Finally I am back with one more travel story, after exploring more than 40 places in India this time the story comes from the Land of Clouds - Meghalaya. After marriage this was my first trip towards the eastern part of India. Although, I am from the eastern part of the country (Darjeeling district), however never got an opportunity to explore the area. After photography happened, I have actually realized the importance of traveling and exploring new places that will going to tickle my soul all throughout. Post my wedding, I along with my better half had decided to ditch our honeymoon plan instead decided to explore bit of North East India. Our first travel/photography outing “post wedding”.
We started from Delhi and landed in Guwahati Airport in the evening. Forget to mention about our first sighting of Mount Everest from the flight, mighty yet beautiful. Guwahati is the gateway to the North-East and even called as such, so it is no wonder that our journey to Meghalaya would begin from here. We stayed in Kharguli, the northern part of Guwahati and right on the bank of river Brahmaputra, it is a riverside residential area. From the top of our hotel which is situated at the highest point of Kharguli, we can see the boats in the river, low-lying hills with breathtaking sunset views. Since, we are still in early January so bonfire was the best thing happened to us for two nights with local music in the background. The only down point here is traffic condition which is equally bad as a metro city.
From Guwahati, we booked a cab for three days for Shillong, Umiam Lake, Mawlynnong followed by Dawki and Cherrapunji. So, the day has come and we our journey. It was beautiful sunny day with clear blue sky. We started off around 8:00 in the morning for Shillong. After crossing almost 20-25Kms for picturesque route we reached Umiam Lake where we spent half an hour, it was silent yet beautiful and more of a picnic spot with boat rides, lush green garden and canteens to add on. Most of shots which I took here were from my mobile phone. We started from Umiam Lake to Shillong and reached our hotel “Royal Heritage Tripura Castel” around 12:30 p.m. all thanks to heavy traffic in Shillong due to festive time – Bhogali Bihu (Assamese Festival). Post reaching our hotel we had sumptuous breakfast and did rekki of the hotel as it has great architecture with worth knowing history (Built in the 1920's by Maharaja Bir Bikram, Royal Heritage Tripura Castle features an underground bomb shelter and tunnel, which leads out to Rose gardens). We explored areas near hotel and had dinner in its Heritage Club.
Next morning we headed to Mawlynnong which earned itself as a Cleanest Village in Asia. It’s a small village with not more than 100 families. Their major source of income is tourism. Also, for travelers they have homestays where they serve traditional Khasi food (Yellow Daal, Rice, Bamboo shoot Chutney, Tomato Chutney, Fry vegetables with Non-Veg to go). In village one can endlessly walk, however this is something that we never tired off and enjoyed every bit of it with mesmerizing view of flowers lanes, plants, trees with butterflies and birds. Got to learn some soccer skills with local kids, they are a treat to watch. This place definitely is God’s Own Garden. Within a kilometer or two lies Riwai Village where one can find The Living Root Bridge, beautiful yet mysterious it is. They are handmade from the aerial roots of Rubber Trees. You can also see the panoramic view of Mawlynnong thereby climbing up tree houses.
After our beautiful time in Mawlynnong, we headed for Dawki which is hardly 2Kms from Bangladesh. On our way to Dawki, we were blown away by the beauty of betel nut plantation. Throughout our journey, fresh and cool air brushed our face, best way to get rejuvenated….isn’t it? Dawki is a small village and its main attraction is the Umngot River that marks the natural separation between the Khasi and the Jaintia Hills. It has glass-like, emerald green waters of the Umngot River which attracts tourists and photographers around the world. What a bad luck we had as sunlight was almost gone when we reach and as a results we were not able to captures the desired frames. However, as a memory we took few from our mobile. While returning to Shillong we tried street food at Police Bazaar and explored the market.
Next morning, we headed for Cherrapunji. The place known as being the wettest place on Earth, always made me curious as how, and why. So, after an hour of drive we stopped at a local shack to taste Maggie and I can’t define the taste of it. After reaching we decided to see NohKaLikai Falls first - the name itself comes from the name of a mother, whose new husband, jealous of the wife’s child from before their marriage, kills the daughter and feeds her to the mother. The mother enraged by grief jumps from the cliff of the fall. Thus, the name of the deepest plunge waterfall in India, Nohkalikai. We took our shots and bought around 25 sticks Cinnamon (20-30 Rupees each) along with 10 packets of Cassia (Tez Patta). Since, we found out from the locals that other falls are already dried off, so we decided to explore the city rather than going towards caves and other waterfalls as it would consume time with no outcome. And, to our surprise we found the city as clean as Mawlynnong, well planned and colorful. I will not miss a chance to mention that the drive to and fro from Cherrapunji was scintillating, the road weaving in and around the mountains, was delight to eyes.
Since, Shillong is full of waterfalls and water bodies, we wanted explore one. Hence, we directly headed to well-known fall - Elephant Falls. Elephant Falls is more a collection of numerous falls that finally flow into a small lake, a series that you can walk along as you trace the flow of the water. Finally, after all these we headed back to Shillong just to witness traffic along around and felt even Shillong is bit too over crowded. Best part of the evening was again bon fire at the roof of hotel while it rained continuously. Wow…what could be the better way to end this unforgettable journey.
Although, we both captured hundreds of photographs but what I will relish throughout my life are the memories we shared together, the people we met, the cuisines we had and of course the soccer lesson I took from the kids of Mawlynnong. It was not just another honeymoon of a newly married couple, it was all about knowing each other, understanding each other, respecting each other and this journey definitely provided us the time and environment for the same. Just realized people often say after marriage life gets tough in terms of exploring new things/places, in my case I found a Travel Partner for life. At the end of the day…. We ditched our honeymoon, to celebrate our lust for travelling. Good Decision…. Isn’t it? (All shots were taken from mobile phone – Motorola MotoG4 Plus ©www.jaithakur.in)