Paradise in Nongriat, where bridges come alive

A photo essay about the idyllic village of Nongriat and the living root bridges of Meghalaya, India, 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: living root bridges.

Photo essay of Nongriat and the living root bridges of Meghalaya - HDR image of a root bridge and waterfall - Lost With Purpose

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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…

Photo essay of Nongriat and the living root bridges of Meghalaya - Betel nut trees in Nongriat, Meghalaya, India - Lost With Purpose

… and are sometimes tied for increased support.

Photo essay of Nongriat and the living root bridges of Meghalaya - Tied rubber tree roots in Nongriat village, Meghalaya, India - Lost With Purpose

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

Photo essay of Nongriat and the living root bridges of Meghalaya - Cable guiding tree roots in Nongriat, Meghalaya, India - Lost With Purpose

 

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 from Cherrapunji

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 root 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.

Photo essay of Nongriat and the living root bridges of Meghalaya, India - The steep stairway to Nongriat village - Lost With Purpose

And so our journey begins…

Photo essay of Nongriat and the living root bridges of Meghalaya, India - The cement stairway to Nongriat - Lost With Purpose

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.

Photo essay of Nongriat and the living root bridges of Meghalaya, India - Alex standing at the end of a suspension bridge - Lost With Purpose
Winding through the lush green jungle on a trek to Nongriat village in Meghalaya, India.
Photo essay of Nongriat and the living root bridges of Meghalaya, India - A wobbly suspension bridge over a river on the path to Nongriat, Meghalaya, India - Lost With Purpose

But the landscape more than made up for the strain.

Photo essay of Nongriat and the living root bridges of Meghalaya, India - The winding path down to Nongriat - Lost With Purpose

#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.

Photo essay of Nongriat and the living root bridges of Meghalaya, India - Homes on a mountainside in Nongriat village - Lost With Purpose

Talk about a house with a view!

Photo essay of Nongriat and the living root bridges of Meghalaya, India - Houses in Nongriat - Lost With Purpose

Photo essay of Nongriat and the living root bridges of Meghalaya, India - Serene Guesthouse in Nongriat - Lost With Purpose

Serene guesthouse, our temporary home in Nongriat

Torrential downpour trapped us inside for the first day…

Photo essay of Nongriat and the living root bridges of Meghalaya, India - Heavy rain in Nongriat - Lost With Purpose

Photo essay of Nongriat and the living root bridges of Meghalaya, India - Sebastiaan reading in the rain - Lost With Purpose

… 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 and the root bridges of Meghalaya

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.

Photo essay of Nongriat and the living root bridges of Meghalaya, India - A local village girl walking past Umshiang double-decker root bridge - Lost With Purpose

Like this photo? You can buy it as a print!

Photo essay of Nongriat and the living root bridges of Meghalaya, India - The lower level of Umshiang double-decker living root bridge - Lost With Purpose

Photo essay of Nongriat and the living root bridges of Meghalaya, India - A long exposure of the waterfall below Umshiang living root bridge - Lost With Purpose

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.

Photo essay of Nongriat and the living root bridges of Meghalaya, India - The Umshiang double-decker root bridge - Lost With Purpose

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.

Photo essay of Nongriat and the living root bridges of Meghalaya, India - A cable suspension bridge near Nongriat - Lost With Purpose

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

Photo essay of Nongriat and the living root bridges of Meghalaya, India - Waterfalls and clouds over Nongriat village - Lost With Purpose

Photo essay of Nongriat and the living root bridges of Meghalaya, India - Crossing a suspension bridge near Nongriat - Lost With Purpose

Don’t slip!

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

Photo essay of Nongriat and the living root bridges of Meghalaya, India - Long exposure of Rainbow Falls - Lost With Purpose

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!

One of two levels of the Umshiang living root bridge near Nongriat village in Meghalaya state, India. The bridge is made from the roots of rubber trees, carefully guided across the expanse with betel nut tree trunks over several decades.
A waterfall and root bridge in the works near Nongriat village in Meghalaya state, India. The bridge is made from the roots of rubber trees, carefully guided across the expanse with betel nut tree trunks over several decades.
The Umshiang double-decker living root bridge near Nongriat village in Meghalaya state, India. The bridge is made from the roots of rubber trees, carefully guided across the expanse with betel nut tree trunks over several decades.

Practical tips for visiting Nongriat

Getting there

Visitors to Nongriat will need to head to Cherrapunjee (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 Cherrapunjee 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.

Extra tips

Bring an umbrella, and a cover for whatever bags you have. Serious downpour is a good possibility, and you don’t want your valuables getting wet! Plastic bags are, for once, your friend.

 

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

American by birth, citizen of nowhere in particular by nature. Addicted to ice cream. Enjoys climbing trees, dislikes falling out. Has great fondness for goats which is usually not reciprocated.

More about Alex

12 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?

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