Meghalaya : Abode of Clouds


Mystic Krang suri waterfall

Photo of Meghalaya : Abode of Clouds by Shubham Thakare

The Plan: To explore the North East India that we only knew by books and digital media.

The Method: Improvisation

The People: This is the story of five engineers with common aspirations in search of lost happiness and to find the purpose of life.

Day 1

The journey started from the scenic mountain town Shillong where we hired a self driven car to explore and discover a slice of paradise called Meghalaya.

Surrounded by nature's wonderland, we reached Krang Shuri waterfalls. Magic was the only word to acknowledge this waterfall with its shimmering blue waters.

Photo of Krang Shuri Waterfall, Meghalaya, India by Shubham Thakare

The sun was setting (sunset at 4.30 pm) and we decided to stay overnight in Mawlynnong (Asia's cleanest village). As the darkness engulfed the daylight, the anticipation to see the cleanest village was glooming. Suddenly our car came to halt expecting to feel the sanity of this cleanest village. But the village we imagined was wreckage with garbage all around and everyone were cursing each other for suggesting this place as top priority and no one was ready to take the blame. A soft voice came from the dark and said "This is Riwai village and Mawlynnong is still 2 kms ahead".

Day 2

These words spirited our desire to push towards the unpredictable and in no time we reached Asia’s cleanest village. I was stunned to see the ambience of this village. Not only was this village spotless clean, but we were overwhelmed to soak the warm hospitality and ever smiling faces of the Khasi tribes.

The village setting

Photo of Mawlynnong, Meghalaya, India by Shubham Thakare

Kids have their daily homework to keep the surroundings clean.

Photo of Meghalaya : Abode of Clouds by Shubham Thakare

There were bamboo baskets outside every house, used as bins. Not everyone here had a car or a bike but they definitely owned a garden outside every house. Despite being very close to the International border (with Bangladesh), the enemy of this village was surprisingly PLASTIC.

Having a garden is a luxury rather than owning a car.

Photo of Meghalaya : Abode of Clouds by Shubham Thakare

There was a viewpoint from where we could see the Bangladesh soil. A villager told us the possibility of crossing the border which was just few kilometers away from the cleanest village.Excitement was already over the roof and with our cognitive mapping skills, the estimation was that –“We just needed to descend this hill and could probably end up in international soil if there were no fence”. With Google maps on our side, we headed towards the border while experiencing uncharted trails and vast expanses of the nature.

Descending towards the International Border

Photo of Meghalaya : Abode of Clouds by Shubham Thakare

By the time, we had already lost enough altitude and Google maps shocked us by showing our current location in Bangladesh. Each moment was split in two: the excitement of entering a new land and the fear of being convicted of high treason for crossing the border. Being able to write this blog, we were certainly on the right side after all. The havoc that just happened would no longer regain our trust on Google maps.

Day 3

But nature never fails to disappoint you and the next morning, all of us were bombarded with surprises when we reached Dawki. The umngot river in Dawki has a separate fan base for its transparent water and crystal clear visibility. This place had a fairytale setting which was beyond my imagination. The water was so pure that it is said to have more minerals than our drinking water.

Umngot river

Photo of Dawki, Meghalaya, India by Shubham Thakare

Kayaking in the Umngot river

Photo of Shnongpdeng, Meghalaya, India by Shubham Thakare

I felt like nature was pouring all its love over me. With refreshing views on the way, we ended our day at Zero point. Zero point stands as an International border between India and Bangladesh.

Despite being the International border, there was no demarcation or the fences separating the two nations.

India - Bangladesh Border

Photo of Meghalaya : Abode of Clouds by Shubham Thakare

Here on the right side, I was standing alone on the Indian soil while the Bangladeshi’s were watching on the left side and in between us stands the International border.

Day 4

Being in the heart of Meghalaya, there was no doubt that the coming days were going to be action packed and full of surprises. En route to Cherrapunjee (Wettest place on earth), a blanket of clouds followed us with majestic views, heavenly landscapes and soothing road trip journey for which thousands of us could only dream of it.

En route Cherrapunjee

Photo of Cherrapunjee, Meghalaya, India by Shubham Thakare

But nature had some other plans as we decided to stay overnight in Nongriat to get the authentic experience and be more close to the nature. Nongriat is a tribal village in the midst of the jungle and in order to get isolated from the outer world, we had to climb down 3500 stairs. This was going to test our limits but we were ready to give everything because nature never fails to disappoint you.

Photo of Nongriat, Meghalaya, India by Shubham Thakare
Photo of Nongriat, Meghalaya, India by Shubham Thakare

In the depths of north eastern India, in one of the wettest places on earth, bridges aren’t built—they’re grown. The living root bridges in Nongriat is a bio engineered marvel by the Khasi tribes where the rubber tree roots were tended to and patiently nurtured for years until they slowly reached the opposite bank. Living root bridges take around 15-20 years to grow. This is the only bridge in the world which becomes stronger with age. It is a testament to the power of human nature in kinship to the surrounding landscapes. The overnight stay in Nongriat gave us the chills of living in the era of 19th century.

Day 5

The next day was going to be the last day in Meghalaya. With great resilience and determination, the feat of climbing up 3500 steps was finally achieved. We headed to this mystic waterfall called as Wei Sawdong. This three step waterfall is the proof that nature is truly capable of producing sumptuous moments. The melody of the waterfall and the refreshing touch of the virgin blue water captivated our senses.

I wondered how blessed people living here are, being so close to the nature. These people were at peace with the way of life they have built for themselves.Warm and hospitable, they have maintained a smooth balance between advancement, culture and tradition. Simplicity had paved the way towards happiness. The happiness that I have been searching for years was there within me all the time. I just lost access to it a long time ago because of the delusional material world. It was the people of Meghalaya who taught me-

“To fill my life with experiences and not things, to have stories to tell and not the stuff to show”.

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