You must be wondering if two days are enough to capture the spellbinding beauty of Meghalaya. Well, no. But one do not always have the time and leaves you want to spend on travelling. And short trips now and then, works wonders.
Meghalaya or the ‘Abode of clouds’ stays true to its name. After all, reportedly the wettest region in the world ‘Mawsynram’ dwells like a jewel in the crown of Meghalaya. Being a small state, places to see are not very far from each other and well-maintained roads allow you to cover larger distances in shorter duration. We could drive through Shillong, Cherrapunji, Mawlynnong and Dawki in the little time we had.
Meghalaya is the most sought after tourist destination of the northeast region mainly because of its easy accessibility, mountain retreat and great weather throughout the year. This state has something in store for all kinds of travellers. Numerous places to see for the ones marking the check list, peaceful resorts and meditation centres for the ones looking for luxurious escapes, adventure sports and treks for the ones thriving for an escapade and shopping markets for the shopaholic. Since, our trip was more about journeying rather than settling into one place, we prioritized our list for a quick trip.
Umiam Lake, Barapani
The picturesque Umiam Lake or Barapani (big water) will introduce you to the beauty of Meghalaya. Just a few km before Shillong, on the Guwahati-Shillong highway, this manmade lake is an icebreaker to what this state has to offer in terms of its scenic brilliance. Umiam Lake is often compared to the mesmerizing Lakes of Scotland due to its charming views and lush green surroundings.
It is one of the most popular tourists’ spots in Shillong, and a prominent venue for kayaking, water cycling, boating and scooting. One can enjoy riding paddleboats, rowboats, sailing boats, cruise boats and speed boats as well.
Elephant Falls, Shillong
At a distance of around 12 km from Shillong and a few minutes drive away from the Shillong Peak, it is one of the most admired tourist pulls of the city. Locally named as ‘Ka Kshaid Lai Pateng Khohsiew’ by the Khasi locals, it is a 2-tiered waterfall set in the dingle of the rocks amidst profuse greenery.
The foaming white water rippling down the stony steps with the vegetation on the sides of the waterfall, add to the gorgeousness of the place. If you are on a sight-seeing spree, this place is a must-visit.
The limestone caves of Meghalaya add another point to the must visit checklist. Tourists are allowed to go inside as the caves are well-lit and explore the wonders of nature. The striking natural cave is full of stalactites and stalagmites and is revered to as one of the most distinguished landmarks in Cherrapunji.
It is one of the best places for both history enthusiasts and experience seekers. The caves brag of magical mystery inside and fascinating constructions.
Seven Sister Waterfalls, Cherrapunji
Before we describe the compelling beauty of this waterfall, we must tell you that the peak season to visit Meghalaya is during the monsoons. Plan your visit for the months of July, August or September, to experience the breath-taking beauty of the falls as they only flow during the rainy season.
The Seven Sisters Falls or the Nohsngithiang Falls enjoy the repute of being the fourth highest waterfalls in India and has a unique charm to it. The falls dives over the top of limestone cliffs of the Khasi Hills and expanses most of the way along the cliff. The waterfalls get brightened by the sun and the sparkling colors of the setting sun makes it scenic.
A Cemetery on the Mountains
On our way back to Shillong from the falls, we crossed a cemetery on the mountains and it was so fascinating we could not help but stop there for a closer look. Apologies but we would not be able to give the exact name or describe the location.
The peacefulness on that slope of the hill and the sun setting behind a far-off mountain was a feeling beyond description. We all crave for that kind of feeling at some point of time.
Ok, this might sound a little weird and illogical and you can skip this one.
Police Bazaar, Shillong
Police Bazar of Shillong is as famous as Shillong itself. The ultimate shopping destination for the guilty and not so guilty shopaholic, this place is on the priority list of locals as well as tourists. A modern market with number of hotels, shops and eating joints, satisfy diverse needs of every visitor. With shops on both sides of the roads, they sell food, bakeries, electronics, gadgets, clothes, bags, woollen, etc. you name it and it is available in the shops. They do bargain and are a good choice for gifting.
Road side barbeque selling variety of chicken and pork dishes, deserves a special mention. Do not miss if you a non-vegetarian. You can also find exquisite handicrafts of Meghalaya. Wood work, decorative, hand-loom and khadi products, handcrafted accessories and jewellery. Take time to walk around the whole place, or you may end up missing a few great places.
Dawki, India – Bangladesh Border
God did not create beauty to be divided by geographical borders, and history has been proof of the efforts we humans took to create compartments. Although not listed in the most interesting borders (natural or man-made) of the world, Dawki is one friendly border that merits a visit.
An approximately 85 km drive from Shillong, passing through lush green mountains and deep valleys,lands you to the international border town of Dawki. The drive is thrilling and the destination is a paradise for nature lovers.
The key charm is the clean river, Umngot. The river easing its way through the hills, with fishermen’s boats spotting its surface, and the sparkling sunrays making their way right to the extreme bottom of the river, is a sight to be seen to be believed. This spectacle makes you trust that water is actually colourless.
Yes, India has a place like this to its pride. When in Dawki, a boat ride is a must. Although the narrow boats might look a little scary at once, but still we suggest go for it to complete the experience. Boat riders also take the boats to the small caverns created under the mountains by the river.
Riwai Root Bridge, Mawlynnong
Just two km before the cleanest village of Asia is this naturally formed living root bridge that is actually made out of the roots of trees.
Over large boulders and a stream, this bridge is an architectural genius. When the stream is not overflowing, it could also be crossed on foot.
It is a very small trek down to the bridge, which is becoming a favourite tourist and picnic spot both for locals and visitors. One can enjoy tea on the way from the local shops.
Mawlynnong, Cleanest village of Asia
With approximately 500 residents, this remote village has legendarily earned itself the prestige of being the cleanest village in the continent. Mawlynnong flourishes of tourism. Apart from the scenic natural landscape, the people have struggled to boost tourism. Tree houses and machans to enrich the visitors with panoramic views of the area, homestays at comfortable prices and strolls brimming with flowers, plants, trees, butterflies, birds and of course dustbins.
As the village is small and forested, the vehicles could go only till a certain point and the rest is left to be seen on foot. We were so awed with this village, we decided to put our cameras to rest.
Guwahati – Umiam Lake (Barapani) – Elephant Falls – Mawsmai Caves – Cherapunji (Seven Sister Falls) – Shillong
Shillong – Dawki – Root Bridge (Mawlynnong) – Mawlynnong Village – Guwahati
Stay at The Habitat, Shillong
Shillong offers accommodation options for all types of pockets, be it budget, mid or high-end luxury resorts. As we do not believe in burning a hole in our pockets while choosing hotels, we go for places that are comfortable yet in budget.
We chose to stay at ‘The Habitat’ which is an Asian Confluence Initiative. Designed in a unique heritage fashion, this hotel provides a comfortable stay. We simply loved the décor. Have a look and decide for yourself.
How to Reach
By train: Nearest railway station is Guwahati (Assam), at a distance of 180 km. Guwahati is well-connected to all major cities of the country via train. One can opt for buses or can hire a cab forward.
By Air: Major airport is Guwahati (Assam) at a distance of 159 km (Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport). The airport is well- connected major Indian and few international cities. One can easily hire a cab from here.
By Road: Meghalaya is easily reachable through roads. The roads are mostly smooth and well-frequented with traffic. Driving could be challenging while monsoons though.
Drive through the state is picturesque!