Mawphanlur-Mawphlang-Mawlyngbna-Sohra-Mawlynnong-Shnongpdeng-Shillong: April 2016

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#31 May 13th, 2016, 09:36
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#31

Mawphanlur-Mawphlang-Mawlyngbna-Sohra-Mawlynnong-Shnongpdeng-Shillong: April 2016

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Originally Posted by Keshava Kishore View Post Hope this helps.


Okay. I got it now!! But I don't see David Scot Trek on your itenary? You did it on 26th after scared forest before proceeding to Elephant Falls?
#32 May 13th, 2016, 10:24
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#32
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Originally Posted by Suparna Acharya View Post Okay. I got it now!! But I don't see David Scot Trek on your itenary? You did it on 26th after scared forest before proceeding to Elephant Falls?
No, we couldn't do the David Scott Trail because that very morning one of us completely wet our shoes in the brook while leaving MaplePines. This trek can be done after Sacred Forest and takes about 4 hours (14 km), guide charges being around Rs. 700. The trek ends at Lad Mawphlang, from where Sohra is something like 15 km (less than 30 minutes), so you can ask your car to pick you up from Lad Mawphlang or look for shared jeeps (if you are booking the car on a day-to-day basis and haven't booked it for that day).
#33 May 13th, 2016, 11:32
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Originally Posted by Keshava Kishore View Post No, we couldn't do the David Scott Trail because that very morning one of us completely wet our shoes in the brook while leaving MaplePines. This trek can be done after Sacred Forest and takes about 4 hours (14 km), guide charges being around Rs. 700. The trek ends at Lad Mawphlang, from where Sohra is something like 15 km (less than 30 minutes), so you can ask your car to pick you up from Lad Mawphlang or look for shared jeeps (if you are booking the car on a day-to-day basis and haven't booked it for that day).
Okay I got it now!! So after that (the point from where car picks up), one can follow the same itenary that you did like proceeding for Elephant Falls and other places...?
#34 May 13th, 2016, 11:40
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Originally Posted by Suparna Acharya View Post Okay I got it now!! So after that (the point from where car picks up), one can follow the same itenary that you did like proceeding for Elephant Falls and other places...?
No, no........ you go straight to Sohra (with a late lunch at Orange Roots en route), and could see two or three places there (like Nohkalikai Falls, Dainthlen Falls, or Seven Sister Falls) if there is enough light.

Elephant Falls and Shillong Peak are very close to Shillong, and since we could not do David Scott that day, we did those.... even if you didn't do EF and SP "at all," no regrets. Hope its clear now. If still in doubt, don't worry. Just read any of the innumerable day-wise itineraries that Karikor has tailored for IMers, some even with distances and times taken. That alone will leave a mental picture which is difficult to forget! That's what we did. We carried a mental map of the attractions of East Khasi and Jaintia Hills, and everything fell in place.
#35 May 13th, 2016, 15:53
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#35

April 26

SACRED FOREST

We had breakfast, said goodbye to all concerned at MaplePines (including Gunner), and headed towards Sacred Forest. Our guide, Mr. Bornlang, met us in front of the Forest and started our guided tour of it, which hardly lasted 30-45 minutes. Permission has to be taken from three rocks that guard the forest. Upon entering through a small opening, we immediately sensed the cool shade and the musty aroma of decaying wood. A little further, there was a set of rocks (seats) where apparently the elders (priests) sat down to discuss the activities for the day, before proceeding to the altar. Once we had seen the altar, the guide said the forest of quite large but this is what a guided tour basically consists of, and that we should return. We were a bit stobborn and moved a little further, exploring the tall trees and vines growing from their stems. Then we exited by the same small opening in the forest. However, in between, since we were paying him Rs. 300 for the "tour" (which we thought was exorbitant!), we decided to extract as much out of him as we could.

