On the last solo trip I went to in May this year, I managed to visit Meghalaya. I had relatives there – but I never really got down to visiting them because you know – life.
Before I booked myself in to this trip I got several warning signs from my forever paranoid Papa who never really approved any of my solo trips. He always came up with conspiracy theories of why a particular location was never good or safe for girls traveling alone. But then again I have his genes I never take no for an answer.
But then i went anyway!
My top recommendations therefore aren’t something that will give you an experience of a lifetime but it will give you a holiday in its truest sense – equal parts action, food and culture and relaxation.
For the action:
Mawyrnkhang: If Paro Takhtsang in Bhutan wasn’t enough I went and did this crazy hike down Mawrynkhang and exhausted even the littlest strength I had in my lazy, unprepared for treks or any kind of physical activity’ body. Most of the hike was on bamboo stilts but my heart and lungs gave up when I had to climb back up. The scenery was breathtaking and so was the trail and the pristine water but I also marveled at how foolhardy I was to do this – I had a good chance of being frightened of a squirming snake (which I saw on a bamboo bridge) and falling right off it and into the gorge below. You wouldn’t find a spare bone of me there. But my guide goaded me along, and made me reach the pinnacle and what an amazing feeling that was! Someone then mentioned Nongriat root bridge trial to me and I said no sireee (not in this trip atleast).
Mawsmai Caves: It you are the kind who loves caves – this one is a good start for you. Not my cup of tea but oh so amazing to someone who loves caves. I don’t have the requisite skills for caves but this left me breathless (partly because it is quite claustrophobic down there). To someone who loves climbing mountains and like fresh air, please avoid. But to someone who wants to explore caves and see if they can do this moving forward please try. I for one will not!
Cloud 9 Lounge: A different kind of action, this wonderful place at Police Bazaar is a great place for live music and some very nice cocktails and food. If you don’t get live music here, you can always seek it out in other restaurants in and around Police Bazaar. If not the Police Bazaar is just buzzing with activity – enough to give you an adrenalin rush anywan
For food and culture
Sacred Grove: Monoliths depicting man and woman at the Sacred Grove’s entrance. The Grove is 800 years old. You cannot enter without a guide or you may not get out! Or maybe that is the local way of preserving the sanctity of the Grove. You are also not allowed to take anything from the Grove, or bring anything to it. Prevents a lot of litter happy folk amongst us from being what we to do – throw stuff along the trails we take 🙄. You cannot even disrespect the sanctity of the Grove by smoking, drinking etc in there. There is a curse that the dieties of the Grove put on you if you indulge.
You & I Art Cafe: This is as traditional as it gets. A Khasi ‘cafe’ which serves a variety of khasi food and an array of teas. This is an interactive space where you can play traditional Khasi instruments, listen to music that is totally local, read books… an interesting place you must go to if you want a slice of Khasi life. You can totally sit here taking in the sights and sounds of the Khasi life, eat some Dohjem-pu-tharo while you are at it or play some locally made instruments!
Maywlynnog: the cleanest village in Asia is well.. very very clean but very very commercial. Traditional homes have given way to Homestays with a ‘traditional feel’ or those that can give you a glimpse of..Bangladesh across the hills. It’s worth a small trip even now but I wouldn’t ask you to kill yourself to go see it. Instead why not make our cities and villages the cleanest in Asia, get some competition going for Mawlynnong, instead of waiting for a bubonic plague or a plastic overkill to motivate us to do that? What struck me was this beautiful structure of the Church of the Epiphany at Mawlynnong, a 100 year old church in the cleanest village in Asia was built by the Welsh missionaries from Bangladesh.
Shillong: The town has its own energy. You can walk down the streets, taste the food on the street or you can go and relax at a local parlour. The wonderful ladies make you look like a princess and groom you to becoming human after your treks and thrills around Shillong. When you are here, do stop at The Shillong Cafe for the best ever beef momos ever.
Ward Lake: If you want to have some time putting your feet up and doing nothing waltz over to Ward Lake – bang in the middle of bustling Shillong town. You can choose to feed ducks or fish or yourself at the Lake , walk along aimlessly along the Lake or sit on the lawns surrounding the Lake and watch the world pass by. This is one place that prohibits use of plastics or littering and that is welcome even in a place like Shillong which is still not safe from this menace.
Laitlum Canyons: I had no idea how majestic canyons looked till I saw one. Laitlum Grand Canyon is one such beauty i encountered in the East Khasi hills of Shillong. Laitlum means ‘end of hills’. At Laitlum, all one can see are breathtaking gorges and steep winding stairways that snake their way down to the lush valley. This place is actually a trekker’s paradise as well as a haven for those looking for a calm evening picnic. Most times the plains are covered with mist with little visibility to the beauty below but I was lucky to have been sitting on the edge to see this magnificence ahead of me .
So this is the 5% of Meghalaya i was able to cover in the one week i was here. There is still the rest of East Khasi, the whole of West Khasi, Garo Hill and Jaintia hills to cover. So many reasons to go back to Meghalaya many more times!