Cherrapunjee and the amazing root bridges

#1 Sep 28th, 2008, 17:18
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#1
I want to let everyone know of my wonderful experience in Cherrapunjee, Meghalaya. This has been a highlight of my Indian trip. I cannot believe tourist come here for a quick half-day bus tour from Shillong. I have been here for 4 nights and unfortunately must move on tomorrow. Where do I start?

Cherrapunjee is known as the wettest place in the world, but is far more than this. It is a natural paradise with a huge variety of flora and fauna - beautiful butterflies and moths, amazing coloured beetles and the sound of cicadas and crickets in the air. Far away from the maddening noise of the city - you will not hear any honking horns or barking dogs here. Just the peaceful and relaxing noise of the nature in the mountains.



The highlight of this place is possibly the best kept secret of India - the amazing root bridges. These natural bridges are scattered all over this area and are made from training the roots of the fig tree into river crossings that are used daily by the locals. There is even an incredible double-decker construction. The walks to the bridges are quite strenuous, but you will be rewarded at the bottom with beautiful waterfalls and swimming holes.



The tiny villages are like something from All Creatures Great and Small or some other BBC show set in 1940's. The houses are neat and tidy; some with neatly manicured hedge fences; there is very little rubbish and virtually no motorized vehicles in the villages. The locals are so polite and welcoming; children run out of their homes to say hello; and everyone gets dressed in the best to go to church on Sundays.

There is really only one place to stay - the brilliant Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort, 12 km from the town. This place is run by a wonderful couple who will bend over backwards to make you feel at home. I have never experienced hospitality like this anywhere in India. Rooms are beautiful, comfortable and with hot water showers. The excellent food is served in a communal common room, where you can sit and watch the tropical thunderstorms bucketing down outside. If it is clear you can sit outside and look over the ridge down the steep drop to the Bangladeshi plains.



I can highly recommend this location and the resort.

Here are the basics. Cherrapunjee (aka Sohra) is a small town easily accessible from Shillong. If you miss the 8:00am tourist bus (book at Megahalaya Tourism in Police Bazaar), go to Bara Bazaar and get a share Sumo from the Cherrapunjee stand (1.5 hr Rs 40). From Cherrapunjee town reluctant taxi drivers will drive you the 12km of bad road for Rs 250. Otherwise wait for the public bus (approx 10:00, 1:30 and 4:30 depending on the day) for a more interesting ride with the locals (plus rice, chickens and other produce) for Rs 15. Ask to be dropped off at Laitkynsew and walk 2 minutes to the resort. While waiting for the bus, have a bite to eat with the lovely owner of the Sohra Plaza.

There are only 6 rooms at the resort so you definitely should book. Rooms at the Resort range from Rs 900-1000 plus tax. Food costs are reasonable. If the Resort is full the owner will attempt to find you accommodation with a local villager or (in my case) offer a waterproof tent out in the garden, with a nice comfy mattress, and a private shower/toilet block, for Rs 550.

Cherra Resort supplies 'mud maps' to all the major attractions. I stayed at the tail end of the monsoon and it rained a lot, mostly in the evenings. The tracks were very steep and very very slippery. Be prepared to sweat heaps and fall occasionally. It is most definitely worth it.

Yes - it does rain quite a lot - so bring a raincoat!
#2 Sep 28th, 2008, 17:50
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#2

Cool

Brilliant. Thanks for sharing.

Do you have a phone number of the resort????

Jorge
#3 Sep 28th, 2008, 18:38
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#3
Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort. Owner: Denis P Rayen and his lovely wife. Email: cherrapunjee@hotmail.com Phone: 03637-244218 Mobile: 94361-1592.

When I stayed the rooms were booked out for about three weeks. Oct-Feb is the peak season (dry). June-July is peak season seeing for monsoons.
#4 Sep 28th, 2008, 18:58
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I agree. I only booked for two days and had to get back to Guwahati and was kicking myself for my short sightedness. That hotel and surroundings was maybe my favorite place in India that I stayed at last trip.A lot of hotel owners in Shillong will tell you that it's only worth a day trip to visit Cherrapunjee because they have a tour to sell. Don't believe them.
#5 Sep 28th, 2008, 18:58
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Wonderful.
where are the stream and the root bridges located ? at Cherra proper or near the resort ?
#6 Sep 28th, 2008, 19:55
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The owner of Cherra Resort will give you maps - but in summary this is the story. There are many root bridges, but there are two main locations accessible from the resort.

1. From the resort walk through the local village and down a VERY steep track to the river and root bridge. 2km takes around 1.5-2 hrs due to the steep and slippery steps. You drop from 1000m to almost sea level. I swam in the pools at the bottom.

2. From the resort you walk/hitch/pay someone to drive 5km to the start of a VERY steep track. Walk another 5km (thats 10km altogether) to get to a series of root bridges. Here you will see the longest root bridge and the mind-blowing double decker. If you don't fancy a 10km uphill walk on the same day, you can stay in the local village and return the next day.

