Meghalaya: The Abode of Clouds!

Meghalaya- A land far away from me
And finally we landed there with glee!

This is a  land of water water everywhere, 
To keep it clean, nothing will the citizen spare! 
There’s so much green at every turn, 
To go back there, my heart constantly yearns! 


The Cloud Blanket!

There are so many things about Meghalaya that will make you fall in love with that place. The people, the countless waterfalls, the hills, the public toilets. Yes! You read that right, the public toilets. I cannot stress enough how clean they were. If something so basic can impress you it makes you wonder what the state of it is in another places. It is a pity! Obviously its not just the toilets that are clean there, the state is very organized and clean. I applaud the people there on how hard they work to maintain this. They take it upon themselves to keep it that way and I wish everyone in our country can take a leaf out of their book.

Best time to visit

Meghalaya receives rainfall almost throughout the year. During the winter season between the months of October through February, the rainfall is a little moderate and is one of the best seasons to visit. The early months of summer is also good all through early May. And with the ending of May comes the beginning of the monsoons and unless you’re the “Yeh baarish ka mausam” or “on the roof, in the rain” types, you’d better avoid the months between May and September. I have heard that the gazillion water falls in this state are at their best during the monsoons. I’d be dumb not to believe that.

Now with that lovely introduction, here are the details of our 7 day adventure starting from 30th Oct’21 – 6th Nov’21 at one of our country’s finest state.

Day 1 – Get Started: Bangalore – Guwahati – Cherrapunjee

We were traveling from Bangalore, and we flew to Guwahati via Chennai. We then took a cab from Guwahati airport to Cherrapunjee. The drive to Cherrapunjee from there is about 5 hours +/- a half hour depending on the breaks you take. Except for a traffic jam on the outskirts of Guwahati, the rest of the drive was pretty smooth. Because we travelled here during the pandemic we had to submit our vaccination certificates and state permits that we had obtained before hand on the Meghalaya Tourism app at the border before entering. So do check what the travel restrictions are before you head out there.

The Family of Friends!

Our Stay: The Escapade Inn

We didn’t have a whole lot of time to make reservations before our vacation, so we were struggling to find hotels when we tried to book the night before we were leaving. We finally found one Hotel Escapade Inn, and booked this one for all our days at Meghalaya. All of us had one prayer in our minds “Dear God! Let this be at least clean”. We were in for a surprise as the hotel turned out to be very nice. Neatly kept rooms and bathroom and the extremely courteous staff were a bonus. We got 2 family rooms for the 6 of us. They had a nice laundry service at a reasonable rate too. When I go back to Meghalaya the next time, which I am positive I will, I am definitely staying here again.

Damage to Pockets

  • Cab from the airport to Cherrapunji was about Rs 7000 for a 7 seater
  • The stay at Cherrapunji was about Rs. 4200 per 3-bed room per night

Day 2, Double Decker Root Bridge: Cherrapunjee – Tyrna – Nongriat

One of the first destination that pops up when you look up Meghalaya is the Double Decker Root Bridge. Our hotel staff booked a cab for us to go to Tyrna, which is a 20 minute drive from Cherrapunji. This is the starting point of the hike to the double decker bridge. We left all our luggage behind at our hotel in Cherrapunji and carried a backpack enough for one day. The hike to the double decker bridge is a steep descent when you begin. This is about 3500 steps one way, and can roughly take you about 2 hours. We reached our homestay had a quick lunch and headed out to the famous rainbow falls. The hike to rainbow falls is roughly another 1.5 hours. We missed the rainbow at the rainbow falls, but even without the rainbow the falls is by far one of the most beautiful one I’ve seen. Unfortunately we had left really late so on our way back we had to hike in pitch darkness. The sun in these parts of the country sets really early and around 5:00PM it is pretty dark.

