Camping near the living root bridges of Meghalaya
14th April 2017 was special. This was the day when 52 people camped in Nongriat village, Meghalaya – close enough for everyone to hear the living roots breathe at night. This was the first time ever that a group camped for two nights in a village, only accessible by foot where one walks down 3.5 km or 3600 steps to reach it. Starting from a strip of paracetamol to mattresses for sleeping, everything needs to be walked down from the base village and then carried back up.
In the 200 odd years that the double decker living root bridges have thrived in this Khasi village no one could in their right state of mind think of planning an event as bizarre as this. Team ChaloHoppo is crazy in that sense! Bunch of over ambitious men thriving on enthusiasm to do something different and endeavouring to push the limits of sanity. The magnitude of the event doesn’t just stem from the fact that camping equipment had to be carried down and a huge manpower resource needed to be involved. All these were taken care of, with proper planning and foresight. What became a challenge was hosting 52 individuals with different mindsets, different expectations, and different temperaments. It wasn’t a cakewalk to climb up and down those stairs as various levels of stamina and physical fitness were required.
Everyone, or at least some people do read about the hurdles beforehand but anyone can guess that reading about a trek and actually trekking the literature are at the edge of both the poles. This difference was visible on the occasion of Good Friday and the Saturday before Easter when the travellers stood with shaky knees and beads of sweat dotted over their foreheads as they contemplated their decision. But Nongriat is worth every electrolyte lost, and every ache in your body. The fact that most of the individuals were passionate photographers carrying heavy cameras and equipment added to the complexity of the situation; but the fortress of Nongriat, guarded by natural walls and adorned with waterfalls along its towering circumference made the fruit sweeter as they could capture one of the world’s unique glory.
And what of the campsite that sat pretty in the middle of nowhere with kerosene lanterns being the only source of light teaming up with the moonlight and a bonfire that let the travellers warm up their aching bodies or dance in joy; the joy of being in a place unscathed by the ills of development – a place where the roaring waterfalls put you to sleep and birds chirping in different harmonies wake you up.
It’s as if ‘the Gods’ were pleased with the unfolding of the events in Nongriat village as the famous Meghalayan rains visited the campsite on the night of 15th April only long enough for everyone to feel it on their skin and gather under shelters and cherish those moments of togetherness. Had it rained longer or a dry night continued, it would have been incomplete but 14th April 2017 was special. This was the day that 52 people had come down to pay their respects to the unexplainable eco system of Nongriat. This was the day that 52 people camped in Nongriat for the first time ever.
We must also thank the Instagram community page @photographers.of.India for collaborating with us and getting the travellers here.
If you want to book a camping trip to Nongriat then find more details here.