Meghalaya is a paradise for every explorer. The very name itself means ‘the abode of clouds’. This state in North East India is an enchanting place with the diversity it has to offer to its visitors. The different experiences and the varying climates that one would face in this small state would leave anybody absolutely amazed. The adrenaline junkies will have their heart filled to their content by the opportunities available on the mountainside. For the nature-loving peaceful person, the riverside are calm spots in Meghalaya, which would make you feel tranquil. So going on a Meghalaya trip is a must, especially if you love to go on adventures.
Umngot river Dawki is 81 kms away from Shillong. The river is situated in a small city which lies on the Indo-Bangladesh border. Dawki is also a trading hub. The Umngot river at Dawki draws hordes of tourists because of how clear the water is. The water is like crystal and if you are on a boat, you will see the shadow of your boat falling at the riverbed! There is a suspension bridge over this river, widely known as the Dawki Bridge, which is also another tourist attraction. The Umngot river has a magnetic charm which attracts tourists from all corners of India. Foreigners come here too for Dawki boating on the river which should not be missed when one visits Meghalaya. The wilderness surrounding this beautiful river makes riding on it an unforgettable experience.
One of the most sought-after attractions of Meghalaya is the Double Decker Living Root bridge which is something not easily to be found elsewhere. Trekking down to this bridge will create an indelible memory which you won’t be able to forget ever. If you want to have a scintillating experience, you must trek down to the living root bridges and then visit the Rainbow waterfalls.
The double decker bridge was built by the Khasi tribe. The tribal people used materials locally available and put in their creativity to build this bridge. The bridge was a necessity which then helped them to cross the river when it rained. The tribal folks spent years building this bridge using a rubber tree’s roots. An interesting fact is that after building the bridge, they had to wait for the roots to grow strong enough to be able to hold a human’s weight! Initially, young roots were twisted and tied which can then grow to become strong. These kinds of bridges are better than wooden bridges which can get damaged due to the heavy rainfall the place receives. What makes this bridge even more unique is that there are two living root bridges, hence the name ‘double-decker’.
Tyrna is the base village for starting this trek and you will be trekking down to a small village named Nongriat. The root bridges are in the east-Khasi hills. Before going on this trek, one can stay at Sohra which is about half-an-hour drive away. It is advisable to have a trek guide who knows the nooks and corners of the village and will help in saving time while looking at hidden gems on the way. It is a good idea to cover the Double-decker root bridge and the Rainbow Falls in one day, so one must start the trek very early in the morning as the trek should be completed by dawn. Nongriat has a few homestays where travellers can put up.
This trek is a little challenging so we suggest you travel light. First you will have to trek down to the single living root bridge. You are sure to stop at multiple points on the trail to take in the beauty of nature. After you arrive at the single-decker living root bridge, you have to descend about 1800 steps more to reach the spectacular long bridge. You should take a break at this bridge, sip some water, catch your breath before completing the second half of the trek.
You will trek through heavenly forests which are also very quiet. This trek really needs you to stay motivated as you will be climbing down about 3500 steps, but you will come across three other bridges all built over the flowing water which are delightful scenes. Two of these bridges will be made of iron and one will be a bamboo-bridge. All the going up and down will be a test for your legs and make you at least a little exhausted. But soon the sight of the entry point of the double-decker bridge will re-energize you.
An entry fee needs to be paid and after entering the area, you would probably want to sit down to admire this awestrucking bridge. This is one of the top reasons why tourists come to Meghalaya. A bridge made by man but maintained by nature. This is a place where you can relax, have some refreshments and take multiple shots of this amazing bridge. The sight makes up for all the soreness that you will be feeling in your body. After spending some time, you can start proceeding towards Rainbow Falls. The climb down is almost one and half hour long and also far from easy!
Reaching the Rainbow Falls is not an easy task. You have to cross dense secluded forest. There are stairs which will lead you to the waterfall but they are not in the best of their condition. They are rugged and can be broken. But we will not go back after seeing the bridge, seeing this beautiful waterfall is on our itinerary. What’s real trekking if it’s not a bit difficult, right? As you walk on the curves of your trail, the smell of wood and mud will be a refreshing fragrance. After several times feeling like your trail is nearing its end, it will really be towards the finishing point when you hear the roar of the waterfall and see the sky a bit more as the forest clears. Climbing down on a stony path to reach the waterfalls will make you feel a sense of achievement!
