During my early school days, I was very much into Geography (Social Science, which it was called during those days) and the small things like what is the remotest village in India, what is the northernmost part of our country, what is the only desert area of our country, highest plunge waterfall of country, longest river of our country etc. questions were always fascinated me and made me dive a little deeper into knowing them. One such question which always triggered me whenever I get to enjoy the rains was the question "what is the most wettest place in our country, which receives most rainfall" and answer to that was Cherrapunji and later this title was taken away by Mawsynram, which was right next to Cherrapunji. So, this place was always in my mind as to, one day I will plan to visit this place.
So, the day came, when I was discussing with my travel buddies Rashmi and Gaurav that what should be our first long travel plan within India. And the thought came to my mind was Meghalaya, the abode of Clouds and the choice was obvious, as my favorite places Cherrapunji and Mawsynram were part of the state of Meghalaya. And thus began our planning of tour to Meghalaya and this would be a short introductory tour of Northeast and we assured to each other that, many more tours will be planned in future to Northeast in coming years, as the Region of Northeast is vast, with seven sister states and has a lot to offer.
As, this was just a introductory tour, and as we weren't having enough number of days of leaves to travel the length and breadth of North East, we chose Meghalaya as our first northeast destination and chose some important and interesting places of Meghalaya to visit.
Below is the short itinerary of journey from Bengaluru to Meghalaya over the period 4 days. We explored Meghalaya between Feb.23 - Feb.27, 2017.
Day Wise Itinerary:
Day 1: Bengaluru/Hyderabad to Guwahati Flight.
An early morning flight for me and Rashmi from Bengaluru to Guwahati, with a layover at Delhi International Airport and that's where, we were joined by Gaurav, who came from Hyderabad.
Then we boarded our flight to Guwahati and once we reached Guwahati, we straight away went to Awe Rides office to collect our rented bikes.
**Guwahati -> Shillong Bike ride**
Our short ride from Guwahati to Shillong began early afternoon, on the Guwahati - Meghalaya border, where we had our Lunch which is staple Indian Roti & Curry.
It was an amazing and memorable ride to Shillong as the roads were really nice and gentle uphill terrain, and after 4pm, the color of the sky became orange as it was getting closer and closer for sun set. (The sunset is early in Northeast by at least an hour before the mainland India, as well as the sunrise).
When we crossed Umiam lake, it was pitch dark already and we missed the opportunity to spend some time there. Finally it was around 6pm, when we reached our homestay in Shillong (details shared in the next section).
For dinner we wanted to try some local specialty dish and hence we went to Café Shillong Heritage, which was 2 kilometer away from our homestay, and with a shortcut walking path just 1km away. I had a smoked pork chilly noodles and they shared a Veg Schezwan noodles. That was our eventful day 1, all the way from Bengaluru - Guwahati - Shillong.
Day 2: Ride from Shillong -> Cherrapunji (Sohra) -> Shillong.
Next day morning we started, after breakfast, very late, on our Bike trip to Cherrapunji (Sohra) which is around 60kms away from Shillong and would take roughly around 2 hrs of Bike Journey.
On the way we visited Elephant Falls too, which was right after Shillong town.
We also had coffee break at Mylliem in a small village style coffee Hut, before proceeding further. The route towards Cherrapunji was magical to say the least, All along our journey, we were wondering how it would look during the peak monsoon with lush greenery and clouds all over the sky.
It was a 2:30hr ride to Cherrapunji as we were riding with lots of small breaks enjoying every opportunity for a beautiful scenery and capturing the little moments. We could visit below places in Cherrapunji in our limited few hours window.
Seven Sisters Waterfalls.
Among the above, the Nohkalikai Waterfalls was the best. We learner that, we could trek to the drop area of this breathtaking & beautiful waterfalls, but due to short of time, we kept it for our next Meghalaya tour. Seven sisters waterfalls was kind of empty as we went in February and hence no waterfalls, except we could see the empty gorge.
Another gem of a place was Mawsmai caves. Anyone who has visited northeast especially Meghalaya would tell you about the numerous caves the region has, and this was one of the best in Sohra region. We tried to explore as much as we could, but as we were in our biking gear, couldn't reach deeper section of the caves.
On the way back, we had our lunch at "Orange Roots" on the Sohra - Shella route.
The amazing thing was from waitresses to billing employee, everyone were women employees and we got our glimpse of Matrilineal society tradition of Meghalaya and it was a good experience and even good food at this restaurant.
Before closing our Cherrapunji Day, we took a pit stop at Mawkdok, an awesome view point of vast green forests of Mawsynram reserve forest. Before we reach our homestay in Shillong, we were stuck for an hour in the long yet quiet traffic jam of Shillong. We were amused to see, how patiently the Shillong residents wait in their lane during traffic jam without trying to break their lane or honking the way out of it. We too followed our hosts and got stuck for over an hour in the traffic, before making it to our homestay for a much needed sleep.
