Fantastic 5 Days vacations in lovely Meghalaya – Part 1

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Travel Capsule

For those readers who just need capsule information about itinerary, attractions, homestay, and cab, please refer "Summary" section at the bottom of this page.

Part 2 Link:

Meghalaya – Shillong

Of course, I had heard of Meghalaya before. I did my geography lessons well during my school days. However, it never occurred to me that beyond the realms of West Bengal, lies India’s most unexplored and stunning landscape of the North East. I vividly remember, while surfing ‘clouds at Munsiyari‘ on YouTube, it offered a video ‘clouds at Meghalaya’.

These Meghalaya clouds hovering over my screen were scary. In fact, ferocious….these were nimbus clouds… dark, angry, and ready to pour down hard and drench everything which stood in its way. I had always believed Cherrapunjee was the wettest place on earth. I was wrong. It is Mawsynram. It is in Meghalaya too. Alas, I should have focused more on general knowledge, than geography, in school.

Meghalaya Planning

Our Anniversary falls in the month of August, when sky pours its heart out and cries each year. This year, we dared and planned our anniversary vacation at Meghalaya, the abode of wettest place on earth. Initially, it seemed difficult to plan the itinerary as we knew nothing about the attractions around Shillong. A quick read of travel blogs gave us an idea that proper exploring of Meghalaya will need at least a week, if not more.

However, we just had five days with us, and this included two full days for travel. I wonder why every vacation of ours is a race against time. It truly resembles a kabaddi match, we enter the territory, touch the target and zap back to our base Gurgaon.

Meghalaya Itinerary:

Day 1: Delhi-Guwahati flight, followed by a four hours drive to Shillong with a stopover at Umiam Lake – Stay at Shillong
Day 2: Shillong – Krang Suri falls – Dawki & Shnongpden – Dawki – Mawlynnong – single root bridge at Mawlynnong- Shillong – Stay at Shillong
Day 3: Shillong – Mawkdok Dympep Valley View Point – Cherrapunjee (Dainthlen falls, Nohkalikai falls, Seven Sister falls) – Laitmawsiang – Garden of caves – Shillong – Stay at Shillong
Day 4: Shillong – Nongkhnum River Island Beach – Mawphlang Sacred Grove – Khasi Monoliths – Shillong- Stay at Shillong
Day 5: Shillong local (Elephant Falls, Golf course etc.) – Drive to Guwahati – Flight to Delhi

We kept our base as Shillong as we were traveling with a kid and didn’t want to run around with our baggage every alternate day. Secondly, we omitted Double Decker living root bridge at Mawsynram, as it involved trekking and we had seen Single Root Bridge at Mawlynnong.

Meghalaya – Booking:

While surfing through various hotels and homestay, we stumbled across Russet, about 3 km from City center.

Anne (+91 9612951037), the owner of Russet’s Cottage was a gracious host. Anne’s house is bang in the middle of the city, close to the market. She had tastefully decorated her house and was very warm in welcoming us. Everything in the room was thoughtfully chosen and immaculately placed. She even kept a personalized note welcoming us over our anniversary. Such small yet touching gestures make trips memorable. In addition to a cozy bed, a small fridge, bathroom with stacked amenities, umbrella, slippers, tiny library with books on Khasi culture and wildlife. Also, there was a well-stacked kitchen attached with the room for us to do cooking (without any additional charge for the eatables), in case we wished to.


She suggested Ali (+91 9862397466), who owns a Maruti 800 for sightseeing in Meghalaya, speaks fluent Hindi, decent Khasi, and English. I am glad we chose Ali as he stays close to Russet, was always punctual, had no whims, and was flexible on our itinerary and timing. Ali also arranged our pick up and drop from Guwahati airport through his friend.

Russet Cottage, Shillong

Meghalaya – Day 1:

I wrote a lot on tripadvisor. Not that I had an opinion on every tourist attraction, but in those days, every TripAdvisor review credited a few JetMiles in my account. These miles were then used for free air tickets. We used Jet airways free tickets for the Delhi-Guwahati flight and landed at Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport before noon. Our rental car driver was already at the airport and we started for Shillong as soon as we got our luggage from the belt. We were weary and famished but the driver requested us to bear our hunger for some time, as he knew a fantastic place for lunch on the highway.

For next two hours, we cursed him, and the restaurant, as we controlled our hunger. It started drizzling. Slowly the drizzle turned in rains and then poured heavily. Finally around 14.00 hrs, we reached Jiva Veg, a rustic, but tastefully built restaurant at Nongpoh. The place was clean, very green, had adequate car parking and offered impeccably clean washrooms, which is still a luxury on Indian highways. After a scrumptious meal, we left for Shillong…satiated.

Meghalaya rains

As we started from Jiva Veg, the rains got mightier. It was 16.00 hrs when we reached Umiam Lake on the outskirts of Shillong. It was huge and had a panoramic view. Sadly, we couldn’t stop there for a longer time due to rains, but we mentally decided that we’d spend a longer time here on our return journey to Guwahati.

Nimbus clouds at Umiam Lake, Shillong

So, Meghalaya stood true to its name and greeted us with Nimbus clouds and incessant rains. As we reached Shillong, a long traffic jam welcomed us. We were told that its normal here to wait for an hour or two in traffic lanes. However, I was impressed by the fact that rarely anyone jumped the traffic lights or drove on wrong side. Something, we Delhi Gurgaon people can learn from the North East. After a long city traffic haul, we finally reached our abode for next three nights… Russet Cottage. Time read 18.00 hrs. A long day, which started at Gurgaon, finally ended at Shillong.

