MEGHALAYA – ABODE OF CLOUDS
It was dark and a chill air ran through my spine…. The walls of the caves were damp. It was eerie! I have a phobia of caves and more so this intriguing cave was getting on my nerves with each step. We were 5 of us venturing into the darkness with a head torch, phone flashlight and our indomitable spirit. After a while of carefully meandering through the caves, stalagmites…. we decided to head back as it was totally spooky and we didn’t know where our next step would land us in.
Two days prior we had reached Shillong via Tezpur from Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. It was quite a ride and we headed to our hotel to get some rest and figure out on our trip around Meghalaya. Luckily, after a few phone calls and chance meets we had found our man-friday who would take us on a tour of Meghalaya for a week.
So it began….
Day 1: Shillong- Mawlynnong- Shengpendong
It was a bright sunny day when we started on our tour of Meghalaya. We first went to the Elephant falls just on the outskirts of Shillong city. The Falls can be seen from various points as it is multi-tiered and one can traverse to the Falls along a short trail of steps.
Our next point was to the Single root bridge which are over 100ft long and are roots from Rubber Fig trees and can withstand 50 people on the bridge!
We then headed to the cleanest village in Asia-Mawlynnong. It is situated on the border of India and Bangladesh. One can see the border atop a stilt tree-top. It is a lovely village and one can walk along the clean alleys and engage with the warm villagers. Many tourists and travelers stay at well furnished home stays of the villagers. After spending some time on tree tops and a simple sumptuous meal, we left for Dawki.
Dawki is a town in West Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya. It is at the border of India-Bangladesh. A crystal clear river, Umngot flows through the border. The main highlight of this place is the boating along the river which is beautiful to look at as one can see through the water and the bottom of the river!
An hour’s boat ride along the clear waters was quite an experience.
We later headed to Shengpdeng village alongside the river. We managed to hire a tent for the night and spent our time playing random games way into the night!
In the morning, we crossed a bridge and reached the other shore and spent considerable time listening to music and the waves.
One can also enjoy various water activities like scuba-diving, kayaking etc. at this place.
Day 2: Shengpdeng – Krang Suri- Cherrapunji
We bid goodbye to Shengpdeng and went to a small village, I forget the name. At the end of this village was a forest. As we walked about 500m into the forest, we were standing face to face with an old cave. We carefully walked into the dark caves with the support of a torch light and the flashlights from our phones. The villager who accompanied us mentioned that the cave runs for 20km. Without a constant source of light along the cave, we headed back thinking it would be too risky and stupid to go along the narrow, unlit paths of the cave.
Must say it was an intriguing experience added with my fear of caves and we headed straight to our next point- the gorgeous Krang-Suri Falls. As we drove through winding mountain roads, many a limestone quarries added to the landscape on the way.
The Falls is a treat to one’s mind, body and soul! The sparkling aquamarine waters beckons one to swim, get drenched and enjoy the beauty of the place. A life-jacket is compulsory which one can hire at the Falls and anyone can swim, spend as much time in the cool shimmering waters and bask in the rainbow in all its entirety!
After playing and swimming in the water, we added some fuel to our tummies and off we went to our stay for the night, Cherrapunji!
Day 3: Cherrapunji-Mawsmai Caves-Nohkalikai Falls
Cherrapunji, locally known as Sohra is a town in the southern part of Khasi Hills in Meghalaya. Known for being the wettest planet on Earth after Mawsynram, it is a beautiful place with numerous living root bridges, falls, caves and of course forests.
Our first stop for the day was at Mawsmai Caves. These are beautiful caves, maintained by the Govt. The caves are well-lit and one can explore the caves without a guide. There are a few narrow paths where one has to squeeze themselves to move ahead. But it is quite an adventurous one and less scarier than the caves we had visited on the previous day.
Later on we went to our next pit-stop Nohkalikai Falls. As it wasn’t the season of rains, there wasn’t much water. Thanks to that that we could explore the path of the Falls.
Nohkalikai Falls is the tallest waterfall (1115 feet) in India! It is fed by the rainwater which gets collected in a plateau. We were excited to visit this plateau.
