Treasure Quest in Meghalaya: Living Root Bridge | Rainbow Falls

26th May 2017

The Nongriat Living Root Bridges

Photo of Treasure Quest in Meghalaya: Living Root Bridge | Rainbow Falls by Nishanth Naik

Inspired by the narration of locals about the serene beauty of the living root bridges and the waterfalls, we decided to take a trek down the villages and hills of Meghalaya to find the ‘Rainbow Falls’. Little did we know that the trip would turn out to be one with dangerous trails, beautiful sights, and unforgettable experiences!

My trip to Meghalaya was a part of my Explorer’s Fellowship by IIT Gandhinagar in the summer of 2017. After a 36-hour train journey from Kanpur, we reached Guwahati. We took a 3 hour shared taxi to Shillong where we decided to stay for a day. Unable to find accommodation, we decided to move forward and we reached Cherrapunji by noon and did some local sightseeing. The easily accessible stay in Cherrapunji was ‘By The Way’ hostel, where we could get a stay for 250 rupees per person a night back then.

The quest started the previous evening while I accidentally overheard a bunch of fellow travelers talking in my native language. The immediate instinct was to befriend them. The five of us and our four new friends finally decide to go for a trek the next day. A quick chat with the locals made us aware of the Living Root Bridges and the Rainbow Falls that was an hour’s trek ahead of the Nongriat Root Bridge.

Photo of Treasure Quest in Meghalaya: Living Root Bridge | Rainbow Falls 1/1 by Nishanth Naik
View along the trail

We started out at 6 am as we had booked a vehicle to drop us at the trek starting point – Tyrna village. We started the trek around 7 a.m. while it also started to drizzle. The initial part of the trek was easier and we walked through the villages. The trees and forest along with the rain gave us a beautiful sight of the lush green mountains. The fog cover added to the beauty of the scenery. We reached the first living root bridge within 1 hour and took a break. One of our friends from the other group went for a dip in the rushing streams and almost got dragged along. It was a sheer moment of panic for all of us. We were lucky to have him back but he was full of bruises as he hit some rocks while at it. The entire trail is full of suspension bridges and would be scary for first-timers. The rushing river water due to the rain made it worse for us.

The next stop in our trek was the ‘Rainbow Falls’. While the trail was marked until the living root bridges, it was somewhat unmarked in the onward journey. We traveled based on the directions given by people at multiple points. The locals were very friendly throughout the trail and eager to help. At this point, we had split into two groups. As we moved forward we lost network on our phones and thus couldn’t connect with the other group of people. We were quite lost after a point of time along the trail and worried about the other group. With a little bit of intuition and the sound of gushing water from the falls, we finally made it one side of the falls that gave us a bird’s-eye view.

The Rainbow Waterfalls

Photo of Rainbow Falls, Meghalaya, India by Nishanth Naik

Recharge stations on the way!

Photo of Double Decker Living Root Bridge, Cherrapunji‎, Meghalaya, India by Nishanth Naik

We continued our journey towards the double-decker living root bridge. We made multiple stops for water and some biscuits. Although there were enough shops on the trail, it is always advisable to carry food and enough water as these shops sell at a mark-up. After crossing the Nongriat village and a set of these scary bridges, we reached the double-decker bridge in about another 2.5 hours. The view when we reached there was totally worth the effort. The bridge is made completely out of interwoven roots and has taken the shape of a bridge across a stream. The running stream made a small waterfall which further flowed down to make 3 pools right underneath the bridge. We took a dip in the cold water of the pool and went around the bridges despite the rain!

Double-Decker Living Root Bridge

Photo of Treasure Quest in Meghalaya: Living Root Bridge | Rainbow Falls by Nishanth Naik

There it was, majestic in front of our eyes. The Rainbow Falls had a rock at the bottom on which the water has been falling for years together giving it a polished look. The name originates from the rainbow that is formed around the falls due to dispersed water droplets and the sun. The water was rushing with great force due to the rains over the past couple of days. We filled our eyes and minds with the treasures of nature hidden deep in the jungles. The quest had finally come to an end!

Given the deteriorating weather, we started our trek back as we also had to find our lost friends. We filled our water bottles with the water from the streams. It was a long journey back but we made it by dusk. I had to spend the next day with a fever and sore muscles but the day’s trek was totally worth it!

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