Cascade down the hillside...

Tripoto
13th Feb 2020
Photo of Cascade down the hillside... by Serendipity

Hopefully you are here after having read the 1st part of my blog about Meghalaya. I have described about my schedules on 13th and 14th on my previous blog, so on with part 2 of my visit to Meghalaya!

Day 3

Waking up in the morning of 15th made me realise that I had pushed on a bit too much last day and my legs were really sore! Yet, I had another small trek which I absolutely wouldn’t miss. That day I was supposed to go to Wei Sawdong, a waterfall that isn’t really a tourist spot, but an off-route weekend spot for outings and picnics for the locals. This was one of the places on my list because not many people actually know about it; it was something I originally dug up through my research on Meghalaya! So once again we departed from Cherrapunji at 9a.m. and drove through a locality with wooden buildings from the 18th-19th century. The backdrop of cloudy skies and old buildings and occasional cemeteries and churches at the hill tops are something that’s unforgettable about Cherrapunji!

First we went to Dainthlen waterfalls, where the land looked very cratered and jagged, with water flowing in and out of these craters. Even the colour of the stone ground wasn’t something I’d ever seen before! The river has flown over this rocky bed for so many years that it has carved surreal structures into the hill surface, that’s how these crater like appearances come into existence.

Craters near and all around the waterfall..

Photo of Dainthlen Falls, Dainthlen Road, Cherrapunji‎, Meghalaya, India by Serendipity

Beautifully coloured and textured stone basin...

Photo of Dainthlen Falls, Dainthlen Road, Cherrapunji‎, Meghalaya, India by Serendipity

After some time at Dainthlen, we left for Wei Sawdong and reached the region where the waterfall was supposed to be, but neither the driver nor the people working at some nearby fruit stalls knew about how to get to the fall. After almost an hour of walking around in every possible direction I noticed a small white paper with “Wei Sawdong” written, stuck to a stick and placed in front of an absolute dense woody area. Peering in I realised this might be the route! On listening very carefully, a faint sound of a huge waterfall, but from very far away could be heard. So there I was, trekking downhill, not at all sure about where the route would take me. This trek was another new experience for me because the ground was covered with roots of bamboo, rubber and other thin woody plants. There were places where there wasn’t even soil under these roots, I was just holding onto bamboo shoots, and jumping over loosely hanging roots, heading towards the direction from which the waterfall could be heard. I really don’t know how my sore legs carried me that day, but I’m glad they did. I would really not recommend elderly people or people with knee and back problems to try this trek.

After almost an hour of trekking through the dense plantation the sound of falling water was really loud but I couldn’t see anything, just a huge reddish brown slopping stone wall with numerous holes, with water trickling through them. I was really surprised as to what that was; this trip was showing me so many things I’d never seen before! But along the side of this wall I saw a very feeble looking ladder made of thin bamboo, shrubs and vines, and the other end of the ladder wasn’t visible. Since I’d come this far, I climbed the squeaky ladder and realised it led to another hill wall, and another ladder was visible on the other side of this wall. So I climbed across the wall and as soon as I reached the last visible ladder, I knew the next turn would show me the waterfall! Finally this climb, which almost felt life-risking at the ladders (because these ladders are just hanging in air with boulders far down below), came to a halt and in front of me I could see the marvellous Wei Sawdong!

Just the last set of stairs to reach the waterfall, the last 1 minute of the trek!

Photo of Wei Sawdong, Cherrapunji‎, Meghalaya, India by Serendipity

the 1st glimpse of the beautiful waterfall!

Photo of Wei Sawdong, Cherrapunji‎, Meghalaya, India by Serendipity

Descending from the ladders along the hill wall, jumping over boulders, it didn’t take me a second to realise that this was indeed a hidden gem! A beautiful reddish brown and bright turquoise pool of water was formed where the waterfall ended and continued flowing into a stream that led to the river. The waterfall flew down in 3 steps, each step forming a turquoise pool before falling to the next step. The stone ground was again cut, cratered and hollowed by decades of flowing water. The falls and pools just made it look otherworldly altogether. Surrounded by the steep walls of many hills, air filled with the calls of wild insects and birds, the familiar feeling of being detached from the rest of the world, it’s moments like these that give me so much peace!

Climbed up to the top-most step of the three-stepped waterfall!

Photo of Wei Sawdong, Cherrapunji‎, Meghalaya, India by Serendipity

After sometime the empty space of Wei Sawdong was filled with giggles and chatters of a group of children and their teachers who had most probably come for a school picnic. It was a Saturday. I saw a few children climbing up the rock wall over which the water was falling so I joined them and climbed to the top of the waterfall. I cannot explain the beauty in words. From the top I could see Wei Sawdong looks like a canyon at the centre of a range of hills. The walls are just continuous layers of rock cut basins and sediments upon sediments, forming a beautiful layered structure all around the falls.

standing beside the waterfall!

