Vast Landscapes of Meghalaya – Living Root Bridges, Waterfalls and visiting Bangladesh

On Friday 22nd November we met with our new driver for the next 8 days. Shim comes from the Khasi people and lives in Shillong, the state capital of Meghalaya in NE India. On the long journey from Guwahati we told him we liked to sample local food, so he took us to a village restaurant on the way. 

Paul sampling traditional Khasi fare on a very narrow table
The restaurant wasn’t the most modern, in fact we thought it resembled a chicken coop

We drove all day and arrived at the Kutmadan Resort near Cherrapunjee at around dusk. No kidding, it felt as if we’d come to the edge of the world! The resort was perched on the absolute southern end of the Himalayas where the mountains suddenly plummet down to the Bangladesh plain. From our bungalow, the flat and watery expanse of northern Bangladesh spread out thousands of metres below. As darkness fell you could see the lights of the towns and villages start to glimmer on the plain. It was a most extraordinary sight and one which any picture cannot begin to capture. 

Our first view of waterfalls in Meghalaya. This is the dry season so there was a lot less water than normal
The plains of Bangladesh streching out under a hazy sunset. That’s our tour car in the foreground
The high plateaus of that part of India made us think of pictures we’ve seen of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. They are huge, bleak, rock and grass covered landscapes, well above the tree line. The views reinforced our impressions of being at the ends of the earth!

Next morning, on with the trainers to meet with a local guide and trek the 2,400ft down through forested gorges to the famous double decker living root bridges of Meghalaya. 

Still looking fresh on the way down
The unique double decker living root bridge. The locals train the roots of rubber trees over many years to span the water
The bridge can support heavy loads

Legs were already feeling the strain, but our guide suggested a further scramble and trek along the rocky mountain path for another hour or so, to reach the Rainbow Falls. 

Rainbow falls
Paul took the best picture showing the rainbow – you can see it quite clearly almost in the centre of the picture

On the return journey Paul was holding up pretty well, but my little legs felt like they’d died and we still had 3,500 steps to get us back up to Shim and the sanctuary of his car! 

OMG!  The next day we had to do it all again, but this time to a couple of remote jungle waterfalls!

We stopped to take a picture before trekking down through the jungle to reach the head of this waterfall
Ali in the gorge at the head of the falls
A beautiful 3 tier waterfall a little way upstream
Starting the steep climb back up

By the end of the day the pain in my legs made even walking uphill difficult, but all that clambering around was such fun that it couldn’t be passed up!  Am hobbling as I write 3 days later and even Paul’s legs are still stiff and sore but we both agree it was definitely worth it. 

Next day we drove down through the mountains towards the Bangladesh border. We stayed that night at an interesting bed and breakfast. Our “cottage” resembled a converted cow shed, with bare concrete floor, no heating (it was cold!) and only a tap and bucket for washing in. Our most basic accommodation so far!

In the cold cow shed!

At the very foot of the mountains, the plains spread out, India ends and Bangladesh begins. The border is open apart from Indian military personnel who prevent Bangladeshis from crossing. Our guides felt that few Indian citizens would wish to enter Bangladesh, due to the relative poverty and much lower living standards of their neighbour

For many years this rock has been the unofficial boarder point between India and Bangladesh. Behind the rock you can see hundreds of Bangladeshi people, although we were not at all sure why they were there
Near to the rock is a sign marking the border. The armed Indian guard on duty would allow tourists to step just beyond but go no further. Paul is officially in Bangladesh
Taking a break upstream from the border

2 thoughts on “Vast Landscapes of Meghalaya – Living Root Bridges, Waterfalls and visiting Bangladesh”

  1. This adventure really does look out of this world – amazing! Never seen anything about this area before. Enjoying your travel stories – keep them coming! X


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