Our Stay: Serene Homestay

This simple yet clean homestay is situated about 5 minutes away from the double decker bridge. The host, Byron is very gracious and makes sure that your needs are taken care of. The rooms are basic and cozy. There is a common bathroom and toilet on each floor. There is a small restaurant that Byron and his family run to keep you full and smiling 🙂

Free Advice

  • Start your trek early on Sunday morning and book a stay beforehand
  • Double Decker bridge is closed to the tourists on Sunday but open to those who have a stay booked
  • Do not waste a lot of time at the single root bridge on your way
  • Be a little prepared for the hike physically and mentally
  • Wear comfortable clothes and a good pair of shoes
  • Carry a trekking pole or rent the bamboo stick at the beginning (Trust me! You need these)
  • If you are going to the rainbow falls make sure you reach before 3:30PM

Damage to Pockets

  • Cab back to Tyrna: Rs. 1250 which is a little expensive because it was booked by the hotel and because it was a Sunday
  • Stay at Serene homestay: Rs. 300 per night
  • All 3 meals together: Rs. 700
  • We took a leg massage service which was Rs. 400 per person

Day 3: Nongriat – Tyrna – Cherrapunji

We woke up early on Monday morning and went to spend time at the double decker bridge, which we couldn’t do the previous day because we were in a hurry to go to the rainbow falls. This is a decision we regret because on Sunday the bridge was completely closed but for us. And the moment the sun’s rays touched the waters on Monday morning, there were people swarming the place! Luckily they weren’t noisy and unruly and everyone was having their own moment of peace and tranquility. So apart from trouble getting pictures without strangers in them, we had a good time.

With the feeling of wanting more time at the place and a promise to self that we will come back. , We bid good bye to Byron and his family. With his help we hired some porter to carry a couple of our bags back so we could hike back up with as minimal trouble. Without a bag to hold me down, the hike back up, although gruelling because of the inclination, felt like a breeze.

After we had all reached up at our own pace, we hauled a cab from the many that were parked at the entry of the hike, we went to a restaurant called Jiva Grill for lunch. This is a quiet restaurant inside of a quaint resort in Cherrapunji. The food here is amazing, the quantity is big so be mindful of what you order. Aside from my veg noodles, my meat eating friends thoroughly enjoyed their smoked meat lunch. And we all together relished their sizzler brownies and wished we didn’t have to share. We spent the rest of the day just roaming the streets of Cherrapunji and then wound the day up with a hot shower and meal at our hotel.

Free Advice

  • Make sure you have a very light luggage else hire a porter
  • Keep yourself hydrated
  • Do buy some fruits and stuff from the local vendors, they work really hard
  • You can bargain a little with the cab drivers
  • Don’t litter, carry your trash back with you and throw it in a bin

Damage to Pockets

  • Double decker bridge entry: Rs. 50
  • Porter charges: 300 per bag
  • Cab back to Cherrapunji: ~ Rs 800 per cab
  • Jiva Grill lunch: ~ 500-700 depending on your appetite

Day 4: Laitlum Canyon – Mawphlang Sacred Grove

We all woke up fresh and bright and set out towards Laitlum Grand Canyon. It is a 1.5 hours drive from Cherrapunji towards Shillong. After an unpleasant drive with nausea (thanks to all the Maggi I ate for breakfast right before leaving) we arrived at Laitlum Canyon and the breathtaking views there just makes you forget of all your troubles. We spent a couple of hours there, just laying in the sun soaking in all the Vitamins (maybe some UVs too) and breathing the fresh air, hoping one day we could trek down to the village at the bottom, which has its own story, of course!

Between Sunkissed and Sunburnt!

Once we got our heart’s content of the view here, we headed on to Mawphlang Sacred Grove which is another 1.5 hours drive. On reaching, we first decided to satisfy our hunger at a little shanty near the ticket counter for some humble meals. Now the people here take their forests very seriously. To them the forests are their Gods. No one is allowed to take anything from the sacred grove. We hired a guide, without whom we’d probably be lost or maybe wouldn’t cover the entire walk. The walk in the Mawphlang sacred grove was very educative thanks to our guide and refreshing. With barely any other human in sight, this walk in the woods is something I’ll cherish all my life. After spending a couple of hours in the woods, we headed back with one other place on our agenda i.e., The Elephant Falls.

A local leader had won an election that day and the entire town was celebrating by being out on the streets and dancing and singing. The most joyous and pleasant election celebrations I have seen. While all the roistering was fun to watch and be a part of, unfortunately it caused a huge traffic jam and we could not make it to the falls and had to head back to Cherrapunji.

