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.

MEGHALAYA – MAWLYNNONG VILLAGE, RIWAI LIVING ROOT BRIDGE #3

Bucket List Ticked Off, Travel

That night had one of the best dinners at Ka Bri War Resort, we reached the Mawlynnong village and spent the night in a homestay at the cleanest village in Asia. Even on the darkest night, we could see how clean the village was and how much positivity the place emanates.

The next day we woke up early and set out to explore the cleanest village in Asia. Mawlynnong is located 90 km from Shillong, along the India–Bangladesh border, in the East Khasi Hills district. Known for its cleanliness, the villagers collect wastes in bamboo dustbins. In 2003, Mawlynnong was awarded the title of the cleanest village in Asia by Discover India. Since 2007, every house in the village has a functional toilet. Alongside cleanliness, the village has achieved a lot- be it 100% literacy rate, or a women empowerment scenario that the rest of the world can only dream of.

Bamboo Dustbins!
Can you see women cleaning the streets in my background?

Early morning you can see women brooming the streets of the village. We walked around the village a bit and admired the efforts put up by the residents to maintain the village. Not even a dry leaf or a plastic wrapper. The households planted beautiful plants that bore pretty flowers in them. There was a tree-house whose top view cost us 20 rupees for the priceless view of Bangladesh and a beautiful sunrise. We spent some time in the tree house enjoying the view before we started off to our next destination.

Flowers from the Gardens of the Locals
View from the Tree-House Top

Meanwhile, the explorer in me wanted to collect and take away some dirt from the cleanest village I have ever seen. I found in a corner some dried leafy thing, and it was so beautiful. I don’t know what it was, but I picked it up and put it in a wooden box that I brought from the local market of Mawlynnong.

From there we started at 8:30 AM and reached a small village of Riwai. A trek of a few metres took us to the Living root bridge. The view was beautiful. The roots were of the rubber tree and are said to be strong enough to bear the weight of a whole herd of wild elephants. The root bridge is said to be 300 years old and is still growing stronger day by day.

From there, we started our journey for the famous and scary Bamboo Trek. Halfway into the journey.. our vehicle broke down again. Alas! And we were again stuck on the roads for some 2 hours. Huh, we were disappointed as most of us wanted to do that trek. But anyways, this is a part of travelling and life as well – embracing the uncertainties.

After a few hours of strolling on the road, we started for Cherapunjee. On the way to Cherapunjee, we stopped at the Mawkdok Dympep Valley viewpoint. The view was breathtaking and the cherry on the top was the maggie point at the spot that served one of the best noodles and momos. After eating to our fullest, we got to know there’s Ziplining happening nearby. We were all set for the adventure activity. Ziplining at the valley was organised by Pioneer Adventure Tours who provide the service in two different packages, one is 400 INR, (2 Way Ride) another is 800 INR (4 Way ride). I, being the daredevil that I am, took the longer one. In the longer 4-way ride, you take 2 short rides. Then after the 3rd ride, you trek a little uphill to a higher point. I got little dizzy in between due to altitude change and rested in the way for a while. Again I trekked up and from there the experience was on another level. You literally get a birds-eye view of the whole valley while flying like one from one end to another. You see a hidden waterfall in the valley to your right. You see huge trees, dense rainforest and a vast valley where the setting sun greets you through the clouds.

After the beautiful experience of Ziplining, I took some time to reflect on the past year that was on the verge of ending so beautifully. How I accomplished certain things over the past few months and here I am, ticking off some important bucket-list items. The sense of accomplishment came out of my heart onto my lips in the form of a smile while I sipped some hot milk tea admiring the sunset at the distant valley. Here I was, in the Mawkdok Valley of Meghalaya, falling in love with the state and myself while I was bidding goodbye to 2021.

TO BE CONTINUED…

MEGHALAYA – SHNONGPDENG #2

Bucket List Ticked Off, Travel

But alas! within 1 hour of the journey our vehicle broke down in the middle of nowhere… We were really disappointed to know that we will not be able to complete our itinerary for Day 02. However, with some jugaad on the way, we managed to reach our endpoint ‘Shnongpdeng’.

