Living Root Bridges which are found in Meghalaya are some mind-blowing man-made natural wonders. These amazingly beautiful structures have grown over a period of time and are among the biggest tourist attractions in Meghalaya. These marvelous structures are found in the deep dense tropical forest of Meghalaya.
Living Roots Bridges of Meghalaya are made by the Khasi and Jaintia people. They have made these bridges from the aerial roots of the trees found in the forest such as Rubber etc. These root bridges give a durable alternative to wooden bridges, which can weaken over time and get destroyed during the lengthy monsoon seasons. They can be seen all over Meghalaya and also in some parts of Nagaland.
Generally, it takes around 15 years or so for a new root bridge to become firm enough to tolerate the weight of people crossing it. However, it will continue to evolve and strengthen even more over time. Some of these living root bridges are assumed to be hundreds of years old, although no one knows their correct age. Their tangled webs of roots are almost spooky in nature and wouldn't look out of place in a fancy world.
The entire idea of living root bridges of Meghalaya got into the picture some two centuries ago (180 years accurately) when experts of the Khasi clan living in Meghalaya set rubber tree roots into hollow canes of Areca nut palm that reached halfway across the stream. The roots were nourished and cared for properly until they grew sufficient to reach the opposite bank, get completely twisted with each other, and make themselves capable enough to carry heavyweight.
These bridges are made from the roots of rubber trees also known as Ficus elastica trees. Some of these bridges are over 100 feet in length and take 10 to 15 years to achieve the ideal shape. Once completely grown, these roots serve for as long as 500 years. While some of the roots die because of their constant association of water, others grow and make up for the rotten ones, thus providing essential stability to the bridge. Of all the bridges in Meghalaya, the double-decker living root bridge in Cherrapunji and the single-decker root bridge in Shillong are the novel bridges in the world and make for superior attraction in the Northeast. Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya are acknowledged by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Living Root Bridges are seen in West Jaintia Hills district, East Khasi Hills district, and several other areas of Meghalaya that are among the places in India that deserve more tourists. However, the best living root bridges of Meghalaya are concentrated in Cherrapunji and Shillong. Cherrapunji and Shillong, both towns are accessible from Guwahati.
Guwahati is the main city in Northeast India and serves as a hub for everyone traveling to the region. One can easily find loads of commuting choices to all the places in the Northeast from Guwahati.
By air: Guwahati airport at a distance of 123 km from Shillong, is suitably connected with main airports in India. Reserved cabs are often preferred by people to come down to Shillong from the airport. Shillong to Cherrapunji is 54 km, which is a 2-hour drive by a local bus or a cab.
By train: Guwahati Railway Station is the closest railhead to Meghalaya. It is very well connected to other main railway stations across India and traveling to Shillong and other major towns of Northeast India is pretty convenient. The 148 km distance within Guwahati to Cherrapunji can be covered in 4 hours by a taxi or a private/government bus.
By road: Volvo buses and government buses operate from Guwahati to Shillong and Cherrapunji run in tandem at regular intervals. The 99 km distance between Guwahati to Shillong is packed with exciting views, which is certainly a treat for all travelers.
Meghalaya claims an equable climate throughout the year. The climate is pleasant and misty for the most part of the year. However, avoid the monsoon season – from June to August – because roads become wet and slippery. Walking in the forests and descending steps also grows difficult. For the rest of the year, just carry your bag and don’t skip carrying enough winter clothes.
The bridge is 2400 feet high, 30 meters long, and is the longest known Living Root Bridge in Meghalaya, which also suggests that to reach the bridge one has to make a sheer descent of 2400 feet. Having said that, the path from Cherrapunji to Umshiang root bridge is one of the most adventurous and challenging treks and requires a lot of courage and stamina. It is said that the bridge is 180 years old and there are plans to add another level to the bridge.
Holding the impressive distinction of being labeled as one of the most scenic and beautiful spots on earth, Cherrapunji at a distance of 56 km from Shillong, is a must-visit place in Meghalaya. Many waterfalls, misty environments, pleasant climate throughout the year, and lush greenery make for some of the most outstanding attractions for tourists from all over the world who gather to this tranquil retreat in Northeast India.
The bridge is a 3 km trek from village Tyrna, which serves as the base village. The distance of Tyrna village is 20 km from Cherrapunji. You won’t get too many buses running this way, therefore, the quickest means of reaching the Double-decker Living Root Bridge is hitchhiking or sharing rides. However, Sumo taxis are one of the most popular vehicles for driving in the region. The trek from Tyrna village is rather daunting and you must be in your best fitness to ascend the distance with ease.
A single-decker root bridge can be reached by trekking a path that starts from village Riwai. It is a small village and also very close to Mawlynnong. Mawlynnong is the Cleanest Village. It became famous when Discover India magazine in 2003 declared it as Asia’s Cleanest Village. Mawlynnong is a roughly 3-hour drive from Shillong. It is positioned close to the Bangladesh border. Here you can enjoy the marvelous view of natural balancing rock, which is one of the major attractions in Mawlynnong staying in a homestay.
Mawlynnong is 78 km away from Shillong and it can be quickly covered by a 2.5-hour taxi drive. You can take a shared Sumo or a jeep from Sumo Stand in Bara Bazaar, which is hardly a 15-minute walk from Police Bazar. To reach the Living Root Bridges you need to get down at Riwai village, a few kilometers from Mawlynnong. From there the bridge is a 15-minute walk.
There are in total 11 living root bridges in Meghalaya.
2)How can I reach Mawlynnong from Shillong?
Shillong and Mawlynnong are 78 kilometers apart. It will be 2.5-3 hours long drive. From Shillong Airport, you can easily take a cab to Khasi Hills Sumo Stand at Bara Bazaar and from there you can take a shared taxi to reach Mawlynnong. On the way to Mawlynnong, you will get to see some extraordinary waterfalls in Meghalaya that will absolutely blow you away.
3)How are living root bridges in Meghalaya made?
Living root bridges of Meghalaya are made by placing young roots of Rubber trees through hollowed-out trunks of Areca nut palm trees. They are built across rivers and streams by Khasi and Jaintia people. They can easily grow through the trunks to attach themselves to the other side.
The distance of a single-decker living root bridge from Shillong is 78 kilometers, which can be easily covered within 2.5 hours of a car drive.
Yes, Meghalaya is totally safe for all tourists, especially solo girl travelers and backpackers. But still, you can take precautionary measures that you would think are important. Like you can carry pepper spray with you at all times etc.
Yes, In 2003 Discover Magazine declared it as the cleanest place in Asia. After that Mawlynnong came into the spotlight. It is a small beautiful village which is around 100 km from Shillong. It is undoubtedly a natural haven.