Free Advice

  • These two places are closer to Shillong, so if you have Shillong in your itinerary visit these two either on the way to or from Shillong
  • Do not litter anywhere, it was heart breaking to find some plastic crap in the stream in the midst of the grove
  • If you do find some trash thrown by ill-mannered tourists please do pick them up for the locals there are very clean people

Damage to Pockets

  • We hired the same cab for the rest of our trip so it came upto Rs. 4000 per day for the 7 seater
  • Mawphlang Entry including the guide: Rs. 130

Day 5: Mawsmai Caves – Nohkalikai falls – Wei Sawdong – Prut Falls

On the fifth day not all of us had the same plans, so we headed out in different directions. But you’ll obviously read only what I did 😉 Started the day with some exploring of the Mawsmai caves which is a 20 minute drive from our hotel. This is a narrow, rugged cave of limestone. This is one of the many popular caves in Meghalaya. It took us about a half hour including us striking all kinds of weird poses for pictures inside the cave.

While walking back to our cab we saw a kiosk with some traditional Khasi attire and got immediately excited so we tried them on and felt like the tribe queens.

Color-Splashed!

From the caves we were on our way to NohKaLikai falls which is a half hour drive. This is the tallest plunge waterfall in the country with a height of about 340 meters. While we didn’t have the time to do a trek that takes you close to the waterfalls, we were spellbound by the panoramic view of the waterfall we got from the viewpoint. There are a lot of souvenir shops here. So after a little bit of shopping and another breathtaking view, we got in the car towards our next destination – Wei Sawdong falls.

The tallest plunge waterfall!

On the way we stopped at Golden Spoon Dhaba for a scrumptious meal. After a full tummy, we pulled over at Wei Sawdong. Wei Sawdong is a magnificent 3-tiered waterfall, which tourists throng through the year. This requires about a half hour hike, which is descending on the way to the waterfall. The route is full of man made wooden ladders which are pretty steep, but easier than the double decker bridge hike. The beauty of the waterfalls just captures your breath right from the moment of your first sight of it. One can easily climb up to the second tier of the waterfall and enjoy the view. Time seemed to just freeze in that moment, and there were no words escaping our mouths to describe this piece of wonder. But in reality time just seemed to run faster and before we knew it, it was time for us to leave.

We moved on to Prut falls next, which was a quick 8 minute drive. There are two ways to enjoying this place i.e., to be at the bottom of the waterfalls and the other is to go behind the plunge and get splashed by the icy cold water on its journey downwards. We got to enjoy the sunset at this point and saw the sun setting from behind the curtains of the waterfall. That was a poetic wrap to a good day. We went to a pure Vegetarian restaurant for dinner called the Orange roots. I was in tears when I saw curd rice on the menu there.

Free Advice

  • Do not wear fancy clothes to the caves you might get muck on your clothes
  • Ladies do not wear stilettos to look fancy, this is not one of those places
  • Carry extra pair of clothes, you’ll never know which water place you get to jump into

Damage to Pockets

  • Mawsmai cave entry and parking: Rs. 40
  • Khasi attire: Rs. 100
  • Photo print: Rs. 50
  • Nohkalikai Entry: Rs. 50
  • Golden Spoon Lunch: Rs 150
  • Wei Sawdong Entry: Rs. 30
  • Prut Entry: Rs. 60
  • Orange roots dinner: Rs 480

Day 5: Cherrapunji – Garden of Caves – Dawki

We packed up and left from the temporary home we’d made at Ecapade Inn, thanking our host Ri and headed out towards Dawki- The infamous tourist hotspot in Meghalaya. On our way we stopped at Garden of caves for some refreshing walk in the woods, so beautifully preserved by the localites. We spent some time near the last waterfall which was like a private spot for us because there was no one else. And then we were on our way Dawki. We briefly stopped at Aperitif for lunch. Like every place, we left from here after spending quality time and reached Dawki in another 1.5 hours at around 3:30pm. The photos and videos about the place don’t lie, it truly mesmerises you like no other place. We camped there that night.

