"Rain or sun- it’s going to be a beautiful day”!! That’s how Meghalaya welcomes you with a rapid changing weather. ‘Cherrapunji -second wettest place on earth, makes it natural for a traveler to get skeptical about planning a vacation during monsoon. But worry not. Because that is the season when the beauty of the place unfolds. I was completely in awe when I landed there this monsoon.
Meghalaya is true to its meaning “The abode of clouds”. The entire landscape is covered with dense clouds throughout the day. Rainfall is not too heavy in all regions of Meghalaya however Cherrapunji is an exception. Having an umbrella, raincoat or a poncho (as called by locals) is a required asset to save yourself from getting drenched.
How to get there? The nearest airports are in Guwahati (Assam) and Shillong. I would suggest taking flight to Guwahati which is pocket friendly and then take a pre-booked taxi/ shared taxi from Guwahati airport to Shillong city which is at a distance of 100 Km approximately. This would cost you around 2000-2500 Rs depending on the type of vehicle.
The drive is scenic with a continuous stretch of betel nut gardens and vendors selling freshly harvested local fruits. After covering a distance of about 80 km, you will get to cherish the beauty of a serene green ‘Umiam Lake’. There is a route that takes you to the lake where you can spend some quality time boating, take a stroll to forget the chaos or you can take bird eye look from the view point.
All that shocked me during this journey was the ‘Traffic’ in Shillong. After experiencing worst traffic everyday in Bengaluru, I expected Shillong to be a quiet city with no traffic. Be ready to face the worst traffic here!
There are numerous guest houses/ home stays and deluxe hotels ranging from a wide variety of prices around Shillong. There are many hotels close to the police bazaar, But I don’t suggest this place as its highly crowded. It is good to stay outside the city to enjoy the nature.
Day 2: We set out for a long journey at 7 AM. Our first stop was Krang suri falls. This is truly a serene beauty with crystal blue waters amidst nature. I had seen the pictures in the internet, but I have no words to explain the excitement when I did see it for real. Life jacket is mandatory to get into water. This place can be reached at about 70 kms from Shillong followed by a walk alongside a small forest.
After a refreshing swim for an hour we made a move towards Bangladesh Border, had a local lunch served at a small hotel and then drove towards Dwaki- a lake with crystal clear waters. It is said that the water here is more clearer post rainy season. However, in June its clearer only near the island. It is recommended to take a boat ride for an hour that costs about 1200 per boat. The boat sets out on a journey, touches Bangladesh border and drops you at the island on Indian side. This island is filled with colorful pebbles of all sizes.
Next stop was the ‘Asia’s cleanest Village’ Mawlynnong. This village is full of greenery and is kept very clean. You will get to see a wide variety of plantations, flower plants and never-ending chirping of birds and the insect ‘cricket’. There are viewpoints built with bamboos that looks like tree houses, from which one can see Bangladesh on the other side. There are local people staying in this village in their own houses which gives us a sight of their culture
Day 3: This day was supposed to be highly adventurous considering the amount of walk and trek required to reach 2 beautiful spots – “Double Decker Living Root bridges” and “Rainbow Waterfalls” both situated in Cherrapunji. We started early in the morning from Shillong passing by the lush green mountains on either side that stops one from dozing off and missing the sight. Visited 7 sister falls and the mawsmai caves. These places are not highly recommended, but they are very touristy and are part of ‘must visit’ in google. When we entered Cherrapunji, we were welcomed by rain. It was not too heavy, so we could visit the places without any hassle. We reached the ‘Tyrna Village’ which is the starting point to the longest trek.
The locals recommend you take a guide for this trip. But ‘do not take a guide’ .The path is very clear that there is no way to get lost. However, you can take some wooden sticks/ umbrella for rent. Do wear comfy and sturdy sandals to embark this journey. There are petty shops along the way selling water, biscuits and snacks.
This journey is NOT easy. It starts with getting downside along the steep steps that puts heavy pressure on the calf muscles. Certain amount of fitness is required to complete this trek. It looks easy while getting there as it’s a descent, but the ascent is harder. This path has about 3000-4000 steep steps and one needs to cross 2 hanging bridges that is built above a gushing river. The place is always wet causing it to be slippery. Hence its very necessary to be cautious throughout the journey. Both sides of the path are covered with bushes and trees, and the sight of waterfalls is visible through the journey. We started at 12 PM from Tyrna village and reached the Nongrait village around 1:15 PM. This village has few shops and very basic homestays. They do not come with any luxury, but they are totally basic with a bed and toilet.
