Featured

Meghalaya the True paradise of India

Be the Landscape, the culture or the food, everything is so pristine here. These places are remote, not much-commercialized, the landscapes are surreal, super-rich biodiversity and on top of it, people there are very close to nature, they are simple and very helpful.

IMG_1898
Meghalaya truly is a gem to the crown of India

We all have heard like many times that northeast is true heaven, the real bliss and unlike other states of India. Well, it really is. From a very long time, I wanted to go to those 7-sisters (the seven states of the northeast), the reason being my fascination towards the dense forests and waterfalls of Meghalaya, the unexplored Himalayan state of Arunachal, the land of black magic, rhinos and the worldwide famous tea estates which is Assam.

I will be writing a series of blogs under the series “Northeast – The true paradise”. Each blog is dedicated to the uniqueness of that place and my experiences with those places. I was able to cover only 3 out of 7 states in this trip and they were Meghalaya, Assam, and Arunachal.

(To know about the itinerary, how to plan, what to pack, Read my blog “Planning for Meghalaya“)

Reaching Meghalaya is a magical experience

Flying from northwest to the northeast is a part of one of the most scenic flight you would ever be in India. Out of all the flights I have taken so far this was the best. But why? You may find it below.

I couldn’t sleep well last night because of 2 reasons, first being the excitement for the trip another being I already had a cold. Still, I managed to take a nap of about 3 hours. The flight was set to depart at 06:30 am. I woke up at 3AM and left my home at about 4AM. My mother is always concerned about my health and she always asks me to avoid eating outside. So she packed me a lot of her handmade foodstuff to keep my stomach healthy, but that’s how mothers are. I along with Saurabh and Rahul arrived quite early as we were not ready to miss the flight in any case.

It was a 2.5-hour journey and after almost an hour, they started appearing on the left, the giants on the surface of the earth, the gigantic great Himalayas with some of the worlds highest peaks serving as topping in those mountains cake. I just could not set my eyes off the window.

IMG_1781

Mountains are love and I was just looking at them clicking pictures back and forth, my friends were saying that I was being a kid then but I just can’t explain the feeling of seeing those mountains right in front of me and flying parallel to them. The surprise was yet to come, I took many pictures of those mountain ranges from my iPhone and Camera.

IMG_1784
Oh, Himalayas!!!

It was when I was flying above Bihar I saw 3 mountains standing distinct among the others in that mountain range. I took some good shots of them. The network was not available up in the air and I could not know their name by using the internet. So I waited but still was eager to know the names of those mountains. As I landed at the Assam airport I switched on my internet, thanks to the GeoTagging feature of iPhone that marks my location of the places I click pictures at, and to my surprise I just realized that I was flying 200kms parallel to Mount Everest and those were Mount Nuptse, Mount Everest, and Mount Lhotse that caught my attention.

IMG_1776
Mount Nuptse, Mount Everest, and Mount Lhotse (left to right)

I was speechless at the moment of realization of actually seeing the crown of our mother earth the Mount Everest from my eyes. This level of excitement was because I have been cherishing this dream of summiting the Everest since my childhood. I will touch your crown someday soon.

After arriving at Guwahati almost at 09:00 AM, we directly headed to the agency in Guwahati who were providing their car to us on rent that we would be driving on our own. We booked it online a month back, it was called Fabcarzzz but it was a disappointment as the car did not meet all the requirements that we were told. We had to take that car as there was no other option at that time. It was Toyota Etios, I won’t say it was too bad but not up to the mark in terms of performance as the condition of the car was not good. If you are also looking for a car to drive in the northeast, I would suggest going with Razel cars, we took their car while going to Arunachal. Their services and cars were too good.

Guwahati is like any other metropolitan city of India, too much traffic, Crowd, honking. I did not like being there much also because I was eager to go to Meghalaya. We waited for our other friend Yash who was coming directly from Mumbai. After having lunch we bought a good amount of packed food for our journey. India only has one-time zone but time doesn’t feel the same here in the east as like in the west. It was just 03:30 in the noon but the evenings started knocking our door already while in Rajasthan it comes around 05:00 pm during the months of March.

Mawlynnong is a 5-6 hours journey from Guwahati. As we started heading towards Meghalaya, we could see the sudden changes in the landscapes. There were palm trees rising too high on both sides of the highways. The sun was already going down so these trees were creating beautiful scenery.

IMG_2059
Palm trees everywhere

The hills were approaching, valleys were arriving and the roads started becoming narrower, yet really good in terms of condition.

