Farewell to the South – welcome to Meghalaya
Kerala and its wonderful summer. Farewell from the bus. Behind the window a spectacle of lightening. The rain is announcing our next stop – the wettest place on earth – Cherapunjee, locally called Sohra, a small town in Meghalaya state.
Meghalaya is one of the 22 states in India. Situated in the northeast, it borders the north of Bangladesh. It is inhabited mainly by three tribes – Khasi, Garo and Bengali. India is a huge country and as in Russia and China, each state is different from one another.
Between south India and the north east there is a cultural and mental gulf. It may be quite obvious after driving 2500 km, but here everything is different. Landscape, beauty, dress, habits, food until finally – women. Read about it here!
Land of waterfalls, butterflies and all micro creatures
4 hours in a shared taxi from Guwahati Airport to Shillong. Then after assertive search of sumo (shared jeep) we found a place in one going to Sohra – 1.5 hours. From there a local bus pushed the speed limit and dropped us 30 minutes later at the final point: Tyrna, the village from where we will start to walk…. we can start trekking down – it is only 3500 steps and 1000 meters down 🙂 after two hours we are in the village Nongriat!
Nongriat, a Khasi village
Nongriat is a village inhabited by Khasi people surrounded by waterfalls – Rainbow Falls, Nohkalikai Falls, and a myriad of smaller ones. Around? A tropical rainforest which is in the same time a source of livelihood for the villagers. Wild pepper, wild honey and special leaves are the main commodities that can be found. The main elements of diet are vegetables, roots, fruits, tapioca and rice. Less meat.
Nongriat in Khasi means ‘village surrounded by cliffs’, it perfectly captures its atmosphere. Mountains around are covered with dense tropical rainforest crossed by an impressive river with its characteristic huge boulders. During the monsoon, only their tips can be seen, and the river itself turns into a rushing water. This place is also famous for butterflies – being complete amateurs of the subject, we were able to distinguish between several types. Some were so big that we mistook them with birds. Let’s add to this the possbility of swimming in natural pristine pools… Are you convinced?
In Nongriat we spent 4 days, benefiting from the hospitality of Byron. Serene Homestay is a place where you really feel like at home. Khasi kids will be making pies while their dad will be preparing the best dinner under the sun. You will go to the waterfall through the rainforest over canyons and mountain streams, using live bridges. We bet you will not say no, swimming in a natural pool under a waterfall – places where you can safely cool off after climbing, they are few in the vicinity of Nongriat –
Because there are no roads and cars there, the tourist traffic is very limited. This means that all of these attractions can be enjoyed in the peace and quiet of what India is quite unheard of.
Living Roots bridges
Living roots bridges near Nongriat are a great example of cooperation between people and nature. The villagers of Nongriat have developed a system of fixing the roots of the lovely tree called Ficus Elastica, on bamboo poles, leading them across streams and rivers. The process is called root training. So formed bridges built from roots growing along the bamboo frame. None of the bridges were built by one person or family. Each time it was a project dedicated to future generations. Probably the oldest bridge is located in the village of Thed Deng. This one in Nongriat, called the double bridge, is about 250 years old.