World’s Only Double-Decker Living Root Bridge in Nongriat
Your Meghalaya Tour is incomplete without visiting the famous Double-Decker Living Root Bridge of Nongriat, also known as the Umshiang Double-Decker Root Bridge. Nestled in the heart of Meghalaya’s Khasi hills in the northeastern part of India, these unique double-decker living root bridges of Meghalaya are one-of-a-kind in the world.
Amongst all the natural wonders that this state has been blessed with like the cascading waterfalls, meandering rivers, rolling hills, and lush valleys of Meghalaya, the living root bridges spread across the state are truly extraordinary.
Recognizing their cultural and ecological significance, efforts are underway to seek UNESCO World Heritage status for these living root bridges, further highlighting their global importance.
Let me tell you a few good reasons to visit the Umshiang Double-Decker Living Root Bridge!
Why Double-Decker Living Root Bridge is a Must-Visit Site?
Of course, the living root bridges are one of the top places to visit in Meghalaya, but what makes the Umshiang living root bridge more special is that it is the only double-decker living root bridge in the world.
The sight of these double-decker living root bridges will captivate you with its natural beauty. The roots of trees intertwined across the river in two layers, the crystal clear natural pools below, sunlight peeping through the lush forest cover, and the rock steps leading to the bridges, the sight is nothing short of a fairytale.
Walking through them, surrounded by the lush greenery and listening to the sound of waterfalls, you’ll feel like you’re part of a story that celebrates the strength of tradition and the magic of nature in Meghalaya. Visiting the Nongriat double-decker root bridge will also allow you to interact with the locals and understand their lifestyle.
These bridges are true masterpieces of sustainable engineering and reflect the unique harmony of nature and the tribes/ communities staying in the Khasi and Jaintia hills. These bridges are centuries old and are the perfect way to experience the fantastic connection between people and nature.
So, whether you are a nature lover, adventure enthusiast, culture vulture, or someone looking to explore the unique places in India, you must visit these double-decker living root bridges of Nongriat.
About the Umshiang Double-Decker Living Root Bridge
The Umshiang Double-Decker Living Root Bridge is 30 meters long, which makes it the longest living root bridge in the world. This living root bridge holds immense practical significance for the local communities living around it. They are like the arteries in the hilly terrain of Meghalaya.
These bridges provide a safe passage during monsoon seasons when rivers swell, and conventional bridges may be washed away. Moreover, they serve as sustainable alternatives to wooden or steel bridges that require regular maintenance and replacement.
Apparently, the upper level of this particular double-decker living root bridge was built as an alternative to the lower layer as sometimes, during monsoon the river rises significantly enough to cover the bridge, thus blocking the path leading out of the Nongriat village.
The living root bridges of Meghalaya are not just marvels of nature but also hold fascinating legends. One popular legend tells how the spirit of “U Rymbai” imparted knowledge of creating these bridges to a local Khasi tribe member.
Another legend tells the story of a Khasi Tribe member named Lajong, who discovered the capabilities of the rubber trees (Ficus elastica trees) and built these bridges with the guidance of a soothsayer.
Over the years (500 years approx), the locals have mastered the art of carefully guiding the aerial roots of the rubber trees across the waterbody and then intertwining them to form these natural marvels we see today. To know more about the famous Living Root bridges, their legends, and the process of building them, check out this detailed blog on the Living Root bridges of Meghalaya.
The Khasi tribe also believes that these root bridges are not just functional, but also possess healing powers, for those who walk on it would experience rejuvenation and a sense of well-being. These legends add a touch of magic to these incredible natural structures.
Besides being useful, these living root bridges are now a symbol of pride and culture for the Meghalayan people. They show how people live in harmony with nature and how resourceful the local people are. These bridges represent the deep ties between the land, the culture, and the wisdom of the people that have been around for generations.
How To Reach Umshiang Double-Decker Living Root Bridge?
This double-decker root bridge in Nongriat can only be reached by trekking. The starting point for this trek is the Tyrna Village, located 65 km south of Shillong and 11 km south of Cherrapunji. You can reach the Tyrna Village by different modes of transportation as follows.
