Deep in the dense tropical forest of Meghalaya, and shrouded in cloud and rain for much of the year, are some astonishing man-made natural wonders. Known as living root bridges, inventive members of the Khasi tribe have trained them to grow from the roots of ancient rubber trees, native to the northeast region. The root bridges provide a stable alternative to wooden bridges, which decay and get destroyed during the lengthy monsoon seasons.
Living Root Bridge
Meghalaya’s double-decker and single-decker root bridges are unique in the world and are a sight to behold. The bridges are tangles of massive thick roots, which have been intermingled to form a bridge that can hold several people at a time.
Living root bridges are a major tourist attraction; however, one has to trek for 2-3 hours to view these bridges.
How to Reach
Cherrapunjee can be reached by road from Guwahati & Shillong. Guwahati airport is around 123 kms while Umroi airport is an airport located at Umroi — 30 km from Shillong — Meghalaya. By rail, Guwahati is the nearest railway station.
The treks to the root bridges vary in duration and level of difficulty. The most well known ones are:
Ummunoi Root Bridge
Starting point: Laitkynsew village. Location: Ummunoi River near Siej village, Nongkroh, via Sohsarat village. Duration: 2 kilometers one way. 3-4 hours return. Descent: 1,400 feet. This 17 meter root bridge is one of the oldest known root bridges in the region, and is perhaps the most popular with tourists due to its combination of accessibility and impressiveness.
Umkar Root Bridge
Starting point and location: Siej village. Duration: 0.5 kilometers one way. 30 minutes return. The best option for those who are lacking in fitness or mobility, this root bridge was partly washed away by flash floods. The villagers are in the process of regrowing it, which is interesting to see. There’s a waterfall alongside the bridge during the monsoon season.
Ritymmen Root Bridge
Starting point: Tyrna village. Location: Nongthymmai village. Duration: 1.5-2 hours return. This 30 meter root bridge is the longest known living root bridge.
Umshiang Double Decker Root Bridge
Starting point: Tyrna village. Location: Umshiang River at Nongriat village. Duration: 3 kilometers one way. 4-5 hours return. Descent: 2,400 feet. The “holy grail” of root bridges, the unique 20 meter Double Decker root bridge requires determination to reach but it’s worth it. Not everyone can go there though. It’s imperative that physical condition be taken into account.
Mawsaw Root Bridge
If you’re not too exhausted and have the time, continue to walk around 20-30 minutes past the Double Decker root bridge. The natural swimming pools near this root bridge are a highlight.
Please do visit these Root Bridges and feel free to share your comment and experience with us.