The sacred forest has many legends attached to it, chief among them the one concerning its coming to existence. In Mr. Bornlang's words, once upon a time, Mawphlang had no king to rule it and was an anarchy. So the subjects went to the queen with a petition to send her son (a prince) to rule over Mawphlang. While the queen accepted to send her son, she had a condition: She gave them saplings of 3 different tree types and told them, "If these trees grow and flourish in your kingdom, I will consider it a good omen and send my son." So they planted the saplings, and they grew furiously. So, as promised, the prince was dispatched to look after the affairs of Mawphlang. Soon after, the prince requested God's son to bless the citizens of and rule over Mawphlang, which God accepted. So the permission stones, the discussion benches, and the altar are all part of the ritual involved in pleasing the deity.

These 3 trees in time went on to grow into a large forest, home now to 450 varieties of trees, 350 types of orchids, 278 different herbs, 78 types of ferns, and 73 types of moss. While we were passing we saw samples of all these. We also saw the remarkable cobra lily, a plant which looks exactly like a cobra with a long tongue. When we saw some trees had been hollowed out, we asked our guide about it. He said, "insects from the Amazon had attacked the forest once and were eating all the trees hollow. So the worried people appointed an elder to deal with the situation. The elder performed a puja and homa (praying to God with fire, I can't get the right word ) and requested the insects to return to their homeland and leave the forest alone. And they obliged. Similarly, about 4 years ago, a couple came into the sacred forest and were joined in unholy union. When they were at it, they both suddenly realized that they could not separate themselves. When they were brought to a hospital, the doctor said that he could save the life of only one of them. The girl said, because they had both sinned, that they both be allowed to die."

When we were at the altar, the guide related a story of how a hundred years ago, when the practice of sacrificing bulls (much like a mithun, we asked, but he gave a different name) was rampant, one bull ran away and was never found. Since then, the practice was abandoned. Now, any tourists who visit are requested to keep any amount of money the feel like inside the altar, the guide collects them and hands them over to a committee, which in turn uses this money at regular intervals to help needy people or do developmental work in the area. While we believed him, we were skeptical enough to leave a "very small" amount of money there for fear of it being misused, and he collected it immediately.

At this point, we were met by an NGO group from Karnataka, and during discussions with them Mr. Bornlang told us that his father also was running an NGO group related to tourism (I don't remember the details). Now that his father was in the picture, we asked about his family. He said his mother was a Khasi and his father a Christian. Since his mother's family was apparently addicted to alcohol and would let go of it, to secure a better future for her children, she decided to marry a Christian man with the strict condition that nobody would drink in the household. They had 3 sons and a daughter (the youngest), and Mr. Bornlang seemed to have no regrets about the fact that his sister would inherit the entire property. He also mentioned that if a man married the youngest daughter, the husband could not go live in the girl's house forever; he would be give a few years' time and once he had collected enough money, say 10 lakhs (in his words), he had to rent or build a new house and move out. He was only a guest for a few years.

As the discussion got more personal, I complimented him on his clean teeth (a rarity indeed, because throughout our journey, almost everyone we saw had seriously stained teeth and permanently stained wrinkles on the sides of the lips - all from constant chewing of betelnut and leaves). He said he had consciously avoided spoiling them, with the intention of getting a good girl in marriage. He spoke about how almost all men were addicted to betelnuts and leaves and the women to tobacco. He even mentioned tobacco brand names like Star, Golden (apparently this one is the strongest, comes in a tin, and if you left it open in the sun it would turn into worms!... I'm curious to see how that happens), etc. He even provided the reason behind young kids taking to betel nuts or tobacco at a very young age. He said, "pregnant women must at all costs be kept away from these poisonous substances. If they use it during pregnancy, the fetus in the womb keeps getting small quantities of if and develops a liking for it. So when the baby is born and is about 4 years of age, it starts asking for and consuming these products. Children of women who haven't consumed during pregnancy are relatively less likely to develop the habit." Sounded scientific.