After reaching there, it feels great to sit down and absorb its breathtaking beauty. There is a humongous boulder or rock on which the water falls with a massive force. But you can surely take a dip in the blue water of the pool naturally formed there. If you do not wish to get wet, you can just sit there to marvel at the beauty and the calmness of nature. It is enough to make you feel upbeat if you have been feeling really drained out. But you must have given a thought as to why the waterfall is named ‘Rainbow’. It has been thus named because it reflects a rainbow on most days, but seeing that really depends on luck and weather conditions.
After sitting here for some time and clicking enough photos for our social media accounts, we will start our trek back towards the Double Decker Bridge. It’s time for another long trek as we leave for our homestay.
There are many waterfalls in Meghalaya and all of them leave tourists awestruck. The Nohkalikai Falls which is near Cherrapunji is one of the most famous waterfalls. Having a height of 340 meters, it is India’s tallest plunge waterfall. This majestic waterfall is thronged by travellers especially during the rainy season and is amidst lush greenery.
There is a sad folklore which explains how the falls got its name. ‘Ka’ stands for female sex in Khasi, a sort of prefix, and the name of the waterfall means ‘Jump of Ka Likai’. There was a young woman who was a mother and a widow. She started working as a porter to earn money. She had remarried and left her infant with her new husband. The new husband loathed the baby as she had her mother’s full attention when she was home. One day he murdered the child, chopped her into pieces and cooked her meat! Though Likai couldn’t see her daughter after returning from work, she started having the meat cooked by her husband as she was very hungry. She suddenly found a finger and it hit her what had happened. She was enraged, aghast and horrified to say the least. Not being able to control her grief, she rushed towards the waterfall’s edge and jumped off the cliff. The waterfall has been named after her.
Anyhow, let’s not let the sad story diminish our spirit. If one visits the fall during the winter, they will be able to have access to the edge of the fall. Adventurists can trek to that point crossing the riverbed in winter because the streams and rivers are a lot drier than the monsoon. But one needs to have determination and a brave heart to be able to walk on this organic path on which very few have walked on. You will find local youngsters working as guides in exchange for a small fee.
After hiking through grassy patches, you will need to trek down a hill. This terrain stretches for about the next 25-30 minutes and you must wear appropriate shoes as it’s going to be hard. The sight of gigantic boulders and a flowing stream will greet you as you reach the bottom. You will be able to see a stretch of waterfall on your right. After that tiresome descent, you can cool-off by taking a swim here.
You have to keep walking to your left in order to reach the river bed which is sturdy. But the path till there is going to be slippery because of the stones and the water is going to be ice-cold. As you trek towards the river bed, you will be mesmerised to see stones which have been carved naturally by the years of water flowing on and by it. The stones look so beautiful!
At some points of the trek, you will reach what looks like dead-ends but you can hold on to the edges and continue trekking through the gaps. Reaching the waterfall’s edge by jumping across stones will give an adrenaline rush. Do not forget to look back to see the gorge created by the waterfall during monsoon. You can also carry snacks or lunch to have a picnic here. You have to return back by trekking on the same path which you took while coming here which will take around one hour. So sit and wonder about how unnaturally beautiful nature can be, click some photos, meditate if you want, and get ready for a scenic trek back.
This is another of Meghalaya’s magical falls. The diamond-like water fall along slopes covered in greenery creates a turquoise pool when it reaches the bottom. If you have not visited any turquoise waterfall, this one is going to amaze you to no end. You will be wonderstruck by its charm after reaching there by hiking towards it. The Krangshuri water fall is in Jowai. Visiting this waterfall is a must when one is visiting Dawki. The hike that is needed to reach this waterfall is not hard at all. The water is cold but you can take a dip or take a bath in the turquoise pool. You do not have to worry as there are changing rooms where you can get out of your wet clothes and wear dry ones comfortably. You have to pay for using it though and there are safety jackets available too which you can hire.
In Meghalaya’s East Khasi Hills, at a distance of 25 kms from Shillong, there lies a small village called Mawphlang. This village got its name based on monoliths as the meaning of the word ‘maw’ is stone and the words ‘Mawphlang’ mean ‘grassy stone’. The village here is a hub of the Khasi culture and is a heritage village. A hill grove, popular as the Mawphlang Sacred Grove is a well-known tourist destination. A walk on the sacred mangrove should be on your itinerary when you visit this state of the North East and it is in ours too. The forest is spread over an area of 192 acres and traditional religious sanction works towards preserving it. The Sacred Grove looks very different from the green grasslands around it as it is bordered with clusters of Castanopsis Kurzii trees.