IMG_2073
Meadows of Meghalaya

We took a halt at the Umium lake which comes 17kms before Shillong.  The lake looked nice and it was surrounded by hills. We took some pictures and headed back to our car.

IMG_1786
The Umiam lake as seen in the evening hours
IMG_1794
Oh well, That’s us, (From left to right) Yash, Rahul, Saurabh and Me

It was 11 in the night when we reached Mawlynnong, a small village in Meghalaya situated on Bangladesh border. Though we had our own tents we were still trying to find some homestay as it was too dark and the village looked majorly a forest with distant houses so we needed a real shelter at least for tonight. Finally, we found a homestay, it was a cozy lodge with two rooms and a bathroom which built mostly with the bamboo, it was a nice little warm accommodation for tonight. We were tired like crazy due to a day-long journey hence we called it a night and slept.

Read my next blog Mawlynnong – The pristine most and the celanest village of India where mother nature has showered all her happiness by making it the most green.

IMG_1929
Me, trying to capture the beauty of this 300 year old Living root bridge of Mawlynong
Advertisements

The heart wrenching story behind the tallest waterfall of India

In my previous blog, I spoke how the 5-hour long trek to rainbow falls and then coming back to Cherrapunji made us tired like anything, but all these efforts gave us some of the best travel memories of our life.

 (To know about the itinerary, how to plan, what to pack, Read my blog “Planning for Meghalaya“)

We had plans of exploring the pretty town of Cherrapunji today and some sightseeing including the famous Noh-Kali-Khai Waterfalls. The Noh kali Khai falls are the tallest waterfall of India, falling from a height of 1115 ft. This majestic fall is one of a natural wonder that you should not miss on your travel to Cherrapunji. The best time to visit would be either during the monsoon or just after the monsoons from June to November

NohkalikaiFalls1
Noh kali Khai in peak Mosnoons (image source: saveourgreen.org)

We headed towards the Noh Kali Khai falls for which I was waiting from a long. The drive was pleasant with lofty hills sloping on both sides of the road in distance and there were these stretches of grass fields, no wonder why they call it Scotland of east.

IMG_2411
Enroute Noh-Kali-Khai, I was not wrong in calling it Scotland

Doesn’t it look like a location from GOT?? Maybe!

The Name Noh Kali Khai has its own story, A story that might melt your heart. The literal meaning of Noh Kali Khai is ‘Jump of Ka Likai’ the prefix ‘Ka’ is used in Khasi language for female. Hence it means Jump of lady Likai. The story is as follow:

Likai was living a life of porter in a village near to the waterfall. As her husband died at a young age, she was taking care of her young daughter by being a single mother. The young child needed a father and in the persuasion of other villagers, she married another man. As the kid was very young and Likai was very protective of her hence she used to take care of her most of the time when she was home. The man did not like all of Likai’s attention that was thrown to her children. Out of this jealousy, he did something so terrible you can’t even imagine.

One fine evening her husband cooked dinner for her. Likai, who came home after a hectic day at work, sat for dinner. She could not find her daughter in the house, she thought that her daughter must be at a neighbor’s place. While eating food, she found a tiny finger in her food. I hope you can imagine where this story is leading. Her husband out of hatred for the young kid cooked her and fed her to her mother. Likai, on the realization of such a ghastly act, became fury in madness. The fact that she had eaten her own child dawned her like anything. She ran and ran into the forest screaming and crying until she reached the edge of the waterfall where the water leaps off the precipice, She then jumped and threw herself into the deep canyon.

It is the unfortunate of this breathtaking waterfall that it is associated with such a heart-wrenching story.

We reached the falls viewpoint, but to our disappointment, the water was not that much in the fall. Majorly because we were there at the beginning of summers when most of the falls are dry, post the monsoons they get a boost and if you see the picture below, the entire canyon can be seen with a number of waterfalls thundering there with the major one in the center the Noh Kali Khai.

IMG_2398
The Noh Kalikhai as witnessed by me
NohkalikaiFalls1
Noh kali Khai in peak Monsoons (image source: saveourgreen.org)

We spent quite a time there admiring the beauty of this place and the giant fall right in front of us. There is a tiny market there at the viewpoint where you can souvenir and some local handmade craft items. There are also stalls that sells homemade pickles of varied taste. There was this cafe at the edge of the canyon with a great view of the entire valley. We had our lunch there, they made a fine Omelets and egg rolls.

