The name Meghalaya translates to abode of “megha” or cloud in Sanskrit and it cannot be nearer to the sacrosanct truth. As monsoon beckons North Eastern Indian state glims with blusher of amassed lush greenery, multiple streams cascading in the galore of youth and incessant drizzles. Time stands witness how the mountain flourished with distinct local culture unfolding it’s treasure in sync with the phenomenal beauty and richness of the Himalayan mountain range. Picturesque landscape of the land has made it a perfect gateway to wander-lusting souls with an allure of swinging rivers with incredible bends, lakes tracing their depth to the end of the world, arcane, never ending caves with a hint of horror and many more.
No-one can ignore the rustic charm of the land. However many contributions to development of tourism in the place is derived through the British explorers understanding the wealth of limestone of the mountains, while the locals mainly dwelt in trade of silk, cotton goods, iron, wax, honey and ivory. Many reigns passed by before the final amalgamation with British India territory, Meghalaya now stands apart in her unique charm among the 7 sister states of India.
Airport and road will connect you with the place at ease. The great Indian Railway has not yet marked it’s footsteps in the steep hilly region, except for Guwahati being the nearest rail station at a distance of 80 km. Plan your trip accordingly. If you know driving, get necessary permits and the fact you need to drive the hills in rain must not intimidate you. Be assured, rains come and go in an eccentric manner, all the year around. A bright sunny day can suddenly be engulfed with the a cloud pallet only to reveal the smell of petrichor sooner or later. But that is how it has sustained all these years, borne a civilization, attracted explorers across globe. In rain, you will surely find the soul of beautiful Meghalaya!
I traveled with Greener Pastures for they curate stays with perfect blend of luxury, comfort and coziness as I learned from friends. As I sat back and relaxed in the old British-made town Shillong while it rained without a stop, an unusual shadow limned atop Umium Lake, making me realize, for the umpteenth time, how blissful a traveler’s life is in a true sense. We made merry in Shillong, sometimes atop the hill viewpoint to look at the town below and wonder at the miniature like habitats, or behind the waterfalls that gush with an inundating spirit, power with the force of a new rain. I loved the boutique hotel we were accommodated in, a four star luxury hotel with staffs ever smiling, which often made my day! The lake Umium, an ever awake guard, was standing still all night by our side.
The next day had us driving through the scenic roads to reach a bordering village with Bangladesh, named Mawlynnong. It is famed to be the cleanest village of India. Khasis reside here in rustic charm of a tribal lifestyle. I was taken aback with the simplicity and richness of a commune that make bamboo pits to transpose waste into manure. We put up in a simple clean home-stay arrangement to experience the local way of living. It is a pretty village that magnifies all the simple pleasures of life. I suggest assign a couple of days here for the nearby hikes are extremely scenic and possess some tucked away viewpoints of Bangladeshi plains which is otherwise not much advertised. A typical touristy thing is to head out for the Living Root Village to see the way locals transform bounty of nature without polluting with industrial infrastructure. It is in my opinion an epitome of sustainability and a thing of wonder. Manifold tourist car pools will testify for the latter claim. Do not forget to dive into the pristine lakes of the natural set up, or may be you could indulge in a bath under one of those hidden waterfalls.
Be prepare to get astounded as the journey takes you to the final destination of the trip – Sohra, more famous in the name of Cherrapunji . On the way, we met river Dawki, a gem of the land as I would describe her. As we took a boat ride across her, I could see the river bed 12 feet below us through transparent water. Ethereal would say, the river runs straight into Bangladesh. You may spot families enjoying a picnic day by the river bank.
We grew up reading about Cherrapunji in textbooks from school days for being the famous recipient of the highest average rainfall in India. The mist, rain, clouds, lightning bolts, there will be no dearth of rendezvous with any of them while you will enjoy a comfortable stay by the cliff of a mountain. Soak in the spectacular view of clouds and sunsets while interacting with locals as rain force lessens. It is almost eerie but worth an experience of a lifetime. At times, I was left to wonder what made me feel more bewildered, the rains or the mountains or the clouds! A stay of couple of days would suffice unless of course, you long for more of the mystic land. While you could hike up to the nearby dainty villages tucked away behind the curves of mountains, you will discover the root bridges again, the only difference being a smaller length.
To head back home, a road trip will be arranged to the city of Guwahati, taking a good half a day’s time, albeit with scenic roads passing by. You can fly out of there as the trip ends only to leave memories worth cherishing for a lifetime!