Shnongpdeng is a beautiful place in East Jaintia Hills where the serene river Umngot flows whose water is so clear that you can literally see the rocks, fishes swimming and river beds underwater. The water in the river is so clean that the boat sailing gives out the look of them floating in thin air. It also has a campsite to die for, just beside the flowing Umngot River.

We were allocated our camps by the side of the river. To make it up for the loss of the day our tour guide with the locals, arranged for a bonfire evening in between the boulders and chilling cold beside the Umngot River. The fire was started, dinner was served, and the jamming started with slow travel songs creating the vibe. We soaked ourselves with the warmth of the bonfire while stargazing in the clear sky that we generally miss in the hustle-bustle of the city life. After a while, we crashed in our respective tents.

The very next day, I woke up at around 4:30 AM, due to the cold and sound of the flowing water. Where was I? Oh yes, we were camping at Shnongpdeng. The moment I peeked out of my tent, I was blown away by the humongous mountains greeting us from not very far. The sunrise was exhilarating and the sound of the river flowing nearby was just heavenly. I came out of the tent and soaked myself with all the positive beautiful energy around. You can literally hear the gushing of the river water, chirping of the birds and feel the wind caressing your face while you admire the beauty of the whole setup.

Sunrise at Shnongpdeng

Later, around 08:30-09:00 AM, the activities started. Till then, we were done with our daily routine and breakfast. Shnongpdeng offers a wide range of adventure activities – Snorkelling, Cliff Jumping, Boating, Kayaking etc. I took a boating ride and Cliff Jumping. At the starting point, we were given life jackets and we boarded the boats. We sailed across the beautiful river and admired the clear waters of Umngot. I had never seen such crystal clear blue water ever and the very excitement of seeing the riverbeds and boulders inside water exponentially increased as we went further into the river. We sailed some more and returned to our Cliff Jump point.

Cliff Jump was very terrifying at first. The water was so clear even from such height (8-10 feet) we could see the huge rock inside the waters. The view of the rocks was so terrifying, I stood there for 5-8 minutes to see everyone jump fearlessly into the water and swim to the shore happily due to the adrenaline hit. I was taking my time to absorb the fear, but that rock inside was laughing straight at my face! After a few moments, unable to make up my mind to jump into the river, I asked my guide to push me inside the waters. And he did! WHOAA! I had my first Cliff Jump (rather Cliff-Push) experience! It was an experience like never before. I loved it.

Later we returned with another boat to the starting point. Changed our wet clothes, stuffed ourselves with some Bread-Omelette and started towards the Dawki-Tamabil Border Crossing (India-Bangladesh). We greeted the Indian Army posted there and quickly clicked some pictures.

Bangladesh ko Chu ke nikal gaye hum toh!

From there, with the sense of accomplishment of ticking off another Bucketlist item (Cliff Jumping), I started towards the Pynursula Root Bridge Trek. It was a small trek and reached the starting point by 03:30-04:00 PM. It was a 30 minutes trek down and a 1-hour trek up. The living root bridge was beautiful. It was truly a wonder of nature. The locals have done a great deal to preserve the beauty of the bridges and the valley as well. When we reached the top after climbing 1200 steps (approx), we were exhausted to death. That night had one of the best dinners at Ka Bri War Resort, we reached the Mawlynnong village and spent the night in a homestay at the cleanest village in Asia.

TO BE CONTINUED…

MEGHALAYA – UMIAM LAKE, LAITLUM CANYON, AND MORE #1

Bucket List Ticked Off, Travel

Oh! what a beauty.

Recently I visited Meghalaya on a trip with my friend. Here’s what I did and my experience of the place.

Being culturally rich and naturally gifted in abundance, Meghalaya, the abode of clouds was all set to win my heart from Day 1. This time I travelled with the tourist company India on wheels which organised a 7-day trip covering the whole of Meghalaya.

