Meghalaya - The Paradise of North East
Here's the insta reel of the Meghalaya leg of this north-east travelogue... follow me on insta and watch lots of travel reels around India!
Since childhood, I wanted to experience monsoon of Cherrapunji. Luckily, we visited it in the first week of April a pre monsoon month. Trust me! these pre monsoon months received higher rainfall than the peak monsoon months of the most part of the India. Post breakfast, we left for Cherrapunji.
DAY II : Cloud adobe of India, Cherrapunji
Meghalaya is one of the cleanest states of India which we experienced on our trip to Meghalaya. We stopped at a restaurant for the Brunch. While scrolling down the menu, I saw Dosa. Suddenly, South Indian traits of mine woke up and ordered it. It was delicious but the kind of dosa you would get in north India :P. The route was passing through the lushed green pine tree forest. As we crossed Shillong and moved towards Cherrapunji, the atmosphere became foggy and the density was increasing with every kilometre. At times, we had to stop or drive at very low speed because the roads weren't visible.
We decided to finish the site seeing before checking in to the resort. As per the plan, we went to ARWAH cave. It was a man-made cave. Its entrace was around 300 meters from the parking lot. The route was partially covered by the fog with multiple waterfalls. The cave had the same entrance and exit. A part of the cave was narrow which could only be crossed If we moved sideways. Similarly, some part of the Cave was really short that we couldn’t able to stand on our feet. Due to heavy rain, the route was slippery. At times, It felt scary because we didn’t see many people inside the cave.
After that, we went to NOHKALIKAI waterfall. Due to heavy fog, We couldn’t able to see the waterfall but we could able to hear its sound. And from what we heard, it felt like a huge waterfall. Later that day, we saw earlier week’s video of the same waterfall And Indeed! It looked Gigantic!
After that, we went to another Cave named MAWSMAI cave. It was a natural cave built by the water passing through the stones of the mountains. This cave was better than the ARWAH CAVE. Also, It wasn’t as scary as the earlier one. After visiting the cave, we went shopping for handicrafts. We bought some great key-chains from there.
We were damn hungry because it was 3 pm and we were yet to have our lunch. Without wasting another minute we went to Polo Orchid Resort for lunch. This restaurant would give you the best view of the seven sister waterfalls. The restaurant was having a very classy ambience with an incredible view of seven sister waterfalls. Apart from this, restaurants provided us with a wide range of food options. From which we chose Thai food & Budweiser. Wow! even the food was delicious. "Ambience, View and delicious food..." What else a restaurant could offer? When we reached the restaurant the view of the waterfalls was hazy, which was then completely covered by the fog. Then it rained and view became clearer. This happened multiple times. We felt as if the SEVEN SISTER WATERFALL was playing hide N seek with us. The place was really soothing. hence I didn’t felt like leaving it.
We reached our resort in the late evening. Our resort had arranged a cultural show which included karaoke singing and folk dancing with bronze plates & Assamese caps. Here came the interesting part, Weren’t you eager to know the reason for the heavy rainfall in Cherrapunji? Also, why Shillong or Dawki regions weren’t receiving similar rainfalls? Even though these all places were nearby each other. Well, the owner of the resort explained to us the scientific reason behind heavy rainfall.
Geographically Cherrapunji was situated on the Khashi Hills which was around a hundred kilometres from the Bay of Bengal. Entire lands till its foothills were flat. During Feb-Mar months, the water of the Bay of Bengal boiled up and formed the clouds. These clouds would move towards the higher grounds of the Khasi hills. When they reached the foothills of the Khashi Hills, they moved upwards to reach the other side of the hills. As the Khasi hills were taller than the Garo or Jayanta hills. Before these clouds could be reached the top, Their temperature dropped significantly which resulted in the heavy rainfall in the Khashi hills region where Cherrapunji was located. Surprisingly! this process was insanely accurate. The locals could predict the time of the rainfall during the monsoon. While explaining this, the owner of the homestay told us that the rain would start at 10 PM with 5 Minutes here and there. Well, the theory was making sense but the Theories and the Practicals were two different things and hence I wasn’t completely convinced about the accuracy. Just when I was doubting him, I heard the sound of the thunderstorm and rain had begun. I checked my watch. Damn It! It was 10:02 PM. Amazing! Wasn’t it?
Interesting fact about cherrapunjee - According to the locals, during monsoon, they couldn’t able to see the sun for many weeks. Cherrapunji receives about 16000 mm of rainfall throughout the year. April-May were the pre-monsoon months and June to October were the actual monsoon months.
DAY III: Trek to Double Decker Root Bridge
It was a typical Monsoon morning in the Cherrapunjee where rain wouldn’t look like stopping anytime soon. So we were sceptical about the double-decker root bridge trek. After completing the breakfast, we checked out of our hotel and headed towards the entry point of the Double-decker Root bridge trek with our guide Fredrik. On the way, we had seen countless waterfalls. Amongst, few were falling on the roads.
