Meghalaya translates into ‘Abode of the Clouds’, and it has every right to be called so. It is one of the most beautiful states in the Northeast. You will also hear the name ‘seven sisters’ being called upon, when people mention the other states in the Northeast. They include Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Tripura. Well, you will learn about the seventh sister, Meghalaya, today. It is a fascinating place, which has the most natural landscapes, including hills, caves, rivers, gorges, valleys, waterfalls, and festivals. You can also call it an adventure sports abode. You can indulge in both outdoor as well as indoor activities in Meghalaya.
Some of the places in Meghalaya that are worth mentioning are Shillong, Cherrapunji, Mawsynram, Mawlynglong, and Jowai, to name a few. It also hosts the cleanest village in India. You can even visit the Bangladesh borders and River Dawki, which flows partially through India and partially through Bangladesh. Let us find out more facets of this beautiful state.
Background of the Meghalaya
For the unversed, Meghalaya was formed by the separation of two districts from Assam. It was a part of Assam. In the year, 1972, the new districts of Garo, Khasi, and Jaintia merged to form Meghalaya. Th capital of the state is Shillong, which was also the administrative capital of the British during East India rule. Meghalaya is also famous as the ‘Scotland of the East’. Meghalaya is a sub-tropical ecoregion with diverse landscapes. Prior to the period of British rule, very little is known about Meghalaya. From 1830 onwards, for a century, the British ruled the place, along with other parts of India. However, the tribals were allowed to live their lives on their own terms. Thus, you can still find the culture and traditions of the original inhabitants intact.
Popular Tourist Attractions
Meghalaya is a unique state in its own right. One of the seven sisters of the Northeast, Meghalaya offers tourists a divine escape complete with huge waterfalls, cloudy skies, cave systems, rivers, lakes, dense forests, living root bridges, and more. Whichever direction you look at, something or the other is bound to surprise you. You will come across some of the most fascinating creations of nature and a few manmade ones only in the ‘Abode of the Clouds.’
On landing in Shillong, you can witness the Elephant falls, which is a multitiered waterfall, near the city centre. Additionally, you will also be able to witness the Laitlum Canyon, which will put the Grand Canyon in the US to shame. You can literally call your name out from the cliff top, and hear the echo coming back to you, multiple times. If you love the idea of boating, you can also head to Umiam lake, which offers a ride like no other.
Apart from the fascinating attractions that Meghalaya offers, you will also get to witness the best traditions and cultures of the people through myriad festivals. Nongkrem Festival is one of the most important festivals of the Khasi tribe. The festival is celebrated to ensure a good harvest for the entire year. The Jaintias are no less when it comes to the celebrations. You might just land there when they are out celebrating Shad Sukra. It mainly signals the start of the sowing season. You will find everyone dressed in their traditional attire and singing and dancing all the way.
Some of the places that you must visit on your trip to Meghalaya are:
- Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians
- Balpakram National Park
- Elephant Falls
- Don Bosco Museum
- Mawphlang Sacred Forest
- Laitlum Canyon
- Lake Umiam
- Nokhlikhai Waterfalls
- Mawsmai Caves and Arwah Caves
- Dawki River
- Double and Single Roots Bridges
- Rainbow Waterfalls
- Jowai trip
The list can go on and on. You can choose to spend a week in Meghalaya to tour all the above or stay back at a homestay for a month to see all the other off-beat attractions too.
Activities That You Can Indulge in Meghalaya
You can engage in a variety of activities at Meghalaya. This lovely northeastern state has myriad offerings for tourists and explorers.
Trekking– You can trek downhill to the living roots bridges in Meghalaya. It is in Cherrapunji. You can check out two different roots bridges on the way- the single roots bridge and the double roots bridge. Along with it, you can also visit the Rainbow waterfalls. As you pass through the rugged hilly region and small villages on the way, you will discover a different realm of nature.
Camping – camping on the banks of Lake Umiam, is also a possibility. It is a popular adventure sports spot. The green and lush surroundings offer the perfect backdrop for adventure sports. Rock climbing and zip lining are a few of the several activities, that you can engage in there.
Playing Golf – This is one of the less-talked about activities that you can engage in. Head to Shillong Golf Course, which is one of the highest, oldest and largest golf courses in the globe. You will be surrounded by scenic hills, trees, and clouds, so be more vigilant about the shot, lest you get distracted. It is also referred to as the ‘Gleneagles of the East.’
Boating – You can board a boat and stay afloat in the Dawki river. It flows through both countries – India and Bangladesh. The river is one of the cleanest rivers in India, and you can even see the stones and pebbles lying on the river bed. The water appears emerald green from a height.
Exploring Caves – You can also explore the Mawsmai and Arwa Caves in Cherrapunji, a short drive away from Sohra. You can also head to the Siju caves in Tura. The cave is also called ‘the cave of bats.’ Many of the caves have limestone stalagmites and stalactites, in Meghalaya. Just ensure to go there with a guide so that you do not get lost in the maze.
Visiting Hot Springs – You can go for a therapeutic bath at Jakrem Hot Springs on the outskirts of the city. You can also take hot showers in the bathrooms in the Health Resort Complex.
How To Spend a Few Days in Meghalaya
You can spend a week in Meghalaya and you won’t even know, when the time just flies away. You can start the tour with Shillong, where you can visit the Churches, Don Bosco Museum, Shillong Viewpoint. Elephant Falls, and Lady Hydari Park. You should also check out the sacred forest at Mawphlang, where you can feel the mysticism surrounding you. After you are done with Shillong, you can visit Dawki, and then head to Cherrapunji.
Some of the top attractions in the city are Nokhlikhai waterfalls, Mawsmai caves, Arwa caves, Dainthen waterfalls, Khasi Monoliths, and Mawsynram village. You can also visit Mawsynram, which is the wettest place on earth. Mawlynglong is the cleanest village in Asia, and it is right there, awaiting your visit. Jowai is another part of the state that you can visit. It is located in the Jaintia Hills. The place is famous for its tribal cultures and traditions and is still untouched by modernism yet.
How to Reach Meghalaya
Flight – You can catch a flight from some of the major cities in India to Guwahati. The airport is Gopinath Bordoloi Airport, which is 128 km from Shillong. From there, it is a 5-hour journey to Meghalaya’ Shillong. Most tourists start the tour from Shillong.
Train – Meghalaya does not have its own station. So, you can reach Guwahati Railway station by train from other parts of India. From there, you can take a cab, or bus to Shillong.
Road – If you are a proficient driver, you can drive in your own vehicle to Guwahati, take a break there, and then continue to travel towards Shillong. However, driving in the hills can be a challenge for city drivers.
Places to Stay in Meghalaya
You will get all sorts of options to stay in Meghalaya. The best cities, where you can book your accommodation are Shillong, Cherrapunji, Sohra, and Jowai. You can complete your tours from these places and retire for the night. You will come across homestays, hotels from 2-stars to 5-stars, and resorts as well. Ri Kynjai and Resort by the Lake are very popular luxury resorts.