Truly Meghalaya – Abode of Clouds by Manali Debroy

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“Gar firdaus bar-rue zamin ast, hami asto, hamin asto, hamin ast.”

‘If there is a heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here.’ This Persian saying goes completely with Meghalaya. I went for a five-day tour to Meghalaya, covering Shillong, Cherrapunji and many waterfalls, living root bridges, treks, canyons and other landscapes. It is incredible to see what nature has to offer to humanity and yet, we remain oblivious to that love. So, sit back, relax and enjoy the Meghalaya bliss with me as I share my journey andexperiences with you. This article will give you tips on journey planning as well as places to cover in five days.

First and foremost, I planned our trip through ‘ICARE TRIP PLANNERS’, and they were very helpful in customizing the itinerary according to my plans. Please plan the trip and book the flight tickets in advance, at least two to three months before. Please carry warm clothes, as the temperate drops down there in the evenings, even in March and April.

1. UMIUM LAKE AND LAITLUM – SHILLONG

I booked my tickets from Bengaluru to Guwahati. It was a long two and a half hours flight. You can book tickets to Shillong, but the drive from Guwahati to Shillong is beautiful, and I did not want to miss it. So after having a sumptuous breakfast in Guwahati, I started my journey to Shillong. The cuts and bends of the road are indubitably adventurous, but if you have motion sickness, please carry medicines. While travelling to Shillong, the first scenic beauty that you will cross is ‘The Umium Lake.’ The lake is beautiful, serene and when I went there, it was kind of breezy that instantly soothes your soul. I would recommend to click pictures and keep the boating part for the beautiful crystal clear waters of Dawki. After soaking in the relaxing air, I went to see ‘Laitlum’, which is a canyon of North-East, resembling a lot to Scotland. Check out the valley views, click pictures at the suicide points, enjoy the air and the greenery, then proceed further for Shillong. After you arrive in Shillong, relax the evening and delve into some delicious foods – thukpa, momos. Hot and ready to serve sounds like the best evenings there. The next day, I started for Cherrapunji, where I was staying for two days.

2. CHERRAPUNJE – IS IT ALL ABOUT RAINS? NO – WATERFALLS, LIVING ROOT BRIDGES AND NATURAL CAVES

Day 1: Nohkalikai Falls, Mawsmai Caves, Seven Sisters Falls, Wei Sawdong Falls

It is definitely about the rains, but it has much more to it then just rain. On my route to Cherrapunji, I first saw ‘Nohkalikai Falls’. Before describing the falls, the journey from Shillong to Cherrapunje was merely breathtaking. Do not miss the scenic valleys and small waterfalls. The waterfall of Nohkalikai was very fresh, and the collected pool of water looked greenish blue from the top. Unfortunately, you can only see this fall from the top, then going near it. After this, I went to see the natural caves, ‘Mawsmai Caves’, which was an adventurous exploration. The ‘Seven Sisters Falls’ is nearby and make a point to visit that as well. If you are lucky, you will be able to see all the seven falls together; else during rain or foggy days, it is difficult to see the view.

The last place for my adventure for the first day in Cherrapunje was ‘Wei Sawdong Falls’. It is a reasonably unexplored place, and you need to trek through a sparsely dense forest. If you are scared of treks which do not have any pucca roads or proper facilities, then this is not for you. You need to wear appropriate shoes for the trek that has firm grip, because, in Cherrapunje, rains can knock you anytime. Hence, it is necessary to be firm on your foot and not slip through your trek. Well after around twenty minutes of trek, I reached the waterfall. Was it all I wished for? Definitely yes! It was worth the trek and the water fell beautifully and clean from the three-step giant rocks, pouring a pool of green crystal clear water. You can take a dip and click some pictures before heading back.

Day 1: World’s unique ‘The Double Decker Living Root Bridge’

I already knew that the trek is going to test my perseverance and physical strength. In spite of this, I went for the trek, which was almost climbing down 4000 steps and upwards 4000 steps, along with crossing iron bridges and difficult terrains. I started around 8.15 a.m for the trek. When you start descending the stairs, it seems relatively easy at the beginning with the steps of the stairs being wide. After reaching quite a few steps down, you will feel more close to nature, but a bit scarier. The steps had one side grass and greenery, while the other side was deep valley and your legs shake a little. So, take quick breaks (not long, keep it maximum if two minutes), to steady yourself and your legs and keep walking. Carry small snacks (fruits recommended, avoid fried or baked items) and lots of water. You will get some small shops as well during the trek. The first destination is the ‘Single living root bridge’. The experience of walking on a bridge made entirely of roots is beyond description. The view from there astounds you – clear water beneath, pure air to breathe and sights of green, blue and other colours of nature. Post that, I started walking towards the double-decker bridge. The walk is strenuous, as it involves many ups and downs, and tires your body. But, finally when I reached the ‘Double-decker living root bridge’, I forgot everything. It is something out of a fairy tale – like the trees are the guards, the roots are the pathways, and beside the small waterfall there is a magical house. It was indeed a vision – a treat for sore eyes! Enjoying the view there for some time, I started with the climb up. It was the most challenging thing that I have done in the recent past. But it sure makes you feel like an accomplished person and rejuvenated. I just came back to my resort, ate and slept like a child for more than 8 hours. Well, an arduous trek of four hours, makes you feel exhausted.

3. GOODBYE CHERRAPUNJE, HELLO MAWLYNONG AND DAWKI!

The next day, I went to see the cleanest village of Asia – ‘Mawlynong’. The village is immaculate and green. You won’t spot litters on the roads, and there are proper jute dustbins on the roadside. It felt good to think that the cleanest village of Asia is actually in India. The next I went to do boating on Dawki river, which is famous for its crystal clear green waters. It is incredible to see the sand and bed of rocks right through the water, while you are sailing on it. There were fishes you can spot, and the nature surrounding was admirable. The river shares a border with our neighbouring country, Bangladesh. The boating lasts for an hour, and I paid INR 1500 for the whole experience. Post this; I went to see one more fall – ‘Krang Suri Falls’. All the falls here are beautiful, green and you can take a dip, so this was no different. You can do a zipliner here as well if you are into adventure sports.

I ended my Meghalaya trip with Krang Suri Falls. I went back to Guwahati and got a chance to visit the famous, Kamakhya Temple. I would strongly recommend to go and visit Meghalaya, while you are still young and you are willing to do the treks. For the older generation as well, this is a calm, soothing and cleanest place I have ever visited in India. This place is close to dreams, and very much like heaven. So, pack your bags and visit Meghalaya – Abode of clouds and happiness!

PS: I spent around INR 35,000 for one person, including flights and accommodation, which you can pre-book, as well as food and other expenditure on the road.