Day 3: Ride from Shillong -> Mawlynnong - Dawki -> Shillong.
We started the day very early at around 7am as we had a little more ground to cover on this day. After finishing breakfast at our homestay we rode towards Mawlynnong village, which was awarded as the cleanest village in Asia a few years back.
The route from Shillong to Mawlynnong was very beautiful and the roads were amazing. The village though very small, but was very clean indeed. We took a short walk from the village to the Single decker Root bridge which was maintained pretty well. It was our first experience of seeing a living root bridge which is made of a living roots of 2 large trees and joined them in such a manner, that it created a bridge which keeps getting stronger day by day as the roots gets connected over a period of time.
We also had a nice lunch at the Mawlynnong village itself, before heading to Dawki (border village between India and Bangladesh). As we got closer and closer to the Dawki Border, the roads were very bad and seemed poorly managed. We crossed the Dawki Bridge hoping to see the Dawki river below to be crystal clear, as it was famous for the crystal clear water texture. But to our slight disappointment, due to rains in the last few days, the water was a bit muddy and not as clear as it always would be. Nevertheless, we get to experience the border region for the first time in our life and could take a peek into a foreign soil. Also we got an opportunity to go on a small boat ride on the Dawki river and it was good too see, so many locals indulging themselves in traditional fishing activity and small kids swimming and enjoying in the river.
On the way back we stopped for quick evening snacks and tea at Mawkajem village, at Four plus two dhaba. While sipping our tea. We got to see a mesmerizing evening views of the green mountains of Meghalaya from the Mawjngih Lapynshongdor View point and it couldn't be a better end to our Day.3 where we visited,
Mawlynnong village (The cleanest village in Asia)
Living root bridge - Mawlynnong.
Dawki River (India-Bangladesh Border).
Mawjngih Lapynshongdor View point.
We reached our Homestay in Shillong around 7pm in the evening crisscrossing through the Shillong traffic for a good night's rest and a well deserved one.
Day 4: Ride to Laitlum Canyons & Exploring Shillong City.
We had kept Day 4, for exploring the Shillong city and as planned we visited the local Shillong market at Police Bazaar early in the morning, but as it was Sunday, there was very less activity in the market compared to the usual activity on the other weekdays.
Then we visited Lady Hydari Park, in southern Shillong, which is famous for the flowering gardens and a small Zoo. We spent some time taking photographs in the park and enjoyed morning fresh air.
We had plans to visit The Don Bosco Museum and center for indigenous cultures and tribes in Shillong but unfortunately the museum remains closed for visitors on Sunday and we felt bad for not checking this before hand while planning our itinerary. So, we met a priest just outside Don Bosco Museum who was on a deputation here in Shillong from Kerala (South Indian state), and he advised us to visit Laitlum Canyons which is situated just outside Shillong as an alternate place. We agreed and head towards Laitlum.
The journey to Laitlum itself was a very exciting one due to the roads and the beautiful landscape through out the short journey of 22kms (approx. 1hour).
It was a beautiful landscape of naturally formed canyon over looking the lush green mountain range and river streams and small villages down below. By looking at the local youngsters who came there already before us, we ascertained that this is a new hot favorite destination close to Shillong for day picnic or outing. We spent around an hour at Laitlum before we head back to Shillong for afternoon lunch at Café Shillong, though we didn't like the food to our taste, still we were quite happy that we tried something local cuisine.
After the lunch, we visited another Ward's Lake Park, centrally located in Shillong near Police Bazaar, which is famous for its fresh water Lake and beautiful park. It was a perfect setting for a evening visit and locals often visit this park in the evening to enjoy the views and for a peaceful boating experience.
In the evening, we went to Munchies in Shillong famous for their Burgers and Shakes and we tried vegetarian and Non-vegetarian Burgers (can't mention the meat variety 😀) and they were out of this world and really worth the hype and high ratings.
After filling out stomach with the joyful burgers, We head back to our homestay with a victory smile as we completed our 3 days of Shillong tour.
Places visited during our Day 4 Shillong city tour.
Police Bazaar Market.
Lady Hydari Garden park.
Don Bosco Museum for Indigenous cultures (couldn't visit as closed on Sunday).
Café Shillong (traditional café with Khasi cuisine)
Munchies Shillong (famous for Burgers and Shakes)
Day 5: Ride from Shillong -> Guwahati & Return flight to Bengaluru.
This being our final day in Shillong and Meghalaya, we had our breakfast and said goodbyes to our caretaker at homestay, as it was a very cozy stay for 3 night's for us at Hideaway Heritage homestay.
On the return journey from Shillong to Guwahati, we got to see Umiam Lake from the highway (a bird's eye view to be frank).
