Home to the two wettest places on Earth, Meghalaya also boasts of the marvel of living root bridges.
Living root bridges are the result of synergy between man and nature. Living in a place that receives nearly 39 ft of rain in a year, locals have to rely on their ingenuity to survive and thrive.
One result of that ingenuity is the living root bridges.
Initially, villagers built bridges made of Bamboo which gave way in the face of heavy rain and storms. Faced with this problem, the indigenous Khasi people found a way around it by taking nature’s help. They used the aerial roots of the Indian rubber tree and twisted them to form bridges.
Although it sounds amazing, the process is a long and tedious one. These bridges take between 10-30 years to form. Once formed, however, they keep growing stronger and live for centuries.
The oldest living root bridge has been traced as being built more than 500 years ago!
Typically, the ‘construction’ of the bridge starts with planting a tree on each side of the riverbank. The roots are then threaded and twisted to form a makeshift bridge which helps direct the roots over to the other side. Stones are placed on the bridge to create a path and once ready, the bridges grow on their own.
The images of these bridges form the postcard for tourism in Meghalaya. However, the most iconic bridge is the double-decker bridge in Nongriat.
The Umshiang double-decker root bridge, also known as the Jingkien Nongriat is one of a kind with two parallel bridges – one on top of the other. Built across the Umshiang river, it attracts tourists from all over the world.
Getting to this bridge though, is no easy task. Over 3000 steps through wild forests, lush greenery, waterfalls and the incessant sounds of nature take you to this wonder finally. The feeling of being in this spot, with the sunlight streaming through the trees, the chirping of birds, the air heavy with the scent of lush greenery and the river flowing sinuously, is unmatchable and transports one into a feeling of utopia.
The strenuous trek is very worth it as it leads to the sight of this age old bridge. The practice of making these bridges however, seems to be dying down, as people shift to easier and quicker methods of construction. Some locals as well as the Government are trying to keep this dying art alive, as it is a major tourist attraction. A step on these bridges is not just a step on a mode of transmission, but on the blood and sweat of the forefathers of the local tribes.
Metal and mortar may be faster and more convenient, but cannot replace the charm and tradition that each bridge encompasses.
Thank you very much to you and your team for arranging this fantastic tour. One of the best pick from this tour was your meticulous planning and promptness of service. All arrangements were fantastic, be it a delivery of vehicle at Chandigarh airport, hotels particularly at Chandigarh, Leh, Nubra, Pangong. However the best was at Jispa, Kargil and Srinagar for different reasons. Jispa was simple but authentic with very tasty food.
Rajesh & Gauri Natu
Graphic Designer, Apple
Sunil, after I ran 21k Marathon I bragged about it for years. The same is being repeated again, with my ambition to drive across the Himalayas, which was almost faded with Srinagar under curfew. You and Chetan were the spark to our fire that we could do this drive and without a single trouble. Driving is a passion but driving thru places where there are no roads is trouble, but your breakup of program and awesome car condition helped us actually sail thru. Three cheers and five stars.
Absolute Networks, Mumbai
Wow. wow, wow. What a experience! We took the route of Delhi - Jammu - Srinagar - Leh - Sarchu - Manali - Delhi. Sunil Kapoor gave us excellent service which includes his next to new 4WD in immaculate condition and all hotels were top class. Coming from Australia, we were bit nervous in start but when we met Sunil, we had full trust and all went very positive. Sunil gave us perfect instructions and everything was according to plan. Thank you Sunil and your team for our one of the best experience in life you have provided us.
Director, Webential, Australia
Eight of us from Sri Lanka got Sunil to arrange a self driven tour to Leh and we are very happy with our decision. He was punctual, trustworthy and met our expectations. The service provided was very professional. As foreigners it’s hard to arrange such a tour by ourselves and Unwind outdoor filled in the gap perfectly. All places we stayed were nice and decent. Should specifically mention about the two Scorpios which we instantly fell in love with. They were very well maintained ...
Friends from SriLanka
After days of research, we finally came across a facebook page called ‘Unwind Outdoors’. It seemed like our dream was going to be finally true. Very reasonably priced and Sunil from Unwind was like a know-it-all person.
The itinerary was so crisp and so very well laid out that there was no reason for us to worry other than coping up with nature’s fury.
Clifford Chance, Delhi
We did a SUV self drive trip from Chandigarh to Ladakh and back organized by Unwind Outdoor.
Highly recommend Unwind Outdoor as Sunil and Manpreet took care of everything we needed (car, hotel bookings, sightseeing and food recommendations, permits) and everything was organized seamlessly. Sunil was very patient with all our queries, giving suggestions and options to suit our preferences.
Ashish & Neha Thadani
Great to see the know-how of the Unwind Outdoor team regarding every aspect of the Srinagar - Leh - Chandigarh self drive trip. From weather conditions, to road conditions, to health/clothing requirements, and also driving instructions - Sunil and Manpreet are warm, meticulous and knowledgable. Villa Himalaya in Sonamarg surpassed all our expectations and ensured that our expected standards for the rest of the trip were extremely high.
Symbiosis Law School, Mumbai
Thanks Sunil for arranging a wonderful trip. Everything went well and we were in good hands with friendly and competent drivers. Accommodation was good and tents were comfortable beyond our expectations. We didn't have problem with food choices. It was a totally rejuvenating vacation and experience for us. Thanks from us in Singapore!
We had an amazing 9-day from Manali to Leh. Serene, breathless and picturesque. High altitude sickness was a big issue for us but we were in good hands.
Unwind Outdoor was superb in arranging and coordinating the trip. Taking care of all arrangements and checking-in on us. Kudos to Sunil and his team.
Assistant Director, Jurong Town Corporation, Singapore
We travelled as a couple & completed a self drive trip from Delhi-Jammu-Srinagar-Kargil-Leh-Nubra-Pangong-Tso Moriri-Sarchu-Manali-Delhi. Itinerary was meticulously designed to be a mix of adventure and comfort. Hotel choices were best. Support was available at all points in case of emergency.Vehicle provided was top notch. Thanks to Mr. Sunil Kapoor for personally putting in efforts to maintain such high standards.
Nikhil & Neha Mazumdar
Manager L&T, Mumbai
Six of us (two families) travelled to Leh in Jul / Aug 2015 and we had an excellent experience with Unwind Outdoor. From the very beginning of our excited planning phase, Sunil has been willingly suggesting us options, number of days, places to visit etc. He has all the knowledge of the terrain, passionate about trekking and traveling himself, so he understands travel-crazy people such as me and my quirks.
We landed in Leh in time for cloudbursts and flashfloods and landslides (along with mud and rocks sliding too). Despite Nature's fury, Sunil and Skarma made sure we were utmost safe and comfortable. These guys are just not into travel business, they help people fulfil their travel dreams. Truly! Go guys!!
Barclays Bank, Bangalore