IMG_2391
A house in the village near to the waterfall

After spending a good time there, we left for the million years old Limestone Arvah caves in Cherrapunji. Read my next blog about how we became the treasure hunters in the dark deep caves of Meghalaya.

 

Rainbow Waterfall – Hidden gem of Cherrapunji

We did not have the picture in our mind of the place to which we have been trekking from last 5 hours. Just a name was there, and then it arrived the magical Rainbow waterfall in the deepest jungles of Cherrapunji.

IMG_2208
The Rainbow falls as seen from the bottom

In my previous blog, I spoke about the day-long trek to the World famous Double decker root bridge and after then we continued our trek to the Rainbow Falls.

(To know about the itinerary, how to plan, what to pack, Read my blog “Planning for Meghalaya“)

We started moving towards our ultimate destination, the Rainbow waterfall which was still a 2-hour long trek. The sun was shining at its peak, it was almost 12:30 pm. As we were going deeper, the cemented steps were no longer there, and now the entire trails were just pebbles, stones and soil. After walking a few more steps we saw a giant space and it had two back to back bridges. The first one was a metal suspension bridge, which looked more fragile and just after crossing it there was another root cum metal suspension bridge that looked scary.

IMG_3682
Metal suspension bridge followed by the metal cum root bridge

There were no more houses on the trek. It was absolutely jungle. No signs of human intervention could be seen anymore. The trek became steeper, the terrain was rugged and the trail was tiny. On our left, there was a trench which was deep and too steep with a turquoise blue river flowing at the bottom of the valley. While moving ahead I heard the sound of thundering water, I asked my friends that I guess it is a rainbow waterfall but they did not agree and moved on but I was curious enough to check it. I followed the sound and went down in the valley, there was no trail to it, after going some 100 feet down that’s what I found.

IMG_2193
Peace

IMG_2190

Blue Lagoon

It was a blue lagoon there. Looked like a natural swimming pool. The waterfall in the back might look tiny but it is almost 25 feet tall. Do you see how fresh and clean the water is? There were some 3 – 4 guys here, so I realized that it is not the rainbow fall but was still a treat for my eyes. I tried bringing my friends here but they moved a bit far towards the rainbow fall.

I got back on the trek and started chasing the rainbow fall again. It was 1:45 in my watch, by when we started hearing the loud roars of thundering water. The trail turned slightly left and we saw a glimpse through the trees of a huge and tall waterfall which was still far. After trekking for some more minutes the waterfall came right in front of us. This was the end of the trail and now there was this giant Rainbow waterfall in front of us, we could see a rainbow at the mid part of the fall and on the bottom, there was this huge blue lagoon filled with the turquoise blue water.

IMG_2201
Beautiful like anything
IMG_3722
The Signature Pose

The excitement was at its peak, I could not wait to jump into that pond. The trail for going down is not an easy one, there are just rocks, you need to be very careful at this part. Once we reached there I went all gaga with the beauty of this place. It was a magical experience. We did that Tamashaa movie thing, entire face in water while our body outside and we’re trying to see through it.

IMG_2208
The Rainbow fall as seen from the bottom

There were some other college students as well. None of my friends joined me for the bath in this heavenly waterbody because it was too cold, but I went all on my own and that was a delightful experience.

IMG_3763
Me, Admiring the beauty of mother nature

Though its a lovely place, the water is still not something you should play with. There have been instances of drowning in the water on no. of occasions. The water is little deep at some parts and the fall is strong enough to crack your bones, so don’t try to go under it directly.

After spending a good amount of time there, we had to leave this place, though we had no mood of coming back from this paradise. We left here around 3:45. We were scattered on our way back, Yash was walking next to me. It was when he was using my phone for a call, at such tiny rugged trail, he lost his balance and fell towards the mountainside while my new iPhone fell into the trench. After checking at him if he was doing fine. I looked for my phone into the valley. I saw it some few feet down, resting at a tree bottom. I tried going down but it was too steep to go there, almost impossible. But still I had to get it, I went anyway while Yash was helping me, I caught the phone anyhow but could not find it easy to come back above. Yash tried pulling me up but the bamboo trees at my feet were too fragile to place my weight on them and I was just laying on this slope with my hands holding the roots of some other trees, I had a hard time then. In some minutes there was a girl going through the trek, then both Yash and she pulled me up, Pheww!! and I came back in one piece. It was a hell of an experience.

IMG_2259
Goodbye awesomeness and goodbye to this amazing day

We reached Tyrna by 6 in the evening. It was already too dark then. Our calves were hurting like anything. No more steps we could have climbed in the coming days. But all these efforts were worth paying for.

