Living Bridges of Meghalaya

India

Culture | Activity

Waterfalls, hills and living bridges in North East India

7 days £1,095 pp This is the per person group tour price, based on 2 sharing. The price is subject to change with exchange rate and flight cost fluctuations.
Dates & Prices

Intro

Discover the magic of Meghalaya, the 'Scotland of the East'. Wander the bazaars in the hill station town of Shillong. Visit the picturesque town of Jowai in the breathtaking surroundings of the Jaintia Hills, and learn how Mawlynnong maintains its status as 'the cleanest village in India'. Enjoy views of craggy cliffs, rolling hills and waterfalls on your way to Cherrapunjee, the wettest place on the planet. Trek to the incredible Living Root Bridges, and marvel at the ingenuity of the Khasi people who created these feats of living architecture. Finally, visit the Sacred Forest of Mawphlang before returning to Guwahati.

Read The Independent article on the bridges

Watch clips from the BBC documentaries:

The Travel Show: North East India
Human Planet

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Relax in the charming hill-station of Shillong
  • Marvel at the incredible living root bridges
  • Visit the cleanest village in Asia
  • Explore Mawphlang's sacred forest

Places Visited

Shillong - Mawlynnong - Jowai - Cherrapunjee - Mawphlang

What's Included

Airport transfers
Ground transport
Accommodation
Entrance fees to sites & parks
Activities as per itinerary
Drivers and guides
Most meals (refer to itinerary for meal plan)
Itinerary & Map
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Day 1 : Guwahati - Shillong

Arrive at Guwahati Airport and be met by a Travel the Unknown representative. Drive to Shillong and check into hotel. Take a walk around the busy bazaar, getting a feel for this modern hill station. The rest of the evening is free at your leisure. Overnight in Shillong. 

Meal plan: n/a

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Day 2 : Shillong - Jowai - Mawlynnong

After breakfast, visit the main sites of Shillong. Proceed to Jowai in the Jaintia Hills via Tamabil, stopping en route to look over Shillong from Shillong Peak. Visit the Nartiang Monolith Park and the century old Durga Temple. Continue to Mawlynnong and check into the guesthouse upon arrival. Overnight in Mawlynnong. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

The capital of Meghalaya and one of India's smallest states, Shillong was nicknamed the 'Scotland of the East' by European settlers thanks to her stunning mountain scenery. Set between the Brahmaputra and Surma Valleys, the area was chosen as the headquarters of the Khasi administration by the British. Some places of interest include the spectacular Elephant Falls, formed from mountain streams on the outskirts of the city, the Lady Hydari Park, which stretches over a kilometre and has a mini zoo. There are also several interesting museums, including the Dan Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures as well as the beautiful Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians. Panoramic views of the area can be found on Shillong Peak, which is also an excellent picnic spot.

Situated alongside the Myntdu river, the picturesque town of Jowai is the administrative headquarters and commercial centre of West Jaintia Hills. The mountainous range of the Jaintia Hills is well known as a natural paradise, with its rugged terrain of deep gorges, narrow valleys and cascading waterfalls holding a large variety of flora and fauna. With its plentiful rainfall and sunshine maintaining the dense emerald-green forest cover, much of which is considered sacred ground, it is a place of scenic beauty, peace and tranquility.

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Day 3 : Mawlynnong - Cherrapunjee

Spend the day walking around Mawlynnong village, the cleanest village in Asia. Meet the locals and learn how they work together to maintain the cleanliness of their community. After lunch, drive to Cherrapunjee, the wettest place on earth (particularly during the monsoon period). Evening is free to relax or explore. Overnight in Cherrapunjee.

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Often referred to as 'God's Own Garden', Mawlynnong is a community-based eco-tourism initiative where environmental cleanliness is a way of life. The ritualistic cleaning process has become tradition, with members from all generations of the community sweeping the roads several times a day, while litter, and even fallen leaves, are picked up off the floor immediately and discarded into the bamboo dustbins lining the street. With agriculture being the main economic source, conservation and protection of the forest is of the upmost importance within the village. Multiple trees are planted to maintain the forest area, waste is collected in a pit to be used as manure, and there is an ongoing mission to ban plastic. With such high cleanliness and education (all community members are literate and taught about sanitation from a young age) in a country well known for it's lack of both qualities, Mawlynnong has become a place of envy for its Indian neighbours and one of pride for its inhabitants. 

Read more
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Day 4 : Cherrapunjee

Explore the unique living root bridges in the surrounding area and nearby Khasi villages. Evening is free at your leisure. Overnight in Cherrapunjee.

