One of the things that people say you absolutely have to see in Meghalaya are the living-root bridges that are found all over the Khasi hills. Getting to most of these bridges – maybe all – requires some kind of a trek and we decided to go see the one at Nongriat, which is a double-decker root bridge. More about what these bridges are later.
We left early morning by taxi to Sohra (the local name for Cherrapunji). It was really misty so we couldn’t really see a thing out of our windows.
From Sohra we took a bus to Mawshmok, from where the trek to Nongriat begins, a supposedly 1.5 hour walk down 3000 stone steps. We asked for directions and started off. Half hour later there was no sign of any steps. We were on a rough, narrow and slippery path, surrounded by this magical, dense, jungle –I’d imagine the Amazon to look something like this – and we kept stumbling across amazing insect life, giant spiders, stick insects, a green snake, all sorts of bugs and creepy crawlies, all these lovely sights to a pretty intense background percussion score of an army of cicadas. Here’s some of the stuff we saw.
4 hours later we were still on this lovely, but clearly wrong, path, with no village in sight, and we started wondering if we should be getting worried. It looked like we were heading into deeper jungle (if that was possible). We were also making slightly slow progress thanks to slippery footwear so we decided to send Iswar on ahead to do a little reccee while the rest of us followed at a slower pace. Just as he left, we found a small cave, more like a rock overhang under which we could rest, and just as we got under, the sky darkened and it started pouring. Tarun said something about bears, Rakesh said something about being stuck in ‘the wettest valley in the world’, we realised we hadn’t eaten anything other than one small paratha each six hours ago, and all we had with us were some biscuits, and before we knew it we were all slightly giggly and light headed and started singing loud tuneless songs to scare away the bears.
Iswar came back twenty minutes later with his report. The path we were on headed on to a river crossing and then continued on up another hill, so it was clearly the wrong one. It had to take us somewhere since it was a path, but we had no idea where to and how long it might take us. So we decided to head back the way we’d come.
Twenty minutes later, Rakesh and I were walking a little ahead of the others, and we realised we were at a stream crossing that we’d never seen before. We were lost again! And we had no clue how. Rakesh solved some complex mathematical equations on the spot and concluded that was some probability that this second wrong path might take us to Nongriat so we decided to head on.
And as luck would have it, we found a living root bridge, and next to it, a cement path, and on the path, people (I’ve never been so happy to see people), who told us we were on the right route to Nongriat, and that it was only ten minutes away. It took us another hour (and about 500 up-steps) to get there, but we did get there.