We reached Cherrapunji by 8 in the evening. We needed a good bed to sleep and rest tonight, hence we took a big room at the same lodge for tonight. The room was pretty and very comfortable. We were not in the mood of any more exploring tonight so we called it a day and slept.

In my next blog, I will be sharing my experience of going inside one of the oldest caves of our world, The Arvah Caves of Meghalaya. How does it feel like going inside the mountains? Well, for that wait until my next blog is out. Till then Keep travelling and exploring.

 

Day long trek to “Double decker root bridge”

Finally, we saw that, on our right and as we were getting close, I realized that it was a huge marvelous and unreal creation. It was exactly like the jungle that we all have seen in the movies like Avatar, Jungle Book.

IMG_2228
Raw, wild and still breathing, The double Decker root bridge

In my previous blog, I spoke about the Magical Umangot river and the beauty of Dawki town. After then we headed to Cherrapunji.

(To know about the itinerary, how to plan, what to pack, Read my blog “Planning for Meghalaya“)

We took a halt at a highway café that served great tea and yummy Maggie. We reached Cherrapunji by 8:30 in the evening. Though there are some really good lodges, guest houses there in Cherrapunji but we wanted to stay in our tents tonight just for the thrill. We reached the outer areas of this town and there was this nice property called JMS lodge in a slightly remote area. We were a little hesitated about placing our camps in the jungle just like that. We approached this lodge to ask them if we could place our tents at their precincts. As we approached the lodge we saw a girl there, she was a Khasi girl. Wearing white kurta, short Hight, long hairs, brown color. She looked like a moon in the dark night. She did not know Hindi neither she was fluent in English but I managed to have a conversation with her. Her name was ‘Santina’, she had a beautiful smile. I told her about our plan of placing our tents. We got to know that she works there and the owners were not there hence she conveyed the message to them. They were fine with it though charged us some 500 bucks for our two tents. We all sat together at the campfire with some other travelers, talked about life. It was too much for the day and we were tired enough for much-needed sleep. We packed ourselves in our sleeping bags and said goodnight to this well spent day.

It was 8 in the morning, we had a good sleep last night. This place looked nice and the location was kind of remote. Right in front of this lodge, there was a road and on the other side, there were hills and slopes making perfect scenery. Just a few steps away from the lodge there was a house cum guest house cum café on the highway. We had our morning tea and breakfast there. After getting ready at the lodge, we were planned to go to the double-decker root bridge and the Nohkalikhai waterfalls. While I was wandering here and there with my camera. Yash was talking to the guy owner of this lodge. The owner was a friendly and interactive fella. He suggested some places to us which were not in our list and we did not hear about them either. He was asking us to go to a particular waterfall called Rainbow waterfalls. According to him, this waterfall was discovered some 3-4 years back only and it is around 2 and a half hour trek from the double-decker root bridge. That made us excited about this place. So we postponed our earlier plans for Nohkalikhai waterfalls and planned to spend our day into the woods in the discovery of the waterfall as suggested by him.

As they say that the best view comes after the hardest climb, for us it was probably going to be the best view according to the lodge guy but after the longest and tiring trek of about 4 and a half hours.

IMG_2084
Enroute Tyrna

To reach the Double decker root bridge you need to reach the village called Tyrna which is the last motorable village. We left towards Tyrna by 9 in the morning. The drive to Tyrna was no less than magical as on our left there were these giant valleys and canyons that were amazing because of the density of the jungle and their depth. We made to Tyrna by 9:45 AM. We saw an entry gate to this village and that was the end of the road.

IMG_2109
Yes it is the path to paradise

The double-decker root bridge is situated in the village called Nongriat, which is situated 3 km deep down in the valley from Tyrna. These 3 kilometers are made of 3500 cemented steps. From now on you don’t have any option than to walk in order to reach the Double decker root bridge. It is going to be the leg day you will not forget for coming 3-4 days

IMG_2092
Just some 3500 steps nothing more

The initial descent was fine but later on, it started becoming too steep as you can see in the pictures. While going down, we were wondering how are we going to climb these steep steps back on our return. The deeper we were going, closer we were feeling towards mother nature. So much of the fresh air was getting inside me. I was wondering how I am gonna live in the chaos of urban life back.

IMG_2091
Way more steps are left!!

