Discovering living tree root bridges and the wonders they lead you…
They were the reason I came to the state of Meghalaya in the North East of India, but definitely not the reason I would go back. Like two people with outstretched arms interlocking their fingers, a tree from each side of the river outstretched it roots which laced around each other to form a bridge. Living up to five hundred years these bridges grow thicker and stronger over centuries to carry villagers from one side to the other.
I researched, planned and awed at photos but nothing prepared me for the true magnificence of these formations or the experience of walking across them. I arrived early in the year avoiding monsoon when it wins second place as the wettest area in the world – the winner claims victory only 15 kilometres away. It’s a bit of a relief for locals to know that infrastructures are literally rooted into place, and the bridges act as a symbol to respect the hard work and great ideas of the generations before.
It was a test of physical ability to reach Nongriat, which wouldn’t have been so hard if I hadn’t eaten so many samosas leading up to it. The only way to reach the oasis was a trek down 3500 stairs which was as breath taking as the odd glance at the view when I risked a comic fall or stopped to rest.
Reaching the village in the depths of the lush green forest I was warmly welcomed by Byron who runs a homestay, the only form of accommodation in the village. In their simplistic and poverty-stricken village where basic education has only recently been introduced; Byron, his wife and five children are beautiful, happy, generous and hard-working. They went out of their way to make us feel comfortable, didn’t eat until everyone was fed and were informative and passionate about their home. The communal dinner table was filled with laughter, playful children and warm air… with a hint of buzzing. A magical place like this has to have a catch, and I strongly suggest mosquito repellent.
Nearby, only an hour trek through 100 shades of green; with a black and white dog as our guide who would patiently wait for us to catch up when we lagged, was Rainbow Falls. Right now, in a moment of weakness as a writer, I cannot describe the transparency and intense blue of the water the fall fell into, it simply wasn’t real.
We arrived mid-morning; and fully clothed we rock jumped, swam and bathed in the sun until the striking rainbow which gave the waterfall its name began to dissolve.
After arriving back from the village, I played with the kids by teaching them solitaire and hand clapping games. I bought some liquid deep gold honey the village is well-known for, which later became useful energy that regenerated my sense of taste while trekking in the Himalayan parts of India. Then finally, it was the difficult task of saying good bye.
Izel Julia Tuncer