Meghalaya, one of the most important tourist destinations of northeast India, was previously a part of Assam. People fondly call it the ‘Abode of the Clouds’ as it receives a large amount of rainfall all throughout the year. It is also dubbed the ‘The Scotland of East India’ as it abounds with snow-capped mountains and natural sceneries. You can also find indigenous tribal groups of Garos, Khasis and Pnars whose main occupation including agriculture, animal husbandry and weaving. Here are a few places you cannot miss to see when you visit Meghalaya the next time around.
Living Root Bridges
This is one of the state’s widely visited places. It is full of deep dense tropical forest and receives a lot of rains for most part of the year; therefore, it is always under cloud covers. You can also get to see some amazing man-made natural wonders called living root bridges. The local Khasi tribe developed the practise of growing them from the roots of prehistoric rubber trees, found only in the northeast region. Two popular places near the bridges include Mawlynnong and Cherrapunji.
Mawlynnong Cleanest Village:
As if a living root bridge nearby is not enough, the picturesque Mawlynnong was described as the “Cleanest Village in Asia” by a popular travel magazine. Also known as the “God’s own garden”, the village is an excellent example of how a community can drive ecotourism. There is a splendid Sky View platform built on top of the highest tree in the woods, about 80 feet up. A 3-hour drive to the south of Shillong in the East Khasi Hills will take you to Mawlynnong. The locals have also made a simple guesthouse or treehouse on stilts for tourist accommodation.
An hour drive east of Mawlynnong in the West Jaintia hills bordering Dawki, a small town, is worth a visit for its crystal clear Umngot River. Interestingly, Dawki is the site of International Radcliffe Line border separating India and Bangladesh. You can take a boat ride along the river, which is considered the cleanest in the world. If you’re travelling from Mawlynnong to Dawki, do take a break at the wonderful Bophill Falls on the way.
Mawphlang Sacred Forest:
Situated about 45-min drive in the southwest direction of Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, in the East Khasi Hills, Mawphlang houses the Khasi tribe’s sacred plant grove and several other medicinal herbs. The tribal groups practise various rituals like animal sacrifices and also torch their dead bodies inside it. There’s a Khasi Heritage Village nearby sacred forest having mock tribal huts in different styles. If you feel you’ve still some time left for outing, do visit the David Scott trail driving from Maphlang to Lad Mawphlang. You can find interesting treehouse trail, simply an old horse trail belonging to the British era.
An hour drive to the south of Shillong will take you to the Lailum Canyon. One of the best lakes in the region, it is sometimes compared to the Scottish Highlands for its sublime beauty. Located in the Smit Valley, the Laitlum Canyon is usually covered with fog adding an element of eeriness to this place. Take an exhilarating hike down the steep stairway to Rasong, a rustic village inhabited by 350 odd people whose food provision and essential commodities are transported by cable pulley up and down the deep gorge.
Meghalaya is also famous for its many caves, in fact there are thousands of them: Mawsami, near Cherrapunji is the most popular one, which is just a two-hour drive from Shillong. The cave, which is now fully illuminated, is open for public view. But not the other caves which are only fit for expedition using suitable safety equipment: Mawmluh, Siju, Mawsynram and Liat Prah, the longest cave in the country. Check out the Meghalaya Tourism website for a long list of caves. Also, get in touch with the Meghalaya Adventurers’ Association that organizes caving expedition week-long tours from the capital city of Shillong.
Meghalaya is full of many mystifying monoliths, particularly in the hills of Khasi and Jaintia, most of which were erected by the region’s indigenous tribal groups as a mark of remembrance. However, you can locate the largest collection of monoliths in the surrounding areas of the village of Nartiang in the Jaintia Hills, which is about 64 kms from Shillong. Once the Jaintia ruler’s summer capital and not quite so popular tourist destination, it’s perfect for a little escape. You will find several monoliths that are as tall as 10 meters.
The Garo Hills houses the Siju Wildlife Sanctuary, Balpakhram National Park and Nokrek Biosphere Reserve, filled with diverse biodiversity. Considered one of the wettest places in the world, the Garo Hills, one of the largest districts of Meghalaya, forms a chunk of the state’s subtropical forests ecoregion. The Garos form the dominant group of this region.
Author Bio : Shameer is a script writer and blogger who loves to muse on Entrepreneurship and Startups. He occasionally writes PR and blogs for Emperor Traveline, a leading Travel Agency & Tour Operators in Coimbatore, in the area of travel management.