A 5-Day Guide To Witnessing The Best Of Meghalaya's Beauty

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Photo by Arup Malakar

Photo of A 5-Day Guide To Witnessing The Best Of Meghalaya's Beauty by Adete Dahiya

Separating the Assam valley from the neighbouring state of Bangladesh, Meghalaya—also known as the abode of clouds—is worth visiting for several reasons. This beautiful mountain state with its pine vegetation and snow clad peaks is home to some of the most fascinating waterfalls, mysterious caves, unusual flora and fauna, and a unique tribal culture. It also boasts of having two of the wettest places on earth within its territorial boundaries—Cherrapunji and Mawsynram.

A visit to Meghalaya is unlike anywhere else in India because it gives you a multitude of experiences within a very short span of time. So, if you're planning to head to the beautiful hill state anytime soon, here's a well-planned itinerary to kick your plans into action.

Day 1

Land at Guwahati and head to Shillong

Although there's an airport at Shillong, it is not as well connected as the one in Guwahati. To avoid uncomfortable schedules and layovers, it’s easier to fly to Guwahati and then drive to Shillong, which is about 132 km (4 hours) from there. Book a morning flight so you can start exploring Shillong on the first day itself.

Photo by Kinshuk Kashyap

Photo of Guwahati, Assam, India by Adete Dahiya

Once you reach the Meghalayan capital of Shillong, take a couple of hours to rest and freshen up and then head to the Polo Grounds. Spend an afternoon there witnessing teer, a daily archery contest. Follow this up with a walk around the Bara Bazar, Shillong's main market, in the evening.

Day 2

Explore Shillong and nearby areas

Spend the morning exploring the Williamson Sangma State Museum, if you're a history buff, or head to Ward Lake, one of the most popular tourist spots in the city, if you want a piece of natural beauty. Shillong also has a number of lovely churches that provide an insight into the architecture in the state.

Shillong by Sanjay P.K.

Photo of Shillong, Meghalaya, India by Adete Dahiya

In the afternoon, head to Mawphlang to see the state's revered groves. The beautiful forest area is perfect for spending an afternoon and you can interact with the locals for a wholesome experience. The tribals here believe that the Mawphlang forest is inhabited by divine beings who protect it.

Mawphlang by Ashwin Kumar

Photo of Mawphlang Sacred Grove, Mawsynram-Shillong Road, Synrang Kaban, Meghalaya, India by Adete Dahiya

If you plan a trip around November, make sure you also visit Smit, located at an hour's distance from Shillong, which hosts the annual five-day Ka Pomblang Nongkrem festival. The celebration is vibrant and full of colour and is a way of the Khasi people to thank goddess Ka Blei Synshar for the harvest.

Day 3

Visit the monoliths of Nartiang

Nartiang is a three-hour drive east of Shillong. Leave the city after a good breakfast in the morning and carry snacks with you for the journey. It is a picturesque drive to say the least.

Photo by Saptarshi Sanyal

Photo of Nartiang, Meghalaya, India by Adete Dahiya

Nartiang houses the remains of the summer palace of the Jantia Kings. There's also a famous Durga temple, but besides these two attractions, the village is known for being home to one of the biggest monolith collections of the country, dating back to the 16th and 18th centuries.

Head back to your hotel in Shillong in the evening and prepare for Cherrapunji the next day.

Day 4

Head to Cherrapunji

Located about 1.5 to 2 hours west of Shillong, Cherrapunji—better known as Sohra—is one of the wettest places on earth. One of the major attractions here are the living roots bridges. A slightly tough trek leads you to these bridges, which are naturally made from roots of trees braided together. They are set to grow across the river, thus making life easier for locals. There are a number of these root bridges that travellers can trek to and each of them looks like something out of a fantasy novel.

Double decker living root bridge by Vinayak Hegde

Photo of Cherrapunjee, Meghalaya, India by Adete Dahiya

The same day, visit the Khasi settlement in Mawlynnong, which is considered to be the cleanest village in Asia. If you don't have an accommodation in Cherrapunji, you can get one in Mawlynnong as well. From here you can head to the village of Nongriat. Finally, catch your breath at Nongriat, which houses a double-decker living roots bridge. The whole trek and the round trip from Cherrapunji takes about 9 hours.

Day 5

Cherrapunji to Guwahati

Book an evening flight back from Guwahati so you can spend the day driving back to the city. Start from Cherrapunji in the morning. It takes a little over 4 hours from here to the airport in Guwahati. Make sure you stop for a while at the Umiam lake, the biggest artificial reservoir in the state. Try your hand at fishing here and make sure to pack a picnic for enjoying while you spend time at the shore.

Umiam Lake by Deep Goswami

Photo of Umiam Lake, East Khasi Hills, Meghalaya, India by Adete Dahiya

Once in Guwahati, head to the airport and bid adieu till the next time you're here.

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