Meghalaya literally the 'Abode of Clouds’ when translated in English, is a state of great scenic beauty, with undulating rivers, waterfalls, sparkling mountain streams, emerald-green lakes, gorges, precipitous ravines and panoramic views from hilltops. As with most the North Eastern states, Meghalaya is diversely multi cultural, multi ethnic and multi religious, with an amazing mix of traditional and modern lifestyle. Let’s look at few offbeat things that one can do when in Meghalaya:
1) Caving: Caves show us a glimpse of another world, devoid
of sunlight, secret passages where unique life forms exist. And as with
waterfalls, the ever presence of rain has formed countless caves throughout
Meghalaya. Most of them remain unexplored, and many are yet to be found. This
makes caving in Meghalaya raw and untamed, where you may be deep in a jungle
and end up finding a cave that leads you to Neverland.
The amazing caves at Mawsmai and Syndai in the Jaintia hills with their many stalactite and stalagmite formations are a must visit. These icicle-like formations are truly mesmerizing. Go on to the Mawjynbuin caves near Mawsynram (known for the highest rainfall in the world) where you can pay obeisance to a naturally formed Shiva lingam (another stalactite).
2) Picnic at Ward’s Lake or Lady Hydari Park: Known as the Scotland of the East, Meghalaya is a great place to give your eyes a treat and lungs loads of fresh air they’re denied in polluted cities. Delight in the fresh rejuvenating mountain air at the Orchid Lake resort designed by Charles Correa, a highly recommended destination for your hedonistic excursions.
3) Stay in a tree house at Mawlynnong: Discovered a few years back, Mawlynnong is unofficially acclaimed as being the cleanest village of Asia. And if you happen to take a stroll in any of the cozy concrete footpaths of the village, you will not argue on the claim’s authenticity, rather fall in love with Mawlynnong. The village is home to the fascinating Khasi people who are not only enthusiasts and environmentalists, but charming too, having stories and folklore for almost everything and anything. Cute looking houses dot the village, with varieties of flowers growing everywhere which delight and enlighten the landscape of the village. Guests to the village get to stay in the village tree house, and the money generated from tourism is utilized in keeping the village clean and in conserving the nearby forests. You may also hike to nearby villages, visit a few waterfalls, explore the local living root bridges, or climb up the village Skyview and gaze at the breathtaking views of the Bangladesh plains.
4) Play with the clouds in Cherrapunji – If the entire state of Meghalaya receives relentless rainfall, the hill station of Cherrapunji along-with nearby Mawsyram receives maddening rainfall each year and are officially recognized as the rainiest and wettest places on planet earth. A perfect place for offbeat travel, clouds hover midst the landscape of Cherrapunji, creating a misty and almost magical atmosphere. Many waterfalls exist here among which the Nohkalikai Falls is the third highest in all of India. Then there are numerous caves which can be explored, and not to mention the double-decker living root bridge which is the most magnificent of all living bridges found in the world and is a four hour hike away from Cherrapunji.
5) Do not miss their Soul food and music: Shillong is a
great place to experience music like nowhere else. In December the social
diaries are chock-a-block with concerts that are sure to get you reminiscing
your college days. Music is omnipresent in college festivals, churches, homes
and pretty much anywhere you can sit strumming a guitar.
After your heart full of music, you can later fill your tummies with delicious Jadoh, a Khasi version of Biryani, or fermented bamboo shoots cooked with pork and chillies at some of the food outlets