Our Stay: Encamp Adventures

This is a small campsite on the banks of Umngot river. While the basic cost covers the stay, dinner, breakfast, bonfire. After a 20 minute ferry ride, we reached the camp side where we were welcomed by some nice hot tea. There is one common Indian toilet at the campsite, which is pretty decent according to camping standards. The cook there conjured one of the best meals of the trip so far, which we enjoyed with a nice calm with some warm bonfire keeping us company. Reach out to me if you need more details

Camping with Encamp Adventures!

Free Advice

  • If you are planning to visit Maylynnong then visit that village first and then come to Dawki
  • Do not litter
  • You don’t have to carry a lot of snacks and beverages, there is a vendor near the campsite who has them all

Damage to Pockets

  • Aperitif Lunch: Rs. 390
  • Boat round ferry to campsite: ~ Rs. 300
  • Dawki camp with dinner and breakfast: Rs. 1999

Day 6 : Dawki – Shnongpdeng – Mawlynnong

From dawn we decided to explore Shnongpdeng before heading back to Mawlynnong. A decision we will never regret! A boat ride in the clear waters of Shnongpdeng was the best way to bid our adieu to the other 3 members of our 6 member family exploring Meghalaya, who were headed back. They took us to one small waterfall the likes of which we had never seen. After that calming boat ride we explored the thrill of Ziplining back and forth the Umngot river, filled our tummies to some decent meal at Betelnut restaurant and were on our way to Asia’s cleanest village- Mawlynnong. Just before entering the village we made another pitstop at a Living root bridge near Riwai. This one is wider than the other bridges that we had seen and looked way sturdier. From here we headed straight our hotel. After placing our order for dinner there, we took a walk in the quiet village around 7:00PM. The organised manner of the village left me captivated. It is no surprise they have the title of Asia’s Cleanest Village.

Our Stay: Pumpkin Streamside Guest House

We stayed at Pumpkin Streamside Guest House at Mawlynnong which is right at the outskirts of the village. The stay was good with accommodative staff and there was good food. Their dinner meal had curd in it, and again I almost cried. I’d recommend this place if you wish to travel here. There are also many homestays inside the village that you could stay at too. I have attached some pictures below you can refer to.

Free Advice

  • If you are planning to visit Maylynnong then visit that village first and then go to Dawki. Look it up in the map and work your itinerary accordingly
  • Make use of your time in Mawlynnong and take as many walks as possible
  • Oh and yes, DO NOT LITTER!

Damage to Pockets

  • Shnongpdeng entry and parking: Rs 75
  • Shnongpdeng Boating: Rs. 200
  • Ziplining: Rs. 500
  • Betelnut Lunch: ~ Rs. 390
  • Mawlynnong stay with dinner and breakfast: ~ Rs. 1400

Day 7: Mawlynnong – Krang Suri – Tripura

After another refreshing walk in Mawlynnong, and a really heavy heart because I just didn’t want to leave, we were on our way to Tripura. Our destination in Tripura was a 15 hour drive away. So we had a pitstop planned at Karimganj (Bad idea to stay in this town!) On the way to Karimganj, our driver took us to Krang Suri which is yet another enrapturing beauty. Unfortunately there were too many people, and we were not in favour of getting in water with that many people waddling around. The view itself was satisfying enough for us to move on.

Our Stay: Hotel Nakshatra

Our stay for the night after a long drive was at Hotel Nakshatra in Karimganj. This one was really bad. The staff were nice people but the place was not clean. There were dead insects in the room, the sheets were stained. So I am not even going to bother providing a link. Don’t stay here! We headed out at 4 in the morning because we wanted to get out ASAP.

Free Advice

  • If you are planning to go to Tripura, do not stay in Karimganj, try staying in Silchar instead
  • Plan your day and start early as it gets dark pretty early in these regions

Damage to Pockets

  • Karimganj stay and dinner: Rs. 1100

PS: I might have mentioned about curds a couple of times in this blog. I was just so surprised that no one in this region eat/drink curd/buttermilk. I cannot comprehend a no-curd region in India.

PPS: Yes! I love curd.


4 thoughts on “Meghalaya: The Abode of Clouds!

  1. Beautiful pics, gorgeous scenery and nice stories of your stay/experiences! I’ve only seen these on Harish Bali’s episodes. Would love to see these places on my next trip to India 🙂

    Like

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