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Trek to Double Decker Living Root Bridge (Cherrapunji)

  • Post author:Suvankar Das
  • Post last modified:April 22, 2023
  • Reading time:26 mins read

A Cherrapunji trip remains incomplete without trekking to the awe-inspiring Double Decker Living Root Bridge. Though not easy, trekking through the dense tropical forest is a lifetime achievement for anyone, especially if you are an adventure enthusiast.

Traversing the evergreen forest shrouded by clouds and rain is an incredible experience. Discover unique plant species and butterflies while crossing multiple hanging bridges. Enjoy breathtaking views of deep blue streams, listen to the sound of restless waterfalls, and take a dip in natural swimming pools. Finally, witness the wondrous Double Decker Living Root Bridge at Nongriat village — it’s an adventure trip full of excitement.

Don’t miss this exciting package. Read on for a detailed overview based on my personal experience to plan your best visit.

Preferably use a headphone/earphone and set the video quality to 1080p

What are living root bridges?

The name itself is self-explanatory — living root bridges are man-made natural wonders, far more stable and durable alternatives to the typical wooden bridges, can withstand the long monsoon seasons in Meghalaya. In general, these bridges are made by utilizing the growing aerial roots of ancient rubber trees.

Constructing roads in certain areas of Meghalaya is extremely expensive due to steep hills. The Khasi and Jayantia tribes of Meghalaya learned to utilize riverside rubber trees with stronger and longer aerial roots, and mounted them to either side of the river. Over time, the aerial roots from both sides of the river grew together to form a solid bridge-like structure. Further, local tribes made manual modifications to make these bridges stronger,

A root bridge takes almost 13-15 years to bear the load of a human and grows continuously, becoming more stable and solid. The average lifetime of a root bridge is not less than 500 years until the death of the trees. The Double Decker Living Root Bridge in Nongriat, the topic of our interest, was constructed over 150 years ago, though its exact age remains a mystery.

Exact Location of Double Decker Living Root Bridge

Local villagers in West Jaintia Hills and East Khasi Hills districts constructed many root bridges and bamboo bridges across the entire Meghalaya, mainly for transportation purposes. The famous Double Decker Living Root Bridge is located at Nongriat village near Cherrapunji, known as the wettest place in the world.

To get there, you have to trek through the lush forest of east Khasi hills, starting from Tyrna village.

Related Article: Top 9 Cherrapunji Tourist Places You Shouldn’t Skip

Trek to Nongriat’s Double Decker Living Root Bridge

1. The starting point

The trekking route to Double Decker Root Bridge may not be entirely smooth, but it is still an enjoyable experience. There are two ways to begin your journey:

First, you can start from Cherrapunji or Sohra, but you’ll need to leave your hotel room very early in the morning to reach the starting point at Tyrna village. It takes approximately one hour to get to Tyrna from Cherrapunji or Sohra.

Alternatively, a better option is to stay overnight at Tyrna and begin trekking in the late morning, which is what we did.

If you plan to stay overnight at one of the homestays in Tyrna, it’s recommended to start the trek no later than 8:00 AM; this is important mainly to avoid the hot sun. (We were a bit late as we had babies with us, and we struggled a bit)

The trek can take 5-9 hours, depending on your pace and the places you choose to visit.

It’s not a conventional rocky terrain as you get in mountain trekking, but the route consists of steep stairs from the very beginning, which is not so easy the follow.

Notably, Not only the tourists but also the local villagers use the same route to stay connected.

Double Decker Root Bridge - It's a long way down to reach

Just for your caution:  Trekking through these steep stairs is much more difficult than normal trekking through the trails, so get prepared accordingly.

2. First Stopage: Ritymmen Root Bridge

Hiking through the dense forests of Meghalaya is a delightful experience, where one can appreciate the serene surroundings, enjoy the waterfall views, and listen to the soothing sounds of nature. You’ll witness the beauty of colorful butterflies fluttering over unknown plants and hear melodious bird songs.

After hiking for about 45-60 minutes, you’ll reach the Ritymmen Root Bridge (Single root bridge) located at Nongthymmai village. If you’re interested in experiencing the living root bridge but unable to hike a long way, visiting the single root bridge and returning is recommended. We saw a few families do the same. You can reach the single root bridge within 40 minutes to 1 hour after starting.

Double Decker Living Root Bridge – Single layer root bridge on the way
(A) Single root bridge at Nongthymmai; (B) Another unstable root bridge just beside the single layer root bridge.