- By Air: The nearest airport to Tyrna village is the Shillong airport (90 km), but since this airport is not well connected to the major Indian cities, tourists mostly prefer to reach Guwahati Airport (180 km) Guwahati Airport has direct flights from major Indian cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, etc. You can then reach Shillong or Cherrapunji by hiring a local cab/ taxi and travel further to Tyrna to start the trek.
- By Railway: The best and most convenient nearest railhead to the Tyrna village is the Guwahati Railway Station (156 km), which has trains reaching from the major Indian cities. From Guwahati railway station, you can reach Tyrna village by local cab/ taxi.
- By Road: The nearest major town to Tyrna village is Cherrapuniji, which is well-connected by the network of roads across India. You can easily reach Tyrna village from Cherrapunji by road in your private vehicle or by using the network of local buses, taxis/cabs.
Trek From Tyrna Village To Umshiang Double-Decker Living Root Bridge
Once you have reached Tyrna Village, which is the starting point for this double-decker living root bridge trek, you have to go all the way down to 3200 steps to reach your final destination. Since hiking to these bridges is one of the most popular adventure activities in Meghalaya, there are signboards in this village that will guide you to the hiking trail leading to this double-decker root bridge.
Once you are on the hiking trail, you will be mesmerized by the sheer beauty of the lush forest that surrounds you. You will also cross a small living root bridge as soon as you start hiking. Along with these natural root bridges, there are a few wired suspension bridges built during the British Era, for hiking and exploring around.
Walking over these suspension bridges and marveling at the glittering blue waters underneath is a treat to eyes and soul. The overall adventure feels like a fairytale movie. Reaching the Umshiang Double-Decker Living Root Bridge from the Tyrna Village will take approximately 1.5 – 2 hours, depending on your speed and route.
Things To Do Around the Umshiang Double-Decker Living Root Bridge
Around the mesmerizing Umshiang Double-Decker Living Root Bridge in Meghalaya, there’s a world of natural wonders and cultural experiences waiting for you. Here are some delightful things to do:
- Swimming: Dive into the azure blue waters beneath the root bridges to refresh your spirits after a tiring hike. You can also relax by dipping your feet in the natural fish ponds for a unique spa experience.
- Hiking: Explore the picturesque Nongriat village through hiking. The lush green surroundings and rustic charm of the village will leave you in awe.
- Waterfall Exploration: Embark on a one-hour hike further from Nongriat to the cascading Rainbow Falls. Witness the spectacular beauty of this waterfall in Meghalaya and feel the spray of its mist against your skin.
- Photography: Capture the breathtaking beauty of the living root bridges, the lush forests, and the scenic landscapes. Every corner is a photographer’s paradise.
- Bird Watching: Keep an eye out for beautiful birds in this region. You may spot species like the Scarlet Minivet, the Blue-throated Barbet, and the Greater Yellownape among others.
- Interact With the Locals: Engage with the warm-hearted villagers and gain insights into their unique lifestyle. Their hospitality will make you feel right at home.
- Try Local Cuisine: Savor the delicious local dishes of Meghalaya to complete your cultural experience. Taste traditional Khasi delicacies like Jadoh (rice with meat), Nakham Bitchi (fermented pork), and momos that offer a burst of local flavors.
The Umshiang Double-Decker Living Root Bridge is not just a marvel of nature but a doorway to an enchanting world of adventure, culture, and natural beauty. Be sure to enjoy these activities to make your visit unforgettable.
Places To Stay Around the Umshiang Double-Decker Living Root Bridge
When you’re visiting the incredible Umshiang Double-Decker Living Root Bridge, you’ll want a comfy place to crashstay. Here are some options to consider:
- Nongriat Village: For an authentic experience, you can stay in Nongriat itself. There are very limited homestays in Meghalaya’s Nongriat village that offer a chance to live among the villagers. It’s simple but gives you a taste of the local lifestyle. Do not expect luxury, since it is a remote area. The meals served in the homestays in Nongriat will also be basic.
- Cherrapunjee: You can complete the trek by evening and return to Cherrapunjee if you want to stay in comfortable accommodation. There are several budget, mid-range, and luxury hotels and resorts in Meghalaya’s Cherrapunjee area to choose from, according to your preferences. It’s a short drive from the Double-Decker Bridge and offers more amenities and dining options.