Meghalaya – Day 2:

We had informed Anne that we’d leave by 07.30 hrs and requested her to prepare breakfast latest by 07.00 hrs. Exactly when clock struck 07.00 am, there was a soft knock at our door. It was Anne. The breakfast was ready. We had just got up from her knock at the door. We brushed our teeth hastily and rushed to hog onto breakfast. Anne had prepared delicious vegetable Omlette, bread, cereals, parathas and hot coffee. More than the breakfast, I was really touched by her effort to prepare so many delicacies so early in the morning.

We quickly got ready and by the time it was 08.30 hrs, Ali was right at the door. We had plans to cover the circuit 1 today which included Krang Suri falls – Dawki & Shnongpden – Dawki – Mawlynnong village. The highway was good and so was the weather. Ali was a good talker. He had many stories about Meghalaya& questions about life in Delhi. Amidst engaging conversation, we reached parking point for Krang Suri waterfall, which was a half km trek down the paved path. The trek was easy and at various turns, we could see Krang Suri waterfall in its full glory.

Monsoon Green

Since it was monsoons, entire area was very green, though slippery. Ali too accompanied us on the trek. Not only he gave us valuable information about the place, but also clicked a few pics of us in one frame. Within an hour, we were back to parking after capturing some priceless moments and enjoying the waterfall in full splendor.

Trek To Krang Suri
First view of Krang Suri Waterfalls…
Krang Suri Waterfalls, Meghalaya

The best part of visiting Meghalaya in monsoons is that attractions have a few tourists. As it was about 12.30 pm in the afternoon, the sun was bright and since we drove towards Dawki, it became warmer… and later scorching hot. The highway 206 from KrangSuri to Dawki was flooded with trucks carrying agro based products, marble and garments etc to from Bangladesh. With an array of trucks parked along the road, barely a part of the road was available to drive.

Dawki

We had seen so many pictures of transparent water of Dawki river, that when we actually saw it, it came as a no surprise… the water was not so transparent as rains had carried slush and mud from surrounding hills, but still, we could get a flavor of what we had seen over the internet. Perhaps the best season to visit Dawki river is December till February.

We also saw the notoriously porous border of India Bangladesh. Just across the river we saw Bangladesh and people literally had no restriction in crossing it over. Time read 15.00 hrs.

Dawki River, Dawki
India – Bangladesh Porous Border

Mawlynnong

Our next stoppage was Mawlynnong, the cleanest village in Asia. Instead of taking the main highway, we took a narrow road along the Indian-Bangladesh border to Riwai village, which connects on the way to Mawlynnong. On the way, we saw Bophill waterfall sprinkling water droplets on the highway. Weather was warm but when we stood next to the waterfall, it felt good and cool.

Bophill falls, Meghalaya

After clicking pics for some time, we made a move for Mawlynnong village. This village lived true to its reputation of being the cleanest village. The roads were squeaking clean and sides were covered with grass and beautified with flowers. Time read 16.00 hrs.

Living Root Bridge

After clicking a few pics with ‘cleanest village’ backdrop, we headed towards the Living Root Bridge. It was a five mins easy trek from the car parking. I was amazed to see such a simple suspension bridge formed of living plant roots by tree shaping… Nature has indeed, no parallels. After 30 mins and about 50 pics, we left for Shillong along highway 206. Time showed 17.30 hrs when we started from Mawlynnong.

Living root bridge Mawlynnong

The drive back to base was uneventful and we requested Ali to take us to Cafe Shillong for dinner. It was an expensive place, but we had a great time listening to live music and enjoying hot food after full day of travel.

By the time we reached back to our homestay, it was 22.00 hrs. A long but fantastic day had come to an end. Tomorrow, it would be our rendezvous with Cherrapunjee. Weather prediction showed heavy rainfall… wow, it would be rains at Cherrapunjee in Monsoons… I was excited, though a bit perturbed. In this melee of thoughts, I slept.

To be continued…

Summary

Itinerary:

Day 1: Delhi-Guwahati flight, followed by a four hours drive to Shillong with a stopover at Umiam Lake – Stay at Shillong
Day 2: Shillong – Krang Suri falls – Dawki & Shnongpden – Dawki – Mawlynnong – single root bridge at mawlynnong- Shillong – Stay at Shillong
Day 3: Shillong – Mawkdok Dympep Valley View Point – Cherrapunjee (dainthlen falls, nohkalikai falls, Seven Sister falls) – Laitmawsiang – Garden of caves – Shillong- Stay at Shillong
Day 4: Shillong – Nongkhnum River Island Beach – Mawphlang Sacred Grove – Khasi Monoliths – Shillong- Stay at Shillong
Day 5: Shillong local (Elephant Falls, Golf course etc.) – Drive to Guwahati – Flight to Delhi

We kept our base as Shillong as we were traveling with a kid and didn’t want to run around with our baggage every alternate day. Secondly, we omitted Double Decker living root bridge at Mawsynram, as it involved trekking and we had seen Single Root Bridge at Mawlynnong.

Stay:

At Shillong: Russet Cottage, Shillong.

For booking, log on to AirBnB at the following link or call Anne, the owner Russet Cottage, at +91 9612951037

Cab for Sight Seeing at Meghalaya:

You may call Ali, a native of Shillong, who owns a Maruti, speaks fluent Hindi and decent English & Khasi.

Ali can be contacted at +91 9862397466 for Sight Seeing booking in Meghalaya. He can also make arrangements for pick drop to-from Guwahati Airport on chargeable basis.

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