2. Seens thereafter

You have to trek far below to reach the Double Decker Living Root Bridge (and have to get back). After reaching the first stop, you may feel it’s a tough job; in fact, one of our fellow visitors felt the same and quieted the journey. but I’d say, try your best, don’t miss the legendary one, because it’s worth the effort. Many familiar people, even those aged above 50, complete the trek every year.

I must encourage you because I revealed the glory; after taking some photos at the single root bridge, you can have an energy drink and continue.

If you proceed ahead, Along the way you’ll cross several various bamboo-made and metal-wired bridges and also, a few blue water streams flowing below your feet. The green surroundings always cover you up. The region is wet year-round, but winter and spring are sunny, making for excellent photo opportunities.

It takes another 1.5-2 hours to reach Nongriat village (From the Single Root Bridge). You have to pay a little fee per person at the entrance of the Double Decker Root Bridge (it was only INR 10/- when we visited). Digital cameras and video cameras are chargeable, but no fee is required for smartphones.

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Double-decker Root Bridge: The natural wonder

The famous double-decker root bridge at Nongriat village offers the outdoor enthusiasts a great opportunity to experience a 150+ years old man-made natural wonder, which is unique and also astonishing. On the way, you’ll discover several single-layered root bridges, but only this one appears with two layers and there are definite reasons for that.

The water level that is flowing below the Double Decker Root Bridge increases abnormally during monsoon which swallows the lower level and thus restricts the connection to either side. These types of natural disasters forced the villagers to build up another level with a similar aerial root method.

Not only the root bridge but the beauty of this place blossoms as an overall thematic view. Busy waterfalls just beside the bridge, extremely clear water stream below, and calm nature all around always inspire you to spend hours at this enchanting place; swimming under the waterfalls, sitting mindless, walking over the crystal clear water… it’s an amazing place far away from the city! But your time is limited, you have to move on.

Related Article: Dawki: A Perfect Gateway to Explore the River Paradise

Let’s move forward towards the Natural swimming pool

After spending 1-1.5 hours near Umshiang Double Decker Living Root Bridge, you can choose to return back or move forward towards the natural swimming pool.

You have to trek another 40 minutes to reach the natural swimming pool. Many travelers avoid this place due to unawareness, but I’d suggest you to must visit this place. It’s another hiking experience through a more dense forest; the beauty and calmness of nature are simply not explainable unless you become the eye-witness. On the way, you’ll cross two more bridges, one made of living roots and another by wire.

The Natural swimming pool is splendid in real sense. On the one side a waterfall is meeting the natural reservoir producing the natural swimming pool of crystal clear blue water; it a splendid view!

Cross Double Decker Root Bridge to reach Natural Swimming Pool
Natural Swimming Pool: When we reach it was almost evening and cloudy, A sunny morning offers a clear blue view.

You can swim there to get refreshed, but caution! Go move deeper to the middle, it’s streamy and deep inside.

You can easily spend an hour beside the natural swimming pool if you have time.

When we reach that place, only a few foreign backpackers were relaxing there, but no Indians; even on our way from the double-decker root bridge to the natural swimming pool, I discovered only a very few foreign travelers were returning back. I guess Indian adventure lovers are missing this place due to limited information (foreigners collect more information before visiting a place).

In true sense, this place will remain beautiful as long as it remains less crowded. However, difficult trekking root keeps this place away from the bad crowd and thus maintains its calmness, beauty, and clarity.

Would you like to explore more? – Head towards Rainbow Waterfalls

You have to trek 1.2 hours more to reach Rainbow waterfalls. That’s another beautiful place and the very last milestone of this trekking route. It is a more lonely place because you have to trek more upwards to reach this place, and thus many people avoid trekking further. Sometimes, limited time also becomes a factor.

The beautiful waterfall is pretty high and the appearance of “Rainbow” over the waterfall is the reason behind the nomenclature. The waterfall is situated in such a position that sunrays reach from a typical angle on the water particles to produce a rainbow offering a splendid view.

You must have to reach there before sunset on a sunny day to get a chance to experience this heavenly beauty. It is suggested to visit there in winter or spring when the weather remains mostly clear.

Related Article: Best Summer Destinations in India

Returning back

It’s a long road to trek back to the homestay. For sure, it is a much difficult job to return through the same route when you are tired from the whole day of trekking. However, traveling with an infant or child is even more difficult unless you get support.

Are you thinking to avoid this long trek with an infant? We didn’t avoid. In fact, we enjoyed this full-day trekking together with our 2 years old babies, me and couple of my travel partners, including our 2 years old babies.

