Forest Trek to Nongriat

It is like the voyage of discovery into the unknown land, searching not for the new territory but for new knowledge. It should appeal to those with a good sense of adventure.

The two most common elements found in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity. The stupid me likes to be on the edge or be into the unknown, into the territory where I have to depend on being in the moment and trust my instincts. The brain is a world consisting of unexplored continents. Maybe we all want to burn off across the horizon, into space, perhaps, to take off into some unknown territory and meet ourselves there.

And into the forest I go to lose my mind and find my soul.

I was on a five month long solo travel of India along with some neighbouring countries like Nepal and Bhutan. It was the third month of my travels and after completing Bhutan I had headed on further to North East of India to the state of Meghalaya. As a female solo traveller from India I was pampered and taken care of humbly all throughout my journey. For many of them I was one from India they had ever met.

Meghalaya, as the Sanskrit name suggests is an abode of clouds and is one the states of India with highest recorded rainfall. My base was Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya. During the British rule of India, the British Imperial Authorities nicknamed it as the “Scotland of the East”.

After spending one day with Meghalaya tourism in going around Cherapunji , I was all excited to head towards the mystic  Living Root Bridges at Nongriat, a  village adjacent to Cherapunji. Afraid to go alone, my eyes were searching for a non-Indian, who would quickly agree to accompany me for the forest trek to the village. Generally in my experience people from the west are more adventurous in nature.

Luckily, I spotted a girl from Belgium who had also come prepared for the same trek, though she was hoping to do it on the next day. I convinced her to accompany me for the trek on the same day. She took out a pair of clothes for herself and parked her baggage in the closest tea shop. It was almost 4 in the evening while this whole reel played. Some local people warned us that it would be too late to start for the trek as we might get lost in the forest. Paying heed to the suggestions of the local people we were returning, when a young boy stopped us and enthused us to go back and finish the trek. He said the trek was very simple, there were no dangerous animals in the forest and we would be able to finish it in just two hours. He came to drop us till the starting point and said very soon we will find an iron bridge, and we will reach at the guest house just fifteen minutes after that.

So we started off again and as we were climbing down the steps into the forest I started to get to know the girl from Belgium. Her background, where did she stay in India, did she have a boyfriend, how long had she been travelling in India etc. etc. I realised culturally we were so different even in terms of our fears. While her fear was getting lost on the way and we getting hurt, my fear was that we were just two GIRLS trekking through the forest and anyone could come and harm us.

There was greenery around and amongst all the conversations the dusk had started to dawn upon us. Finally we did come across an iron bridge but it didn’t seem unique in the way the young boy had mentioned it to us. So we kept walking. It had started to get dark. Both of us put on our torch lights. The thought of getting stuck in the forest all night had started wandering in our minds. We reached a point where we had to make a choice between two available paths and we chose the one which seemed obvious to us.  As we started to walk again, we reached a dead end. Shit! We were extremely scared , fearing even to think what would we do next as the path closed with shrubs and trees.  After some discussions and explorations we entered under the shrubs and trees and Lo! The unique iron bridge with Brahmaputra flowing under it was right in front of our eyes. And soon we realised that we were at a LIVING ROOT BRIDGE! Fear…Excitement…Happiness…Joy …Serenity…Calmness…All these and probably many more emotions we experienced at this point of time. The iron bridge was almost like the shaky one they show in films used by army people. We crossed the bridge one by one. The sound of the gushing waters of Brahmaputra made us feel so blessed. We took deep breaths and thanked God for getting the new discovery our way.  It was completely dark now. As we walked further, in another ten minutes we reached a huge marshy ground. This ground which seemed like a football ground was on all sides encircled with trees leaving us confused as to which way to get out. The Belgium girl took charge and walked around the whole ground with her torch and came across cemented steps. She called me to confirm whether it signified human settlement. As we hastily hurried through the cemented steps something slowed me down. As I looked around myself into the forest, it was full of fireflies. A MYSTICAL SCENE to witness. The way straight away led me to the guest house where we freshened up and enjoyed some card games from different countries. After waking up in the morning we went to have a look at the village’s attraction “Double Decker” living root bridge with Brahmaputra river flowing under it. We also took a walk around the village.

Life is an uncharted territory. It reveals its story one moment at a time. Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. We might feel both helpless and hopeless without a sense of a ‘map’ for the journey but the paradox is confusion is the hallmark of a transition. The best way to go into the unknown territory is to go in ignorant, as ignorant as possible, with your mind wide open, as wide open as possible. Hold company with yourself so scared that even when you are alone you are whole. Your heart knows the way, run in that direction. Respond to every cell that excites your spirit. It is said that what you seek is also seeking you. All mortals will taste death, but only some will taste life. May you seek to know the vastness of your light . Travel not to escape life, but life not to escape you. Fill your life with adventures, not things. Have stories to tell not stuff to show. Travel is more than seeing sights; it is a change that goes on deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take. As I close this article, I want you to inquire within “When will I begin that long journey into myself?”

Doing things as others told me , I was blind. Coming when others called me I was lost. Then I left everyone, myself as well. Then I found everyone, myself as well.

I am a behavioral, leadership and financial Trainer. I am a Chartered Accountant, a Neuro-Linguistic Certified Practitioner, a Landmark Curriculum graduate and an experiential educator.
I am very passionate about traveling and music and keep participating in running events like pinkathons and half marathons. I have touched upon every state in India except five states in the northeast and have been trained in Hindustani classical music for two years.I am also the founder of the organization Creative Kabira which has a vision of unleashing Creative confidence in younger citizens of the world.

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