There is no doubt that Meghalaya is one of our favourite places. Situated in the hills of the eastern sub-Himalayas, Meghalaya is one of the most beautiful states of India. In Sanskrit, Meghalaya translates into ‘abode of clouds’ and it is rightfully called so. Claimed to be one of the wettest places on the earth, Meghalaya sees the hide and seek played between the sun and rains. Surrounded by the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo Hills, Meghalaya offers simple and unspoiled beauty to its visitors. We love to visit Meghalaya over and over again and want you to visit the state also. So here is our Meghalaya Travel Guide that might help you to plan your next trip to the abode of clouds.
Guwahati is the nearest airport and railway head. From Guwahati, you can reach Shillong by shared cabs and sumos that are easily available near the Guwahati Airport and Railway station. There are buses available also from ISBT, Beltola in Guwahati.
Shillong, the capital of the state is a busy, trendy and energetic city with a vibrant population. There is a lot of British influence in the architecture of Shillong. With the beautiful hills around and the number of lakes, Shillong is referred to as the ‘Scotland of East’. Police Bazar is the busiest point in Shillong with a busy marketplace. Shillong has some fine cafes that also offer music. Shillong is the place of music lovers.
Plenty of places to visit here — Ward’s Lake, Lady Hydari Park, Shillong Peak, Elephant Falls, Shillong Golf Course, Smit, Laitlum Canyons, Bishop & Beadon falls and Umiam Lake.
Cherrapunjee, also known as Sohra is located around 60 km from Shillong. You can visit Cherrapunjee from Shillong and come back in a day. There are conducted tours by the Meghalaya Tourism for Cherrapunji. But we recommend a night stay at the place. Shared cabs to Cherrapunjee are available from Bada Bazar in Shillong. The Yellow Sumos take you to different places in Meghalaya.
Cherrapunjee was said to be the wettest place on earth before Mawsynram took over. Naturally, the place is amazing during the monsoons. The best thing to do in Cherrapunjee is waterfall hopping.
Places to see in Cherrapunjee: The Nohkalikai Waterfalls is the fourth highest waterfall in the world and makes for a grand sight. The Seven Sister Falls and the Dainthlein Falls are also worth visiting. The Mawsmai caves are another place that you should visit. Amazing stalactites and stalagmite formations are found in the cave.
From Cherrapunjee, you can visit Mawsynram, the wettest place on the earth and the Khasi monoliths.
The Double Decker Root Bridge: The fascinating experience of Cherrapunjee is the visit to the Double Decker Root Bridge in Nongriat village. The route from Tyrna is the easier one to reach Nongriat, but you have to descend as many as 3500 steps to reach the village. Once you are at Nongriat, the trouble will seem nothing compared to the views and hospitality you will receive there. It is advisable to stay for a night at Nongriat if you wish to do the Double Decker Living Root Bridge Trek.
Mawlynnong is declared to be the cleanest village in Asia. The place is around 80 km from Shillong and a trip to Mawlynnong and Dawki can be done in a day keeping your base at Shillong. Like Cherrapunjee, Meghalaya Tourism conducts tours to Mawlynnong as well. Mawlynnong has a number of homestays as well where you can stay for the night.
The village is extremely clean and well-maintained having bamboo dustbins at places. With greenery all around and colourful flowers and orchids blooming, Mawlynnong simply looks amazing.
Places to see in Mawlynnong: There is another single decker Living root bridge in Riwai village. There is a balancing rock that you can visit. The Skywatch is a tall bamboo structure that allows you to climb atop and have gorgeous views of the Bangladesh plains from there.
Around 45 km from Shillong, the Mawphlang Sacred Groves is situated in the East Khasi Hills. Once you reach the place, you can see rolling green plains, dense forests amidst the backdrop of blue skies. You can get shared sumo to Mawphlang as well. There are accommodation options at Mawphlang in case you want to stay there for the night. A sacred grove is a small forest area considered sacred by the Khasi tribe. The sacred grove usually has a number of medicinal plants and herbs and exotic plant species.
The sacred grove, Khasi Heritage Village.
Mawphlang is also the starting point of the David Scott Trail.
All the beautiful pictures of reflections of country boats on crystal clear water that you have seen are probably taken at the Umngot River in Dawki. Situated on the border of Bangladesh, Dawki is the last town on the Indian side before Bangladesh border. You can reach Dawki by shared Sumo from Bada Bazaar in Shillong.
You can stay at Dawki or move forward to Shnongpdeng, another beautiful hamlet on the banks of Umngot River. There are a number of homestays at Shnongpdeng and camping options are also available at both Dawki and Shnongpdeng.
Things to do at Dawki & Shnongpdeng: A number of water activities like country boat ride, scuba diving, cliff jumping and fishing.
Tura is the second most important city in Meghalaya after Shillong. Located in the Garo hills, Tura offers great eco-tourism options and the wildlife sanctuaries in this area have interesting wildlife. Siju Caves, one of the longest cave systems in India also lies close to Tura.
Overnight Buses to Tura are available from Shillong Polo Ground. Sumos are also available in the morning. Tura is also accessible from Guwahati. Hotels and homestays are available in Tura.
Places to visit in Tura: The entire Garo Hills are full of many interesting places. The Tura peak, Nokrek National Park, Rongbang Dar Waterfall are few of the places near Tura worth visiting. Other interesting places include the majestic Balpakram National Park and gorge, Pelga Falls, Siju Caves and Naphak Lake.
SOME OTHER LESSER-KNOWN PLACES WORTH VISITING
Mawlyngot is a beautiful village amidst green tea gardens and a serene atmosphere. The tea gardens, tea factories are places of interest here. Read more about our experiences at Mawlyngot.
Mawlyngbna is a place for adventure seekers. The Travellers Nest is the only place of accommodation here. Situated amidst the forests, the Travellers nest has only two cottages. Camping can also be arranged here. You can go for trekking, visit the waterfalls and go for kayaking in the lake.
Kongthong is a very interesting place in Meghalaya. Situated between two famous ridges, getting to Kongthong by trekking there from either the Pynursla or the Sohra ridge is an adventure in itself. The unique culture of Kongthong’s inhabitants is they do not call out to each other using their names, they instead sing out names that are given to every individual of the village at childhood.
Umden is situated in the Ri-Bhoi district and is known for its eri silk production. Here you can witness all the steps in the sericulture starting from rearing of silkworms to spinning and reeling of silk to yarn production and dyeing and finally to weaving. The village itself is really beautiful nestled in a serene valley.
The road to Nongkhnum Island is long, but the view that you get here compensates all your trouble. It is the largest river island in Meghalaya and is situated near Nongstoin. The island with clear waters of the river is a serene place with hardly any soul. You can also go camping on the river island. Read about our Nongkhnum Island experiences
The people of Meghalaya mainly belong to three tribes — Khasi, Jaintia and the Garos. At present most of the tribes have embraced Christianity, but they have not forgotten their age-old customs. The people of Meghalaya predominantly follow a matrilineal system where lineage and inheritance are passed through women of a family. The state has a liking to music and that can be seen in numerous rock bands.
Buses and Yellow Taxis are available for travelling to various destinations in the city. Tourist Taxis are available in Shillong for local as well as for long-distance tours. If you want to travel by shared vehicles, then there are Sumos available from Bada Bazar in Shillong.
Meghalaya has a tropical climate. The best time to visit is the winter months from October to March. But if you want to see the waterfalls in their full glory, visit at the end of the rainy season or just after it, i.e between August to the beginning of October.
Here are a few photographs that might give you a serious wanderlust to visit the beautiful Meghalaya.