When we reached the entrance, apart from us only few of the locals were present at the entry point. Despite lightning and Thunderstorm, we decided to take this adventure. We thought "चलते हैं, आगे का देखा जाएगा!" .We had to climb down 3500+ steps through WILD forest which should take on an average of 5-6 hours. On the way, we would be crossing THREE villages. In an hour, we climbed down 1800+ steps and stopped by a village from where we saw single decker living root bridge. It was marvellous! We saw it from a distance and decided to visit it on our way back. After climbing down further 800 steps, we reached a hanging bridge. The Double-decker bridge was to the other side of the river. Our guide took our sticks and crossed the bridge in no time! When I reached the halfway, the bridge started shaking heavily. Suddenly, I looked downwards. What the hell was that! The water was flowing wildly. on top of that, we were the only ones trekking in that wild forest. And add the sound of thunderstorms & lightning to this. I started getting second thoughts. Was it worth It? Should I continue? And then I looked towards my wife and In a way, we both realized it wasn’t worth it. As they say "जान है तो जहान है" I was a bit disappointed not to be able to see the Double Decker root bridge. But I knew it was the right call
Anyways, we could still go back to the single-decker living root bridge. I was amazed by the strength of the bridge and how talented these villagers were. While we were enjoying the view, our guide showed us a few recent pictures of the Double Decker Root Bridge. Yeah, it was amazing and a good enough reason for me to visit Meghalaya again!
~~ P.C - Fredrick ~~
Trekking in the heavy rainfall of Meghalaya, through the dense forest with lighting, was one of the greatest adventures of this trip!
Fun fact: Due to climbing down and later climbing up 2500+ steps, we got insane ankles pain. Trust me, For the entire next week, we walked like a cripple. At the multiple places, ppl asked us if we did a double-decker root bridge trek by observing the way we were walking. :P
We had completed 2/3rd of the trek and by the time we came back to the parking lot, we became completely wet and needed a place to change our clothes. Also, the trek had made us very hungry. It was no brainer where we went. Yup, the Polo Orchid Resort. We changed our clothes and took brunch with the view of the Seven sister waterfall.
As we had time on our hands, we decided to visit the Elephanta Waterfalls. It had three waterfalls. Amongst, first and third were the best ones. To reach the third waterfall we had to climb down 250+ steps. But come on! we climbed down 10 Times of that just few hours back. So, it was just a piece of cake for us! The waterfall was scenic and one of the best tourist attractions. Especially, for the tourists visiting Cherrapunjee during non-monsoon months. Because All the waterfalls dried up during the summer except Elephanta waterfall. The view of the waterfall with its sound was soothing. Due to this, we weren’t feeling like getting up from our place. When we reached the parking lot, we saw many handicraft shops and remembered this -> “When you are travelling with your wife, even if you wanted to buy anything or not, you have to visit all the shops :P”
DAY IV: Excursion to Dawki and Mawlennyong
We left Shillong post breakfast and reached Dawki in few hours. Experiencing the floating boats in the crystal clear water of the Dawki river was on my bucket list. Unfortunately, due to the monsoon season, the river became muddy.
Even with the muddy water, the place looked beautiful. Just imagine how beautiful it would be under the clear water. From the boarding point, we saw a huge stone with a 1275 number written on it. It was the India - Bangladesh border.
The cost per boat was 800/- and it could accommodate four people at max. We boarded the boat and went towards an island full of colourful stones. Don’t be mistaken! The place was really beautiful with an incredible view of the island. Unfortunately, we had seen the pictures of the Dawki river during the non-monsoon days. That's why we were not satisfied with the current view.
It was time to visit Asia’s cleanest village Mawlennyong. On the way, we saw a long fencing wall. Well, it was the Indo-Bangladesh border. Bangladesh was on its other side. Wow, the entire country was just a few meters from me. Who cares even if it was just Bangladesh :P. On our way, we saw two gigantic waterfalls named BOP FALL1 and BOP FALL2. The flow of the water looked insane and it was still a pre-monsoon times! During June-July, the water would fall on the bridge which was at least 20 meters higher and 50 meters away from the fall. Would you believe it?
Mawlennyong was awarded the cleanest village in Asia! As soon as we reached there we came to know why. It was a well-planned village with greenery around the place. The Houses were colourful with dustbins infront of them. We took lunch at one of the local Dhaba of the village. We had non-veg thali which included rice, salads, dal, vegetables and delicious chicken. After a village tour, I realized this village should be considered a role model for the rest of the villages. Trust me, they hadn’t done anything special there. Just the People of that village were less currupt and more responsible.
Single Decker Living Root Bridge was a few kilometres from the village. Compared to the Cherapunjji, it was a much shorter bridge and not at all scary. It was a pleasant site with an incredible view. The route which took us to the bridge was not difficult and hardly had 200+ steps. Hence, the satisfaction of seeing or walking on it was lesser compared to the double-decker root bridge trek. We walked on it and reached the other side of the stream. We sat on the edge of the rock so that we could keep our feet inside the cold water. It felt so relaxing! We sat there for a while and admired the incredible view of the single living root bridge.
A day started with a beautiful but below expected Dawki river and ended with the pleasant experience of Mawlennyong village and a wonderful single living root bridge. While heading back to our hotel, we stopped by one of the restaurants in the mountains. The view from its terrace was incredible. Tasty Coffee and incredible view, what else one would need on a road!
