Paradise in Nongriat, where bridges come alive

A photo essay and guide about the idyllic village of Nongriat and the living root bridges of Meghalaya, India. Nongriat and the living root bridges are one of the highlights of India’s northeastern states.

 

In the far northeast corner of India lies Meghalaya, the “abode of the clouds”. The title is fitting: it’s the wettest state in India. Every year, more than 12 meters of rain pour down upon its lush green mountains and river valleys.

But the abundant rainfall isn’t the only natural wonder drawing tourists to this northeastern “sister” state. Deep in Meghalaya’s forests grow its most famous attractions: the living root bridge.

Root bridge and waterfall

Crafted by the local Khasi tribes, the bridges are made from the roots of rubber trees. Traditionally, the roots are carefully guided across spaces using the straight trunks of betel nut trees…

Betel nut trees in Nongriat, Meghalaya, India

… and are sometimes tied for increased support.

Looking for more inspiration in Meghalaya? Check out this article on the Mawsmai Caves!

Tied rubber tree roots in Nongriat village, Meghalaya, India

But these days, cables are also used as the base for a root bridge. Who are we to deny the extra stability of modern technology?

 Cable guiding tree roots in Nongriat, Meghalaya, India

 

The village of Nongriat in Meghalaya state, India, is the perfect place to escape into nature in the northeastern states. Home to waterfalls, mountains, and the famous living root bridges, Nongriat is not a place to be missed! Read on for more stunning photos of Nongriat.

Trekking to Nongriat

There are root bridges scattered all throughout Meghalaya, the bridge in Mawlynnong being the most famous. We chose to skip the crowds and visit the grandest of them all: Umshiang, the double decker bridge in the village of Nongriat, and one of India’s finest offbeat destinations.

Getting there, however, is no simple task. Though visitors’ ways are guided by a newly-minted cement pathway, the journey to Nongriat is a steep one. For information on getting to Cherrapunjee and then to Nongriat, check out our article on how to get to Cherrapunjee.

The steep stairway to Nongriat village

And so our journey begins…

The cement stairway to Nongriat

Do look down!

We were plagued by heavy rains as we wound through the forest. Knees wobbled from carrying our packs down the 2,500 stairs, and legs shook as we inched across slippery suspension bridges.

[bscolumns class=”one_third one_third_first”]Alex standing at the end of a suspension bridge[/bscolumns][bscolumns class=”one_third”]A boy trekking through the jungle[/bscolumns][bscolumns class=”one_third_last”] A wobbly suspension bridge over a river on the path[/bscolumns][bscolumns class=”clear”][/bscolumns]

But the landscape more than made up for the strain.

The winding path down to Nongriat

#junglelife

Luckily, the slog was mostly downhill (in this direction, anyway), and in about 1.5 hours, we emerged into the paradise that is Nongriat village.

Homes on a mountainside in Nongriat village

Talk about a house with a view!

Houses in Nongriat

Serene Guesthouse in Nongriat

Serene guesthouse, our temporary home in Nongriat

Torrential downpour trapped us inside for the first day…

Heavy rain in Nongriat

A boy reading in the rain

… but with a bit of luck and some dances to the weather gods, the pre-monsoon rains let up enough for us to venture out into the forests surrounding the village.

Paradise in Nongriat

We didn’t have to stray far to find the main attraction. Umshiang, the double decker living root bridge, is only a stone’s throw away from the village of Nongriat.

A local village girl walking past Umshiang double-decker root bridge

The lower level of Umshiang double-decker living root bridge

Waterfall below Umshiang living root bridge

This was taken during some seriously torrential downpour. Sebastiaan held a backpack rain cover over me and the tripod while I set up the shot. #teamwork! Note to selves: purchase umbrella for next time.

The Umshiang double-decker root bridge

Gah, just look at it! How is this even possible?

But, of course, there’s more to Nongriat than just the double decker bridge! Take the time to hike an extra hour, and you’ll be treated to all kinds of stunning views.

Cable suspension bridge near Nongriat

Not sure if heights or tetanus was a bigger concern while crossing this…

Waterfalls and clouds over Nongriat village

Crossing a suspension bridge near Nongriat

Don’t slip!

… and eventually come to the grand finale: Rainbow Falls.

Rainbow Falls near Nongriat

You can go swimming here, too! But beware—the water is not particularly toasty.

No matter what direction you walk, or which way you look, Nongriat is a treat. Do mark it on your map for your next Indian adventure!

