Tuesday

Mawlynnong and Cherrapunjee: Fascinating Root bridges




Within 2 ½ hours we made our way to Mawlynnong - touted as the cleanest village in Asia, on the border of Bangladesh. Of course you notice –how impeccably clean – the village is. The cement pathways and bamboo bins are common and justify the truth that Mawlynnong indeed is India’s and Asia’s cleanest village. Honestly it didn’t feel like a village at all -more like a park with flowers! They even had a bamboo cottage on top of a tree to offer a ‘view’ of Bangladesh from afar. This was my second experience of a border town with a neighboring country! We were warned not to stray close to the border area as it could be risky

We tasted local fruits here - Meghalaya has abundant flora fauna and the fruits were naturally nectar like - large red grapes, pineapples, sweet oranges, sweet blue berries - all very yummy. Some of the locals we met spoke fluent English - our driver informed us that people in this village were all literate and had a high awareness about environment. Sweet place.

Our next halt in the day was Cherrapunjee, the ever present mist continued to waft across this town making us feel like we were passing through dream like vistas. Dominated by colours green (ravines, forests) and white (the mist, the clouds, the waterfalls) – It is touted as the ‘wettest place on earth’. Soon the mist gave way to a sunny hot day with no cloud cover whatsoever! No rain either. Btw the reason Cherra receives so much rain is because the rain laden clouds travel unhindered for 100’s of kilometers before they crash into the Khasi hills. The topography (funnel like shape) captures the rain and keeps Meghalaya so lush! The sad part is once the rain water is captured- it needs to find the earth eventually –so the waters move into the stupendous looking plains of Bangladesh below - which is why we hear of floods in Bangla-land often.

The day was getting warmer, equipped with good walking shoes we had a 7-8km walk ahead. Steep steps looked daunting and I nearly turned away not sure if I would ever be able to climb back on return. With some nudging and motivation from others and even in parts had to go barefoot on the slippery granite places – I overcame my inhibition and (as much as I hate walking) with much anticipation moved ahead- almost as if something were calling out to me. Full of excitement not knowing what lay ahead, I walked onwards, sweat trickling down the forehead and back, legs quivering with the climb up and down, we heard the water from a nearby river, heart beats accelerated! Sure enough a little distance ahead stood the first of many living root bridges that dotted a hamlet deep inside the forest.

Since their discovery in the Cherrapunjee region, Living Root Bridges seem to have become quite an attraction. What a mechanism to cross a stream flowing beneath. Fichus or rubber trees are planted on both the banks, as their roots grow, they are entwined around bamboos to shape them up like a bridge. It is a very slow process taking hundred years or more but the end result is an amazingly sturdy bridge.

We were abuzz and borderline ecstatic when we saw this mammoth Living Roots Bridge. A 200 year old rubber tree whose roots had been trained to grow across the stream -gushing water underneath the bridge - as I gingerly walked over it, testing its strength!! The roots hold strong in a glorious organic network. What an experience! There are plenty of root tree bridges in this part of the world. We even saw the 'double deck' living root bridge that is unique (the only known double decker in the world - another record for India).

A tip for those who may venture into these parts at some point: Remember, there are people living here in the forests. If they can climb up and down those steps, cross the waters on this living roots bridge so can you...enjoy it, respect it and love it!

18 comments:

soumya said...

wow! wish i was with you! the bridge blew my mind :)

Mee said...

@soumya- you were the last person I expected to read my blog:)

how are you doing precious one?:)

Kavita said...

The root bridges sound wonderful. What a journey you've been having. Lovely. :)

Payal said...

Root bridges...here i come!! :)

Indian Mobile Guru said...

I want to go !!!

Anon said...

darling how do you have the time to travel so much?

or have you stuck a lottery and retired:-))

devasena

Anon said...

Must say it is a pleasure to read about your travels - liked the posts on Cherapunjee and Shillong. Keep traveling and writing!

AJOY

gita said...

This beautiful village nestles in the pristine hills of Meghalaya, the hamlet has over 80 houses and the villagers, despite their daily schedule of farming and cultivating broomsticks, have worked hard to earn this distinction.

Did you know residents of this village keep their surroundings clean by voluntarily performing all the civic duties such as sweeping the roads and lanes, watering the plants in public area and cleaning the drains? How many of us would do that for the areas we live within?:)

Mee said...

@Kavita - ty:)Hope you are well?:)

@Payal -must must:)

@Indian mobile guru- take a family holiday now:)

@Deva- not retires, no lottery-just the love and wanderlust of travel

@Ajoy -ty:)


@Gits - We were tld by the villagers thr that rain or shine they are up at 5am -and mind you all work done by the villagers here is volunteered, not paid for.
They wake early, sweep the roads and then go about their home taks.

The villagers take turns to make sure the roads are swept several times a day because it is not possible to pay workers- too expensive.

Plastic is completely banned and all waste disposal is environmentally friendly. Rubbish is thrown into a pit dug in a forest near the village where it is left to turn into compost.

The villagers here say that lessons in hygiene start in school so that children can be taught from an early age how to keep their surroundings clean and green. So much the rest of India could learn...

RavneetSingh said...

The most rewarding aspect of reading your blogs -both- are the refreshing energetic unearthing of new discoveries you share with us your friends and readers. Its a treat even if it is a revisit - this is how I feel.

Carry on regardless Mee- this is superb story telling! There is always a story to tell in each of these discoveries you recount.

JoshiMukard said...

I'm a great fan of travel blogs. Needless to say I loved this post. I have never visited Cherrapunjee, but after reading your post, I feel I should go there pretty soon.

Good post. I would have liked to see some more images.

Mee said...

@JoshiMukard- thnx for visiting my blog. Cherrapunjee was part of my
NE trip that I have covered across 4-5 posts in this blog, hence the pictures scattered accordingly. Nxt time will try to post some more pixs:)

Neeraj said...

Fascinating indeed! It's my dream to travel in NE states...

Mee said...

@RS- you are very good for my ego:) ty:)

@Neeraj- may your dreams be fulfilled:)

Swaram said...

Oh I just saw a friend's pics on FB and was checking out on how to go to Mawlynnong and now ur post. I sooo want a vacation now :)
beautiful pics!

Mee said...

@Swaram- ty for dropping by:) I often read your posts and am touched by the truthfulness in your writing:)

Neeraj said...

Nice!

The entire North East is in my "to experience" list :)

Mee said...

@Neeraj- post your shaadi you both shld go for some together time to the East of India - its idyllic!:)