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Cherrapunjee is tucked away in the Khasi hills, near the Bay of Bengal. Situated in the path of the Indian summer monsoon, Cherrapunjee is one of the wettest places on earth, taking the record for most annual rainfall of any place on earth in 1974. Average annual rainfall is a staggering 11,859.4mm and most of Cherrapunjee’s rain is thought to be formed from water condensation from the Bay of Bengal. To reach the area, you drive through Meghalaya’s rolling hills, with views of craggy cliff-faces and rugged flora. Now officially known as ‘Sohra’, Cherrapunjee literally translates to ‘land of oranges’, and is surrounded by local Khasi villages with excellent views of the plains of Bangladesh. 

The Khasi people discovered the properties of the Indian rubber tree some 200 years ago. The roots of these trees are coaxed across streams forming amazing natural bridges. The tree trunks are sliced in the middle, hollowed out and then positioned according to the requirement of the bridge. The long tender roots are then passed through these hollowed out trunks. The roots start growing towards the directed end. When they reach the other end of the stream, they take root in the soil. This process can take up to 15 years, and these bridges can tolerate some 50 people. The most spectacular is the Double Decker Bridge in Nongriat.


Read more
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Day 5 : Cherrapunjee

Drive to Tyrna for the starting point of a trek to the Nongriat village and the double decker living root bridge (1 to 1.5 hours). Walk along the meandering edge of the cliff face and start the descent downwards, trekking through lush green vegetation. Pass villages and four other smaller living root bridges and traverse across an iron cable suspension bridge hovering at 45 ft above a roaring waterfall. Enjoy swimming in the natural swimming pool. Return to the resort. Evening free at your leisure. Overnight in Cherrapunjee.

NOTE: This trek requires a high level of fitness. Alternative, less arduous treks can be arranged to other living root bridges. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

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Day 6 : Cherrapunjee - Mawphlang - Guwahati

Leave for Mawphlang and explore the Sacred Forest. Continue on to Guwahati for your overnight stay. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Guwahati is popularly known as ‘the city of eastern light’, and situated on the banks of the Brahmaputa River and the foothills of the Shillong plateau. Many Hindu temples are found in the area, including the Kamakyha Temple, where animal sacrifices are still a daily occurrence. Nearby is the quaint Umananda Temple situated on an island.

Mawphlang, the site of the sacred forest, is still revered and protected by locals as an ancient burial site. A dense growth of Castanopsis kurzii trees forms a protective barrier around the forest, preventing the intrusion of the common Khasi pines which dominate the outer areas. As a result, the forest is a treasure trove of unique flora and fauna, with an abundance of aroids, pipers, fern-allies and orchids. It is thought that many of the plants and herbs have medicinal qualities that can cure serious disease. However, such plants must be consumed within the forest, as it is believed that if anything is removed from the sacred grounds, the balance of the deity will be disrupted and the taker will be cursed with illness and misfortune.

Read more
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Day 7 : Departure

After breakfast, check out of the hotel and transfer to Guwahati Airport for your onward journey.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Guwahati is popularly known as ‘the city of eastern light’, and situated on the banks of the Brahmaputa River and the foothills of the Shillong plateau. Many Hindu temples are found in the area, including the Kamakyha Temple, where animal sacrifices are still a daily occurrence. Nearby is the quaint Umananda Temple situated on an island.

Read more
Accommodation

Accommodation

All accommodation subject to availability. Final accommodation choices will be confirmed after booking.

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Royal Heritage Tripura Castle

Located in the annexe of the Summer Palace for the Tripura Royal Family, the Royal Heritage Tripura Castle combines heritage features with modern amenities and accommodation. The hotel also has a cafe and in-house restaurant offering Pan-Asian, Mediterranean, Continental and North-Eastern specialties. 

Visit hotel's site
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Iartong Guest House

Located in Mawlynnong, Iartong Guest House is a small homestay owned by a local Khasi family. It includes a special feature of a wooden veranda which ends in a skywalk over the trees, offering guests beautiful panoramic forest views. 

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Cherrapunjee Resort

Cherrapunjee Resort is a family run establishment begun especially as a base for excursions to the living root bridges and waterfalls of Meghalaya. There are 7 rooms and 3 tents (only for dry season), all with attached bathroom/toilet. The staff are all from the local villages. In the evenings you can enjoy a drink by the bonfire.

Visit hotel's site
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Hotel Cygnett

Hotel Cygnett is located at the heart of Guwahati. The hotel has a simple, yet contemporary decor, which carries through into the spacious bedrooms. The rooms are equipped with modern comforts, including WiFi, satellite television and ensuite bathrooms. Guests can choose between dining in the hotel restaurant, cafe or pub, which offer a variety of international cuisine options. 

