A Memorable Trip to Mystical Nongriat

Tripoto
Photo of A Memorable Trip to Mystical Nongriat 1/1 by parth93s
A Scene Quite Typical to the Meghalayan Countryside

I love nature. In its pristine perfectness, nature brings me utmost happiness. That is why I love to travel. Nothing beats a sojourn in the lap of nature to bring me peace and clear my head. So I try to travel to places of natural beauty as frequently as I can.

One of the most memorable trips I have taken is to Nongriat, Meghalaya.

Meghalaya means the abode of the clouds in Sanskrit, and it lives up to its name. It’s the state which receives the most rainfall in the country and has a large number of water bodies including rivers, streams, waterfalls and lakes. The fog, the clouds and the flora pitch in to give the state a mystical appeal. If you have read The Lord of the Rings or have watched the movie, Meghalaya’s forests would seem very similar to the mystical forests of the Elves.

The highlands of Meghalaya seem to have jumped right out of a fantasy novel. Although each mountainous state will have its own unique beauty, Meghalaya stands apart from other states like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and even Sikkim. These states border the Tibetan Plateau; their mountains are at very high altitudes and have a mostly coniferous forest cover along with bare mountainous regions where the growth of any plant is difficult. While on the other, the country in Meghalaya is of a sub tropical nature. The mountains are not as high, the forests are denser and the environment is conducive to support a greater variety of flora and fauna.

The experience will be much different from any hill station you will visit.

The Beginning/ Guwahati 

It was during my college break on 22nd June 2014 that I left for Guwahati from Kolkata (where my parents were staying at the time). My friend with whom I had planned the whole trip had already reached Guwahati the night before.

I reached Guwahati on the 23rd, as trains from Howrah take around 18 hours to complete the journey. My friend and I met outside the station at around 10 am and headed off to the city’s Interstate Bus Terminal (ISBT). We were to catch a bus from there to Shillong at noon but the bus was delayed by three hours. Therefore, to pass the time, we explored the nearby area.

Guwahati, is like any other big city in the country. And because it’s on the plains, the temperature is quite similar to Kolkata. Like Kolkata, it also has a huge river, the Bhrahmaputra flowing through it (which also contributes in making the weather similar). After ambling about for about two hours, we returned to the terminal and had lunch.

The bus started from the terminal at 3. The journey from Guwahati to Shillong is quite a pleasant one. In addition to the beautiful sights, the journey is also easier on the stomach than most other hill stations. The ascent is gradual and the road does not wind around as much so the chances of feeling nauseous are less. You can sit back and enjoy the beautiful scenery passing by along with the weather getting more pleasant with every kilometer.

Our bus reached Shillong after three hours.

Shillong

Shillong is the capital city of Meghalaya, the city is not as sparsely populated as you would expect and the central areas are practically teeming with people most of the day. The weather is pleasant and you will find a lot of eating joints dotting the place. Shillong also has a lot of tourist sites like Elephant Falls, Air Force Museum, Umiam Lake etc. We could not visit any of these unfortunately due to the paucity of time.

We stayed at an acquaintance’s place near Police Point, which is the main market area and home to a lot of well known eateries. One of these places is called “Déjà Vu”, which strangely, is a Chinese restaurant. We had our dinner there and found that, despite the ironic name, the food served there was quite good.

Cherrapunji

We left for Cherrapunji the next day via a shuttle which takes around one and a half hours to complete the journey. Cherrapunji is known as the wettest place on earth, and since we went there during the beginning of the monsoon season, that fact was reaffirmed to us the moment we got down.

The weather in Cherrapunji during late June is divided into the following phases; relentless rain, dense fog, or both. Not that it is necessarily a bad thing. If you are not averse to getting wet and have sufficient protection for your wallets and cell phones against water, the weather in no way dampens one’s spirits. In fact, the fog just adds to the mysterious charm of the place.