Three monolith stones which are like menhirs guard the entrance. The local Khasi tribe believes that this mangrove is the home of the deity Labasa who is also the protector of the forest. For thousands of years, they have been preserving this forest. There is a rule which has to be strictly followed by anyone who visits here. You are not allowed to take even the smallest of things like a stone, a leaf or a dead log out of this forest. Nothing from this region can be taken outside.
An interesting fact about this forest is that the trees and plants here are interconnected, forming a network. Some of these trees are believed to be over a thousand years old. The visual that is created by the flora here is so dramatic, it is almost a spectacle. You are definitely going to click a lot of photos here. A thick coating of hummus has formed on the ground of the forest over the years which helps in growing different varieties of trees and plants, some of which are rare.
Apart from endemic plants, you will find Rudraksha trees growing in abundance over here. Seeds of Rudraksh are used in Hindu religious ceremonies. There are also orchids, pipers, colourful mushrooms and ferns grown in this region. Locals believe some plants have medicinal properties which help in patients with cancer or TB. Plants with a peculiar appearance like a Lily Cobra can be spotted here. The twig of the plant with a leaf looks like a cobra’s head.
There are stone temples inside the forest where animals are sacrificed as offerings to the local deity. The Lyngdoh clan protects this forest. According to a legend, in 1970 the Army tried to clean this forest by removing the dead trees and logs but their truck failed to move after several attempts.
Inside the temples in the forest, the locals not only pray but the king is also elected there. Important discussion based on their life takes place there. Sacrifices are also done when a new king gets elected.
In order to celebrate mother nature, or Mei Ramew, the Khasi Heritage Conservation Forum organises a monolith festival which is celebrated over three days. The sheer majestic splendour of the place along with all the folktales works like a magnet in attracting adventurous tourists. The fear of angering their duty has helped the locals in maintaining the eco-diversity of the forest for thousands of years!
One can do the Mawryngkhang trek while staying at Cherrapunji. A small hamlet named Wankhen is the base for starting this trek. The Mawryngkhang trek is almost a three-hour long trek and you will have to walk on a bamboo tail for a larger part of it which makes it one of the scariest treks that you can do here. The trek will take you to Umrew river, which is the cleanest river to be found in that region. While trekking on mountain ridges, you will also pass by splendid waterfalls. The bamboo bridge ends at a large rock which marks the finishing point of the trek. Then it will be time to trek back.
Reach Guwahati airport by 10 a.m.
Leave for the sacred Mawphlang Grove which will need five hours to reach the groove.
Visit the grove and learn and learn all about the folktales based on this forest.
Proceed towards our stay. Dinner to be had on the way.
Distance travelled - 165 kms
Accomodation at Homestay and dinner at a restaurant which falls on the way
Wake up at 5 am and leave by 6 am for Krang Suri Falls. Climbing down towards the waterfalls is going to be a pleasant one.
Reach and stare wide-eyed at the waterfalls with an island of rocks and pebbles, situated deep amidst a forest. The turquoise water makes this waterfall exceptional. Bathe in the pool as changing rooms and life jackets are available.
Proceed towards the Dwaki village which is by the cleanest river in south Meghalaya, the Umngot river.
You can take a dip in the water, cliff jumping into the river or go for a boat-ride.
Go to the border to meet both Indian and Bangladeshi soldiers.
Have dinner on the way to our accommodation.
Distance travelled - 120 kms
Accomodation in Home Stay
A warm for the scary Mawryngkhang trek will be done after waking up at 5 am and having breakfast.
Start the trek from a tiny village in the East Khasi hills.
Finish the trek and proceed towards Nokhlikalai Falls or Wei Shaodong Falls.
Have dinner after arriving at our stay.
Distance travelled - 100 kms
Accomodation in off-beat homestay
Have breakfast and leave for the base village to start the adventurous trek.
Climb down to the Nongriat Double-Decker Living Roots bridges.
Trek involves a climbing of 35000 uneven steps.
Keep on trekking after crossing the double-decker bridge towards the Rainbow waterfall. This waterfall is famous for its turquoise water.
The walk is a jungle trek through betel nut plantations.
Take a dip in the natural pool.
Trek back towards the living roots bridge
Have an early dinner after reaching our stay
Distance travelled - 60 kms
Accomodation in authentic homestay
Say goodbye to Meghalaya and leave for the airport.
Asia’s longest zipline route is here. We will stop at the venue and let you all have the experience if you wish to by paying it for yourselves.
Arrive at the Guwahati airport by 4pm.
You have to plan your return journey from here.