Updated – 20th July 2017
Nongriat, a small Khasi village in the beautiful state of Meghalaya, is nestled in the heart of north-east India. With close proximity to Cherrapunji, the wettest place on earth, Nongriat village is easily missed by tourists. Which means, for people like me, who love to stay away from the maddening crowds and overly touristy spots, it was a breath of fresh air. Not just that, this place is so pristine it is actually as close as you can ever get to – Paradise!
The reason Nongriat is still untapped is because its not easy to reach. From Cherrapunji, you can take a taxi upto the the closest village – Tyrna and then, lo behold – the road ends! So, you need to walk up around 1.5-2 hours through thousands of steep steps to reach Nongriat. It is definitely not for the unfit or lazy travelers so be prepared to walk for 5+ hours and climb 6000+ steps (back and forth). You can actually run up and down the Nongriat steps and do this faster but we were slow and also took plenty of pictures & breaks en-route.
If that sounds too stressful, you can even stay in Nogriat for few days to explore more and take a break. It is surely not easy to walk back same day but do-able, if you lack time. The village has many basic budget Nongriat homestay options (as low as $3 per bed, per night) to choose from for the discerning traveler.
Sadly, we didn’t have enough time to see everything so we stayed in a village 30 mins away – Sohra. This village was close to Cherrapunji as well so we spent a day exploring Cherrapunji and the next in Nongriat, which worked perfectly for us – though, I would’ve given anything to have at least 2 extra days to explore this hidden gem.
Our Trek to The Double Decker Living Root Bridge, Nongriat Village
We arrived at Tyrna around 0830 hrs as we were to head back to Guwahati, Assam same day. The idea was to wrap up Nongriat first as this was high on our list and going back without paying it a visit would’ve been such a shame. It is easy to just rent a cab from Cherrapunji to Nongriat and we booked the guy for dropping us back as well.
The double decker living root bridge is one of its kind and the major attraction in Nongriat trek. These bridges are formed over a course of 15 years using tree roots built over time atop stones, sticks and few other objects kept there by local Khasi villagers to help the tree shape up. As long as the tree is healthy, the bridge can survive for hundreds of years. The Nongriat Double Decker bridge is one of the most renowned one. From what we heard it will be a triple decker bridge in next 10-20 years.
Initial walk is all downhill and easy so you don’t really have to make a lot of “maggie stops” enroute. You will have to cross 4 amazing suspension bridges which were a lot of fun and the last one was especially scenic with the amazing waterfall and lagoon below.
We literally made just one stop to the single-decker living root bridge Nongriat – which is a 10 mins detour, one way, from the path towards the double decker bridge. This meant we spent an extra 30 mins in walking back/forth and clicking pictures at this bridge.
The entire way towards Nongriat Meghalaya is beautiful however, as soon as you enter the village (after you see the signboard, yes! there is one somehow in this remote place!), it is simply stunning beyond words. I saw the prettiest, velvety butterflies fluttering around in a blast of colors everywhere. It felt like I was in the “center of the earth”. Anyone watched Journey to the center of the earth? That’s exactly how this place looks!!! I can honestly say this is the best place I have seen in India so far – that’s how much I loved it.
After entering the village, it was another 30 mins hike to the double-decker bridge and when we finally made it, there was absolutely no one in sight. That’s my kind of place. Soon, 4 other tourists trickled in but that’s nothing compared to the massive crowd we witnessed (over 300-500 people) at the living root bridge in Mawlynnong – it was so crowded that it totally lost its charm, for me!
If we had more time, we would’ve loved to explore the numerous side paths which lead to more root bridges and several other Nongriat falls. The rainbow falls Nongriat are the most popular ones which are further ahead on the trek route, plus there is plenty of other ultra cool stuff to see when you wander off aimlessly. Lovely place for explorers who like to walk in paradise to discover places which others might not venture to.
Have you been to any such place which you felt was still off beat and untapped in our modern commercialized world? If not, a visit to the Nongriat village Meghalaya would be a great addition to your Indian itinerary. I would love to know about other hidden paradises – tell me in comments below.