After getting off, we quickly put on our raincoats, and since we had not booked a room beforehand, we walked around and asked the locals about places to stay. Cherrapunji is a quintessential small town, in that, it has a peaceful and serene environment, everyone knows everything about the place and the people are very helpful. Soon, we found lodgings for ourselves.

The place we decided to stay is called “By The Way”. It is a hostel type establishment, ideal for travelers. Don’t expect a luxurious stay. What is provided is just the bare minimum a traveler would require to spend the night. The establishment has rooms with three beds in each and there is only one washroom which is shared by everyone. However, the rooms and the washroom are quite clean. And even the bare minimum is good enough for a short stay. For Rs 250 per person a night, it is a great bargain.

There are a number of places nearby where one can eat. We ate at a place called Avron Restaurant. It is easy to locate, being situated at the three road junction at a convenient walking distance from By The Way. The food there is light on the pocket and delicious. My friend and I had our lunch and dinner there.

In the evening we were told that we would be sharing our room with someone else. Our new roommate turned out to be a German biker who had ridden all the way from Bangkok and who had planned to ride alone all the way to Germany. We spent a lot of time discussing his experiences up till that point in his journey and his plans regarding the ride back to his country. The conversation was interesting, to say the least. We also got to know a lot about each other’s cultures.

The Trek Begins

The next morning, my friend and I woke up early, had breakfast at a tea stall and hailed a taxi to Tyrna, a hamlet from where the trail to Nongriat starts. The trail is almost completely made up of stone or concrete steps, which number a bit over three thousand.

The Steps

Photo of Tyrna, Meghalaya, India by parth93s

The route passes mostly through forests, riverines and a few hamlets. It is one of the most beautiful trails I have ever traveled upon. The trail also has rope bridges which pass from over narrow gorges with fast running rivers. During the rainy season, a lot of moss grows on the steps so it’s easy to slip and fall (as I did four times). This made us concentrate more on the steps. However, whenever we stopped to rest and look up, we were greeted by a breath taking view of the surrounding country.

Yours Truly Crossing a Gorge

Photo of A Memorable Trip to Mystical Nongriat by parth93s

The endless treetops of sal and banyan, the low floating clouds and the view of the majestic falls in the distance accompanied us almost throughout the trek.

Majesty Under the Clouds

Photo of A Memorable Trip to Mystical Nongriat by parth93s

The trek to Nongriat is famous mostly for its living root bridges. There are two such bridges on the trail. The first one is a single decker root bridge which you can find quite early on in the trail. To reach it, you need to turn right at a fork in the path. There is a sign board which tells you about it. It’s not very far off from the fork and you can easily return to the main path in no time.

Now, more about the root bridges. These bridges are unique to Meghalaya. These are made out of living roots of two trees across rivers or streams. To make such bridges, the locals use betel tree trunks to guide the roots of these trees towards each other. This continues till the roots grow in the guided direction and eventually intertwine to make a sturdy pathway. This process takes a lot of time and many of these bridges are hundreds of years old.

The first bridge is quite interesting but the one at Nongriat is simply marvelous. It is a double decker root bridge which is famous throughout the world. So after spending around ten minutes at the first root bridge, my friend and I turned back to join the main trail to Nongriat. The trail, as I have mentioned earlier, is stunning. After one and a half hours of coming down the trail, we stopped at a small shack which served as an eating joint.

The shack itself was at a very scenic spot, right on the edge of a gorge. Nongriat is only fifteen minutes away from the shack. Near the shack, is an old tank of water, also at the edge of the gorge. We decided to first swim a bit in the tank and then have Maggie at the shack. The water in the tank was cold but not freezing and swimming in it was a refreshing experience.

The Water Tank near the Shack

Photo of A Memorable Trip to Mystical Nongriat by parth93s

View from the Water Tank

Photo of A Memorable Trip to Mystical Nongriat by parth93s

After swimming for about forty five minutes, we got clothed and went to the shack to have our Maggie. The feeling you get after having warm, soupy Maggie in the hills besides a river is simply inexplicable. No other time will Maggie taste as good as it does when you have it in such places while resting after a somewhat tiring trek.

