Living Root Bridges

The one thing that I am often curious about during my travels is to know how humans, across the globe, have blended with the nature. While in the cities, we destroy nature to build our life of comfort, people living in rural areas find ways to live in harmony with the nature. Technology, greed and crazy desires have not affected them. One such example is the Living root bridges of Meghalaya where man has successfully found a way to work with nature in providing a solution to his need. Living root bridge, constructed with the roots of a tree, is an ingenious idea. In this post, you will know more about the bridges and details on how to get there. So, without wasting more time, here we begin!

Basic Information


Name: Umshiang Double-decker bridge

Location: Nongriat

State / Country: Meghalaya, India

Base Village: Tyrna

Descent: 2400 ft 

Trek Distance: 6 KM Return

Trek Time: 4-5 Hours Return

Difficulty Level: Moderate-Difficult 


What Are Living Root Bridges?


In Meghalaya, the Khasi tribe have come up with a unique way of constructing bridges with the roots of a tree. The ariel roots of Ficus elastica tree (rubber fig tree) is routed across the river through casings made of betel nut trunks. As the roots continue to grow  and establish itself on the opposite bank, they form a strong foundation to the bridge. As long as the tree lives, the bridge grows naturally and thus strengthens overtime. The bridges can carry more than 50 people at a time and survives for several hundred years. There are around 75 root bridges in this region. Interesting, isn't it? Let us continue with more information on when to visit this place and how to get there. 


Best Time to Trek


You can trek to the living root bridges all year round. The best time to view the bridge would be soon after the Monsoon season. During the rains, the trek will be extremely difficult as the stairs are slippery. It is better to avoid the months between June to August, while the rainfall is heavy. Therefore, I think the month of September or October would be ideal to visit the place. November to May is also a good time to go there. The weather during winter would be pleasant and you can enjoy your visit to the natural swimming pool situated 2kms from the root bridges. 

How to Get There?


To get to Tyrna, you must first reach Cherrapunji. There are plenty of shared taxis plying between Shillong and Cherrapunji. A ticket would cost you around Rs50-100. 

Once you have reached Cherrapunji, take a shared taxi from Cherrapunji/Sohra market to Tyrna. This ride will cost you around Rs300. You could also choose to hire a taxi for yourself. It might cost you around Rs 2000. Make sure to reach Cherrapunji market before 4PM as the taxis get easily filled up in the evening. Also, the frequencies of shared taxis will vary drastically on Sundays and public holidays. 


Another option, which I think is the best, would be to rent a scooter or a bike at Cherrapunji or Shillong and ride to Tyrna. Renting bikes at Shillong is cheaper. The prices double at Cherapunji. 


Where to Stay?


Many homes in Nongriat and Tyrna offer homestay facilities. You can reach there and choose a place to stay. They charge anywhere from Rs300-400 per night. But the amenities are basic. If you wish to make advance bookings, here are a few contact numbers - 

  • Serene Homestay (9477870423)
  • Unname Resthouse (8575913994 or 961737690)

If you are looking for a mid-range accommodation, then Cherrapunji holiday resort would be a good option. They have private rooms available at Rs3000 onwards. They also offer stay at tents for a lower price. The resort is slightly far from the base village. A jeep can be arranged to reach Tyrna if you do not wish to trek on paved road. 

Your homestay can arrange for a guide. Though not a must, it would be good to go there with a local.


Things to Carry


As this is a day trek, you will not need a lot of trekking gears. But you surely need a good trekking shoe, a daypack, some food and lots of water. A trekking pole, though not a must, can come handy as an extra support. The trail passes through a few villages so, you can refill your water bottle on the way. Carry an extra set of clothes and towel if you want to take a bath in the natural swimming pool. 

The villagers at Nongriat do offer some basic meal for a nominal price. But, I would recommend  that you carry your lunch from the homestay. 

The Trail


You can begin your trek to Umshiang double-decker root bridge at Tyrna. The route consists of around 3500 stairs and involves a steep descent of 2400ft. Make sure to do some stretching exercise before you begin this trek.  Despite that, be prepared for some cramps in your thighs and calf muscles. 

The first part of the trail is a steep descent to Nongthymmai village where the longest root bridge Ritymmen is located. 

You then cross steel suspension bridges and take a final ascend to reach Nongriat village where the Double-decker living root bridge is located.

A walk of 20-30 minutes from here will lead you to the natural pool, located near Mawasaw bridge. 


Other Places to Visit  


Most of them who visit the Double-decker living root bridge,  continue their trek to another bridge called Mawsaw bridge situated 2km away. It would take you about another 30 minutes to reach there. Here, you will come across a pristine setting with huge boulders forming natural swimming pools. Enjoy a bath there before returning. I would highly recommend a visit to this place. The crystal clear waters are simply spectacular. 


On your way back, you can visit the Ritymmen living root bridge at Nongthummai which is the longest in the region. There are also short treks to Ummunoi and Umkar root bridges. 


My Experience

I did the Umshiang Double-decker bridge trek in December 2011. The weather was perfect for the trek. Since I stayed at Cherrapunji holiday resort, I took a shared taxi to Tyrna village and then began my trek from there. The steep descent can be tiring but you will be inspired by the villagers who do this every single day. 

After what seemed like a long walk, we finally reached Nongriat village and the living root bridges. It was a spectacular sight to say the least. We spent a lot of time there before heading to the natural pool. Taking a dip in the river and enjoying a nice bath in the pool was refreshing. We also stopped at a few villages and bought some locally grown oranges. 


  1. When I went to Meghalaya we did see the living root bridges. Indeed a great marvel of nature.


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