I've been studying since the last 3.5 years in the North East, yet due to some reason or the other, haven't been able to visit a single place here. Half of my college has at least been to Shillong, which is just 210 kms from Silchar. Since this was our last semester, me and my friends had decided that we'll visit Shillong this time no matter what.
Although I prefer to use public transport whenever possible mainly because it is cheap and you get the local experience, but this time we decided to do a road trip to Meghalaya. We had never embarked on a road trip before, except just a short one, when we drove to Nandi Hills during my internship in Bangalore. Since there are no car rental facilities available in Silchar and the road condition is not that great, we decided to start our journey from Guwahati.
Day 1 : Guwahati -> Shillong
We reached Guwahati early morning 6:00 AM after boarding the SCL TVC Express (12516) the night before. The weather was quite foggy in Guwahati and we were afraid whether the same would be in Shillong. After a quick breakfast of chole bhature, me and my friend Heramb set off for the most important task - booking our vehicle. We rented a Maruti Alto 800 from Awe Rides, situated around 3 kms from the railway station. The choice of Alto was for two reasons - it was the cheapest option and fitted our budget, me and Heramb both had prior experience driving it. We rented the car for around 80 hours, which cost us ₹4673, and the petrol charges were to be borne by us. The booking process was hassle free and the car was in an excellent condition. After finishing all the paperwork, we finally started our journey at around 9:30 AM from Guwahati. Since we were a group of 5, the car was perfect for us.
After encountering some traffic in Guwahati, we crossed Khanapara, which is at the border of Meghalaya. The road after Khanapara becomes relatively traffic free and more winding. The chill in the air also starts growing as you gain altitude. The highway from Guwahati to Shillong is a well paved 4-lane highway with lots of twists and turns. It was a pleasure driving there and we also stopped the car at a few places to click pictures. The fog also cleared up paving the way for plentiful sunshine.
Our first stop was Umiam Lake, an artificial lake created by damming the Umiam river. The lake had also featured once on an Airtel ad. Instead of going to the crowded Umiam Lake Viewpoint, we parked the car at a secluded spot and hiked for a bit to reach to bottom of the lake. A cool breeze was blowing and the lake was much bigger than what I had expected.