About one and a half kilometre from Mawlynnong a yellowed with time and weather notice board read, 'Riwai Village. Living Root Bridge. Jingkieng Jri: 400 M.' The trek downwards began with a flight of moss-laden, spongy, dewy-wet stairs that led the way towards the distant sound of a rapid rambling above a stone bed somewhere below. The track went through the beautiful, clean, peaceful and unusually silent Riwai village. At one point, the steps bifurcated as another spongy, stony track went towards left, leading into the forest. This was the King’s Way.Used for carrying betel nut leaves, it has connected all the villages in Meghalaya with Shillong for centuries through an intricate network. The track meandered away into the green silence for a while before disappearing through the next bend. Suddenly, you would be inside a forest of enchanting green magic. A single branch of leaves may bend in in a truly royal way, a wild boar may be observing your steps silently from behind a tree, a wild black cat with shining eyes may stalk you with its quick, silent steps…On the main track, a rare mountain flower bloomed. Its vibrant colours somehow found their way amidst the incredible green all around. Sun rays from a cloud-free, early morning Himalayan sky peeped through the green cover above, creating a chiaroscuro of soft, golden-white and deep, throbbing greenery.The earlier sound of the distant rapid now became more prominent - the sound of a river leaping across a stone bed in full mirth.An art in organic engineering
Single Living Root Bridge
I made a not-so-brief a stop at a Living Root Bridge, two kilometers before Mawlynnong, in Riwai.