Photo of Wei Sawdong, Cherrapunji‎, Meghalaya, India by Serendipity

The downhill journey to the waterfall felt tough, but I realised that returning meant climbing up those bamboo and rubber plant’s roots and trunks. The ascent was tougher than the descent. But within 2 days Meghalaya had made me realise that the journey is more important than the destination; and that nature hides her best parts where humans cannot easily acquire them. It is very true that I sometimes feel so sad when I see tourist spots nowadays, plastic bottles, chips packets, littering everywhere. Sometimes I feel like it’s good that the best places need a lot of effort to be reached. Recently I’ve seen so many young people take initiatives in cleaning the mountains manually, but still the awareness needs to be from the grass root level; tourists need to travel responsibly, littering means harassing nature and nature is the very reason behind the existence of the human race.

the church in front of my stay...

Photo of Mawlynnong, Meghalaya, India by Serendipity

Howsoever, we were supposed to go to Mawlynnong that night. So leaving Wei Sawdong behind, we made a long journey to Mawlynnong, one of the world’s cleanest villages. It was already 6 in the evening, by the time we reached the village. Walked around the village alleys and ended up buying a few souvenirs. On returning to my stay I sat at the balcony listening to rustling leaves and a villager in charge of announcing the village routine for the next day, go around, stand at the turn of each street and announce in a loud voice. The night ended with a very scrumptious dinner by the hosts of our stay.

Day 4

Went for a morning walk through the village alleys in daylight because at night there were not many lights on the streets and almost nothing was visible. Mawlynnong is one of the cleanest villages in the world; no plastic is used throughout the village, there’s no overuse of electricity and the entirety of the population are Christians. Sundays are a complete holiday, every food stall, shop and even some stays are closed on Sundays. The only thing open on Sundays is the church. 7 a.m. is the time for children to attend church. Adults are allowed from 10a.m.; 16th was a Sunday.

Sunrise at Mawlynnong!

Photo of Mawlynnong, Meghalaya, India by Serendipity

Pitcher plants along the alleys of the village

Photo of Mawlynnong, Meghalaya, India by Serendipity

There was a church exactly in front of our stay and another one on the other side of the village. As the church bells rang, children with their Bibles clenched in their arms ran towards their respective churches. I happened to be at the church in front of my stay and spent a few minutes watching the children play guitars and keyboards and have fun until an adult came in to make them read and sing.

Photo of Cascade down the hillside... by Serendipity

At around 8:30 we departed from Mawlynnong and headed towards Dawki. As we approached Dawki the vegetation on the hills all around began to change. Instead of rainforests there were now dense lines of coconut trees and areca nut (supari) trees. Soon deep down at the side of the road we could see a river flowing and the India Bangladesh border came into view. This was the Umngot river that flows partially through Meghalaya and partially into Bangladesh. As we approached Dawki the colour of the river changed into a darker shade of green and blue. It was quite crowded already, with lines of cars waiting on the road and lines of boats waiting in the water.

reaching Dawki

Photo of Dawki, Meghalaya, India by Serendipity

However, there seemed to be fewer people than cars. It was already almost 12 in the noon and there was a huge bridge up front, which I walked to on foot. Apparently it is a part of the border so no one’s allowed to click photos on the bridge, which was actually constructed in the 1930s by the British. Once we walked down to the river, a group of people came rushing to ask for boat rides. We took the one hour offer that cost 1200 rupees for 3 people.

the relaxing boat ride...

Photo of Dawki, Meghalaya, India by Serendipity

The boat ride is indeed the best thing about Dawki. Crystal clear river water, so clear that the ground of the river bed is visible! At times when I saw a boat or 2 passing by, it felt like the boats were floating in air and not on water. As the sun was enveloped by a mass of clouds, our small but colourful dinghy boat departed from the shore and a soft cool breeze started blowing. The farther we went from land, the more was I engulfed by a calming sensation, as car engine sounds and voices from the shore became muffled and slowly faded away. The only sounds keeping me company now were the splashing of oars in water and the wind whizzing past my ears. Gigantic rocks and water-cut cliffs hanging down on the river from both sides, the deep dark corners of the hill’s bends, deep breaths and the constant sound of oars felt so therapeutic.