You are suggested to hire a baby carrier (porter) to carry your baby at least one way (preferably for the return journey). We took porters for our return journey as we absolutely realized things might be worst without their assistance; they are very polite and dedicated to their job. It is true that your little baby may not stay on others’ lap for a long time but it will provide you at least some relief during your long hiking through the mostly upward return route.

Thanks to the porter for providing us relief during trek to Double Decker Root Bridge
Thanks to the porter brother for carrying our baby a long way and providing relief during the return journey.

If you start your return journey from the Rainbow waterfalls it needs around 3-3.5 hours to return back to the starting point at Tyrna, depending upon your trekking speed. If you feel, you can’t hike a long return route on the same day, you have an alternative option. You may pre-book a homestay at Nongriat village; there are many.

Caution: You shouldn’t expect a well-furnished hotel room at Nongriat, because the village is situated in an interior place; but you’ll definitely get a neat and clean environment.

However, several adventure lovers prefer to stay at Nongriat village before-night due to having easy access to the double-decker root bridge, natural water-falls, and also the rainbow waterfalls.

Related Article: 19 Best Places to Visit in Shillong

Life of the local villagers near Double Decker Living Root Bridge

Maybe it’s a bit off-topic, but I feel it’s worth having a little knowledge about the local villagers who are associated with the Double Decker Living Root Bridge.

There are several root bridges in Meghalaya, and the double-decker Root Bridge is the most popular and beautiful. As tourists, we visit there only to experience the beauty of nature, but for the local villagers, each and every root bridge is very important; all those bridges connect them to the main market and they cover the long trek route on a regular basis.

As per my personal feelings, definitely, it’s difficult and expensive to build roads through those steep hills, but it is not impossible! Building up the road might be greatly helpful to the local villagers; they might get rescue from their daily up and down routine. Unfortunately, due to some unknown reasons, it didn’t happen; maybe to keep the trekking path alive or something else.

However, tourism and local homestays are one of the main sources of income for the villagers.

Related Article: Laitlum: The Lush Green Canyon at the Edge of the World

Who should choose to visit Double Decker Root Bridge

Meghalaya is a very popular destination for any adventure lover throughout the world. However, the Double Decker living root bridge shouldn’t be missed out, if you are visiting Meghalaya, specifically Cherrapunji. In fact, this is a lifetime achievement.

Still, certain physical conditions may not allow you to trek towards Double-Decker root bridge; it’s unfortunate.

If you are young, you can do it. But in case, you are among the older people, you just need to be strong from the inside, which may help you reach the place. If you feel you can’t, just get back to the homestay after visiting the single root bridge; at least you’ll get an idea, how the natural root bridge looks like.

If you are young and you have certain physical restrictions, such as asthma, hysteria, etc., you should avoid this long trek; you can cover other beautiful places in Meghalaya.

If you are physically fit, I must recommend you to visit this place. The Double-decker Root Bridge is among the must-visit places in Meghalaya.

Related article: Top 9 Cherrapunji Tourist Places You Shouldn’t Skip

When to visit Double Decker Living Root Bridge?

November to April is the best time to trek towards Double decker root bridge because this season is relatively dry in Meghalaya. However, October and May also be considered; these are pick seasons for Meghalaya tourism due to the festival and summer vacation in India. Meghalaya remains crowded during October and May, but Double-decker Root Bridge remains less crowded, because of the limited knowledge about the place and tough trek route.

If you visit there in peak winter, you can enjoy the trek very well, you can experience clear deep blue water in the natural swimming pool and the beautiful rainbow shade at Rainbow waterfalls, but you may miss several waterfalls all around Meghalaya as many of those get dried in these months.

It is suggested to avoid visiting Meghalaya from June to September. In this monsoon season, you can miss out on many outdoor activities and maybe set back in the hotel room throughout the day. But if you are looking for a leisure trip, and wish to enjoy the rain and greenery of the world’s wettest place, you can choose the monsoon time.

Related Article: Garden of Caves? — Explore the Gem of Meghalaya near Cherrapunji

How to visit Double Decker Root Bridge?

Earlier in this article, I already mentioned the routes for visiting this awesome place. Here I am rewinding along with more details.

Firstly, you have to reach Shillong by air or by road or even by train route.

By Train

There is no direct train route to visit Meghalaya, in fact, railways are lacking in this state of India. You have to reach Guwahati railway station (Assam) if you prefer the train route. Then book a car to reach Shillong.

