If nature pilgrimage is the agenda, don’t look far from Cherrapunjee in Meghalaya, writes ANINDITA DAS
“Come forth into the light of things,
Let nature be your teacher.”
– William Wordsworth
What with religious intolerance on a high in the country, it’s time we turned to the most secular and true religion of all – that of the love of nature. Believe it or not, a pilgrimage into the nature will bring you the kind of peace and tranquility no other religious pilgrimage can.
If nature pilgrimage is the agenda, don’t look far from Cherrapunjee in Meghalaya, one of the rainiest places in the world. This gem of a place, besides being home to several waterfalls, tropical rain forests and a climate to die for is the home to the Double Decker Root Bridge.
As we know all pilgrimages involve some amount of difficulty, this pilgrimage too comes with its challenges. The 140 year old living root bridge, grown by the bio engineering of the ingenious local people of the village of Nongriat requires a five-six hour long arduous trek consisting of steep downhill stairs. While that may not be very difficult for frequent trekkers, for people who do not walk on a regular basis, this will be nothing less than an once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Those who have the energy and enthusiasm to make it more difficult can continue to walk ahead for 3 kms to the beautiful Rainbow Waterfall. The trek ahead is challenging and consists of concrete steps for a while followed by a difficult stone pathways.
How to prepare?
- Carry some good walking shoes, really good. It will sufficiently lessen the pressure on your knees and you will be thankful for it at every step.
- Start early. The trek is a long one and you will want to spend a lot of time once you reach there.
- Listen to your guide. They have done it several times in their lives and they have good to reason to believe in what they do.
- Trek light. Do not carry anything you don’t need. Carry only the amount of drinking water you need for the first one hour. You can buy fresh water bottles later on the way.
- Don’t try to hasten your progress. Taking quicker steps will only result in more pain the next day. An excellent tip given by my guide, Welsley.
- Wear comfortable loose fitted clothes appropriate for trekking. Dab on as much sunscreen as you can and don’t forget to protect those peepers with a pair of good shades.
- Keep muscle pain relievers like Volini Spray or Move ready for the post trek pain. If you don’t have any of these with you, dip your feet in warm water for half an hour. It will work like magic.
How to enjoy?
Like all treks, it is about the journey rather than the destination. Savour each moment of this trek through the tropical forests connecting with nature. By the end of the trip, you will realize it is not the place that is new, it is you who is new.
Don’t be disheartened by the wrong numbers indicated on the steps. I guess someone had intentionally written incorrect numbers to motivate trekkers. Decide on small targets, like the next twenty steps. This will make the whole journey of 3000 + steps so much simpler and the sense of accomplishment in the end that much sweeter.
You can also plan on staying the night at the Nongriat village. Book a room at the Serene Homestay or camp outdoors. However, it is advisable to carry your camping gear from the nearby Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort rather than trying to find them at the village.
Pay your homage to nature under the open sky. Connect with the flora and fauna surrounding you and rediscover yourself. Take a dip in the purest of water under the steel rope bridge. Don’t forget to carry a change of clothes. Alternatively, you can rent towels from the village.
Go for angling under the root bridge. Learn patience by watching little local boys concentrate, each time they throw in their bait. Learn perseverance by seeing little girls carry bags of rocks to lay on the steps of the village path they consider their own. See how time slows down to catch a breath and wanders away in a lazy stroll.
And after you have said your prayers to the nature, it will be time to savour a pure and healthy organic meal cooked by the Khasi people of the village.
(Pic.: By author)
Anindita is an award winning advertising copywriter but feels she is capable of doing just about anything else. She also claims to be an arm chair philosopher, a Bollywood junkie, a part-time back packer, a full-time dreamer, an amateur photographer, a wannabe chef and an on & off blogger. She is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication and a diploma holder in Bharatnatyam.