The name of a state cannot get more literal than this. Meghalaya translates into ‘The Abode of Clouds’ and wherever you go, clouds are almost sure to follow you. This trip begins at the economic capital of Assam where you visit the famous Kamakhya Temple. Once the wettest place on Earth, Cherrapunjee still has a lot of tricks up its sleeves. Wait till you get a glimpse of the waterfalls here. The living root bridges are a perfect example of human engineering in close collaboration with nature, without any form of collateral damage whatsoever. Stroll through the cleanest village of Asia at Mawlynnong and get inspired by it’s beauty. Take a boat ride at one of the clearest rivers in Dawki and count the pebbles on the river bottom. Wrap up the trip with a visit to the ‘Rock Capital’ of India at Shillong amidst all it’s beautiful offerings.
Arrive at the economic capital of the North-East of India. Green paddy fields surround you and the distant hillocks complete the scenery. The mighty Bramhaputra rives flows right across this city.
One of the oldest of the 51 Shakti Peethas, the Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati is highly revered. A complex that consists of one main temple and other small temples which are inter connected. Archaeological evidence puts the construction date to around 8-9th century AD. Sacrifices of animals is a common practice that are offered to the Goddess here. There are strict entry timings. So check before you plan to visit.
This cultural institution is the largest of its kind in the north-east of India. Built in the 1990s, the artistic and cultural heritage of Assam and rest of the north-eastern region is displayed here. Open-air theatres, restaurants and museums are housed within the Sankardev Kalakshetra premises. The evening light and sound shows are a big draw here.
If you have the luxury of time, you can also head out for an evening cruise on the Bramhaputra.
Drive to Cherrapunjee
The drive from Guwahati to Cherrapunjee is a delight. The uphill ride is a treat to one’s eyes with beautiful mist shrouded hills and waterfalls and the beautiful Umiam Lake also known locally as the Barapani Lake. The 150 kilometre ride takes around 4-5 hours.
Eco Park and Seven Sister Waterfalls
This is unlike any Eco Park you have seen. Rife with waterfalls, this park has abundant greenery and a lovely view of the mountains and the valley in the distance. Marvel the Seven Sisters Waterfall which is in it’s full glory during the monsoons. The whole hill-face is washed with waterfalls.
Living Root Bridges Trek
The trek from Cherrapunjee to the famous Double Decker Living Root Bridge takes around 3-4 hours. The trek goes downhill through the village of Sohsarat. Two series of steep steps are encountered while trekking downhill. After the steps the path leads you through a forest leading to the Double Decker Living Root Bridge. Pools of turquoise water would make you want to dive in. Understand how years and years of bending and directing the roots, the indigenous people made a bridge by connecting two trees. This was done to combat the menacing monsoons here, so that the people can easily cross over streams. A truly ingenious design and it only grows stronger with each passing year.
This trek is not possible during the monsoons. You can choose to do a complete sightseeing tour of Cherrapunjee instead.
The Nohkalikai Falls is the highest plunge waterfall in India. At 115 feet, the fall is a stunner. In the local Khasi Language, Nohkalikai means ‘Jump of Likai’. The legend goes that a woman named Likai jumped from this hill after she found out that her infant daughter was killed. Amrvel the falls from a distance as you aren’t allowed to go close to the falls.
If you have the time, you can also head out to explore the Mawsmai Caves in Cherrapunjee.
Drive to Shillong
Today we take the road back and travel to the ‘Rock Capital’ of India. The 60 odd kilometer drive takes about 2 hours. Known for it’s beautiful location, stunning views and roaring waterfalls, Shillong is popularly known as the Scotland of the East.
Just 12 kilometres out of downtown Shillong is the majestic Elephant Falls. Named after a rock (destroyed in an earthquake) that resembled an elephant, the Elephant Falls is a 3-stepped waterfall. The first one is behind trees and is a broad fall, the second one is a small one, while the third one is the tallest and the biggest.
While in Shillong you can also visit the famous Ward’s Lake and take a boating ride in the small lake around which the park is built. You can also drive to the Shillong Peak which provides majestic views of Shillong and beyond. The Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians is a beautiful Church, pretty close to the Ward’s Lake, deserves a visit.
Visit the most happening and also the most crowded part of Shillong. Bars, restaurants and shops dominate this market place. Sip on a cold brew and listen to the live music bands here. You can also shop for some really cool handicrafts.
Mawlynnong – Cleanest Village of Asia and Living Root Bridges
Don’t believe the tags that have been awarded to the village of Mawlynnong, just see it for yourself. Asia’s cleanest village is truly clean – from bamboo dustbins to compost making, this is recycling at it’s best. Every household in the village partakes in the cleaning activities. Paved pathways add to the beauty of this well-planned village. Smoking and use of plastic bags is banned in Mawlynnong.
A small hike will lead to you another aspect of this village – the living root bridges. Built to combat the heavy monsoons here, the root bridges take more than 10-15 years to build. These are built over small streams that become roaring rivers once the monsoons start making them impossible to cross.
Don’t forget to carry packed lunch to Mawlynnong as there are no restaurants.
Situated close to the border is the small town of Dawki and through it flows one of the clearest rivers– the Umngot River. During the non-monsoon season, you can clearly see the bottom of the river. Take a boat ride here and experience the clear waters and the beautiful landscape of hills, forests and cliff faces surrounding it.
Take an early morning drive, after breakfast, from Shillong to Guwahati. Leave with such memories of the ‘abode of clouds’ that it rains down forever in your heart and mind. You’ll never be able to escape the attraction of Meghalaya.