We reached Guwahati by early afternoon, and returned our bikes at Awe Rides and thanked them for their lovely machines that throttled us all the way to Shillong during last 4 days.
We had a one final visit in Guwahati before we head back to Bangalore and for that, we called up our friend in Guwahati, Mr. Manas Bhai and he met us at a govt emporium in Guwahati where we could buy some souvenirs before we head back.
He offered us a lunch plan at a local restaurant in Guwahati which is famous for traditional Assamese cuisine. We had a great time conversing with each other about our past college days and also about our Meghalaya tour, along with the lip smacking food.
Finally it was time for saying good bye to Assam and Guwahati as we boarded our return flight from Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi Airport in Guwahati to Bengaluru.
We thoroughly enjoyed our short 4 day tour of Meghalaya and we made promise to each other that we will visit Meghalaya again for a extended tour and also, would be planning for other northeastern states in the coming years.
Our Stay in Shillong:
As usual we selected our stay option from MakeMyTrip and we found a very nice homestay in Shillong but in the midst of a nice pine forest area. The homestay was HideAway Heritage which is located in Upper Risa Colony, Dhanketi - Shillong. The owner was a very soft spoken and a humble guy who spoke to us and helped us settle down in his humble homestay. The location of the homestay was really pretty away from the city sounds but yet close enough for us to hit the road.
The breakfast was really delicious and walking in the surroundings was pleasant experience as well. The homestay had enough parking for our bikes. Overall the stay was a comfortable one for us, for 2 days and 3 nights.
Hideaway Heritage, Shillong.
Best Season to Travel Meghalaya:
Meghalaya is best visited during the winter months of November and February.
However if you want to witness the wonders of rain and clouds for which Meghalaya is famous for then it makes good sense to visit Meghalaya during June to October.
The local festival season in Meghalaya is another good way to plan your travel, for more information on this please visit below tourism websites.
Alternative Itinerary & Places to visit:
Meghalaya offers so much for wandering soul of a traveler that, It would take a long blog to mention all of the must visit places of this beautiful state.
But to mention a few, which we couldn't plan during our short 4 day visit would be the following.
Nongriat Village (close to Sohra Cherrapunji) - famous for lot of small treks and waterfalls and also famous for the double decker living root bridge.
Mawryngkhang Trek in the East Khasi hills region.
Tyrshi Waterfalls in the Jaintia Hills region
Krang Suri Waterfalls.
Wei Sawdong Waterfalls.
Shnongpdeng Adventure camp, Umngot river valley.
For any complete Meghalaya tour, we may need at least 15-20 days travel itinerary to cover the above places along with the places we were able to explore during our short tour.
Apart from staying in Shillong, we can also make Nongriat or Sohra as our base. And plan our itinerary around the beautiful places mentioned above to cut down on the travel time between Shillong and Sohra (Cherrapunji).
The Umngot (Dawki) river valley offers so much to the adventure seekers that, it would also make sense to plan stay option near Shnongpdeng campsite, and plan on exploring the East Khasi hills.
The areas around Jaintia Hills are becoming more and more popular now, which were deemed to be completely unexplored earlier and for those, who has a taste of exploring the unexplored, can plan for the hidden treks to countless waterfalls in the Jaintia Hills region (eastern Meghalaya).
Thus, it's pretty obvious that, Meghalaya has a lot to offer and these days tourism is booming in the state of Meghalaya rapidly compared to other Northeastern states of India and we will be back with more blogs from our future travels to this beautiful and wonderful state of Meghalaya.
Travelling to Meghalaya:
Capital city of Meghalaya, Shillong is well connected by road with Guwahati (Capital of Assam) and is just about 100kms (3hrs journey). You can reach Guwahati by train or flight and then travel by road to Shillong via self driven or taxi or rental bikes from Guwahati.
We travelled to Guwahati from Bengaluru/Hyderabad by flight and then booked our Royal Enfield bikes from Awe Rides Rental agency based in Guwahati for our 4 day adventure in Meghalaya.
Most people prefer to reach Shillong is via road, but Shillong is connected via flights as well from Kolkata or Guwahati and other major cities of India. But preferred option still remains the Guwahati airport and then travelling by road to Shillong.
From Shillong one can easily plan for self driven rental vehicles or taxi option on per day basis or tour package basis in the nearest travel service provider in Shillong.
But we always suggest and encourage to plan your own itinerary and decide on the places that you wish to visit and consult the online blogs or information for your research or visit www.hilltrotters.com website to get more insights on the travel itinerary.
Some Memories captured during our journey:
For more detailed itinerary on our Meghalaya Tour or other awesome places in India, please contact HillTrotters@gmail.com or visit our Facebook page "HillTrotters", also subscribe to us on YouTube channel with "HillTrotters Travelogues".
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