Most of us dream of experiencing a walk through clouds and feeling the light mist spraying on our face. As fairy-tale like as it may sound, it could actually be a reality. All you have to do is head to the abode of clouds – right here in India. Meghalaya in the north-east is quite true to its name for it is a state that is literally covered with clouds.
Filled with mystical waterfalls, sprawling green valleys and hidden cave systems, Meghalaya has tons of experiences to offer. With the pre-monsoons already creating a mystical atmosphere, there is no better time to discover the various things to do here.
1-Tee off at the Shillong Golf Course
You might not know how to golf but that should not stop you from getting to one of the few natural golf courses in the world. Termed as the Gleneagle of this east, this golf course in Shillong will treat you to more than just a game. Sitting on the grassy hill top, you can spend some quiet moments watching cattle grazing, kids attempting acrobatics or even playing football.
2-Try some watersports at Umiam Lake
The Barapani or the Umiam Lake on the outskirts of Shillong is what gave the city the sobriquet – Scotland of the East. The blue waters of this scenic lake surrounded by hills are often compared to the Loch Lake of Scotland. Plan an idyllic picnic in the Lum Nehru Park by its bank or get set to explore the waters on a kayak. For those who like a little speed, try motorboats or water scooters.
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3-Go waterfall hopping all the way to Sohra
Meghalaya is blessed with myriads of waterfalls – each associated with an interesting story. Starting with the Elephant Falls in Shillong, ride down all the way to Sohra capturing the beauty and tales associated with the cascades along the way. Discover the tale of the fierce human eating snake who was slaughtered on what makes the Dainthlen Falls. Capture the plunge of the Dame Likai as the waterfall Nohkalikai leaps over a cliff. You can always stop along the way at smaller falls to wet your feet in the little streams they make.
4-Explore the mysterious caves of Meghalaya
They say nine of the ten longest and deepest caves of India are found in Meghalaya. Head to the Mawsmai caves of Sohra or the limestone ones of Mawsynram to see the unique meeting of stalagmites and stalactites. Crawl through the narrow crevices of Arwah Caves in a torchlight to find rare fossils. Wade through the perennial waters of Naphak Lake right into Siju Caves in Tura to see caverns named after princes. It is amazing to see the natural treasures hidden within.
5-Go hiking along its valleys and peaks
A perfect way of realising your dream of walking through clouds is to embark on one of the many trails that Meghalaya offers. Try the simple hike up to Shillong Peak while you spend time in the city. Alternately, you can sign up for the Weiloi – Umngi one that takes you to the hot springs at your final destination. The Mawlyngot hike gives you a taste of the forest and valley as you get down to the Singsong gorge by the river Um Song.
6-Cross over the Living Root Bridges
A bio-engineered marvel created by the Khasi Tribes of Meghalaya, the Living Root Bridges are a sight to behold. Created by directing the rubber tree roots to entwine with Betel plants and fortified by mud and stones, these bridges take over 15 years to build. The bridges are still connected to living plants and are sturdy enough to allow an army of 50 humans walk on it. Walk across one at Mawlynnong or hike down to the double decker bridge in Sohra. It is quite something to cross over the gushing river on it.
7-Visit one of the cleanest rivers in India
The Umngot river, also popularly called the Dawki river can be quite a sight in any season that you visit Meghalaya. Considered as one of the cleanest rivers of India, you can see the bottom of the river as your boat rows across it. Even if you get here during the rains, its pleasing emerald green color will captivate your senses.
8-Spend a night at Mawlynnong
Considered as Asia’s cleanest village, an overnight at Mawlynnong can be quite an experience. Check into one of the pretty homestays and grab a local meal at little home-cafes there. Catch a game of football in the local fields. Hike up the viewing platform to spot the plains of Bangladesh. Remember to take an early morning through the village to see how they maintain the spotless atmosphere.
9-Discover the tribal culture at Don Bosco Center of Indigenous Cultures
From pretty trinkets to elaborate headgears and simple garbs – the Don Bosco Center of Indigenous Cultures in Shillong is a perfect place to discover the various tribes of north-east India. You can learn about the various festivals of this region while checking out the traditional homes of each of these tribes. Atop the same center, is a skywalk that gives you a gorgeous birds-eye view of Shillong.
10-Sample local food
Your journey to Meghalaya is not complete if you have not sampled their local food. While the non-vegetarians have a plethora of offerings in meat – especially pork, the vegetarians too, will not be left alone. Try their red rice with local curries, along with traditional radish salad. Spicing up your palate would be the yummy bamboo pickle. Police Bazaar in Shillong would be a good place to start.
There are no direct flights to Meghalaya. The closest airport is Guwahati in Assam. You can get a direct taxi to Shillong at the Guwahati airport itself.
Meghalaya does not have railway connectivity. Roads are the best way to get around.