[bscolumns class=”one_third one_third_first”]Living root bridge in detail
[/bscolumns][bscolumns class=”one_third”]A waterfall and root bridge in the works [/bscolumns][bscolumns class=”one_third_last”]The Umshiang double-decker living root bridge near Nongriat [/bscolumns][bscolumns class=”clear”][/bscolumns]

Practical tips for visiting Nongriat

Getting to Nongriat

Visitors to Nongriat will need to head to Cherrapunji (also known locally as Sohra) first. Shared Sumos and taxis run to the town from Shillong, Meghalaya’s capital. For more detailed information, check out our post on how to reach Cherrapunji from Guwahati (Assam) and Shillong.

Where to stay in Nongriat

There are several guesthouses in Nongriat, Serene Guesthouse being the most popular choice. Rooms are 300 Rs per person. Reasonably priced meals and snacking materials are available from the guesthouses.

Tours to Cherrapunji and Nongriat

If you’re short on time, or don’t want to go through the hassle of arranging everything yourself, we recommend Greener Pastures. They’re a very knowledgeable tour company based in Northeast India, and offer great tours of Meghalaya.

Extra tips for Nongriat and visiting the living root bridge

Bring an umbrella and a cover for whatever bags you have. Serious downpour is a good possibility, and you don’t want your valuables to get wet! Plastic bags are, for once, your friend. See our monsoon travel packing list for more packing tips. And if you want to know more about the state, check out this backpacking guide to Meghalaya!

 

The village of Nongriat in Meghalaya state, India, is the perfect place to escape into nature in the northeastern states. Home to waterfalls, mountains, and the famous living root bridges, Nongriat is not a place to be missed! Read on for more stunning photos of Nongriat.

 

In loving memory of Dr. BJF. I know you would’ve been all over this.

Alex Reynolds

American by birth, British by passport, Filipina by appearance. Addicted to ice cream. Enjoys climbing trees, dislikes falling out. Has great fondness for goats which is usually not reciprocated.

More about Alex

28 thoughts on “Paradise in Nongriat, where bridges come alive

    What an incredible place!! I didn’t even know that was there! I knew Meghalaya was rainy and lush, but this is simply beautiful! The more I read, the more I realise how little of India I saw thaw I was there…

    You know what they say: you need more than one lifetime to fully discover India.

    Wow! Those are some incredible photos, and it sounds like quite the adventure. It’s always fun getting lost in gorgeous places like that. Thanks for sharing! I’ve got to add this spot to my bucket list 🙂

    You’re welcome. Hope you get to visit one day!

    Ate furian says:

    Nice to read your blog…
    I’m tour guide from Indonesia.
    we have a same bridge like that on Baduy.
    Baduy is one of village in Indonesia.
    we call jembatan akar (root bridge).

    Sebastiaan says:

    Really? That’s great to hear. Indonesia is really high on our wishlist. I went twice a couple of years back, and totally fell in love with the country. On which island is Baduy?

    Sherab Tenzin says:

    Nongriat surely can be one of the best parts of India that represents harmonious coexistence links between nature and mankind. It looks so beautiful.

    Sebastiaan says:

    Absolutely! It is great to see that some people still value nature and try to work together with it.

    Dr Mansij Biswas says:

    hey…thanks for the detailed and beautiful depiction. I am planning to visit nongriat for one day (I shall be having a business trip in shillong, shall extend it by one day). do you think it is possible to make this trip shillong-cherrapunjee-nongriat-trek to double bridge-back to shillong same day?

    Alex says:

    If you leave very early—or hire your own transport—it could be possible. However, I highly recommend taking an extra day to stay in either Cherrapunji or Nongriat. You won’t have time to enjoy it otherwise!

    Eashita says:

    Hi, I’m 19 years old and planning a trip to the north east this June with a friend of mine. Wanted to know how many days would be ideal to visit shillong Cherrapunjee and Nongriat. Also if it’s safe for 2 girls to be traveling alone. Your posts are very helpful, thanks 🙂

    Alex says:

    At least 2 days for Nongriat, a couple more to see the surroundings of Cherrapunjee. And it’s definitely safe for two girls two be traveling on your own 🙂 Though things can technically happen anywhere, people are very respectful in Nongriat.

    Ruchi says:

    Hi amazing pictures =) would you recommend booking the accomodation in advance at Nongriat? Or can 4 people just reach there and expect to find a guesthouse with unoccupied rooms? 🙂

    Alex says:

    I’d say you should just show up earlier and hope for the best! Room can always be made in some shape or form. You can always bring a tent just in case.

    Faizan says:

    What time of the year did you visit Shillong,cherrapunji? Also would you recommend a visit in monsoon here?

    Giribaba says:

    The Sumo Stand for Shared Sumos to Sohra ( Cheerapunjee ) is locally known as “”Anjalee “” Sumo Stand

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