By Air

You have two options,

Guwahati Airport: All the International airports in India and also several domestic airports are connected to Guwahati Airport. If you are traveling from a foreign destination just search out the flight availability from your preferable airport. After reaching Guwahati take a cab to reach Shillong.

Shillong Airport: It definitely looks like a better option. But there are two negatives. Firstly, only one flight is available in a day and that starts from Kolkata Airport. So, if you are from West Bengal or you can reach Kolkata (West Bengal, India), you can avail this flight. Secondly, due to frequent rain, sometimes Shillong flight gets canceled or starts very late. Bad weather sometimes diverts the landing platform to Guwahati. However, in every situation, the airline’s authority will refund you fully or partially (depending upon the situation).

From Shillong take a cab to reach the nearest destination to the Double Decker route bridge. You have two options to start your trekking:

  • Start your car very early in the morning from Cherrapunji, and land on the trekking point at Tyrna.
  • You can stay at Tyrna and start your hiking the next morning.

Related Article: Mawlynnong: The Cleanest Village in Asia

Where to stay for reaching Double Decker Living Root Bridge?

You have three options:

Stay in Cherrapunji / Sohra

You’ll get many resorts and homestays at Cherrapunji, and most of those are very comfortable. After spending a night at Cherrapunji, you can drive towards Tyrna in the next morning very early; it takes 1 hour. Then start trekking towards the Double Decker Route Bridge.

Stay at Tyrna

I think, this is the best option. Instead of wasting a night at Cherrapunji, you can check-in to a homestay at Tyrna. But don’t expect a lot of comfort and great foods at Tyrna. This is a small village, from where the trekking route starts. In Tyrna homestays you get some rest overnight and start hiking the next morning.

Stay at Nongriat village

This is the village where the double-decker route bridge is situated and you have the trek for 2-2.5 hours to reach there as I mentioned above. If you stay here you can cover all the nearby spots easily; you’ll get the root bridge just beside you, then trek a lesser distance for visiting natural swimming pool and Rainbow falls. This might be a nice option to break down your trek route. However, don’t expect the comfort of a hotel room at Nongriat Homestay, but if you are interested to experience the village life in north-eastern India, this is a great option for you.

Most Adventure lovers and foreign travelers prefer to stay either at Nongriat Village or at Tyrna. If you ask my personal choice, I’d prefer Tyrna for the first night, and Nongriat for the second night; that means after enjoying the beauty of the rainbow waterfalls, it is better to stay at Nongriat rather than perform a long hike for returning Tyrna/Cherrapunji.

Related: 10 Best Hotels in Shillong: Must Check Before Your Shillong Trip

So, have a nice hike!

So, Ladies and gentlemen, that’s all about the Double Decker root bridge. Hope this helps you out for a better planning.

Preferably use a headphone/earphone and set the video quality to 1080p

If still, you have any queries, please let me know by posting a question below. I’ll be more than happy to help you out.

If you like this article, social sharing and leaving a comment is highly appreciating.

Thanking you.

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Dr. Suvankar Das is a scientific advisor by profession, associated with a CRO organization. He pursued his doctoral degree in Chemistry in 2015. Later, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher & scientist in a couple of institutes/companies.

Besides his scientific journey, Dr. Das is also a passionate traveler and travel blogger. He loves to share all his travel experiences with other travelers so that everyone can enjoy hassle-free holidays with their own tour plans.

He believes, the most beautiful thing in this world is the WORLD itself. so there is no way to live like a clock; rather live it like a compass!

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Pallavi

    Hi thinking of doing this trek with my 2 year old. Your’s is the only article that I found encouraging!! Is it easy to get a baby porter on the return journey?

    1. Suvankar Das

      Definitely, you’ll get a porter for trekking towards Double Decker Living Root Bridge with your 2 years old baby; you can book for both ways or only for the return journey.
      Eventhough you need a porter only for the return journey, still, you have to hire him from Tyrna village (contact your homestay owner). He’ll free-handedly go with you up to your destination, and carry your baby on your return journey.

      Best wishes for your upcoming journey!

  2. Chas

    Hi Suvankar,
    Thank you for sharing this wonder of nature the Living root bridge. I never had heard of this before, but it looks like it would be a wonderful get-away to enjoy hiking in the beauty of nature. I think that the Covid has stopped a lot of travel, but it should get better in the future. Next year, I would pack up for the journey if possible. Can you book the travelers stay year round?

    1. Suvankar Das

      Hi, presently I don’t take the bookings, but I can suggest you where to stay/ how to plan for your trip to the double-decker living root bridge.

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