Meghalaya- Wild and Beautiful
“Being afraid of things going wrong isn’t the way to make things go right.”
Step out. Take your own responsibility and explore new possibilities.
Meghalaya is one of the random-est things I have done. And trust me I have done many. One day at work, scrolling through my Instagram explore gallery I came across a post about a group tour to Meghalaya. It had picture of a waterfall that gave me a flight of fancy. I dialed on the contact number shared and confirmed my booking. Shubham (the organizer) dropped a mail with itinerary and tour details, I archived it without reading. So everything came as a surprise!
A trip organized by Photographers Of India https://www.instagram.com/photographers.of.india/?hl=en
Travel Agent: Chalohoppo http://www.chalohoppo.com/
Reporting at Guwahati airport at 9am, followed by a small introduction session.
It was a group of 45 photographers from all over the country. Professional and amateur, adventurous and portraits, explorers and observers- all together.
We boarded the private bus that took us on NH40 and further to cooler and greener Meghalaya. On the way we took a stop over at Umian lake or Barapani- as locally popular. Other sightseeing points were Elephant Falls and Dainthelan Falls that we crossed on our way.
First day was planned for interactions and some chilling time. We stayed in Sai Mika Resort, located on a beautiful sight between wide fields. At night it was even prettier with outspread sky and frequently visible shooting stars.
Early wake up with a well spirited yoga session by @theindianyogini
Post that, everyone was requested to freshen up, pack and have breakfast so that we can start the tour. The day plan started with Seven Sister Falls and Noh-ka-likhai falls. And further to Arwah Caves, located in a small village called Sohra in Meghalaya. The caves are at a higher altitude and can be reached by a small hike. It was an interesting site with dark pathways and thrilling twist and turns.
We continued our journey to Tyrna Village, Cherrapunjee which is the base point for the Double Decker Trek. Here we met our guide who stays in the village and is well aware of the jungle routes. Before starting the trek, our guide gave us some useful information. The trek is 3000 down steps stairway that coves 3.5kms. Just when our knees started to ask for a break what we saw in front was the first root bridge. It is the Single Longest Root bridge, that crosses over a river stream with crystal clear water. Everyone took a pit stop to enjoy the splash of clear water.
The group was divided into sub groups of 15 people to avoid the rabble. I joined the group that was going first as I couldn’t hold the excitement to see the double-decker root bridge first. We also crossed few other bridges on our way, which were made by linking wires by local village people.
Double Decker Root bridge was the last site for the day. The root bridges are hand made from the aerial roots of Rubber Fig trees by the local people- Khasi and Jaintia. A living root bridge is formed by guiding the pliable roots of the ficus elastica tree across a stream or river, and then allowing the roots to grow and strengthen over time until they can hold the weight of a human being. As long as the tree it is formed from remains healthy, the bridge will naturally self-renew and self-strengthen as its component roots grow thicker
It was almost evening when we reached at ChaloHoppo Campsite. We were welcomed with tea and an evening with bonfire and music. Everyone had an early dinner and crashed.
I couldn’t sleep, next day we were going to The Waterfall!!
A good morning with the sounds of birds chirping. I opened my tent window wide and found myself waking up in middle of a jungle. Almost 20 tents pitched on a small ground somewhere in between Nongriat Village.
From sitting in office and looking at the same faces everyday, to waking up with sounds of birds, in middle of nowhere with a group of travellers I would probably not even see again.
With much excitement, I quickly freshened up and had a stomach full breakfast. There was no question of a bathroom, as there were waterfalls literally everywhere. I decide to take my shower up ahead in the Rainbow Waterfall.
Nishant (ChaloHoppoGuy) asked everyone to be divided into groups of 10-15 so it isn’t crowded while trekking. I did not want to move in a group. I had read so much about this wonderful trek in the forest, that I wanted to explore it alone. So I figured a plan. I decide to go between two groups, so that I have people ahead to lead me and also people behind me if I need help in case.
It’s a 2hrs hike from Nongriat Village which covers crossing of several hanging bridges and living root bridges. On my way, I was mesmerized by the variety of colours and sizes of butterflies flying by. After a fair distance we could almost hear the sound of water falling hard from a good height. That thrilling feeling of having a look at it first gave me good speed. What I saw ahead was massive- The Rainbow Waterfall. We reached at the right time, as it’s better to see the rainbow waterfall in the afternoon as the sunlight would trigger the rainbow as the sun moves towards west. The waterfall forms a natural pool where travellers can take a dip in the ice cold water and shed the tiredness.
On our way back to the campsite, we went to another natural pool with a smaller waterfall but a bigger pool area for a good swim.
Saying goodbye to Nongriat Village was hard; apart from the beautiful experience it gave it was hard because I had to climb 3600 steps uphill to get to the bus.
As per the group plan, next and last destination was Laitlum.
But there was one more place I wanted to go before leaving Meghalaya. In the group, I had met few travellers who were interested to visit the same places. We took half way drop from the group bus and then a cab ahead to Dawki and Shnongpdeng.
We went first to Shnongpdeng and enjoyed Kayaking with good flow of water and a perfect background for pictures.
Next- Dawki, is known as a friendly international border between India and Bangladesh. People flock to the place to enjoy a boat ride in the Umgot river. The water is clean and shines emerald green. A lot of local people row in the Umgot River for transportation, and supply of food and goods.
We moved ahead to Mawlynnong Village- Asia’s cleanest village, to look for shelter for the night. The cleanliness and management of the village is a role model to promote Cleanliness in small villages of India. We managed to find a homestay operated by local people. It was cheap and clean of course.
We took a troll around the Mawlynnong village before getting onto our journey ahead. It is a very small khassi village, where you can have a closer look at the Khasi- culture and lifestyle. There aren’t much touristy things to do.
Next stop was Laitlum. On the way from Mawlynnong-Guwahati, we had to take a de-tour to reach Laitlum. But it can be easily managed in a day if you start the day early. Laitlum Canyons literally translates to “end of hills” and it does justice to its name.
The canyons are outspread in the area and they were shrouded in fog at the time. From the edge of the canyon you can see a steep glight of steps that goes down to reach a small local village. This village is Rasong, it has almost 300 inhabitants that still depends on the ropeway pulley for transportation of food and other raw materials.
It was almost sunset time and I had a night flight to catch.
On my way to Guwahati airport- I was thinking about all that Meghalaya gave me. Some people and experiences for a lifetime.