The path was full of palm trees and so many different species of plants and trees that I had no clue and I never knew. The flora and fauna are so rich here. We could see no. of butterflies flying above our heads and along with us. Butterflies that I do not see in my city anymore.

IMG_2111
So dense, Isn’t it?

I saw some graves off to the route. While my friends were carrying on the main path, I went by myself to that graveyard. There were no. of graves, though it was a bloomy time of the day, it was silent like anything. I took some shots and but I felt a bit of fear so I left in a few minutes only.

IMG_2103
The silence of the jungle

After a no. of steps the trail started becoming plane and then we saw the first metal suspension bridge. It was a man-made bridge, capable enough to carry only 1 or 2 people at a time and very unstable, as it shakes a lot. More people means shakier and riskier. To be honest I have always seen these kinds of bridges in movies and walking on it was such a thrilling experience.

IMG_2116
Welcome to the Jungle
IMG_2113
Who would you walk with here?

After going a little further, we encountered the second metal suspension bridge. It was very strong and capable enough to carry many people at a time. Beneath the bridge, we could see shades of turquoise blue in the water bodies. The water was so crystal clear that we could see every tiny stone in the water even from this height.

IMG_2131
New cable bridge

There was a tree which might have fallen down into this waterbody and it was a complete wallpaper material as it looked so unreal, like a magical place. I would say Take a break on this bridge, look around, admire the beauty and say thank you to god and then start moving on.

IMG_2128
Isn’t it magical?

We were almost there at Nongriat. Some tea stalls and distant houses started coming on our way. We were trekking from more than 2 hours so we took a halt at one of the tea stalls, it was also a homestay. The lady made us yummy Egg preparations and Maggi and we were starving like anything. There were many pullets in their backyard and I again started chasing them. Double-decker root bridge was just 15 minutes away, the excitement was getting even stronger.

IMG_2141
Cute they are

Finally, we saw that, on our right and as we were getting close, I realized that it was a huge marvelous and unreal creation. It was exactly like the jungle that we all have seen in the movies like Avatar, Jungle Book. It was fantastic and fascinating. The moment I was on that bridge, it took me back to my childhood when I used to fantasize about being in the jungle with Mowgli and hanging on the trees like him. It was such a feeling of being in your dreamland

IMG_2173
Dreamland it is

There was this pond the water in it was crystal clear. We stayed there for a while, clicked some pictures. The villagers are making all the effort to keep this clean and intact. It is the duty of every tourist as well to keep the same thing. If I see some wrappers or plastic bottles or other trash, I collect them and drop them to dustbins on my return. That’s what I have been doing form a long time on my tracks. But this place was still much cleaner than the northern states of the Himalayas in India. Majorly due to less human intervention and lesser footfall.

IMG_2165
Para-Para-Paradise!!

So far it was my journey to the Magical Double decker root bridge, Read my next blog which is in continuation to this journey but now in the pursuit of the Rainbow fall in the deepest jungles of Cherrapunji.

Dawki – Home to the transparent River of India

I felt a sense of calmness in me while sitting in the middle of this transparent river. The water was flowing all around us and I was able to see even the smallest pebble in the water and they were in multiple colours, I could see tiny water creatures swimming here and there. It was the time I felt most content.

IMG_2050
The beauty of Umangot river is beyond words

In my previous blog I spoke about Mawlynnong the Pristine village of Meghalaya  and after exploring the wild sides of that immaculate village, We headed to Dawki.

Dawki is a small town at the border of Bangladesh in Meghalaya and a trade hub between India and Bangladesh. This place is also famous for the annual boat riding competition in the spring season. It is situated at the banks of river Umangot which is crowned with the fact of being the cleanest river of India. It is about one and a half hour drive from Maylynnong.

There were a lot of people on the Bangladesh side of the river as well as at the Indian side. It seemed like a buzzing place. If I ignore too many wanders who were poking, again and again, to buy stuff from them, this place was really scenic. The chilling water of Umangot river, the beautiful suspension bridge makes it an iconic place to visit.

IMG_1985
Somewhere on the way to Dawki we found this dry Waterfall called Songrampunji waterfalls
IMG_2042
The Umangot river as viewed from the parking space

The river Umangot took my heart in the first place. It has mountains covered in lush greenery on both sides. It is the river that you have seen in fairytales which amaze you at every point. It won’t be too much if I call it the mirror river of India because it is clean as anything. You can even see tiny pebbles deep in the water. In winter, it goes even more transparent.

