Responsible Tourism in Meghalaya
Situated in a breathtaking valley decorated by numerous cascading waterfalls, deep caverns, rain-fed forests, rivers and streams, the village of Nongriat is home to a very happy and content community of Khasi people, who live a life closely connected to nature. There are no roads here, only neat cemented crisscrossing footpaths. To reach the village, it is a three hour long and steep downhill hike from the high plateaus of Cherrapunji, the world’s rainiest place. You have to literally walk down more than 3000 steps, crossing streams and rivers in hanging native ingenuity bridges, to arrive at Nongriat. After the village was aired in BBC’s Human Planet series, travelers from around the world have started to come here. And though most tourists are single day visitors who come to see the unique double-decker living root bridge of the village, the charm lies in residing for a few days.
The village has built a community run guesthouse to accommodate the overnight visitors, the gains from which are utilized in maintaining the school and within the community. The place has four basic rooms, a hall, kitchen and the perfect coziness for the dramatic weather of the region; where clouds are ever playing hide and seek with the inhabitants. A few days are less to explore everything Nongriat has to offer.
You can start by interacting with the locals, who are all educated and great to have a casual conversation with. There is a small village school where you can teach the children. There are also numerous hikes which lead to exotic waterfalls, cave systems, living root bridges, nearby villages and one to the plains of Bangladesh. Fishing and bathing in the natural pools are the two most popular hobbies of the locals, which you must participate in. However, the most amazing aspect of the village is its natural wealth, as it is interesting to see that almost everything used by the villagers comes from the forest; items such as vegetables, fruits, medicines, meat, cane, bamboo and timber. Maybe this is the reason the villagers are extremely healthy and can climb up and down 3000 steps as if it is an easy task.