DAY V: Sacred forest of Mwaphlang
We weren’t excited about the sacred forest of Mawsynram. But because we had an extra day we visited it. The Forest could not be visited without the guide who charged 550/- for the full trek and 350/- for the half trek.
We went for a full trek, whose distance was around 2 kilometres. at the registration desk, we paid the entry fees and got a guide. Initially, We were disappointed because our guide looked not at all fun-loving. As they said, "Never judge a book by its cover" By the time we completed the trek, we fall in love with the place and our guide was the main reason for it apart from the ancient stories.
Mawsynram forest was called the sacred for a reason. There was a local belief that one shouldn’t carry anything from the village. If someone would bring anything accidentally or knowingly from the sacred forest, he or she would be cursed and receive a bad amen. Would you dare to pick anything from this village? I won’t be bringing anything for sure!
At the entrance, we saw a tall Rudraksha tree. Even though ppl in Meghalaya were Christians, they knew according to Hinduism, that Rudraksha would be considered sacred. Hence, they treat it with respect.
The Forest was divided into THREE parts with a separate entry and exit. One should follow these rules. In ancient times, this forest was used by the villagers to make sacrifices to please the Deities. The first part of the forest was used to prepare the animal for the sacrifice. As long as a person was in this part of the forest, he could return to the village to bring the missing ingredients. We saw many standing stones and a few wide flat stones. It was believed that in ancient times, these tables were used to sit or prepare the animal for sacrifice. Due to earth quacks, these tables were broken.
The second part of the forest was the place where the animals would be sacrificed. Once a person entered in this part of the forest, they could not go back. Even if the forgot few of the main items needed for the sacrifice, They would have to come the next day and perform all the rituals from the beginning. There was a huge standing rock and around it, we saw five 5 tables which was call ‘ALTAR’. This Altar was used for execution and this huge rock was used as a landmark to identify these altars. At one time, only one ALTAR could be used to make the sacrifice. All these Altars had to be used in a round-robin fashion. Beheading should happen in a single blow. upon the completion of the sacrifice, villagers had to carry everything to the third part of the forest where they would prepare the meat and eat it.
this part of the world still believed in the Kingdom-ship. They elect their King by voting. The chosen king would then be taken to this forest where his crowning ceremony would take place. One of the main mantris would perform the ceremony and place the crown on the head of the newly elected King. The king would rule until his death. Upon his death, another king would be elected but none of the relatives of the dead king could become the king. The last time this happened was in the year 2019. We found the place where the ceremony took place. It had five tables placed adjacent to each other. Also, they weren’t the same tables which were used to make sacrifices. The King would sit on the centre table while the rest of the mantris and his family members sit on the adjacent tables. This king would work with the current Indian government for the development of the people of Meghalaya. Could you believe something like this still exists in India?
These stories made me fall in love with the place almost instantly. Apart from these great stories, the forest possessed varieties of trees and flowers with rich medicinal values. They could be used to cure diseases like BP, Diabetes, Acidity etc. Interestingly, our guide informed us that the trees of this forest were twice as high as the similar types of trees found in the neighbouring forests. We crossed a small water stream. The exit gate was a mere 10-minute walk from there.
At the camp, our guide showed us different types of Rudraksha found in the neighbouring forests. and briefly explained its values. We saw Dwi-Mukhi : referred to Husband-Wife relations, Tri-Mukhi : referred to the prosperity of the family & Panch-Mukhi : referred to the Five elements from which our body was made of. Panch-Mukhi rudraksha was rare to find hence they were selling it for as high as 4000/-
We took lunch and then went to Don Bosco Museum. A seven-story building, an encyclopedia of the northeast States and their neighbouring countries. For me, the best part of the museum was the skywalk and the view from its terrace.
It was evening and we were really tired and wanted a quiet place hence went to Ward’s lake. I would say it was one of the most beautiful lake gardens in India. We sat on the bench and silently admired its beauty. After an hour we took a walk around the lake. During which we found the boating point and a few paddle boats. Few vendors were selling the cotton candies which I loved since childhood. Which was why I had to eat at least one, Right! So, I bought it and ate it all by myself.
Our hotel was hardly 2 kilometres from the lake, So We thought,“let’s explore the city on foot...” A big mistake! Those were the longest 2 kilometres of our lives. We had to climb multiple hills to reach our hotel. When we reached, we were exhausted and that was the last time we voluntarily walked on this trip ;)
DAY VI : Alavida Meghalaya and Hello Arunachal Pradesh
Post breakfast we left for Bhalukpong, a small town at the Assam-Arunachal border. It was a long tiring journey without any major site seeing. On our way, we visited the largest man-made lake, Umiam lake which we skipped on the first day. The place had one of the best panoramic views. One could take a speed boat ride which could be a thrilling experience! We spent half an hour at this peaceful place before leaving for Bhalukpong.
Around 5 PM we reached Bhalukpong and checked in to our cottage at PRASHANTI Resort. From our balcony, we could see the mountain range and river Kameng flowing through its valley. We spent our lazy evening over tea with this amazing view.