

  • They are made from rubber tree roots also known as Ficus elastica tree.
  • Some of the root bridges take 10 to 15 years to attain the perfect shape and are over 100 feet long.
  • These roots last for as long as 500 years, once they are grown completely. Due to their continuous association with water, some of the roots get decayed while others grow and make up for the decayed, providing the required stability to the bridge.
  • The double-decker root bridge in Cherrapunji and the single-decker root bridge in Shillong are the unique bridges in the world and make for prime attraction in the Northeast among all the living root bridges in Meghalaya.
  • Living Root Bridges in Meghalaya are World Heritage Sites recognized by UNESCO.

Location of living root bridges

Living root bridges are mainly found in West Jaintia Hills district and East Khasi Hills district and a few other areas of Meghalaya that are among the places in India that deserve more travellers. Cherrapunji and Shillong are the places where you can find the best root bridges.

Best time to visit Living Root Bridges

The weather in Meghalaya is pleasant and misty and boasts of an equable climate for the most part of a year. It is better to avoid the monsoon season – from June to August – because the roads become slippery which makes walking in the woods and descending steps difficult.

Also read: Best time to visit Meghalaya

Must visit living root bridges in Meghalaya

As mentioned earlier, there are many places in Meghalaya where you can find the living root bridges. But Cherrapunji and Shillong are best among them. This is where you would be able to find Double-decker Living Root Bridge (Cherrapunji) and Single-decker Living Root Bridge (Shillong).

Also read: Nohkalikai Waterfalls Cherrapunji

Double-decker Living Root Bridge (Cherrapunji)

Double-decker living root bridge is 30 meters long bridge that stands 2400 feet high and is the longest known Living Root Bridge. This also means that to reach the bridge one has to make a steep descent of 2400 feet. One of the most challenging treks is the path from Cherrapunji to the Umshiang root bridge and requires a lot of grit and stamina. There are plans to add another level to the bridge and it is said to be 180 years old precisely.

Double-decker living root bridge
Credits – Wikimedia

Cherrapunji which is located at a distance of 56 km from Shillong, is a must-visit place in Meghalaya and holds the proud distinction of being addressed as one of the most picturesque and beautiful places on earth. Tourists from all over the world flock to this peaceful retreat in Northeast India because of its numerous waterfalls, favourable climate throughout the year, misty environs, and lush greenery.

Tyrna village is considered as a base village for reaching Double-decker living root village. This village approx. of 20 km from Cherrapunji and from here, the bridge is 3 km trek. The fastest means of reaching the Double-decker Living Root Bridge is hitchhiking or sharing rides as you won’t find too many buses running on this route. Sumo taxis are one of the widely used vehicles for commuting in the region. One must be in their prime fitness to scale the distance with ease as the trek from Tyrna village is daunting.

Also read: 11 Reasons To Visit Cherrapunji In 2020 That Make It A Heaven On Earth

Single-decker Living Root Bridge (Shillong)

The single-decker root bridge is located close to village Riwai. It can be reached by trekking a path that starts from village Riwai. This small village is very close to Mawlynnong – a quaint heaven which has been declared as the cleanest village in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Living Root Bridge
Credits – Wikimedia

Mawlynnong is located close to the Bangladesh border and is a rough 3-hour ride from Shillong. One of the major attractions in Mawlynnong is to come here to enjoy the splendid view of natural balancing rock. There are some really interesting places to see and things to do here, along with some warm homestays. We would definitely recommend you to plan a trip to the North East and see for yourself.

Also read: Trekking in Shillong

Well – this place looks fascinating, doesn’t it? Then what are we waiting for? Pack your bags and plan a vacation to the North East with Pickyourtrail to witness some of the charming locales of Meghalaya, be it woods, rivers, waterfalls, and wonders-out-of-the-world like Living Root Bridges.

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