Are you a person who has always stayed in the city like Mumbai, Delhi or Pune? If yes, you will understand what it is like to leave one and move to a completely different place like Shillong. Although challenging, this move was more exciting for me than ever.
I still remember on the day when I told my colleagues and friends that I will be moving to Shillong. They all worked like my private investigators to find out the details about this city. Out of concern for my food habits, hobbies, and security, they found out really amazing things, including the crime rates in Shillong.
After this extensive study about Meghalaya, everyone, including me, was already in awe of the beauty of pictures we found on the internet. I was too excited to finally move to beautiful Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya.
My exciting trip began when my friends from Pune visited Shillong. I spoke to my new acquaintances in Shillong and created the itinerary for the next four days.
The first name on the list was Shnongpdeng. This place is 90 km from Shillong, and one can also visit India-Bangladesh border on their way.
We reached Shnongpdeng late evening. It was getting dark, so we could not explore the place the same day. We decided to freshen up in the tents and a small cottage we had already booked.
The hospitality of these tent-owners is very homely and sincere. The food served is mostly local, which includes rice, curry of choice veg or non-veg and salads. We had this local food sitting around a bonfire chitchatting with friends.
Sitting on the riverside and falling asleep, looking at the stars felt like we were in a dream, truly mesmerizing.
The next day morning, our eyes opened wide to the amazing scenery was around us. The dense forest and a calm, crystal clear Umngot river ahead of us.
With excitement, we started exploring the place. Crossed the long hanging bridge, which is both fun and adventure. Umngot river is known to have crystal-clear water, and it's impressive to see how locals keep it so clean all the time.
We went boating in the river, zip lining across the river, kayaking, and cliff jumping. They are available depending on the climate. We left this place, keeping it in our hearts forever.
After the enriching camping experience, it was time to see Mawlynnong, a place where people live in harmony with nature.
We visited the living root bridge. This was made of rubber tree roots, built by indigenous Khasi people to cross the river without hurting any tree.
This village is known for being the cleanest village in Asia, and it really deserves this honor. This small village looks like a village set straight out of a movie but with more innocence in its appearance. Small houses with lots and lots of flowers and plants in the garden, the attraction was irresistible and made us stop to absorb the beauty of them.
I could not help but be jealous of the cleanliness and the discipline followed by everyone in this little village.
We all left this place with a determination to be as disciplined as the villagers of Mawlynnong and do our small part in keeping our world clean.
Cherrapunjee is about 60 km from Shillong, known for the heavy rains and breathtaking views.
Our first stop was the beautful of canyons. Looking at these big mountains and landscapes, you forget your all worries. You realize how small we are and our problems are.
Our next visit was to the Garden of Caves. It is said that ancient royal Khasis used to reside in these caves along with their leaders. You can see a lot of stone-built bridges, caves, waterfalls (in the rainy season they are huge ones) with some history behind them.
After the Garden of Caves, we visited the famous Seven Sisters' waterfall. We were unfortunate and could not see the humongous waterfall as we went before monsoon, but one can imagine how huge the waterfall would be looking at the size of the mountains ahead.
On the third day of our fun trip, we went to Mawsmai caves. It is one place that can make you feel amazed and scared at the same time. It is definitely not for people who are claustrophobic. This cave has different types of rocks inside. Some were very smooth, some rough , some look like there are dripping from the top and some of them were shiny.
As we entered inside, passing all these stones, some parts are so small, you might have to crawl to go forward.
Walking through these caves was an awesome experience and we wonder how such things were created and what could be the story behind them. At the same time, I appreciate the people who found these caves and kept them clean them and well-preserve.
Mawphlang Sacred Grove
After Mawsmai caves, we went to the Sacred forests. As the name suggests, these forests are considered sacred because this is where the tribal communities perform their rituals and religious meetings.
People still believe there is supernatural power of this forest. This sacred forest have been preserved through ages. The locals do not others to plant or cut the trees . We were not allowed to pick or take anything outside the forest. The locals believed that the forest is sacred and hence there are guardian spirits that watch over the forest till today.
This forest is very dense and various trees, herbs, and plants were seen here.
Mawphlang sacred forest is huge. We went for a 1.5 hours walk to cover one part of the forest out of 3.
On 4th day we explored the local markets and spent most of our time in Police Bazar. You can find many shops that sells almost anything -handloom products, warm clothes, plant shops, local food restaurants, and many stalls with local fruits.
Our last day of this trip ended with shopping for fruits, warm clothes, and many bamboo-made things, which were both pretty and usable. The dinner was equally perfect, Khasi delicacy called Jadoh(Ja-rice and Doh-meat) at Trattoria.
Northeast India is admired for its beauty. It has been gifted with cool climate, fertile soil, and pure air quality at high altitude. I deeply appreciate how hard people are trying to keep it beautiful. This visit made us realize that nature's beauty need to be preserved in our respective lives as well.
The tranquil waters in Shnongpdeng , the quiet Mawphlang Sacred grove, The strength of the living root bridge, the mystery of Mawsmai caves and the breathtaking valleys in Cherrapunjee are photographed in high resolution in my memories.
This trip will constantly remind me how precious our lives are. Meghalaya, the abode of cloud has certainly created a special place in my heart, and now the so-called “city-life” will never hold me back from exploring these natural treasures.