North East had always been on my mind. So, when I came across extremely cheap tickets for Guwahati, I booked the tickets without any second thoughts. As the date of flying started approaching, I zeroed down to Meghalaya considering the pleasing temperature it has during summers. North east explorers run by Rajiv gave me more reasons to travel to Meghalaya and his continuous support ensured my trip just goes perfect. For more reasons, check this : Why you should head to Meghalaya this summer?
When I informed my colleagues and friends about my upcoming trip to Meghalaya, almost all of them had the same concern – “How will you cover Meghalaya in 5 days?”, “Isn’t it too short a time to see Meghalaya”? I am quite sure that all of these questions would have crossed your mind too if you would have ever thought of making a quick visit to Meghalaya.
But for corporate slaves like me, long weekends are a great respite and I leave no stones unturned to make the best of my hard-earned long weekends and thus my itinerary needs to be well crafted.
While I spent days polishing this itinerary, you get your hands on it for showing your love for Meghalaya!
Day 1 : Arrive at Guwahati Airport and head to Shillong for an over night stay
Try and take an early morning flight to reach Guwahati by 10 am so that you have the entire day at your disposal. From Guwahati airport to city is one hour drive, so hold on tight for another hour. To make the most of your long weekend, consider hiring a cab for the entire trip or rent a self drive the way I did. Head straight to pick up the self drive vehicle and head to Shillong.
Drive to Shillong is through scenic landscapes and smooth highways. Do stop by the highway to buy fresh and super juicy fruits from roadside vendors. Pineapple is definitely a must pick from there, I have never had a juicier & sweeter pineapple than this one.
Another well deserved halt is at Umiam Lake which is around 17 kms before Shillong. Although it is a man-made lake, yet it’s gorgeous beyond words. You can indulge in boating and various water sports like kayaking and water cycling.
Consider reaching your homestay (I suggest to stay in a homestay to feel one with the place especially when you have such short time in that city) by evening and relax for a while before you head out to explore Police Bazar. I have a huge fascination of exploring local markets as they bring out the most authentic local flavors and souvenirs to pick from. You can experience the day-to-day lifestyle of locals in such markets.
Retire to bed early so that you can start the next day early as there’s lot of exciting travel planned for next day!
Day 2: Visit the cleanest village of Asia and camp by the side of clear emerald colored river
Before heading out of Shillong, have an appetizing breakfast at Dylan’s cafe which breathes and lives Bob Dylan to every bit. The decor, food and music will give you the best start for the day ahead, it’s that enticing.
On your way to Mawlynnong, you will pass by Elephant falls. You can give it a miss as while in Meghalaya, you are going to encounter many magnificent cascading waterfalls. Elephant falls have gained popularity because our Prime Minister was here recently. With not much water in this waterfall and undue tourist attraction, you can skip it and head to the cleanest village of Asia.
The highway towards Mawlynnong is extremely comfortable to drive on with lush green landscape and mesmerizing scenery giving you company all along. After you take a turn towards Mawlynnong village, you drive along the sequence of tall bamboo trees on both the sides of the narrow but well maintained road.
Stroll through the clean streets of the village and have a sumptuous local meal in one of the restaurants there. Don’t forget to spot the cute looking bamboo dustbins which are placed close enough for you to not miss those.
It’s time to hit the road again and drive towards Shnongpdeng. As you cross Dawki, you will spot the India Bangladesh border marked over the Umngot river on your google map. Peep out of your car window and see the hullabaloo of maddening crowd at the river,you will exactly know why I suggested to skip Dawki and head straight to Shnongpdeng. Although Shnongpdeng is hardly 8 kms from Dawki, yet you will find a leap of difference in these places.
Spend the night camping riverside under the star lit sky and hear the constant argument of water waves and the rocks nearby.
Day 3: Boating in Umngot river, ziplining over lush valley, caving in amazing caves and visit country’s tallest waterfall.
Wake up early to catch the sun play hide and seek with the clouds. Indulge in some photography while boating in crystal clear green waters of Umngot river as you will find the best shots of your trip here. Run to the hanging bridge for the panoramic view of the river and hills around.
If you have an adventure muscle, ditch the view points and try Ziplining over lush green Mawkdok Dympep valley on your way to Cherrapunjee. The goosebumps when you are made to wear the safety gear to appraising the valley from the top will be experiences of lifetime.
Reach Cherrapunjee and indulge in caving at Mawsmai Caves which will surely leave you spellbound. The caves claim to be the most lit up caves of Meghalaya to enable the tourists to appreciate the formations of stalactites & stalagmites and leave them awestruck.
While in Cherrapaunjee, you cannot miss to see the tallest plunge waterfall of India. Nohkalikai falls is 1115 feet tall making it the fourth highest waterfall in the world. This enchanting sight can only be appreciated to its glory when your see it for yourself. The leap from heavily forested site into an ultramarine blue pool guided by the rocky base makes for the most spectacular view.
When you are in the city of clouds, embrace yourself with numerous waterfalls. Another pretty and a very unique waterfall is Dianthlen waterfall. It’s a waterfall overlooked by wide flat rocks and small streams running through those. Visit the waterfall and learn the intriguing history of it. You can have a mini picnic at this spot as it offers the view of dancing clouds, ample space to walk around and appreciate the stunning landscape.
Next day is going to be a tiring yet contenting day, sleep well this night!
Day 4: Trek to one of the living double root bridge and one of its kind Rainbow waterfalls
Start your morning with a filling breakfast as you will need a lot of energy for this strenous trek. Reach Tyrna village which is approximately 12 kms from Cherrapunjee. Commence the trek which will include climbing up and down steep 3000 stairs and crossing more than 4 hanging bridges overlooking huge water streams to reach Nongriat village. It houses one of the living Double decker root bridge. The bridge is handmade from the hanging roots of rubber trees by the Khasi people and took more than a decade to build such a fascinating bridge. The bridge overlooks the waterfall which leads to the pools. Rest on the sides of clear water pools for a while before your head to Rainbow waterfalls.
You can actually decide on staying overnight at Nongriat village and can resume your trek to Rainbow waterfalls the next day if you have one more day at hand. We didn’t have another day but had all the will to see Rainbow waterfalls even if we have to exert a little. If you are also running short at days, continue with the trek, cross small water streams, climb some more stairs and walk the uneven path to reach the mesmerizing Rainbow waterfalls.
Immerse yourself in the magnanimity of the waterfall whose splashes make you feel adored, refreshed and pampered after a taxing trek. You have to be lucky to spot the rainbow which is spotted often but not everyday.
Prepare to head back to double-decker bridge and look forward to take a dip in the pool, have a mini fish foot spa and play around till your heart’s content. Try leaving in time to reach Tyrna village before sun sets. Head to cherrapunjee and rest for the night.
Day 5: Drive back to Shillong , visit Ward’s lake , chill at a pub in Guwahati before you catch your flight back
Last day in Meghalaya, go on a leisure drive and take all the deserving halts to click pictures of the overwhelming sights on your way back to Shillong. The clouds won’t let you leave so soon and will accompany you all along your road journey.
Hop off the car at 100 years old Ward’s Lake and take a walk in extensive lush garden encircling this artificial water body. You would love to spend an hour or two praising the stunning wooden bridge and gazing at colorful fishes which ornate this horse shoe shaped lake.
Plan to arrive in Guwahati much in advance in order to catch your flight back. In case you reach Guwahati with enough time at hand, chill in a pub called Cafe Hendrix and pamper yourself with the specialties of the cafe. The ambiance of the cafe is just appropriate to unwind yourself and bring you to peace with the fact of heading back to the reality.
So, when are you travelling to Meghalaya?