IMG_2022
Sailing on Umangot river

We took a boat ride and while sailing on this beauty we saw that the water was changing its color from sea green to turquoise blue to emerald blue as we were approaching the island in the river. The island was covered in white sand and colorful oval shaped stones everywhere.

IMG_3579

IMG_2033
Island on the left

We saw a big rock in the middle of the river, I along with Yash reached it after struggling with the fast-flowing water and stones that were too slippery to place our feet at. We managed to place our-self on this rock. I felt a sense of calmness in me while sitting in the middle of this transparent river with water flowing all around us. I could see the colorful stones in the water, tiny water creatures swimming here and there. It was the time I liked most. I wanted to stay there in the night but our tents could not be placed here and we did not find anyone offering accommodation here. Maybe some other time, some other way.

We returned back to the shores and on our return, the boat guy took us at the Bangladesh shore of the river. We waved at the people from that side and came back to the Indian side. I so want to come back here again.

IMG_2037
Yeah they all are Bangladesh people

It was almost 3:30, and we were starving so went towards the market. Ok so now we got to know that people here eat mostly Pork, Duck, and Chicken while we are the Vegans and so we fed ourselves with noodles, rice, and momos. The food is a concern in Meghalaya. I eat eggs so it somehow saved me because there were many places where there was nothing in Vegetarian other than rice or noodle. This was the time to say goodbye to this amazing place and so we left Dawki and our next destination was Cherrapunji.

IMG_2043
The Final goodbye to this amazing place

Things to keep in mind while going to Dawki:

  • There is no entry fee to visit this place.
  • Keep some food stuff with you if you plan to visit the island as there is no food shop.
  • Do no litter here and there or in the river, people here put a lot of efforts to keep it clean, hence keep a trash bag with you and collect your trash and drop it to dustbin on your return.
IMG_2085
Sunset on the way to Cherrapunji

As the evening was approaching it started getting very cold. The road to Cherrapunji is beautiful, clean, stunning and ornamented with these meadows, valleys and jaw-dropping landscapes.

IMG_2073
Meadows of Meghalaya
IMG_2064
Yash googling the way to Cherrapunji

That was about my experience with Dawki and the Umangot river. Read my next blog about my experience with Cherrapunji and the Double decker root bridge.

 

Mawlynnong – The pristine most and the cleanest Village of Asia

Do you also tend to stop your friends from throwing garbage outside? Well if yeah, you would definitely love this village.

IMG_1918
A lady crossing the Living root bridge of Mawlynnong

In my previous blog Meghalaya I spoke about how beautiful my experience was while reaching Mawlynnong through different modes of Transportation.

(To know about the itinerary, how to plan, what to pack, Read my blog “Planning for Meghalaya“)

There was a knock on the door, I checked my phone, it was 06:30 Am and there was this lady standing at our door with tea and biscuits. She was the owner of this cottage. We both greeted each other, I took the tray put it aside and came outside, it was already too bright out there. Sun was shining above my head already. I was wondering how come it rose so high at this hour then I realized the time zone thing. Ok so now I could actually see where we were exactly, our cottage was situated on this slope, it felt more like a house in the jungle because I could see nothing but trees all around our cottage and the house of the owners right in front of ours.

IMG_1809
Saurabh enjoying his me time at Our tiny Cottage
IMG_1828
The one in the right was our cottage

Everything looked so vibrant, the air was so fresh, the sky was clear blue, I could smell the fragrance of leaves, trees. I could hear the sound of a stream that was running somewhere in the jungle, it was making quite a sound. It was a chilly night, the water was chilled like crazy in the bathroom. I woke my friends up, after getting ready. We interacted with the family, they are the Khasi people who are one of Meghalaya’s major tribes. They speak the Khasi language and fine English too. They are very simple, generous people and very well connected to mother nature. They do not like building the cemented houses as they find them ugly also they think it leads them far from nature. We played with their kids a little.

IMG_3391
Smiling faces

There were chickens and hens in their backyard, I was trying to shoot them with my camera and they were running here and there creating a spree for us. Almost in an hour, we all were ready with our backpacks to say goodbye to these sweet people

IMG_3413
Four of Us ready to explore the Jungle

We took a walk around the village and believe me you won’t find a single piece of trash anywhere in this village, not even the leaves on the road. There are dustbins everywhere that too were made of bamboo. There are some 100 households in this village.

