At the plateau, Nohkalikai , Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens

MEGHALAYA – ABODE OF CLOUDS

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!

Single root bridge, Meghalaya, Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens

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.

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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.

At the plateau, Nohkalikai , Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens
At the plateau, Nohkalikai

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.

Rainbow Falls, we headed to the tip of the boulder! Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens

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.

Double decker Living root bridge, Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens
Double decker Living root bridge

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!

 

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Weisaudong Waterfalls
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Meditating me at the Falls

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.

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Nartiang Devi Temple

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.

 

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PC : Pinterest
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Stranded in Tranquil Tawang!

It is quite amusing that we were kinda stranded in a way! I will get to that in a while.

Arunachal Pradesh! The place obviously sounded inviting when my friend had decided to go visit this place. After much thought and conversations in my head, I think I decided to go for it. Lately, I haven’t been feeling the urge to travel- Oh my God! Well, I will surely get back on this on my next post as it is a long story!

So yeah Arunachal!

We were kinda prepped up as travelers – as in we didn’t book any transport / stays! We intended to do it on the go!

But of course we booked the flight to Guwahati to and fro and we got the Inner Line Permit to Arunachal by applying online!

The morning flight from Bangalore to Guwahati was quite refreshing because we fellow travellers- the 3 of us had loads to talk that we ended up discussing insane topics in the flight too.

US before we boarded the flight!
US before we boarded the flight!

I think one fellow passenger was so annoyed that he sweetly retorted- “Could you please continue your conversation in the ground floor?”

We did stop our talk but we couldn’t hold our grins! 😉

We reached Guwahati well in time, thanks to Indigo!  Later we hired a taxi to the nearest bus station Dharapani and got into a tempo traveler taking us to Bhalukpong which was our pit-stop for the night.

The ride was pleasant, we traversed along the city to scenic paddy fields and the roads were lined with rhododendron trees with red-orange flowers!

Once we reached Tezpur we got onto another tempo traveller which took about an hour to reach Bhalukpong.

Bhalukpong is a small town on the border between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. We reached Bhalukpong around 6:30 in the evening and stayed in a good hotel close by the border. We got a chance to see the Bramhaputra river from a distance out here.

We had booked a share-taxi at the Taxi Union for our journey to Tawang the next morning.

In the North-eastern states of India, the transport works mostly through Taxis under the Taxi Union. One can hire a share-taxi to get to places for a predefined rate. This works out cheap for a traveler or a group of travelers.

So the next day morning after a quick breakfast at the roadside dhaba and quite an interesting conversation with the dhaba owner we were in the taxi to Tawang for about 6 hours!

The ride was uber awesome, obviously up the mountains. The roads were cobbled up with stones in a few areas and there was construction up the roads. After about a couple of hours, it started raining and  we crossed a series of mountains and were steadily climbing up! The roads were dusty but as we moved ahead the scenery changed to beautiful lush mountains.

We reached Bomdila at about 2-3pm. Post satiating our hunger we took to the nearby marketplace of Bomdila. We engrossed ourselves in window shopping and took to the chaats and sweets at the nearby bakery!

As we got to our stay, books, music and games kept us engaged!

It was almost 8 pm when we felt like eating but as we got out, the roads were empty and there just a streetlight flickering. With no hope of a restaurant being open, we strolled a bit and found one open restaurant. 🙂 A day in the mountains ends pretty quickly say about 6:30 pm everyone is in their warm homes!

We were looking forward to the meet the gorgeous Sela Pass at about 13000 odd feet. That got us up in the morning and after a frantic search for my ring which I thought I had lost we were in for another day of long ride up the mountains.

Lo and behold we reached there after cruising through the splendid mountain curves.

Trio at Sela, Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens
Trio at Sela

The sight of the Sela lake was pretty spectacular. I wanted to stay right there but all we could get were a few clicks and a momentary capture through our eyes. The biting cold and the gusty winds shoved us into the taxi in no time!

Sela Pass , Arunachal Pradesh, Shoepenlens, Shwetha Krish
Sela Pass , Arunachal Pradesh

After 2-3 hours we reached Tawang! We had booked a stay right in the center of the town and the rooms were fabulous and gave an amazing view of the mountains!

Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, Shwetha KRish, ShoePenLens
Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh

We strolled a bit and went to the War Memorial. We were in for a visual treat as there was a movie scheduled for the evening! It was a wonderful movie about Arunachal, its culture, the people, the Army and the wars too.

After a tasty dinner at our stay, we hit the sack only to hear the roof rattling in the middle of the night. It was snowing!

The view in the morning was spectacular, the mountains around were white-washed! Our plan of crossing the Bum La pass was washed away too as the snow pile was much that the Army had barred the way!

We spent the day in visiting the Tawang monastery which is the largest in India and the second largest in the world. The monastery stands atop a mountain and one can see the scenic valley, mountains and the city of Tawang from here! The monastery also has a museum which houses various artifacts, models and pictures!

Rest of the day was spent in reading books, chatting and just about enjoying the weather!

