MEGHALAYA – TREK TO BEWILDERING DOUBLE-DECKER LIVING ROOT BRIDGE & RAINBOW FALLS #4

Bucket List Ticked Off, Travel

The 1st trek I have ever done! It was a freakish 3500 stairs one way down to this village.

Yes, I have never trekked in my life. The only physical activity I have ever done in my life was Dance, but the level of difficulty that this trek posed was nothing near to the pain we go through while dancing.

Here’s my story of the first trek of my life and how I accomplished it. 🙂

So, we started in the early morning at 8:30 AM. reached the starting point by 9:00-9:15 PM. We met our guides James and Jeff, bought the bamboo trekking sticks worth 20 INR and started on the trail.

Let me give you a little brief about the living root bridges. These bridges are made from the roots of the Rubber Fig tree (Ficus elastica) which are pulled, tied and twisted and allowed to merge for around 15 years before they will be ready to use. These bridges are used to cross streams and rivers which becomes impossible during the rainy season when the rivers are full and the flow is high. The roots entangle within themselves and take years before they can bear the weight of a man, the villagers wait patiently for the time they can use the root bridges. The roots bridges are the best examples of bioengineering and provide a stable alternative to wood bridges that get decayed during the lengthy monsoon season. Isn’t that interesting!

Coming back to the trek, it takes one full day to complete. The trek till Double Decker Living Root Bridge is a total of 3500 stairs to a village called Nongriat that starts from the village Tyrna. Along with 3500 stairs, there’s a suspension bridge, one boulder trail, a few uphills, a few downhills and a few plains as well. Then you reach the double-decker living root bridge. From there, there’s a 2 hours trek to Rainbow Falls. The trail to Rainbow falls is really rough. And then the most difficult part starts where you have to climb all the way up till the Double Decker Living Root Bridges and then to the top through the 3500 stairs. I would not recommend doing the complete trek in a single day (which we did as we did not have time to stay) as the trek becomes VERY VERY TIRING when done in a single day. Many homestay options are also available if you are planning to stay down there.

We started our trek into the rainforest of huge trees, sky-high mountains and beautiful valleys. I was all smiles at the initial part of the trek, it was my first trek ever. We passed many small villages on the way. Small stalls were set up beside houses selling chips, biscuits, glucose and beverages. Our guides made us recognise the sacred grooves, plants and flowers on the way. We crossed multiple crystal clear natural ponds in the region. It was indeed a hidden paradise in the abode of clouds, Meghalaya! The descent was quite easy. We hoped our way toward the double-decker root bridge while clicking pictures and making reels on the way.

Then we reached the Double Decker Root Bridge. What a majestic art of nature it was. It was beautiful. Under the root bridges, there are a few pools where you can dip your swollen feet and enjoy a natural fish spa in the crystal clear waters! It feels weirdly satisfying and it’s just got to be done. Better yet, it’s natural and FREE. After chilling a few moments in the root bridge, we started for Rainbow Falls.

As we have heard from our guide, the rainbow is visible only for a few minutes from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM. We had to reach there in time to catch the rainbow. I have not seen a rainbow since I was a kid. And the mere thought of seeing one kept me on my feet! We followed a few rough patches, boulders, vertical bamboo stairs and some normal stairs.

At around 12:10 PM, we reached the Rainbow Falls. And there it was. The Rainbow shining majestically with all 7 colours and view of the whole valley was just at another level. The water was super cold. And we had a sense of accomplishment in our hearts when we realised that we had not only completed one-way of one of the difficult treks but also caught the rainbow. Just in time. 😀

Sense of accomplishment of finishing the trek! (One-way, ofcourse)
Can you spot the rainbow?

While returning from the Rainbow Falls, we took a small diversion to a Blue Lagoon. The water as everywhere else in Meghalaya was soul-stirringly cold and clear. We sat for a few minutes along the lagoon and enjoyed the beautiful nature that we stay away from in the comfort of cities.

Only if I knew swimming..

Then, we were left with the painful task of climbing up the stairs! The trek up was Dreadful. We made a few friends along the way to whom we gave looks of despair and also encouraged each other while we had no idea how much more we had to climb up. The breaktimes became longer and more frequent. Our legs were ready to give up! Somehow we reached the top at around 05:00 PM.

Yeah, I was exhausted AF!

The trek was tiring and painful. I fell sick the next day. BUT IT WAS ALL WORTH IT! The valley, the flowers, the blue lagoons, the rough patches, the huge boulders and above all The Rainbows we caught on the way made the complete trek worth it all. The stories we heard on the way, the friends we made on the trip, the people we meet when we travel to new places. It’s all worth the pain that we might have to go through. And that’s what makes us travel again and again!