IMG_1824
The Khasi Mother and son soaking the morning sunlight

I got to know that people of this village gather on the road every day in the morning to clean it and the nearby areas. The kids who reach Grade 1 and 2, are given the task of keeping their home and surroundings clean, and if they are failed to do so, they won’t get the food. The immaculate beauty of this village has highlighted it on the world map. No doubt why this village has been awarded as the Cleanest Village of Asia by Discover India Magazine back in 2003.

IMG_1800
Streets of Mawlynnong

We drove some 2 km to witness the second iconic thing of the day, The Living root bridge. These bridges are a man-made marvel and built without causing any harm to nature but as a bridge between man and nature. People needed a bridge to cross the streams and these bridges were not built but grown. These bridges have a life span of about 500 years or more. They are strong enough to hold more than 40-50 people at a time. They grow stronger by time and heavy rains help their growth. And an add on it is that they nowhere else in the world than in Meghalaya.

IMG_1870
The perfect web
IMG_1838
It is more than 300 years old and one of the most visited and biggest in Meghalaya

It was our first encounter with such kind of structure. It left us spellbound with its pristine beauty and awestruck structure. We went deep in the dense forest to which this bridge was an entrance.

IMG_1855
Some whooping moments into the woods
IMG_1929
Me, trying to capture the beauty of this place

This place is heavenly. I can spend N amount of time here to get lost in these dense forests with such serene beauty. Sun rays were not able to reach us easily as the forest was quite dense and we were deep in the valley.

IMG_1898
In the lap of mother nature deep in the jungle

We were talking to locals and kept on hearing that do not miss the viewpoint which lies at the borders of Maylynnong, so after giving a warm hug to the bridge we left towards the Viewpoint which was just 20 minutes away from here.

IMG_1858
I am the Tarzan of my Jungle Book

We were going deep in the village and then it appeared, an entry gate to a tree house made of bamboo. Until we got on this bamboo bridge we had no idea that we were at this height. There was this balcony on the other side of this bamboo bridge. We got there and realized that we were at a height of 4869 feet from sea level, standing on a tree house which was hanging on a valley. The valley which had Bangladesh on the other side.

IMG_1955.jpg
Entry gate to the tree house followed by bamboo bridge
IMG_1957
The hanging balcony with a view of Bangladesh on the other side

It was one of a great experience. There was a river flowing down there in the valley which looked so tiny as we were standing at a very high point. After spending about an hour here at this calm place, we left towards Dawki our next stop.

Read my next blog about how beautiful I found Dawki the magical town which is situated at the shores of cleanest river of India the Umangot River.

IMG_2003
Enroute Dawki

 

Planning a trip to Meghalaya

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘True paradise’? Well yeah, it does exist, and in India, it’s nowhere else than in Meghalaya. You should consider the below points in your mind while planning a quick 5 day trip to the Abode of clouds.

IMG_2128
The beauty of Meghalaya is beyond words

Planning

Before going to any place, I always google what that place has to serve me, what kind of terrain it has, the weather conditions, transportation facilities, where I would be staying, I did the same before going to the northeast also. After making a rough itinerary of the trip, I start digging about places that I would be going at.

Where to stay?

I don’t like staying in typical hotels when traveling on my own so I often go with hostels or Airbnb or Couchsurfing  or the homestays of locals not just because they are budget friendly but also very lively. I did the same before going to the northeast also.

Stay at bamboo made homestays in the Mawlynnong. You may get rooms in homestays at a price of 1000-1500 INR for per night. It is a small village and people here are very close to nature and don’t like building cemented houses.

IMG_1809
Our tiny Cottage in Mawlynnong

A good number of accommodation options are there at Cherrapunji. Try to negotiate with them. The most famous and luxurious property is The Jeeva resort. We stayed at the JMS Lodge and it was 1500 INR per night.

Shillong is the capital city of Meghalaya, comparatively expensive city. There are a lot of options available to stay including hostels, homestays and very good hotels and resorts. you can stay as per your choice.

How to reach?

The first question about going there is how to reach there? Well, you can choose the below ways:

By Flight: The flight to Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport – Guwahati, is cheaper than to the Shillong airport. Also, there are regular flights to Guwahati from Delhi and Jaipur that runs every day. It is a 2 and a half hour flight. The flight is ornamented with the Himalayas on your left. If you plan accordingly and book the flights in a month advance it would cost you around 8500 INR for a round trip. The distance from Guwahati to Meghalaya is 100 Km.

IMG_1784
The Mighty Himalayas as seen from my window

By train: There are some trains that run weekly or twice in a week for Guwahati but it takes around 40 hours which is almost 2 days to reach there by train as the distance is almost 1950 km. There are no trains running to Meghalaya.

