We are just back from an amazing ‘Meghalaya Roadtrip’ and can’t wait to share our experiences with you all……
It was our first trip to the North East India and were very excited to visit it. It was like visiting a new country. We have decided to do one state at a time. So this time, it was Meghalaya.
Few weeks back, I came across an advertisement of cherry blossom festival Shillong and we decided to go to Meghalaya. We were expecting to see pink trees everywhere but because of rains, the bloom was delayed. But no regrets, the whole Meghalaya experience was worth it. Loved the beautiful state and warm people.
Day 1 (Guwahati to Shillong – 100km)
From Mumbai, we flew to Guwahati, Assam. View from the flight was amazing. You can see sudden change of landscape when you fly over plains of Bangladesh to mountains and greenery of North East India. From that point be prepared to see Bangladesh plains almost everyday. You get to see the Bangladesh plains from most of the border villages in Meghalaya ie. Dawki, Mawlynong, Cherrapunjee.
We reached Guwahati airport by 11am and booked a prepaid cab to pick up the zoomcar. It’s at an hour’s distance from airport. Car pick up was hassle free. After picking up the car, we quickly picked up our lunch from nearby kfc and headed to Shillong coz we wanted to reach before the sunset. As far as possible, we avoid night drives. In North East it gets dark quite early in winters at around 5pm and we had to cover 100km. Guwahati is near Meghalaya border. As you leave the city, you will notice it’s Assam on one side and Meghalaya on the other side of the highway. We actually saw a few boards where it was written Assam on the left side and you cross the road your address changes to Meghalaya. As you enter Meghalaya, you will see lot of bamboo houses and shops selling different kinds of pickles and fruits. Pineapples were very yummy and juicy. I had heard lot about pickles in Meghalaya which I bought later in Shillong.
We drove along the beautiful Umiam lake and finally entered Shillong at around 4:30pm. Suddenly the roads become narrow and crowded as you enter the city. We checked into ‘The Majestic’ hotel which was decent for overnight stay.
In the evening, we went for some shopping at police bazaar. As it was Saturday, it was insanely crowded. You get lovely bead jewellery, shawls, cane products etc. at shops called Khasi emporium, Megha emporium etc. at police bazaar. Then we went to Cafe Shillong for dinner. It was a nice cozy cafe with yummy food. Momos, noodles and Thukpa, Shillong tea were very good and perfect for the chilli evening. Noodles were wrapped in banana leaf….How cool is that! They also have live music on Sundays. Lot of options for vegetarians in their menu. Best part is fast wifi unlike many other places in Meghalaya.
Day 2 (Daytrip to Mawsynram – 65km)
We woke up early morning to go to Mawsynram, wettest place on earth. It gets 11,861mm of rain a year. But once monsoon is over, they have to fight for water. That’s why it is world’s wettest desert. Drive to Mawsynram was scenic without any traffic. There’s nothing much to do in Mawsynram. I’m sure it must be more beautiful during rainy season…. There’s a cave nearby, but we skipped it. There’s also a place called Mawphlang sacred forest. We skipped that too… We just clicked pictures with the board saying ‘wettest place on earth’. How can you not have pictures of that board! It’s the actual proof that we have visited wettest places on earth. We had a hard time finding that board. Mawsynram is a sleepy village. There were hardly any people. We reached there at 10am and everything was closed. So, whenever you go to Mawsynram, go towards PWD, you will find that board. After this, we had maggi at a small restaurant and started our drive back to Shillong.
On our way back to Shillong, we had lunch at cafe ML05 in the outskirts of Shillong. Cool café with lovely interiors and great location. Best part was entry through the pine forest. We had momos, maggi and wai wai bhel. Momos were huge and yummy, cooked each in separate basket. Best momos I have ever had. View from the cafe is lovely. After the lunch, we went to Shillong view point where you get a bird’s eye view of Shillong. That’s when I realised how big is Shillong. I even tried Khasi traditional costume at the view point. Loved the colourful costume and jewellery. Specially the flower tiara. They wear it during festivals. There’s a simpler version of this which is worn daily. If time permits, you can visit elephant falls near ML05 cafe. But we skipped it and headed to Ri kynjai hotel, a luxury resort overlooking Umiam lake in the outskirts of Shillong. We stayed in a suite…… Suites are a more expensive than the rooms (almost double the price) but they offer unfiltered views of the lake since they are on higher level. We spent whole evening in the balcony admiring the view and went for early dinner. We decided to try Khasi food for dinner. Ordered khasi dal and rice. Loved the flavours of pepper and ginger. Though the resort was very beautiful, I feel, one day stay is enough. It’s quite far from the city and during peak time there is lot of traffic in Shillong. So its difficult to commute. Plus the approach road to the resort is not in good condition though it’s very scenic along the lake.
Day 3 (Shillong to Mawlynong – 157km)
We woke up early morning to the beautiful sunrise at Umiam lake and spent some time in balcony. Then we went for breakfast. Breakfast spread was good. We sat outdoor for breakfast facing the beautiful lake. After breakfast, we started our journey towards Mawlynong. Road was good but narrow with lot of heavy vehicles till Dawki.
On the way we went to Nartiang near Jowai where there’s a monolith park with world’s largest collection of monoliths. Monolith is a symbol of remembrance in the Jaintia hills. There are many folktales justifying the presence of monoliths. The upright part represents males and the flat table stone represents female. The tallest and biggest monolith is about 8m in height, 2m in breadth and half a meter in thickness. Surprisingly we were the only ones in the park. It’s not popular among tourists.
After this we headed to Dawki (India Bangladesh border) ……. Umngot river on the border is must visit in Meghalaya. We parked our car on a cliff near the river. View from the cliff was amazing….. blue green water, narrow wooden boats and fishermen fishing! As we went down, we could see clear water. Even the riverbed was seen. It looked so serene! We went for boating for an hour. It was a great experience. Avoid going there post monsoon as the water is muddy at that time but November was perfect. There was a small tea stall on the cliff overlooking river. We had tea and cup noodles admiring the blue green river and the beautiful boats. Later, we went to see the border check post and clicked some pictures and headed to Mawlynong (Asia’s cleanest village). Road wasn’t that good. It was very narrow. But traffic was less. The road to Mawlynong is along the Bangladesh border. So most of the times you are driving on a cliff with Bangladesh plains on one side. So drive carefully….. if you fall, you’re in Bangladesh! Jokes apart…… the road was very scenic and we could see lovely sunset on Bangladesh side throughout our drive to Mawlynong.
It was already dark when we reached mawlynong. We stayed in a homestay. There are only homestays in Mawlynong. They provide basic facilities. There was a restaurant run by villagers. They serve yummy homecooked food (veg thali / Chicken thali). After dinner, we went for a short walk around the village.
More about this beautiful village and our rest of the adventures in Meghalaya will be coming soon in next blog post.
Till then, Bye!!!