In my own words
We have visited this place a several times as this is our maternal native place. Majority of our vacations involved visiting relatives but this was the first time, we were able to explore this beautiful place and it did not disappoint us, rather exceeded our expectations. Many a times, we were caught in its awe and just sat admiring the views. Do you remember your childhood when you played with the view master and happily enjoyed the different images with a click? These days, closing my eyes opens up the the Meghalaya Views and all I can do is smile!
Meghalaya translates to ‘The abode of clouds’ in Sanskrit. When you enter the state, your views will be filled with picturesque villages, mountains, pine trees, dense forests, clouds and a travel to each destination would involve circling the mountains. This place has diverse climatic conditions with rains accompanying almost every day and the nights can get freezing.
While entering Shillong, the Capital of Meghalaya, you could see a hoarding display 'Welcome to the Scotland of the East'. This place does look foreign with the scenic views and the recent Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has helped made the streets cleaner.
English is the official language of this state but Khasi is the most common used language. Thanks to our maternal background, we could speak some basics. Maybe you would find these helpful – Khublei (Thank you/ Welcome), Um (Water), Bamza (Food/ Eat Food) Labiang (Enough/ Satisfied), Lathaid (Tired).
Simple yet splendid
The rooster cries between 2 – 3 AM and that’s when the sun rises. Although, this varies for different altitudes in Meghalaya but these people have body clocks tuned to an early start to early finish. So, a typical day would start around 4 – 7 AM and end by 6 – 8 PM. May be the north east requires a different time zone?
Some of my Eco-friendly friends were overjoyed when they heard that people consume what they grow. The staple food includes rice, potatoes and meat i.e. chicken, pork, mutton, fish or beef. This region also bears a variety of fruits such as apples, bananas, pineapples, strawberries, sohphie, sohphlang, pears and apricot. They could be found on the local streets but are seasonal. Majority of the people are self sufficient and hence do not like to waste things. Another reason why this place is clean!
People are well connected to each other and relish the strong sense of community. Everyone knows what everyone is up to. After a day’s work, people would gather and talk about different topics. Christianity is the dominant religion and Sundays are dedicated to the church. Social Media is not extensive compared to the metros but it is catching up.
This peaceful and affectionate way of living is simple and completely different to the city’s rat race. For once, I could easily see how people managed life more and work less.
Women run the houses
In a male dominated country, it would be surprising to find that Meghalaya follows a matrilineal system. In simple words, this puts women at the epicenter of the society and they are the decision makers. The youngest daughter in the family inherits the property and is responsible for taking care of her aging parents and siblings. After marriage, the man is expected to move into their wife’s house and also him and the children must take his wife's maternal family name.
After some web research, I could see that this system was even followed in some parts of South India as well. Some say that all this changed after the British Invasion.
This could be a different, long discussing topic but this state should be credited to sticking to their age old traditions. I guess women do make better decision makers in some part of the world! :)
Let's talk places
Apart from the places mentioned in the itinerary, we stayed in Umtrew and there were some more places we would have liked to visit -
- Double Decker Living Root Bridge (Beware, the trek to this place is tedious and duration will be around 3 – 5 hours. While discussing with a guy who had visited this place stated that he was exhausted and hence did the return journey after a night)
- Elephant Falls
- Mawphlang Sacred Forest (The Khasi Mythology is interesting and this place may provide some more details)
- Mawsmai Cave
- Ward’s Lake
- Air Force Museum (The mornings are a good time to visit as you could see the air planes, jets or helicopters do their drills)
I like visiting places that are calm and serene, which brings you close to mother nature. Because, these places inspire you how easily, complex things can be achieved.
What things are actually valuable in life? Rather be stressed about those documents at your desk, they show us how to unwind and transport yourself into deep meditation with nature. You feel nice when you are calm, don't you?
So, what are you waiting for.. Pack your bags and explore Meghalaya. Not only that, explore the other six sisters as well!
Below links may be a helping hand -
P.S. My sister thinks I don't take good photographs, so pardon me!