Tucked away in the heart of the emerald Khasi hills is a small village called Nongriat. Interestingly, wheels are useless when it comes to reaching this village. The only mode of transport to the place are your pair of legs.
How did we reach Nongriat ?
The last motorable point is the village called Tyrna. You can hire any taxi to Tyrna from Shillong which will cost you around Rs.1500. The trek to Nongriat starts from this village. Nongriat is only accessible by foot, thereby automatically limiting the number of visitors to a manageable level.
The trek –
The trek was very deceiving for the first 10-15 minutes. It passes through the Tyrna village and we literally trekked through their backyards. It appeared as an easy trek when suddenly a sea of never ending stairs appeared. To add to our dilemma, the clouds also started pouring and luckily we could find a shelter point which was a small stall. (The villagers are very nice and humble, and the shopkeeper gave us her umbrellas and asked us to return them on our way back). We resumed our trek soon after. The scenery was magnificent. There were barely any glimpses of the blue sky because of the umbrella of greenery forming a canopy above us and the non stop climb was also taking its toll on our knees. Plus, I had a heavy backpack too. After walking for an hour, we came upon a village on the way. There were a few shops selling snacks. Here the path diverged. A small signboard indicated the way to the living root single decker bridge which also leads to the Rainbow falls. We took the other trail that took us to Nongriat village. It is along this track that you reach the Double Decker living root bridge.
Nongriat as we saw !
We heard Nongriat before we saw it ! Nongriat is surrounded by waterfalls on three of its sides and they were making loud rippling noises. There was an organic fragrance amidst the leafy forest and the sun winked at us from behind the trees. Some kids had flatten a small ground in the hill and were playing football. The scenery was lush and there were numerous water crossings on dangling bridges. There were also few shops nearby. Most of these shops were run by women. In Meghalaya, the Khasi people follow matri-lineal culture. After the wedding, the husband of the youngest daughter goes to live with his wife’s family, who owns the property. Another interesting fact is that the children take on the surname of the mother. Interesting, is it not?!
What to eat and where to sleep ?
There are very few places of accomodation in Nongriat. There is only a single guesthouse and few private homestays. We went there in summer which is considered and off season and yet the guesthouse was full. We then stayed at Byron’s homestay who just had a room saved for us. During the winters it is difficult to find accommodations without pre-booking. For the dinner, they served a veg buffet and it was delicious. They also keep noodles if you are hungry and need to grab a quick bite before the dinner.
The secrets of Nongriat –
Nongriat is more than just the double-decker bridge. An extra hour hike on any direction will treat you to all kinds of stunning views. The Rainbow falls is a gem and the root bridges are an engineering marvel. It is also a paradise for an entomologist as it shelters more than a thousand different species of colourful insects. There are secret pools and lagoons where you can take a swim anytime and it is full of folklores that are better than your bedtime stories. No matter what direction you walk, or which way you look, Nongriat is a treat.
Bonus tips –
If you’re short on time, or don’t want to go through the hassle of arranging everything yourself, I would recommend Jungleflit. They’re a very knowledgeable travel-tech company based in Northeast India, and offer great tours of Meghalaya and other NE states. And umbrella is a must here and also a cover for whatever bags we carry. Torrential downpour is always a possibility here.