A small trek down through a forest takes one to this mesmerizing plateau. One can see spellbinding rock formations across the plateau. I was in awe of this place. We went to the small falls ahead which was truly vibrant and something which I hadn’t seen at all.
A walk on the opposite side of the Falls leads one on the path of the Nohkalikai Falls. As there wasn’t enough water, we traversed along the splendid huge boulders like monkeys. The path was utterly adventurous and a bit scary as we had to squeeze ourselves into natural rock tunnels. After quite some time we went to the edge of the Falls. The view is spectacular and this was something of a first I had done- getting to the mouth of the Falls.
We went back up the forest only to find one of our friends waiting for us. She had had a bad fall and had maybe broken her leg. We had a couple of villagers called for who helped carry her along the trail. Post that we drove back to Shillong to get her leg checked at the hospital.
Doctor says, ” I need to put a cast as there is a fracture but you can start walking in 10min and probably visit places from tomorrow onwards!”
This was too much of news but we had suspected a fracture beforehand.
After the necessary procedure we headed back to Cherrapunji where we hit the sack after a long day!
Day 4: Double-Decker Living Root Bridge
After a long day and more so a painful one for my friend, we woke up late and relished our breakfast.
Our friend stayed back to rest her leg much to the hospitable folks at the stay and the two of us headed to Double-Decker root bridge!
We drove from Cherrapunji to a village called Tyrna. There we started our hike down 3000 odd cemented steps. We reached a village along the way and then a couple of single root bridges. After crossing Iron bridge made of rusty cables, we reached a Chai point where we refreshed ourselves with a gulp of hot tea and chocolate cookies.
After treading ahead for about 15 mins we reached Double-Decker Root bridge! It was quite a view but we headed further ahead to reach the Rainbow falls.
As we hiked further, we came upon an empty football field and then trudged our way along a steep trail of steps. After a few twists and turns we came to the gorgeous Rainbow Falls. We were too excited to get to the tip of the boulder below.
As we went to the very end of the Boulder, we could see the Falls falling almost upon us and it was an amazing feeling to be at the behest of the Falls!
A nap and light snack completed the amazing moment at the Falls. We headed back on the trail and now to explore the Double-Decker root bridge. It was quite an amazing spectacle of the strong roots of the tree as they stood still embracing us fellow beings we we walked upon them.
With a couple of hours left for the sunset, we headed back up a shorter forest trail to reach back.
Day 5: Weisaudong Waterfalls- Nartiang Durga Temple- Monoliths- Garden of Caves -Shillong
Weisaudong waterfalls is beautiful but it is quite a hassle to get to the bottom of the falls as one as to walk through narrow forest trails. We were happy to get to the Falls but we carefully walked on the rocks as it was very slippery and we managed to stay put in a spot and enjoy its beauty rather than monkeying around!
Later we headed to Nartiang in the West Jaintia hills. It has a Durga temple- Jainteshwari and is one of the Shakti-peeths. The temple is around 500 years old.
We paid our respects at this beautiful abode of the Devi and headed to the Nartiang Monoliths, which are a complex of stone monoliths erected by the Jaintia empire in 1500 AD.
We later visited Garden of Caves (touristy spot) and a few Falls along the way. 😉
Day 6: Shillong- Mawphlang Sacred Forest- Shopping at Police Bazaar
The next day we headed to the much awaited Mawphlang Sacred forest. Legend says that nothing should be taken out from the forest, not even a leaf or a stone, nothing!
We were intrigued by the stories and after a mind boggling tour into the forest along with the guide, we were even more mesmerized of the story! It is quite a tour to experience!
After lunch in the city, we went to Police Bazaar for shopping. Apart from hardly shopping a few clothes, we took to buying and relishing the Mulberries!
I think the delicious highlight of the Meghalaya trip were the lip-smacking Mulberries and Raspberries!
Meghalaya is splendid and offers a wide range of places to visit – be it Falls, Forests, Caves, Root Bridges, Stilt-tree tops, Mountains, Rivers and of course with the clouds playing hide and seek.
Well, when are you heading to Meghalaya?
PS: This is the number of our Taxi Bhaiya who drove us all over Meghalaya- Addy – 09774749839, a decent chap, very helpful and a wonderful guide all along.