We decided to stay for another day in the hope to visit Bum La pass. But it turned out to be yet another day with no luck as the pass was closed owing to bad weather. We were invited by a fellow guest at our hotel to tag along on a tour of monasteries. With nothing much to do we tagged along!

He turned out to be quite a intriguing person. He was an elderly gentleman who knew much about the Monasteries, the Tibetan culture and a lot about spirituality! He kept us engaged with amazing stories and his life experiences.

We got a chance to visit Urgelling monastery which is the birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama.

Third day in Tawang and we were happy to find that we could atleast visit a couple of lakes further up the mountains if not for the Bumla pass.

As we headed on to the beautiful vistas, we were in for a treat as we were surrounded by snow clad mountains and white pathways!

Beautiful vistas,ShwethaKrish, ShoePenLens
Beautiful vistas

Spectacular views of the lakes came into view and they looked mesmerisingly beautiful.

PT Tso, Arunachal Pradesh, Shwetha Krish, ShoePenLens
PT Tso, Arunachal Pradesh

As we made our way to Madhuri Lake, coined that way owing to the movie ‘Koyla’ starring Madhuri Dixit which was shot in this location. The vehicle we were in skidded and got stuck in the snow. The Army men who were traveling behind in the truck helped us out. But further ahead into the snow clad mountains the vehicle was skidding and it was going to be a risky affair at the end of the day so we headed back to Tawang. But the beauty of the lakes and the short trek we managed to do while our taxi was getting repaired, was splendid!

Himalayas – they time and again woo me, intrigue me and leave me stunned! There is always something new to learn and feel within! The Soul craves for more always!

Until next time…. See ye Himalayas!

Our stay in Arunachal especially Tawang was for about 3-4 days before we headed on to Meghalaya! But the short and adventurous trip was brilliant! Well so we were partly stranded owing to Bum La Pass. Hope to get to her soon!

More on Meghalaya in my next travel post!

 

Niagara Falls #AtoZchallenge

N #AtoZ Challenge

Niagara Falls

On a bright summer afternoon, I reached the Niagara State Park in New York along with my family. The sun was too harsh for us to walk leisurely about the park. As we hopped on the cruise, we were ushered by the roar of the magnificent falls. A gentle spray touched us all, the excitement did soar as we cruised along. To stand in front of the beautiful falls was utterly humbling. To be amongst this wonder was worth it. It felt like an adventure just about cruising along the falls between USA and Canada.

A few glimpses of the falls from my Camera.

When clouds have a tete a tete with the Falls!
When clouds have a tete a tete with the Falls!

Have you been to Niagara Falls? Or have you been to any other beautiful falls which felt very special….. Let me know…

Quaint little Tosh!

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My body ached as I sat in the backseat of the car after a blissful trek on the Kheerganga trail the previous day. We (my fellow friend and trekker) would be in Tosh, a village in the next 15 minutes. The car made its way up the damp rocky mountain path. It had rained the previous night, thanks to the peak monsoon month July.

My mind wandered to a bathtub with bubbling hot water, aromatic candles lit around the tub, a soothing music which played in tune with my mood………..

The car jerked, oh well I was out of my luxurious reverie and we had certainly reached Tosh. There we were standing before a bridge, the only wooden bridge to get across to Tosh. We opted to stay at the nearest hotel across the bridge owing to our exhausted, famished selves.

We were then joined by our friend who had stayed back and enjoyed Tosh much against treading up the Kheerganga trail. More on Kheerganga in my next blog post.

After a not so luxurious shower, we explored the nook and corners of Tosh only to find a good restaurant/cafe. The village Tosh is at about 7800 feet at the far end of the Parvati Valley in Himachal Pradesh. It is a small village with narrow paved pathways which increases gradually in height as one walks through the village. After Kasol, Rasol, Manikaran, Chalal, Tosh happens to be a haven for tourists. We did find a few homestays and cafes on the way. The village seemed to be on a lazy spell or rather the mountain life happens to be laid-back!?

I shuddered as we climbed up the narrow alleys. A chill breeze pranced about me and I was not in the mood to join in for a dance.

Well we finally gave in to the search and headed to the famous Pinky Didi’s cafe or the 360 deg view cafe. It was a cafe at the edge of the mountain. The Himalayas can be viewed all around this place. So, we were surrounded by the gigantic spell-binding mountain ranges! Wow! I can quite trace back to that feeling!

We ordered for food and enjoyed the sublime views that Himalayas threw at us. Oh my! We were surrounded by the beautiful landscapes; Snow covered ranges, forests, rocky mountains!

Sitting by the cafe, looking at the mesmerising ranges, soaking in the silence or the music of the mountain air, eating sumptuous food, reading a book, sipping on green tea with the sun shining down upon us- Happiness is what I call it!

A few tourists came and went but we the trio sat gaping at the mountains for we were in no hurry to be anywhere else.

So what happened further in Tosh, stays in Tosh…… It ain’t called the ‘Amsterdam of India’ for no reason!