Living Root Bridges in the Abode of the Clouds

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April 23rd 2012
Published: August 29th 2012
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After fun & interesting days in Shillong, we hire a cab to take us south to Cherrapunjee, on the edge of the escarpment that form the India-Bangladesh border.

Cherrapunjee hails itself as the "rainest spot on earth" altho now another village some 20 kms awary also makes a claim. Suffice it to say it is the rainest region on earth. During the monsoon season rain heavy clouds move north from the Bay of Bengal, over the plains of Bangladesh. When they hit the cliffs of Meghalaya they are forced to rise, where they cool, & start to drop percipitation. We were only there at the very beginning of the rainy season, but the clouds and storms at night were awesome to behold.

We stay at the Coniferous Lodge in "town" and are quite happy & well cared for there. The afternoon of our arrival, we walk the 3 Kms or so to the Mawsmai Cave. On the way, every child we see tells us "HELLO" and some add, "I LOVE YOU". Very Sweet! Ever walked thru a village with kids yelling "I Love You"? It's great!

The cave was interesting enough. We were a big part of the tourist attraction & had lots of people get their picture taken with us. Best was a bunch of very sweet girls from Mizoram who posed with us.

We made it back to the Lodge before the heavy rain started, but when it did, it knocked out the power & we had dinner by candlelight. Heavy downpour all night made me worry that our planned hike to the Living Root bridges the next day might be cancelled, but when the sun came up. the rain let up altho it was very foggy. Our hosts at the conefirous lodge arrainged a ride to take us to the trail head for the root bridges. They assured us we didi not need a guide to find the bridges, & it turns out they were right. We had to ask directions a couple of times from villagers we met, but we found everything with no problem.

The trail decends steeply on newly built concrete steps. The landscape on top of the escarpment, around Cherrapunjee is rather barren. We are told that this is because of the heavy rain pounding the earth and washing away the top soil. As we descend the steps, we are in a true tropical rainforest. Arriving at a small Khasi village at the bottom, the trail becomes less steep. We cross a kind of scary looking cable bridge. Soon we arrive at Nongriat Village where we pay a small fee to enter the village and use our camera. There is a snack shop here, but it is not open today. We meet a friendly and hungry cat, & share some of the buttered bread we brought from Coniferous Lodge.

The Kasi people who live in this area discovered that the roots of a rubber tree grow to the light & by training the roots thru a betel nut palm trunk the roots will grow across the river. We are told that it takes about 50 years to establish one of these bridges, but that once established, it will last for many generations.

At Nongriat we visit the famous Double decker root bridge. The bridges are amazing, like something out of the Hobbit. We also meet Mary, a beautiful and friendly woman who works at the small lodge nearby. We have a nice visit & she tells us that she wishes we were going to stay at the Lodge, but alas, we did not know about it & are expected back up top in a few hours for our ride back to Cherrapunjee. It would really be an amazing place to spend the night.

We wander on to visit another, longer living root bridge, & pass one local man, & a young woman with a guide going to the double decker. Other than that, we have the trail to ourselves. We stop to cool off in the stream, & it feels great in this "greenhouse" steamy atmosphere. Finially we start the climb back up. We are a little sad, no only to be leaving this magical place, but also knowing that this is really the beginning of our journey back home....

On our ride back to Cherrapunjee, the clouds have lifted for a little while & we are able to view the plains of Bangladesh below. It has really been a wonderful day....

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