The day we had long been waiting for had finally arrived! We would trek to see the living bridges of Meghalaya. While watching BBC’s Human Planet, River People episode, Matt saw this place and turned to me, “We’re going to India!”. I had always wanted to take him and he said one day, but this was the push he needed and now, we are here!
We had been well warned it was a big day ahead. More than 2000 steps down into the valley and approximately a seven-hour round trip. We didn’t mind, we just wanted to see these amazing natural creations. A hearty breakfast was needed and then we set off!
From Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort it was a short drive to the beginning of the walk. It was beautiful seeing the area in the early morning light. The sky was a perfect blue and the greens o the mountain and the yellow hues of the rock really stood out. People were starting their day in the nearby village and I felt peaceful and at ease.
Off we went. Down, down and a bit more down. The stairs started as platforms and quickly became narrow steps spiralling down the hills. I noticed after about 20 minutes of walking that my legs were shaky. I thought surely I can’t be this unfit. But when I mentioned it out loud, both Matt and our guide (who has done this many times) said they felt the same. I think it’s to do with the amount of stairs and also a slight case of vertigo, eek!
We arrived to the first village which was surrounded by leafy ferns, tall skinny palms and lush tropical plants. You can see that the copious amounts of rain this area receives pays off in a beautiful thick jungle. Dogs rushed over to me as I was carrying a bagful of snacks, woops. We then were met and greeted by small children who requested we join them for soccer but we had to keep on trekking.
Down, down and down again. Matt turned to me and said “You do realise that the further down we go, the more uphill climb we have at the end?” I replied “remember whose idea this was!” Case closed. It was so worth every step to be in this incredible jewel of life. We spotted big spiders and beautiful butterflies as we continues.
We came across the first of many bridges. This one however was a suspension bridge. I’ve crossed many of these when trekking in Nepal. This one however, was a little in need of repair. Six main large cables provided the base, with three large cables to either side which led back to the cement platform at either end. A number of medium sized cables as well as small pieces of wire provided the structure. We then walked over a river and very very large rocks. I’m pretty brave, but this tested me. Especially as a large group of teens were on it just before us bouncing and jumping around – yeah, nah!
There was another suspension bridge, so much clear blue water flowing in the rivers and streams, and countless steps before we reached the first of the living bridges. We literally stumbled across it. As it’s a bridge made of roots of a tree, you could miss it if you’re not looking. It can look like any other tree with winding roots. But as you walk closer you see that the path is actually made up of the tree. Over hundreds of years the people in surrounding villages have trained the roots to climb across the river to form bridges. This is the only way in which they can cross the raging rivers in monsoon season. I certainly wouldn’t trust a suspension bridge at that time! These bridges continue to grow and strengthen over the years.
It was exciting to see the first one but the true treasure of this region is the double decker living bridge. It’s the only one of its kind in the world and it’s what attracts 1000’s of tourists every year and International documentary film makers. You must walk through a little village before reaching it. They actually have homestays here and I said if we ever come back I would 100% spend the night here – what an amazing experience!
And then… it was there!
Magnificent. Enchanting. Breathtaking.
I love this place and I’ve only just arrived. It’s amazing to see how man can live in and amongst nature harmoniously. These people love and care for these trees and in return, these trees give them access to their beautiful jungle home.
We walked on, over and around the tree bridges just marvelling at the natural construction. We walked under and through to the other side which offered another incredible view. We sat by the pool of water that’s formed from the running waterfalls and just took it all in. The sun beating down on our head and backs, the cool water at our feet and the beauty of nature in front of us. I rested my head on Matt’s shoulder and I have no idea how long we were there. I could’ve stayed there all day.
Our lovely guide came to meet us and we enjoyed some snacks by the water together. He had gathered from some locals that there was another bridge about 15 minutes walk or so away. We decided to chill a little longer and then take a look at the other bridge.
The walk was pleasant again and revealed more of the beauty of this forest with tropical flowers and plants dotting the side of the path. Unfortunately, another dodgy suspension bridge needed to be crossed in order to get to the last of the tree bridges. Over large boulders and piercing blue water, we dangled on the most treacherous of all the bridges. It was great to see another of the living bridges and actually this was a very young one and seemed to be still in growth stages.
Matt wanted to keep exploring but we politely reminded him that however far we went, we had to go back the equal distance – all those stairs. We went back across the bridges and once again marvelled at the double decker living bridge. I could spend all day just walking across it and sitting by the waterfall. It’s such a natural wonderland. If only it wasn’t so cold, it would have been amazing to bathe in the waterfalls and pools.
We stopped for lunch at the first living bridge and enjoyed a simple but tasty meal of rotis and subji (vegetable curry). We were in need of energy for the long trek uphill but we also wanted to keep it light.
Again we crossed the suspension bridges and admired the sparkling turquoise waters below. Tempted to swim but also remembering the ice cold temperatures when we had dipped our hands in early. We slowly trekked up through the lush jungle. I’m not going to bore you with all the puffing and panting, but man that was a heavy walk! We made it, exhausted, but happy.
Arriving back to the hotel at 3pm, we were pleasantly informed that the rest of the day was at our leisure. Meaning naps and reading and a whole lot of not much. I got my local lady on and hand washed our under garments – felt rather chuffed with myself. But mostly it was a necessity as the hotel will not wash “under garments”.
Walking back past the villages and up the many many stairs.
Dinner was delicious again, though we were hanging out for the 7.30pm Buffet meal time. We ate quickly, thanked our hosts and were passed out by 8.15pm. What a day!
If you would like to follow our journey on Instagram, please check out @Lovellyem and search the #tag #EmmaMattyIndiaSing2017.
Written on Day 7 of our 24 Day trip in India with stopover in Singapore.