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The Double Decker Living Root Bridge, Cherrapunji

Would you ever voluntarily start climbing down 3,500 steps, knowing that you have to come back the same way and up the same steps?

The many steps

Statistics: Approximately 7,000 steps over 7 km.

More than 200 years ago, the Khasi tribal folks used their creativity and materials available locally to construct a bridge across a river that caused them grief every year during the rains. This bridge is unique in so many ways. It has been built using the roots of a tree – that’s still alive and continues to live. Yes, the bridge is alive. It took years to build this bridge – patiently waiting for the roots to be guided over and across the river till it was firm enough to carry weight. Today, there are two levels of roots that have been guided across and now a third level is being planned. So yes, this is a double decker bridge made from the roots of a rubber tree.

Roots being used as a bridge

When you visit this area, you will understand the importance of the bridge and also why creativity had to be used. The village where this bridge was built is 3.5 km away from any road [today] so you can imagine the distance that one must have had to cover to bring anything to this settlement 200 years ago. You will find people carrying 50 kg sacks of food and produce up and down these steps – with relative ease.

Using the steps

Our guide taught us a new way to walk on these steps – a technique you must learn if you wish to cover these steps with a lesser impact on your knees and body. This new technique involves walking at a steady but very slow pace and a very brief pause in the middle of each step at the time of shifting your body weight from one foot to another – oh well, you can be taught this quite easily once you arrive.

Steps to double decker

We highly recommend this walk – and you will be rewarded with the ‘Jingkieng Nongriat’ or the double-decker root bridge in Nongriat Village; one of the most inspiring natural creations of man — a double-level natural bridge made from the roots of a tree.

Suspension bridge

Things to consider while going on this walk:

1. Are you fit enough? If not, there is a living root bridge less than halfway down this walk too, you could stop there. Alternatively, there is a much simpler walk to a different [but not double decker] living root bridge near Mawlynnong village.

2. Try to carry as little with you as possible – it would just weigh you down. There are some small shops near your destination where you can buy water and snack on some food before you return. You would probably need to carry a bottle of water from there on your way back up. [carry money]

3. Drink water in small sips and slowly and very spaced out across your walk.

4. Carry swimming trunks with you if you want to take a dip in the water pool under the double decker root bridge and perhaps a cloth to dry yourself out

5. Definitely wear shoes that are comfortable and fit well

6. Spend a few minutes learning how to tackle the steps from your guide – this is very important.

7. There are a few places where people with vertigo might have some trouble, but they aren’t for very long periods and with some help, you can easily make it through.

8. If you are one to perspire a lot, carry an extra change of t-shirt and perhaps a jacket [which you can leave in the car]. You might need this after your walk is done and you have cooled off. Once you start heading back to your hotel, it can start getting a lot colder!

Do write to us if you have any specific questions, we will be happy to help!






About Rohan K. Abraham

A simple attempt to document my travels, observations and experiences in this fantastic region of the world - The North East of India. Words cannot fully describe the beauty and diversity of this region, so click on the Instagram button here for the picture story.

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