By road: If you are fond of a long road trip then you can choose this way but it would be a long way depending upon where you are embarking your journey. Mostly you would be running into the urban jungles until you arrive at Guwahati after then the highways to Meghalaya would turn all green with palm trees on either side of the highway.

IMG_2059
Palm trees everywhere

There are shared taxis available at a fine price in Meghalaya. We took a car on rent and drove it by our self. The car was really good and the agency was really nice. They are called Razzle Rides, and they are based in Guwahati.

Climate and weather:

The weather in Meghalaya is pleasant throughout the year, while it can go as low as 0°C to 2°C during winters, on the other hand, it lies between 8°C to 20°C during summers. Post summers being the end of May it can rain every day here until October or November, as it is the wettest place on earth which receives the highest amount of rainfall in the world. It could be too humid in peak summers and during the monsoons

Essentials while packing for Meghalaya: 

If you are planning during the Monsoons you would definitely need to keep yourself and your belongings dry by keeping Rain covers, Ponchos, Umbrella, Waterproof camera covers, dry bags, and plastic bags. Do not forget Anti-mosquito cream (such as Odomos) and Sunscreen as you would be inside the jungle so you need to protect yourself with the after effects of a mosquito bite and Extreme sunrays.

Even if you go in summers, keep some warm clothes with you as it gets really cold at nights even in summers. Carry shorts, trek pants, all-terrain trekking shoes with you for trekking in Meghalaya.

Brief Itinerary

Day 1: Reach Mawlynnong

After reaching the Guwahati airport, Mawlynnong is 175 km from Guwahati and it is a 6-hour drive.

IMG_1800
The streets of Mawlynnong

Day 2: Living root bridge – Bangladesh Viewpoint – Dawki

Explore the streets of the cleanest village of Asia, Walk on the Living Root Bridge, Explore the dense forests in Mawlynnong. Go to the Bangladesh viewpoint treehouse. Visit the cleanest Indian River the Umangot River in the village Dawki. You can explore many activities here, including Kayaking, Ziplining, boating.

IMG_1918
A lady crossing the Living root bridge
IMG_1898
In the lap of mother nature deep in the jungle of Mawlynong
IMG_1957
The hanging balcony with a view of Bangladesh on the other side
IMG_2050
The beauty of Umangot river is exceptional

Day 3: Cherrapunji – Double Decker Root Bridge – Rainbow waterfalls

Cherrapunji is 85 km from Dawki which is almost a 3-hour drive. There are so many places in Cherrapunji to explore. Go to the day-long trek of Double-decker Root Bridge and Rainbow waterfalls through the dense forests in Cherrapunji on your first day here.

IMG_2113
The Metal suspension bridge on the way to Double Decker root bridge
IMG_2228
Raw, wild and still breathing, The double Decker root bridge
IMG_2208
The Rainbow falls as seen from the bottom

Day 4: Noh kalikhai waterfalls – Arwah Caves – Dainthlen falls

Visit the tallest waterfalls of India, the Noh kalikhai waterfalls. Get lost in the dark limestone Arwah caves which are more than 30 million years old. Another beautiful spot of the day would be watching the sunset at the Dainthlen falls

IMG_2398
The Noh Kalikhai waterfalls
IMG_2283
The Arwah caves are older than 30 million years
IMG_2432
Sunset at Dainthlen falls

Day 5: Laitlum Canyons – Shillong – Elephant falls

Have a birds-eye view of the canyons of the Meghalaya from Laitlum. Visit the Scotland of the east the Shillong city which is 54 km from Cherrapunji. Walk in local markets. Visit the iconic elephant falls and wintness a beautiful sunset at the pretty  Umium Lake.

Take the early morning flight from Guwahati on the next day and say goodbye to this paradise.

IMG_1786
The Umiam lake as seen in the evening hours

Things to keep in mind:

  • Always carry a water bottle with you.
  • You will not find any shop to get something to eat at the island on Umangot River so carry some foodstuff with you.
  • Do not litter here and there in Meghalaya, as people here are very much particular about cleanliness and also you are not going there to spoil nature. So keep a bag with you where you put your trash and dump it when you see a dustbin.
  • Apply sunscreen and Anti-Mosquito cream on your skin while roaming in the jungles.

If you have any question feel free to ask me in the comment section

Also, Read my experiences in Meghalaya and check out the awestruck photos of Meghalaya in my blog series Meghalaya the true paradise