Did You Know About Meghalaya's Nokrek Biosphere Reserve?

The biosphere was recognised and designated by UNESCO in 2009, which acknowledged its unique natural features and the need for conservation
Living roots bridge, Meghalaya
Living roots bridge, MeghalayaShutterstock

Meghalaya's Nokrek Biosphere Reserve is a testament to the Northeast's biodiversity and ecological importance. With an area of approximately 47,000 hectares, UNESCO recognised and designated this biosphere reserve in 2009, acknowledging its unique natural features and the need for conservation.

Located in the Garo Hills, Nokrek Biosphere Reserve showcases diverse ecosystems, ranging from tropical and subtropical forests to grasslands and savannas. Named after the highest peak in the Garo Hills, Nokrek Peak, which stands at an elevation of around 1,412 meters above sea level, the reserve benefits from varied topography and favourable climatic conditions, resulting in exceptional biological diversity.

Jhum cultivation, Nokrek Biosphere Reserve
Jhum cultivation, Nokrek Biosphere Reserve Wikimedia Commons

Diverse Biodiversity

The reserve is home to species such as Bombax ceiba (Cotton tree), Sterculia villosa (Hairy Sterculia), and Cassia fistula (Golden shower tree). Among the vulnerable and threatened fauna species in Nokrek are the Slow Loris, Petaurista philippensis (Giant flying squirrel), and Macaca leonina (Pig-tailed macaque). Other endangered fauna include tigers, leopards, elephants, and Hoolock gibbons.

Some of the largest Asiatic elephant herds in the country are also found here.

Smiling girls in traditional costumes
Smiling girls in traditional costumesMichal Knitl / Shutterstock

Tribal Life

Visitors can witness thriving tribal life characterised by shifting cultivation practices. The area is predominantly inhabited by Garo tribes, with the coexistence of other tribes like the Banias or Hajjons. According to UNESCO, archaeological findings indicate human settlement in the lower Palaeolithic period of the middle Pleistocene Age.

Agricultural and hunting practices prevailed until the Neolithic period when more efficient slash-and-burn techniques and shifting cultivation emerged. During the Mughal Empire, the region gained attention for trading agricultural products like timber and wax for daily work materials. Subsequently, with the advent of the East India Company, the area became known for mineral extraction, particularly coal.

What To See

 Chandigre Village
Chandigre VillageMeghalaya Tourism website

A noteworthy place on the reserve's periphery is Chandigre Village, as mentioned on the official website of Meghalaya Tourism. The village offers a glimpse into the Garo lifestyle and features a small resort with traditional huts surrounded by tea gardens and coffee plantations. Chandigre serves as an ideal base for exploring Nokrek, and the nearby Rongbang Dare waterfalls provide a captivating sight. Nokrek is renowned for being the best place to observe the Hoolock gibbon, whose calls echo through the canopies.

The Information

Visiting Hours

The opening time mainly caters to day activities, with Chandigre and Daribokgre serving as suitable base camps for a multi-day trip.

Best Time To Visit


Getting There

To reach Nokrek Biosphere Reserve, travellers can access the nearest central town, Tura (about 45 km away). One can hire local transportation from Tura to Rongram, the gateway village. The reserve is approximately 12 kilometres from Rongram, and further arrangements can be made locally for a guided entry into the biosphere.

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