A dear friend of mine, Ju, helped me plan our Kaziranga & Meghalaya trip. She knew a guy who knew a guy who owned a gorgeous lakeside property…It’s a hideaway property with no name!! You have an address and the contact number of a person who organizes everything for you. This Bollywood suspense surrounding the Meghalaya trip made me fall in love with the place even before I got here.
We landed at Guwahati & as our contact had promised there was a gleaming Pandit ji waiting to receive us. It took us 2 hours to get to our Bara Pani(Umiam Lake) hideaway. One look at the place & I knew why the owner felt it needed no publicity. The view from the property is STUNNING!! The owner has made 4 cottages on the banks of the Umiam lake. We got the upper level lakeside cottage & I LOVED how tastefully everything was curated. This was going to be our home while we explored Meghalaya. To ensure nothing distracted us from the view, there was no TV or WiFi J. They have an in house cook who makes yum food.
After taking in the view for a day, we set out to see the highly acclaimed “Living Roots Bridge” the next morning. There are 2 touristy options – a) The double decker living root bridge at Nongriat b) Living root bridge close to Mawlynnong. “Option a” wasn’t really an option after I devoured hundreds of blogs highlighting the arduous journey. This wasn’t mild complaining folks – After the 7000 steps trip, people hated stairs for life, some fell sick, some couldn’t move for a week after. I mean c’mon!! I wasn’t there to fight a war with my body. I was just looking forward to some good old vegetating in the hills!! It was settled then – unless someone came up with a rolling system to & from the bridge, we were avoiding the double decker bridge. We kept a car & driver for the 5 days we were in Meghalaya. The driver took us to Riwai, from where it takes less than 10 mins to walk to the living root bridge. You are awed by the sheer genius of the idea & wonder why we haven’t replicated thousands of these. Simple tree shaping of aerial rubber tree roots. As long as the tree they are formed from remains healthy, they naturally self-strengthen. What an idea!!
Just a 2 minutes drive away from the bridge is Mawlynnong, the cleanest village in Asia. My husband originates from Punjab and through our 30min walk across Mawlynnong, I had to hear him grumble about why villages in Punjab don’t learn from this. Why can’t they have IDFC powered solar lighting? Why can’t they come together as a community to keep villages clean? I was delighted when he decided to climb up a tree house 😉
Next day, after lunch, we drove to Cherrapunji. You can easily skip this side of Meghalaya. It’s dry & barren and not the walk in the clouds I’d expected. The only thing we enjoyed was the Nohkalikai falls – the 3rd highest waterfall in India. For the brave hearted and strong kneed, combine Nongriat with Cherrapunji to see the double decker living roots bridge.
After another easy morning, we spent some time visiting the eateries at Shillong. We visited some pubs & cafés to get a pulse of the city & why it’s called the rock capital of India. We ate local Khasi food and went to Café Shillong and Irish pub all in the same day. Our last 10 kilos are on Shillong!! The place we spent most of our weekend in, was Café Shillong. They have live music from 6pm and we loved the energy about the place.
We started early on one the days here and drove towards Jowai to see the Krangsuri falls. As we started walking down the steps towards the falls, it started pouring. Within the time it took me to wear my raincoat, the greens around us had come alive. They were dancing in the rain and egging us on towards the falls. We were completely enveloped by their infectious energy. The falls are at their best after the rains. I will highly recommend Krangsuri to all nature lovers. They’re absolutely gorgeous!! Carry some beers and light bites and make a day of it. Be mindful not to litter the place though.
The other interesting place we saw on the same day is the Monoliths at Nartiang. Apparently, they are the world’s tallest and biggest monoliths. It’s a splendid site backed by an equally powerful history.
If we had more time, I would’ve loved to spend a few days in the Garo region. There’s a list of things I want to cover there. That list, I’m sure will bring me back to this little paradise.
Until then – Au revoir my new found friend!!
Recommendations for Meghalaya
- Best Time to go: October to April. We went in March
- How to get there: Jet Airways from Delhi to Guwahati. Bara Pani is a 2hour drive from Guwahati
- Ideal Trip Time: 8-9 days
- Keep your raincoat & umbrella handy
- Start your day early if you’re visiting distant places. The Sun sets by 5:30-6pm
- Be mindful of the peak traffic hours in Shillong. People apparently get stuck for hours.