- Eco-friendly Huts/ Camping Grounds: In the surrounding area, you’ll discover eco-friendly huts and cottages that allow you to stay close to nature. It’s a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the environment. Some adventurers also prefer to set camps near the Living Root Bridge and enjoy their time in nature.
- Mawlynnong: If you want to experience the local culture up close, then you must stay in Mawlynnong. This nearby village is famous for being one of the cleanest in Asia. You’ll find homestays and lodges here, providing a unique experience in a picturesque setting.
Remember, the accommodations are simple and might not have all the luxuries of big cities, but the beauty of the surroundings more than makes up for it. Enjoy your stay and embrace the rustic charm of this incredible region.
Things To Know Before Visiting Umshiang Double-Decker Living Root Bridge
Here are a few Meghalaya Travel Tips for better planning your visit to the double-decker living root bridge of Nongriat.
- If you are not going to stay in the Nongriat village OR If you are going to trek to the Rainbow Waterfalls, it is recommended that you begin your trek early in the morning (between 7 AM to 8 AM) so that you can explore the places at leisure. Do remember that it gets dark early in Meghalaya since it is located in the eastern part of India. It is highly advisable to reach back to the base before dark (4 PM).
- It is not necessary to have a very good level of fitness for this trek, but you should be habitual in walking long distances. On the way to this double-decker root bridge, be prepared for a good workout. The trek to the bridge can be physically demanding, with steep paths and countless steps. Ensure you’re in decent shape and have sturdy walking shoes.
- Dress comfortably in lightweight, breathable clothing. A good pair of walking shoes or trekking boots is essential for the uneven terrain. Don’t forget to carry a raincoat or umbrella as the weather can be unpredictable. If you are planning to swim in the natural water pools, carry an extra pair of clothes with you.
- Be ready to pay a small entry fee to access the bridge and the surrounding area. It goes towards the maintenance and conservation of this natural wonder. The charges are very basic ₹10 per person and ₹20 for a camera. Try to carry cash as mobile networks might not be available for digital payments.
- If you are a seasoned trekker or an adventurer, you might not need a guide for this trek. But it is advisable to hire a local guide who knows the trails well. They can share interesting insights, tell local legends, keep you safe, and help you navigate the route.
- Pack some snacks and water for the journey. While you may find small eateries along the way, it’s always a good idea to have some refreshments with you. You can get basic refreshments at the stalls at the starting point and in the Nongriat Village. Try paying in cash at these places.
- Accommodations around the bridge are basic, so plan your stay in advance. Nongriat Village offers homestays for a more immersive experience. But since their number is very limited, you might not find a place to stay there in peak season.
- Respect the environment and the local culture. Dispose of your waste responsibly and maintain the beauty of the area. Do not litter.
- Keep in mind that the bridge is closed on Sundays for maintenance. Plan your visit accordingly to avoid disappointment.
With these tips in your backpack, you’re all set for an incredible experience at the Umshiang Double-Decker Living Root Bridge. Enjoy the natural beauty and cultural richness of this unique destination!
Frequently Asked Questions For Double-Decker Living Root Bridge in Nongriat
Where is the Double-decker Living Root Bridge located in Meghalaya?
The Double-decker Living Root Bridge is located in the village of Nongriat in the state of Meghalaya, India. It is around 65 km south of the capital hill station of Shillong.
What is a Living Root Bridge, and why is it special?
A Living Root Bridge is a unique natural bridge created by guiding the roots of the Ficus elastica tree across a river or stream. What makes it special is its construction entirely from living tree roots, which grow stronger over time, making the bridge more robust and durable. These bridges are not only engineering marvels but also represent the harmonious coexistence of humans and nature.
How do visitors reach the Double-decker Living Root Bridge in Nongriat?
Visitors can reach the Double-decker Living Root Bridge in Nongriat by taking a trekking trail that starts from Tyrna village. The trek takes approximately 3-4 hours and includes steep paths and countless steps. It’s an adventurous journey that leads to this natural wonder.
What is the best time to visit the Double-decker Living Root Bridge?
The best time to visit the Double-decker Living Root Bridge is during the dry season, which typically runs from November to April. During this period, the weather is pleasant, and the paths are more accessible, making it an ideal time for an enjoyable and safe visit.