Note: There are no roads to the root bridges. Local village people live around the bridges and do these hikes as a matter of routine to get supplies etc. Amazing !!!!
#7 Sep 28th, 2008, 20:18
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#7
Thank's for that. I read about that place earlier this year and was very intrigued about it. They made it sound soo awesome to be there in the monsoon. The only drawback was that they said your clothes never really dry and become moldy because of the rain and humidity.
#8 Sep 28th, 2008, 20:27
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Actually I would love to return here for the monsoon (but I'm from Cairns - the wettest place in Australia - so I'm used to it).
Don't worry about clothes etc - they have a dryer at the resort.
#9 Sep 28th, 2008, 21:06
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A word of warning.You should be in fairly good shape to see some of the places around there. I'm 58 and have compromised lungs so the steepness of the hills really made some of it impossible for me. To make matters worse I got hopelessly lost trying to follow the homemade maps of he owner.On the way back some local guy carrying a ton of firewood on his head thru the jungle pointed me in the right direction.He then went ahead but sat and waited at each path crossroad to point we in the right direction.Finally as the sun was going down a little boy in a village led me home. But if you're in reasonably good shape and don't mind some exertion you'll be fine.Even if I couldn't do all the hikes i would go back for a week just because the lovely owners create such a nice atmoshere and it seems to attract interesting guests to sit around the fire with.We did have an incredible rainstorm when i was there and it was like being in midst of the clouds while the sun shone clearly on bangledesh below you.
#10 Sep 29th, 2008, 20:37
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#10
Thanks mikeincairns for a wonderful review of Cherapunjee. I am looking forward to vist this place in future.

Website Cherapunjee Holiday Resort.
http://www.cherrapunjee.com/

Ronak.
#11 Oct 4th, 2008, 18:14
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thanks mike and others for all the information. i look forward to visit meghalaya around december this year.
"Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?"
- Walt Whitman
#12 Dec 3rd, 2008, 11:26
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#12
We could stay in this wonderful resort in November 2008. We were there for 2 days and could visit one living root bridge at Umunnoi. A wonderful place. I call this as climax of our north east trip. We would definitely like to visit this place again.
#13 May 2nd, 2009, 12:21
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hi ive just been to cherrapunjee, and i dont normally feel the urge to publish my 2 pence worth on the net but i do now.

The whole area canyon thing is a truly wonderful place. Butterflies as big as a childs face. everywhere.

The resort itself is v nice ...if you like that sort of thing.

The owner is wonderfully friendly and full of information. It does get booked up in advance - as it tends to get a lot of bengali families, as well as work groups on bonding excercises. 21 Mumbain bankers when i was there(!). A dormitory building / room has just been completed so it should ease that side of things. (and make it a bit cheaper!)

The guy has lots of info on weather systems and local sites but it isnt an "eco resort". It may be in beautiful settings and grow its own veg but thats just coincidence - it doesnt generate its own electricty , and isnt built sympathetically to the environment.

I was hoping for a place to chill out for a bit while i was there and didnt quite manage it. the Owners definitely going for the resort angle. Other oddities include a compulsory nightly "musical program" which although quite sweet ( a daily guitar recital with some local kids busting Michael Jackson moves in little sequin suits )it wasnt quite what i was after. A hammock and the absolutely incredible sound of the jungle insects would have done it more for me - but hey, im no arbiter of indian taste.

Now, root bridges : The hike is seriously tough. I did it at the v end of April when it was super sweaty and it nearly broke me. Im not out of practice... Ive just done various treks in nepal , langtang & sikkim so my legs are currently used to 20 - 30km in a day ...and i still really struggled to climb the 5 km staircase.

The good news is that there is now a tiny little lodge right next to the double decker root bridge. About 100rupees a night and will provide basic food etc. So if you are going to do this trek I urge you to spread it over a few days.

I had a fantastic trek, doing it in one day. The swimming pools are something really pristine and beautiful as the photo above shows. But knowing that i had a 3hr 900metre climb in the afternoon was playing on my mind the whole time i was down there.

hope this helps anyone going out there.
Id love to go back especially in monsoon.
#14 May 4th, 2009, 02:00
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#14
Quote:
Originally Posted by woowah View Post
The good news is that there is now a tiny little lodge right next to the double decker root bridge. About 100rupees a night and will provide basic food etc. So if you are going to do this trek I urge you to spread it over a few days.
That's great news. Taking a nights break at the lodge would be an ideal way to do the trek. Do you recollect the name of the lodge ?

Ronak.
#15 Jun 4th, 2009, 15:04
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#15

No Name

There is no name as such if am not wrong. BUt this info is about an year old when we stayed there.

Bah Andreas the local village school teacher is the care taker of the lodge. BTW "Bah" is equivalent to shri or Sir.

It is a very basic place. Even the food would be prepared in a locals place and is served in the "lodge"

Anyone going there please convey my regards to James and Bah Andreas and lots of love to the beautiful Darisha a 5 year old kid who lives with Bah, for we had a memorable stay

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