Photo of Cascade down the hillside... by Serendipity
Photo of Cascade down the hillside... by Serendipity

Every now and then tiny silvery fishes in groups would jump over the water surface inside these deep corners near the hill wall. Soon the dinghy reached a part in the river which was a rapid over boulders and which was the end point. From here the boat turned and it was a return journey towards the Bangladesh border. The momentary peace was broken by chaotic people’s voices at the border, who were now diving into the water to swim. On returning to the shore I walked along the river bank and found some really old broken dinghies arranged in a line in a corner of the river.

Photo of Cascade down the hillside... by Serendipity

It was almost 2 p.m. and we were about to make out journey to Shillong. So we departed from Dawki and in the next hour stopped at a dhaba where I had my first Meghalayan thali with 7 different kinds of vegetable curries! By 7:30 in the evening I was in Shillong. Had some walks around in the police bazaar, an extremely congested area, people busy retuning home, tourists busy shopping, stalls displaying tandoors on huge fires, all the possible glitz of city life!

It was almost 2 p.m. and we were about to make out journey to Shillong. So we departed from Dawki and in the next hour stopped at a dhaba where I had my first Meghalayan thali with 7 different kinds of vegetable curries! By 7:30 in the evening I was in Shillong. Had some walks around in the police bazaar, an extremely congested area, people busy retuning home, tourists busy shopping, stalls displaying tandoors on huge fires, all the possible glitz of city life!

Photo of Cascade down the hillside... by Serendipity
Day 5

Woke up at 7 next morning to visit the infamous Delhi Mistan Bhanddar of police bazaar. Had their kachoris and sweets for breakfast and by 9 set off for Laitlum in the East Khasi hills. Laitlum is where the canyons of Meghalaya are situated. As we reached Laitlum the sky grew cloudier and after a little walk to the canyons, it showed a breathtaking view of foggy hills and cliffs. This was the only place throughout the trip that I felt would look better during the monsoons; every other place has its own charm during each season, but for Laitlum I feel like without the luscious green meadows and blue grey clouds ready to pour rain, it looked a little too barren and foggy. The white skies and short dry grass wasn’t doing it justice. So by 11:30 we left Laitlum, definitely wishing to visit during the rains. Then we drove to Krang Suri falls on the west Jaintia hills. This one is also cut off from the regular tourist circuit and requires a little trekking too.

Reached the starting point for the trek at about 2:30 in the afternoon and had some vegetable maggi for lunch. A smooth yet old pathway was made for the climb, not a tough route.

The path to Krang Suri waterfall...

Photo of Krang Suri Waterfall, Meghalaya, India by Serendipity

Dense woods creeping in from both sides of the path, within a few minutes of walking, the beautiful Krang Suri falls was in view through a clearing in the woods, on the opposite hill, still very far yet a beautiful sight to see, the emerald waters glistening from a distance.

The 1st view of the waterfall from the hiking route

Photo of Krang Suri Waterfall, Meghalaya, India by Serendipity

Soon enough, after crossing some broken mossy stone bridges, I arrived at the top of the waterfall, where the river breaks into an abrupt fall. I climbed down to the boulders to see the waterfall from up close, climbed up some stairs to see it from up front, it was just too mesmerizing to let the waterfall go out of sight. Again the clarity of the water just stunned me! All throughout Meghalaya I’ve been so happy to see crystal clear waters in rivers and waterfalls! I sat on the boulders for some time, feeling refreshing sprinkles of cool water from the waterfall on my face, I was so genuinely happy about my decision of digging up all the offbeat spots for this trip!

Photo of Krang Suri Waterfall, Meghalaya, India by Serendipity

There was one small dinghy set up by some locals for anyone who would want to venture into the stream flowing through the dense thickets. It was a short ride for 30 minutes, but the place was so beautiful, the riverbed visible through the clear water, boulders and trees sticking out from the stream, cool winds, overcast skies, so tranquil!

Photo of Cascade down the hillside... by Serendipity
Photo of Cascade down the hillside... by Serendipity

The boat ride ended with me absolutely not wanting to return home the next day. Yet it was time to return to Shillong and by 8 in the evening I was packing up for my flight to Kolkata next day.

Photo of Cascade down the hillside... by Serendipity
Day 6

As 18th arrived, with a heavy heart once again I had to bid goodbye to another bewitching place! The name “Meghalaya” (meaning the Abode of Clouds in Sanskrit) is perfectly fitting with the place, because the sky is mostly overcast with clouds, but that is what is the state’s charm is, greenery and clouds! From the mysterious Gothic settings of Cherrapunji to the hustle and bustle of Shillong city’s centre point, Meghalaya has their own kind of allure that any travel lover is bound to fall in love with.

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