We descended 12 km from Cherrapunji to a village called Tyrna where the road ended. We then took a 4.5 km hike straight down into the village of Nongriat (which in Khasi means “the village down the hill”) for which we had to cross a number of sketchy wire bridges, one of which was sagging on one side and supported by a forked piece of wood propped on a nearby boulder.
This village is home to the ingenious creation of living root bridges. The locals here have discovered how to make the roots of the rubber fig tree grow in the direction they want to span waterways and create natural living bridges that become incredibly sturdy over time. It takes about two generations to make one of these bridges and they last between 150 to 200 years, or the life of the tree. The first of these bridges that we crossed was called the long root bridge. It is the only one that has a tree on either side. There is also the double decker root bridge which has two levels and is unique in all the world.
In Nongriat there were also many natural swimming pools caused by huge boulders that would slow the flow of the nearby rivers. This created beautiful, crystal clear, glacial pools and some fantastic small waterfalls. As there is only one guesthouse and no interior plumbing, these waterfalls became our showers, with of course no soap. We spent a week with the family that ran the guesthouse eating the simple but delicious food they gave us as well as ripe oranges picked from nearby trees.