The Trip started on 27th December. Early morning we reached the Guwahati Airport and after a small breakfast, we started our day for Shillong. The beauty of Shillong needs no introduction. The expansive landscapes, towering trees and bewitching lakes, no wonder early European settlers named it “Scotland of the East”. We reached Shillong after a 3-hour long journey, but the excitement of exploring the beautiful state nullified the tiring journey. Before reaching Shillong, the first place we explored on the way was Umiam Lake. The lake is also known as Borapani Lake locally and is a man-made lake in the middle of the hills with an enthralling backdrop. The size and magnificence of the lake will leave you awestruck. There were options of boating and enjoying some fun activities, but we had our introduction besides the Lake.

I travelled with a group of 18 people who were fun hanging out with at a different level altogether. There were software engineers, CAs, businessmen, housewives, kids, and all of them bound together by the love for travel and exploring places. After a brief introduction which was turned into an ice-breaking session, we started towards ML05 Cafe where we were served the tastiest meal that we least expected. Set up amidst beautiful tall pine trees and plantations all around ML05 cafe is a concept café that celebrates Shillong’s love for road trips & food.

After the sumptuous lunch and a quick photo session around the cafe, we headed towards the hotel room for the day.

We stayed at Silver Brooke Shillong Homestay for the night. The restaurant served one of the tastiest noodles I had tasted in my life. Then came the chilliest night I had ever experienced in my whole life. I belong to Bhubaneswar wherein in the coldest months, temperatures drop to a minimum of 16-18 degrees, and here I was struggling my way through the night in 5-7 degrees celsius. The next day I woke up early, got dressed and I was ready for the day again. The weather seemed to agree with me and so did the vibes of the city. With tasty Aloo Parathas, a soothing warm tea was served that we gladly gobbled to keep our core body temperature in place.

Trying to keep it all together in the आत्मा को दहला देने वाली ठण्डक…

After breakfast, we started towards our next day towards the next destination. The Grand Laitlum Canyon. A lush-green valley, Laitlum Canyons literally does justice to its name meaning “end of hills”, because the viewpoint appears at the edge of the land. Breathtaking gorges, steep winding paths, and carpeted hillsides snake their way down the valley.

Laitlum Canyon – The Grand Canyon of India

Later, we re-started the journey to our next destination. We were to cover Nartiang Monoliths, Krang Suri Falls, Nartiang ShaktiPeeth and end our day at Shnongpdeng. But alas! within 1 hour of the journey our vehicle broke down in the middle of nowhere…

TO BE CONTINUED...

VISIT ALL SHAKTIPEETHAS (L-T) contd.

Bucket List Ticked Off, Travel
  1. Bhairavparvat || Shakti Avanti || Elbow || Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh
  2. Kalmadhav || Shakti Kali || Left Buttock || Shahdol district of Madhya Pradesh
  3. Maihar || Shakti Shivani || Right Breast || Satna district of Madhya Pradesh
  4. Shondesh || Shakti Narmada || Right Buttock || at Shondesh in Amarkantak of Madhya Pradesh
  5. Eka Veerika Temple || Mahashakti Eka Veerika || Left hand || Mahur, Maharashtra
  6. Janasthaan || Shakti Bhramari || Chin || Nasik, Maharashtra
  7. Mahalakshmi Temple || Maha Shakti Aai Ambabai || Eye || Kolhapur, Maharashtra
  8. Nartiang Durga Temple || Maa Jainteshwari || Left Thigh || Meghalaya
  9. Biraja || Maha Shakti Vimla || Navel || Odisha
  1. Jalandhar || Shakti Tripurmalini || Left Breast || Punjab
  2. Bharatpur || Shakti Ambika || Left Toes || Rajasthan
  3. Manibandh || Shakti Gayatri || Wrists || Gayatri Hills in Ajmer, Rajasthan
  4. Shri Jogulamba Temple || Mahashakti Jogulamba || Teeth || Alampur, Gadwal district, Telangana
  5. Kamakshi Amman Temple || Navel || Maha Shakti Kamakshi Amman || Kanchi,Tamil Nadu
  6. Kanyashram || Shakti Sravani || Spine || in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu
  7. Shuchi || Shakti Narayani || Upper Teeth || Kanyakumari road of Tamil Nadu
  8. Shakti Tripur Sundari || Right Foot || Udaipur town, Tripura