The homestays are very close to the first visiting point- ‘double decker’ bridge. This is one of the wonders of the mother nature where the bridge is made of the tree roots and they are strong enough to withstand the weight of many people at a time. The bridge is in 2 levels and hence the name double decker. Beneath the bridge is a natural water pool with fresh water. Taking a dip here helps get rid of the tiredness experienced.
The next spot is the rainbow falls, which can be reached after a 1 -1.5 hours of trek from the double decker. No guide is required here as well. The first 30 mins of this trek seems simple with straight paths, followed by difficult ‘never-ending’ climb on the mountains. There are many water streams on the way with both man-made and natural bridges that needs to be crossed and lush green forest on either side adds to the adventure. The number of people taking this trek are very minimal. It’s recommended to reach the place before 3 pm, so that trekking back to Tyrna village becomes easier. It gets dark by 5:30 in Cherrapunji.
There were many instances where we wanted to give up on the trek and get back, but somehow made up our minds to reach the spot. The sight of the falls was majestic and beautiful at 2:30 PM. But June is not the right season to take a dip here as its too deep and dangerous. One can feel the flow of the cool breeze and roar of the waterfalls. If hunger strikes, there is Maggi available in the ‘one and only’ shop.
We started the journey back at 3 PM and after taking several pitstops reached the Tyrna village at 6PM. Our stay was booked at Tyrna village and hence it was easier for us to take a much needed hot shower, have a homely dinner and get back to sleep. The nights here experiences heavy rainfall and the morning view is beautiful from the homestay.
Day 4: Day 4 was light with not too many places to visit. We headed to visit the Nohkalikai falls which also is part of the ‘must see’ places. But we weren’t lucky enough to get the sight of the falls as it was filled with dense clouds. We waited there for 30 mins but there was no sign of clearance. We moved towards another beauty Wei sawdong which is an offbeat place in Meghalaya. This fall has clear waters post monsoon, but in June they are in full flow. There was a heavy downpour when we met a very generous Khasi (local) family who offered us shelter under their tiny shop roof , lit the bon fire and served cup of hot tea. Once the rain stopped, we took a glimpse of the falls which flows down in 3 layers which is a beautiful sight.
There is a nearby spot to get to the front view of the falls, which needs a 10 min trek down the muddy road. This path is beautiful and shouldn’t be missed. We headed to the mawphlang forest from here.
Mawphlang is considered as a sacred forest, which can be entered only when accompanied by a guide. The rule is that the tourists can take pictures, touch the leaves, flowers, consume the fresh fruits but should refrain themselves from getting anything outside the forest. This is a beauty, which gives a feeling of a dense forest when you are in. The guides here are very knowledgeable and take you on half trek (1 hour to and fro) showing the wide varieties of flora and fauna in the vicinity. These forests were the places of sacred sacrifices in the olden days and it has been untouched by any commercialization.
we headed towards Shillong and visited the ‘Elephant falls’ on the way. This is again touristy and as this is on the ‘must visit’ list, you can take a look at the place.
Day 4: Headed to visit the laitylum Canyon at about 70km from shillong. However, the place was again covered with dense clouds which did not allow us to get the sight of the whole canyon. We came back to shillong and took a stroll on the police bazar to get a glimpse of the popular bazar that sells some of the basic stuffs for a cheaper price. This place did not look very clean due to rain. Though I don’t recommend the food joints here, its not bad for some street clothes pick !!!
We had to start back to Guwahati to catch the flight at 7 PM to Bangalore. On the way we had lunch at ‘The sardarji Dhaba’ and reached the airport by 6 PM . The journey of 3 hours was a recap of the refreshing journey to the mountains.
They say “The magic thing about home is that it feels good to leave, and it feels even better to come back”
Places of our stay:
Day1: Ha sharing, shillong
Day 2: Dew Drop Inn, Shillong
Day 3: Delight home stay, Tyrna village
Day 4: Tranquill, Shillong
Driver: Though we booked Dipak suri (+91-9862330333) considering good online reviews, he sent his driver with an alto car for the trip. The driving skills were good; however he was always late in the morning.
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Happy Holidays !!