Visit hotel's site
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Reviews

I`m sure I could not have found a better operator for the type of complicated Indian tour I wanted to undertake on a limited budget. India is an intimidating country to visit, and I suspect that some operators look down on the first time visitor, or disparage their requirements. Travel the Unknown, by contrast, helped me all the way, and their local guides were superb.

Andrew Martin , Tailormade North East India

I`m very pleased with the way the trip was arranged for me, it was well organised and went very well. The itinerary was just the right pace to enjoy everything without rushing too much. It was never going to be cheap for 1 person travelling alone but I thought it was very reasonably priced.

Dewi Evans , Tailormade North East India

As always Travel The Unknown were exceptional in organising my trip to India. The guides for Meghalaya and the Golden Triangle were friendly, extremely helpful and very informative. The tour was busy but never felt rushed; the combination of Meghalaya and Golden Triangle giving quite a varied perspective of India.

Terry Cooper , Living Bridges of Meghalaya

Travel the Unknown put together an Itinerary in North East India - Living Root Bridges for me and a travelling companion. The accommodations, transportation, promptness of drivers, and knowledge of our guide was excellent. Easy booking from office and good pre trip information. Thanks TTU!

Christina Taft , Living Bridges of Meghalaya, India

Wow, India is incredible and Travel The Unknown put together a trip that really showed the diverse nature of the country and cultures, from the busy capital Delhi to the splendour of the Taj Mahal and then off the main tourist trek with an overnight sleeper train to Varanasi on the Ganges, the Hindu religious capital with bathing , washing and cremations alongside the river - an astonishing experience. We then moved to the forgotten North East corner where there is a tribal culture in an area seemingly cut off from the rest of India. Our destination was the Living Root Bridges which are unique and remote. Just want to go back to India for more...

Ken Sankey , Living Bridges of Meghalaya, India

Gotta say thanks to Travel The Unknown for organising my fascinating trip to a little-known area of the world. The scenery was fantastic, food was amazing, the guide was great and the living bridges were inspiring. An India not many get to see. Thanks again.

Stephen , Living Bridges of Meghalaya, India

I had been studying the Apatani Tribe for quite some time… I’m talking roughly 7 years! Travel The Unknown made my dreams come entirely true. They organized every aspect of my experience in the most minute detail. I have never felt such confidence in an agency nor worked with one more knowledgeable about their destination. Because of them and their kind efforts, I will continue to travel with Travel The Unknown for all future expeditions to this or similar regions. Thanks, Travel The Unknown, for everything!

Christian Noni , Tailormade North East India

The Living Root Bridges trip was our first time with Travel the Unknown and we would have no hesitation from booking with them again.

Andria & John Palmer , Living Bridges of Meghalaya, India

It was the 200 year old double-decker root bridge I had come to see, After two hours, as we approached the village of Nongkriet, there it was. The roots of a single tree crossed the river on two levels, like a mad piece of macramé crossed with a tangled beard, bits of seaweed and a hairy den of tarantulas. It`s a bridge for hobbits, not humans.

Jini, The Independent , Living Bridges of Meghalaya, India

Travel The Unknown`s North East India tours have zoned in on the absolute prime attractions, visiting a string of culturally unique, scenically stunning places - and maximising every moment spent there. They`re also to be commended for their integrity, having established excellent relations with local tour operators, sympathetic to the remote communities they visit. Their outstanding guides take great care to respect and protect indigenous lifestyles in these delicate regions.

Vanessa Betts, Author, Footprint Guide to Northeast India , Tailormade North East India

I would highly recommend Travel the Unknown to anyone visiting India. The service we received both prior to, during and following our travels was always timely and excellent. We were able to customize our trip to our liking and to enjoy a wide variety of activities. The guides in every location were outstanding! Honestly. Having travelled through much of the world I can truly say that we have never been more impressed with the quality of the guides arranged for us in each location, as well as the service we received. Similarly, the hotels were excellent and allowed us to live very comfortably while, at the same time, enjoy an authentic Indian experience. If you haven`t already booked your trip with Travel the Unknown, then either do so now....or at least give them a chance to show you what they can offer.

Tracey & Gary , Tailormade India

I have been on 3 tailor made trips with Travel The Unknown and have found them to be knowledgeable and reliable. We`ve stayed in some wonderful places and have had some unusual and satisfying experiences that go beyond the standard tours.

Joan Edmunds (USA) , Tailormade India
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