We rested at the shack for about half an hour before moving on to our final destination, Nongriat.

The double decker living root bridge at Nongriat is built across a stream just outside a hamlet. It is simply beautiful. As the name suggests, the double decker root bridge has two bridge pathways one on top of the other. These bridges are quite sturdy. The stream under the bridge flows out of a pond which is fed by another minor stream.

The Double Decker Root Bridge

Photo of Nongriat, Meghalaya, India by parth93s

The Stream Which Feeds the Pond

Photo of Nongriat, Meghalaya, India by parth93s

The gentle gurgling sound of the stream flowing over small rocks and pebbles, the pleasant shade under the canopy of the large evergreen trees and the panoramic view of the magnificent mist capped hills was a setting which cannot be described in words. It exudes a soothing calm. The feeling you get when there is just magical.

My friend and I must have spent at least three hours just sitting quietly trying to take in all the beauty of our surroundings.

The Return

We could have spent the whole day there, but as the sky started darkening, we picked up our rucks and started back for Tyrna. Three thousand steps do not seem very tiring while coming down, but they are murder for your calf muscles when you climb them back up. The added weight of our rucksacks and raincoats did not help in that situation. It took us three hours to get back to Tyrna, and at the end of that trek, our shoulders ached and our legs felt like jelly.

Still, we did not regret our trek in the least. If anything, the pain only made us proud of what we had achieved (as small a feat as it may be). Also, the wonderful scenery made it all worth it.

From Tyrna we took a taxi back to Cherrapunji and from there, a shuttle back to Shillong. We reached Shillong at night and had food from stalls outside Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurudwara. After that, we returned to our acquaintance’s place to spend the night.

The next day was spent mostly trying to get our stiff and aching legs working again, however, we did go out and try the local food. There are quite a few people selling momos at Police Point and arguably, all of the momos we had there were very tasty. So, for breakfast, we both had a plate each of pork momos from at least four different vendors and we did not regret buying from even one of them. We had our lunch at a restaurant called La Gallerie. I would recommend its Chinese and although it’s a bit expensive, the food tastes good and comes in a decent sized serving.

After lunch, we explored the police bazaar for a while and then returned to our friend’s place, where we spent the rest of the day. At night, we took a taxi from Shillong to Guwahati. After a journey of a bit over two hours, we arrived at the railway station near midnight. Our train to Kolkata was the next day so we decided to spend the night at a small hotel room right outside the station. The next day after having breakfast at a small café right outside our lodgings, we waited for a while, went to the station and boarded our train out of Guwahati.

All in all, my journey to Nongriat was rejuvenating. It was a unique experience. My stay at Meghalaya was for a very short time and I would have loved to stay longer and explore many other places. But for any person looking for a trek to a beautiful and serene destination, Nongriat is one place they should definitely go to. As I have earlier mentioned, the place has a uniquely mystical feel to it.

If you have more time on your hands than we did, you can also stay at Nongriat, they provide affordable lodgings there. And if you wish to make Cherrapunji your base, I would recommend staying at By The Way. These are affordable lodgings and the proprietor is an interesting and helpful fellow. He may even give you a map of Cherrapunji and nearby areas which will help greatly in planning your trips. You can even visit other popular tourist destinations like the Seven Sister falls and the Kynrem falls from Cherrapunji.

There are so many places you can go to, and each is a wonder to visit. You will be spoilt for choice. Below are other pictures which might give an idea about the magnificence of the place we visited.

Photo of Guwahati, Assam, India by parth93s
Photo of Guwahati, Assam, India by parth93s
Photo of Guwahati, Assam, India by parth93s
2 Comment(s)
Sort by:
Mon 09 25 17, 08:48 · Reply · Report
OMG!! Shukla!!!!11!!1! celebrity like 11!!!1!!!
Mon 09 25 17, 06:39 · Reply · Report