The difference of most of the treks of Meghalaya is that to reach your destination, you have to descend first then climb up all the way! This makes the treks more difficult. Nongriat Trek is similar and thus, here are some tips to complete treks in Meghalaya without any hurdles:

  1. Drink LOTSSSSSS of water. You sweat a lot, even in the coldest weather. Thus, some glucose intake is also advisable!
  2. Have some snacks on the way. Maggie, Bananas, Chips, Drinks etc. are available on the way.
  3. Decent trekking shoes are a MUST!
  4. If you are planning to stay at Nongriat, don’t forget to have Insect repellants. Mosquitoes are gigantic and are expected, guests. Rainforest, DUH!
  5. Don’t litter here and there. Make sure you throw wastes and wrappers only in the dustbins. The locals take good care of nature and you might end up in a nasty situation for throwing wastes here and there.
  6. Keep your will strong!
  7. Treat local people with respect. Ask permission before taking photos of anyone in Nongriat. Listen to their stories, and respect their advice. They know the land better than you.
  8. Pack light, it is difficult to climb with a lot of weight.
  9. If you’re trekking during the monsoons, it is advisable that you carry an umbrella, poncho or raincoat.
  10. Try reaching back to Tyrna village back before 5 pm. It gets dark very soon.
  11. Last but not the least, eat properly after the trek and Rest.
Life with lax Subhalaxmi Rout Rajhans Island Satapada Chilika Lake Odisha Tourism Incredible India

RAJHANS ISLAND – MY FIRST TRIP IN 2021

Travel

With the pandemic and quarantine taking its toll on our lives, staying at home for almost a year for someone like me was starting to feel uncanny. The quarantining and the isolation was starting to drive me crazy.

Needing a vacation from the seemingly endless ‘stay at home’, my maternal uncle suggested Rajhans Nature Camp which was instantly finalized by my cousins and aunts. It seemed that everyone was equally distressed with the whole situation and desperately needed a vacation.

A one day trip it was to this small Island, located at a place surrounded by the serene Chilika lake on one side and the boundless sea on the other. Not very far – it was just 108 km away from our home, Bhubaneswar.
We reached the place around 11 am, from where we boarded a boat to the island. The beauty of the lake was enhanced by the sunlight. The migratory birds watched us with sheer interest as we steered into their dining area, so we fed some of the seagulls flying above our boat. The tourists on the other boats passing by waved at us cheerfully as we made our way, singing and dancing, to the nature camp.

Rajhans Nature Camp in the CHilika Lake. Odisha Tourism. Incredible India. Irawaddy Dolphins and Migratory Birds from all over the world visit this place. Family Trip.
Rajhans Nature Camp

After a boat ride of around 2 hours, we finally reached our destination. They had tents ready for us as we had pre-booked our stay. After settling on the staying arrangements and a quick lunch, we decided to visit the nearby beach.
The sunset at the beach was divine. As it was located at a remote part of the island, it was devoid of any crowd or trash. I, with my cousins, went chasing after the small crabs who were poking their heads out of the sand as the waves rushed back. They quickly ran away to hiding beneath the sand on being chased, so we were unable to catch any. We also walked a small distance to check out the shipwreck of the Malaysian cargo ship JIN HWA32 that had crashed on the shore almost a year ago.

After witnessing the dazzling sunset to our tents, we came back , freshened up and got ready for the bonfire. The music and the delicious aroma of freshly cooked chicken pakoras set the mood for the party, complementing the dancing, games and the dinner afterwards. This brought our day to an amazing end!

Rajhans Nature Camp in the CHilika Lake. Odisha Tourism. Incredible India. Irawaddy Dolphins and Migratory Birds from all over the world visit this place. Family Trip. Bonfire.

Bonfire. 🔥

Originally tweeted by Subhalaxmi Rout (@_subhalaxmirout) on January 20, 2021.

The next day, thanks to the hooting of jackals and chirping of birds, we woke up early for a brilliant sunrise. From a distant village on the opposite shore, religious verses could be heard and this is how we started our second day. This was followed by a quick photo session with everyone and a delicious breakfast. We checked out of our tents soon afterwards and travelled to the dolphin viewing point. We did spot 3-4 of them playing on the surface. My sister tried to attract them to our boat by playing dolphin whistles on the speaker, but they were too busy playing by themselves to pay any heed. In case you don’t know, these dolphins that we spotted are actually a breed called Irrawaddy Dolphins. One of the local fishermen said that when Irrawaddy dolphins try to leave the lake, they meet bottlenose dolphins in the outer channel of the chilika lake. The former gets frightened and are forced to return toward the lake and in this way, they stay in the lake for longer times.

Rajhans Nature Camp in the CHilika Lake. Odisha Tourism. Incredible India. Irawaddy Dolphins and Migratory Birds from all over the world visit this place. Family Trip. Bonfire.Irawaddy Dolphins in Chilika Lake
Irawaddy Dolphin

With the dolphin sightings, the trip had reached its climax. We visited some beautiful temples on our way back to home and this is how my first trip of 2021 went.
Though the trip was a short one it did refresh my mind and soul. Life has been very difficult in 2020 and even though we may not be expecting much from 2021, hope is what we must not lose. Thus, wishing you all a very Happy New Year, and hoping this year brings love, prosperity, happiness, craziness into your life and you get everything you missed in 2020.

With love,
Lax.


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