The North-east region of India is still a relatively unexplored place, and if you want to go somewhere far from the maddening crowd, then Meghalaya is your answer.
The name Meghalaya itself means ‘the abode of clouds’- the heavenly blue skies with fluffy white clouds scattered across do justice to the name.
I am certain that these clouds would swoop down and skim the hills and the ground during monsoon – for Meghalaya is the most rain-soaked state of India; and what an ethereal sight it would be! If you ask me, I would say that for someone exploring India, Meghalaya is a must visit destination.
Meghalaya is a land waiting to be discovered – and it certainly occupies a special position in the travel map of the country. Read on to find why spending time in Meghalaya was an unforgettable experience for me.
The Quaint Village of Nongriat
Hidden in the lush green hills of Meghalaya is a little village called Nongriat, which is a 2000 steps descent from another small place called Tyrna near Cherrapunjee.
A stay at Serenity Homestay in the village, run by Byron, will soothe your frazzled nerves. A meal of farm fresh vegetables, the sound of a waterfall nearby, beaming kids and the warm and friendly host family would make you want to stay here all your life!
The Living Roots Bridges
Can man co-exist peacefully with nature? If you look at a living root bridge, you would say Yes! To cross the overflowing rivers in the monsoon, the folks of the Khasi tribe make the living roots bridges by inter weaving roots of Rubber fig trees.
In 4-5 years, these living, breathing structures become strong enough to support the weight of fifty people. We were delighted to see a double decker living root bridge near Nongriat, and more than happy to splash around in the pool below it.
The Rainbow Falls
Ever seen a rainbow without a rain? I saw it for the first time in my life in Meghalaya. A short trek from Nongriat is the Rainbow Falls, where you can see a rainbow arching across the falling water, when the sun is overhead.
The Colour of Water is Turquoise
Whether it’s the iconic Umngot river in Dawki or the jade blue water of the Krang Suri falls, the pristine water bodies of Meghalaya will leave you awe struck! They also evoke an admiration for the locals who have not disturbed the nature around them.
The Magic of Mawlyngbna
Another small village in Meghalaya, perched on cliffs that overlook the Bangladeshi plains. Life in Mawlyngbna seemed simple yet fulfilling.
Due to its location in the North-east, mornings in Meghalaya begin really early and the streaming sunlight from the window had replaced my morning alarm for some days. And knowing that a beautiful, peaceful day lay ahead, waking up early was no discomfort.
Evenings in Mawlyngbna were magical – I remember the evening sky being taken over by the colours of sunset – which soon got replaced by a starry night! A night sky sewn with so many stars is a gift of nature that Mawlyngbna still has and we city dwellers have perhaps lost forever.
The Beautiful Countryside
The sparsely populated state of Meghalaya is countryside at its best. Uncrowded roads, lush green hills, golden grass- one can keep driving forever and ever on its roads. The azure blue sky with a smattering of cottony clouds complement the landscape.
The Music is Life
Music is ingrained in the culture of Meghalaya. We were privileged to hear Kenny perform country songs in Sa-i-Mika Resort in Cherrapunjee (the food and the stay was memorable too!).
Byron’s sweet melodies in Nongriat deserve a mention too. And what better place to attend the NH7 concert, than Meghalaya itself – where music is life!
On one hand there were thespians like Vishal Dadlani and Shankar Mahadevan, one the other hand there were energetic local bands – the line-up of artists had us spoilt for choice!
Addicted to Adventure
Are you keen to do something adventurous when you visit Meghalaya? After bracing up ourselves for few days, with trekking down to Nongriat and swimming in the blue waters of this place.
We headed for river canyoning near Mawlyngbna. Walk, swim, slide, and cliff dive (of course with life jackets on) in the river – it was a unique adventurous experience for us.
The Satiating Food
Be it the local vegetables or the tasty chicken cooked in Khasi style, the meals in Meghalaya always felt like manna from heaven! Was it the freshness of the food, or an increase in our appetites from all the walking and swimming we had been doing….?
Whether it was the simple meals of the home stays or the sumptuous spread of the cafes, we ate to our hearts content!
The Tourist Circuit
And of course, there are the famous and oft-visited places of Meghalaya! There is the hill station of Shillong with its dainty cafes and shopping avenues.
We were lucky to see cherry trees in full bloom near the Ward’s lake in Shillong. The Umiam lake where we stopped by while driving to Cherrapunjee from Guwahati was a picture of serenity.
The Nohkalikai waterfall was another tourist attraction we enjoyed from a view point.
Time spent in Meghalaya was not only memorable, but also an eye-opener. Our country has several beautiful places that are being lost to crass commercialization. Places like Meghalaya teach us the beauty of a destination lies in its simplicity and closeness to nature. And we, as responsible traveler should also be mindful of our actions and try to minimize our impact on the natural surroundings of a place.
The charm of Meghalaya captivated my heart and it will charm you as well. Living in a country as diverse as India gives you the opportunity to Travel Ample, and Meghalaya turned out to be a backpacker’s paradise and a nature lover’s delight! So plan your next trip to this state- your visit here will sooth your soul and rejuvenate your being- for such is the magic of Meghalaya.
(I was a part of a week-long backpacking trip organized by a reputed travel group Travel Trikon. Their trips are highly recommended for best off beat experiences in destinations new and old. I would like to thank them for giving me a memorable time in a mesmerizing place.)