Inside the Sacred Khasi Forests of Meghalaya

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Photo of Inside the Sacred Khasi Forests of Meghalaya by MissDoLittle a.k.a Khushbu Jhaveri

Nature dawns a completely different face in Meghalaya. Amongst the brooding mountains and the fiery skies, the dark Khasi forests have a completely different story to tell. A trek through the enchanted Khasi forests will make your relive Enid Blyton's best seller - "The Enchanted Wood"

A forest where you will find the gushing rivulet, whispering trees and holy sacrifice stones. A forest where getting lost was so refreshing.

Photo of Inside the Sacred Khasi Forests of Meghalaya 1/2 by MissDoLittle a.k.a Khushbu Jhaveri
Photo of Inside the Sacred Khasi Forests of Meghalaya 2/2 by MissDoLittle a.k.a Khushbu Jhaveri

About the Mawphlang Sacred Forest :

The sacred Forest of Mawphlang is located 25 kms from Shillong, the capital city of Meghalaya. The forest is tucked away in the Khasi hills, and is one of the deepest forests, I have ever encountered. More 800 years old, Mawphlang Forest is the oldest and the largest sacred forest existing for the Khasi tribals. The name of the forest translates to Maw- which means stone and so Mawphlang which means grassy stone.

Photo of Mawphlang Sacred Grove, Mawsynram-Shillong Road, Synrang Kaban, Meghalaya, India by MissDoLittle a.k.a Khushbu Jhaveri
Photo of Mawphlang Sacred Grove, Mawsynram-Shillong Road, Synrang Kaban, Meghalaya, India by MissDoLittle a.k.a Khushbu Jhaveri

Why Sacred Forest :

The Khasi hills are known to have 52 sacred forests, Mawphlang being the biggest one. Each forest has a sacred grove where the members of the clan come to offer sacrifice. Mawphlang sacred forest is protected by the local deity named Labasa.

Our first encounter with a sacred groove

Photo of Inside the Sacred Khasi Forests of Meghalaya by MissDoLittle a.k.a Khushbu Jhaveri

Legend has it...

The villagers offered sacrifice to the deity, hoping for their wishes to come true. If the deity was happy with the sacrifice, he would appear in the form of a leopard and if he was angry, he would appear in the form of a snake.

Hence the villagers, hold this sacred practice in great regard and ensure that the sacrifice is perfectly done.

The Unwritten Rule :

As we entered the sacred forest, our local guide gave us a brief history of the place. He ended by giving us a warning, "Do not carry anything back from the forest, not even a leaf. The forest is sacred and only the people of the clan are allowed to get something from there. Remember. Do not carry anything back".

This disclaimer piqued my interest and I made my way through the entry gate of the forest

Our guide showing us around

Photo of Inside the Sacred Khasi Forests of Meghalaya by MissDoLittle a.k.a Khushbu Jhaveri

The Forest from the Inside:

As we made our way through the dense foliage, the mossy aroma of the sacred grove pulled us towards it. Our encounter with the first sacred grove was eerie and fascinating at the same time. The mossy stones, which once served as sacrifice alters stood the test of time. The arrangement of the monoliths was artistic; with the female stone being protected by Male stone behind.

Photo of Inside the Sacred Khasi Forests of Meghalaya by MissDoLittle a.k.a Khushbu Jhaveri

The Trail :

As we made our way through the first sacred grove, the temperature dropped and the air became greener. The crisp pine trees bore fruit and we were busy photographing their perfect conical shape.

Beautiful Coniferous fruit

Photo of Inside the Sacred Khasi Forests of Meghalaya by MissDoLittle a.k.a Khushbu Jhaveri
Photo of Inside the Sacred Khasi Forests of Meghalaya by MissDoLittle a.k.a Khushbu Jhaveri

The trail was fairly easy as the paths were carved and we didn't have any climbing to do. As we walked deeper into the forest, we found our very own natural swing, and swung around it like Tarzan and Jane would. On the way, we countered many more sacred grooves and payed our respects at the alter.

Swinging around like Tarzon

Photo of Inside the Sacred Khasi Forests of Meghalaya by MissDoLittle a.k.a Khushbu Jhaveri

The Flora and Fauna: The forest has about 250 varieties of flora and fauna which are a treat to the eyes. The guide showed us wild yellow orchids growing out of a tree trunk, followed by showing us trees known to cure cancer.

Wild Orchids

Photo of Inside the Sacred Khasi Forests of Meghalaya by MissDoLittle a.k.a Khushbu Jhaveri

Found a Rudraksh at a sacred groove

Photo of Inside the Sacred Khasi Forests of Meghalaya by MissDoLittle a.k.a Khushbu Jhaveri

Our guide made us eat this leaf. It was surprisingly sour

Photo of Inside the Sacred Khasi Forests of Meghalaya by MissDoLittle a.k.a Khushbu Jhaveri

We also saw Pinus Khasiana which is a popular coniferous tree in the Khasi hills. It was one of the most unique trees I had encountered,since its trunk was of the same width throughout. This is unlike most trees which have trunks of varying widths.

Pinus Khasiana, check out the truck. Same length till the top

Photo of Inside the Sacred Khasi Forests of Meghalaya by MissDoLittle a.k.a Khushbu Jhaveri

The Secret Nook to have natural water :

After 45 mins our trail came to an end, and our guide took us for a little surprise. We took a detour and went to a secret hideout to have fresh forest water. This water was the sweetest I have ever had. The water passed through the roots of trees, purifying itself on the way. It got collected into a small enclosure at the bottom. It was chilled and we were allowed to consume this in the forest itself. Although the guide allowed us to fill our water bottles, we didn't take a chance. Remember the rule right?

Photo of Inside the Sacred Khasi Forests of Meghalaya by MissDoLittle a.k.a Khushbu Jhaveri
Photo of Inside the Sacred Khasi Forests of Meghalaya by MissDoLittle a.k.a Khushbu Jhaveri

Things to do after the trail :

After the trail, the walking made us super hungry. There was a small stall owned by a Khasi lady near the tribal village. We ordered the most popular thing on the menu - "Maggie" and sat on the grasslands; enjoying the afternoon sun. Our guide picked up the mood by playing one of Robert Schulz's tracks and gave a perfect end to our adventurous day.

Photo of Inside the Sacred Khasi Forests of Meghalaya by MissDoLittle a.k.a Khushbu Jhaveri

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Also see the video on India's natural wonder - the living root bridges right here-

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