The Living Bridges Of Meghalaya (Guide)

Have you ever walked across a bridge made entirely out of living tree roots?

In the northeastern Indian state of Meghalaya, this isn’t just a fantasy but a reality.

Known as the “Living Root Bridges,” these incredible structures are created by weaving the aerial roots of rubber fig trees over decades.

Let’s take a tour of the enchanting world of these natural wonders. Join us!

InformationDetails
LocationMeghalaya, India
Best Time to VisitOctober to April
Main AttractionsDouble Decker Root Bridge, Umshiang Root Bridge, Ritymmen Root Bridge
ActivitiesTrekking, Nature Walks, Cultural Tours
AccessibilityNearest airport: Shillong Airport; Nearest railway station: Guwahati Railway Station
AccommodationHomestays, Guesthouses, and Resorts in Shillong, Cherrapunji, and Mawlynnong
Local CuisineTry traditional Khasi dishes like Jadoh (rice and meat), Tungrymbai (fermented soybean), and Pukhlein (rice flour bread)
Overview of Meghalaya bridges

How Were They Made?

Living root bridges are unique, handmade structures found in the rainforests of Meghalaya, primarily in the Khasi and Jaintia hills.

These bridges are grown rather than built, taking around 15 to 30 years to fully mature. The indigenous Khasi and Jaintia tribes have been perfecting this art for centuries, ensuring that the bridges remain strong and resilient.

The process begins by guiding the flexible roots of the Ficus elastica tree across a river or stream using bamboo scaffolds.

Over time, the roots grow and intertwine, eventually forming a sturdy bridge capable of supporting people and even livestock.

These living structures can last for hundreds of years, with some believed to be over 500 years old.

Living Root Bridge in Meghalaya, India- A Marvel of Engineering
byu/royalbluesword inEngineeringPorn

Famous Living Root Bridges

If you’re planning a visit to Meghalaya, here are some of the must-see living root bridges:

Double Decker Root Bridge, Nongriat

One of the most famous and spectacular bridges is the Double Decker Root Bridge in Nongriat village. This bridge has two levels, making it a rare and remarkable sight. The trek to Nongriat is challenging but rewarding, offering breathtaking views and a chance to experience the local culture.

Last year I got to see this handmade, double decker Living Root Bridge in all its glory. Meghalaya, India
byu/ethio_boy intravel

Umshiang Root Bridge, Mawlynnong

Located in the cleanest village in Asia, Mawlynnong, the Umshiang Root Bridge is another stunning example of these natural wonders. The village itself is worth a visit for its cleanliness, scenic beauty, and the warmth of its people.

Ritymmen Root Bridge, Cherrapunji

Situated in Cherrapunji, one of the wettest places on Earth, the Ritymmen Root Bridge is the longest known living root bridge. It’s a popular spot for tourists and offers a glimpse into the incredible ingenuity of the local tribes.

Other Attractions in Meghalaya

Meghalaya, often referred to as the “Abode of Clouds,” is a state brimming with natural beauty and diverse cultural experiences.

Apart from the mesmerizing living root bridges, here are some other must-visit attractions:

Nohkalikai Falls

Nohkalikai Falls, located near Cherrapunji, is one of the tallest plunge waterfalls in India, with a height of approximately 340 meters (1,115 feet). Surrounded by lush greenery, the falls create a dramatic and picturesque scene, especially during the monsoon season when the water volume is at its peak.

The name “Nohkalikai” translates to “Jump of Ka Likai,” rooted in a poignant local legend, adding a touch of mystery to the site.

Nohkalikai Falls
Nohkalikai Falls via Google Earth

Mawsmai Cave

Mawsmai Cave, also situated near Cherrapunji, is one of the most accessible and popular caves in Meghalaya. It offers an adventurous experience with its narrow passages, stalactites, and stalagmites.

The cave is illuminated at various points, highlighting its intricate formations and creating an otherworldly ambiance. Exploring Mawsmai Cave gives visitors a glimpse into the fascinating underground world of Meghalaya.

Dawki River

The Dawki River, known for its crystal-clear waters, is located near the town of Dawki, close to the India-Bangladesh border. The river’s transparency is so remarkable that boats appear to float on air, making it a favorite spot for photographers and nature lovers.

A boat ride on the Dawki River offers stunning views of the surrounding hills and forests, providing a serene and memorable experience.

Mawlynnong Village

Mawlynnong Village, often dubbed the “Cleanest Village in Asia,” is a testament to the community’s commitment to cleanliness and sustainability.

The village boasts well-maintained pathways, beautiful gardens, and bamboo dustbins, reflecting the residents’ dedication to preserving their environment.

Visitors can enjoy the scenic beauty, explore the living root bridges nearby, and interact with the friendly locals.

Mawlynnong also offers stunning views of the Bangladesh plains from the Sky View, a bamboo structure built on a tree.

Why Visit the Living Root Bridges?

Visiting the Living Root Bridges is not just about seeing an extraordinary natural phenomenon; it’s also about experiencing the rich cultural heritage of Meghalaya.

Here are a few reasons to include these bridges in your travel itinerary:

Natural Beauty

The bridges are set against the backdrop of lush rainforests, waterfalls, and crystal-clear rivers, making for an awe-inspiring natural setting.

Cultural Experience

Engage with the local Khasi and Jaintia tribes, learn about their way of life, and witness their incredible knowledge of sustainable living and nature.

Adventure

Trekking to these bridges is an adventure in itself. The trails often take you through dense forests, over streams, and past stunning viewpoints.

Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya

FAQs

Where are these bridges located?

The living root bridges are primarily found in the Khasi and Jaintia hills of Meghalaya, India. Some of the most famous bridges are located in villages like Nongriat, Mawlynnong, and Cherrapunji.

How old are the living root bridges?

Many living root bridges are centuries old, with some believed to be over 500 years old. They grow stronger and more robust with time.

How can I reach the living root bridges?

The nearest airport is in Shillong, and the nearest railway station is in Guwahati. From there, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach villages like Nongriat, Mawlynnong, and Cherrapunji. Trekking is often required to reach the bridges.

Conclusion

  • Visiting the living root bridges of Meghalaya offers a rare opportunity to see natural, living architecture that showcases the ingenuity and harmony between humans and nature.
  • The bridges are a testament to the Khasi and Jaintia tribes’ traditional knowledge and sustainable living practices.
  • Surrounded by lush rainforests, rivers, and waterfalls, the bridges are set in some of the most breathtaking landscapes in India.
  • The treks to these bridges provide an adventurous experience, allowing travelers to immerse themselves in the natural beauty and cultural richness of Meghalaya.
  • The living root bridges, some of which are centuries old, continue to grow and strengthen, standing as living monuments to resilience and natural engineering.
  • For nature lovers, cultural enthusiasts, and adventure seekers, the living root bridges are a must-visit destination, offering a unique blend of natural wonder and cultural heritage.

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