With this and a few more stories (as many as could be squeezed into 30 minutes) ended our tour.

1: Take permission here.
2: Enter.
3: Discuss here.
4: Offerings please - this is the altar.
5: A hollow tree.
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#36 May 13th, 2016, 16:07
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#36
1: Cobra lilies.
2: Orchid ??? growing on a tree.
3: Moss? Roots? - there was a lot of this on the forest floor.
4: People who run an NGO in Bengaluru.
5: Exit.
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#37 May 13th, 2016, 16:19
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#37
ELEPHANT FALLS

There was hardly any water, maybe because April is apparently the driest month in Meghalaya.

The highlight of the place was taking photos in ethnic "War Khasi" costume and watching the intricately carved wooden faces.

1: We found that entrance notice boards at ALL tourist places throughout Meghalaya had this "warning" for the Armed Forces... "what did they do to deserve such humiliation?" I request somebody who knows about this to enlighten the rest of us.
4: The first fall.
5: Tree houses.
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#38 May 13th, 2016, 16:32
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#38
1: Faces carved on wood - Headhunters? Warriors? - Someone who knows, please tell.
2: Cute little baskets.
3,4: Dress rehearsal.
5: Domestic violence!
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#39 May 13th, 2016, 16:34
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#39
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Originally Posted by Keshava Kishore View Post No, no........ you go straight to Sohra (with a late lunch at Orange Roots en route), and could see two or three places there (like Nohkalikai Falls, Dainthlen Falls, or Seven Sister Falls) if there is enough light.

Elephant Falls and Shillong Peak are very close to Shillong, and since we could not do David Scott that day, we did those.... even if you didn't do EF and SP "at all," no regrets. Hope its clear now. If still in doubt, don't worry. Just read any of the innumerable day-wise itineraries that Karikor has tailored for IMers, some even with distances and times taken. That alone will leave a mental picture which is difficult to forget! That's what we did. We carried a mental map of the attractions of East Khasi and Jaintia Hills, and everything fell in place.
Okay So you mean like...

Mawphlang -> Sacred Forest -> David Scott Trains -> Lad Mawphlang -> Nohkalikai Falls -> Dainthlen Falls -> Seven Sister Falls -> Sohra. So in that case Elephant Falls and Shillong Peak will be covered as Shillong Sightseeing along with other places next day.

Of if it gets late, then Nohkalikai Falls, Dainthlen Falls, Seven Sister Falls, Elephant Falls and Shillong Peak can also be done on next day as Sohra Sightseeing.

Am I right now?

Sorry, for bothering you continuously. But I'm trying to get a clear picture while I'm going through your TR.
#40 May 13th, 2016, 16:59
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#40
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Originally Posted by Suparna Acharya View Post Okay So you mean like...

Mawphlang -> Sacred Forest -> David Scott Trains -> Lad Mawphlang -> Nohkalikai Falls -> Dainthlen Falls -> Seven Sister Falls -> Sohra. So in that case Elephant Falls and Shillong Peak will be covered as Shillong Sightseeing along with other places next day.

Of if it gets late, then Nohkalikai Falls, Dainthlen Falls, Seven Sister Falls, Elephant Falls and Shillong Peak can also be done on next day as Sohra Sightseeing.

Am I right now?

Sorry, for bothering you continuously. But I'm trying to get a clear picture while I'm going through your TR.
Once I finish this (it's taking a long time), I should be able to help you with a reasonable itinerary. But whatever it is, I can this - keep Elephant Falls and Shillong Peak out of the days when you do the David Scott or Sohra (better still, keep them out altogether.... you may not want to see them... they aren't very majestic)
#41 May 13th, 2016, 17:34
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#41
SHILLONG PEAK

Haze or no haze, the view from Shillong Peak isn't exactly awe inspiring. Having seen Mysore from Chamundi Hill, Jaisalmer from the top of the fort, Udaipur from Karni Mata Temple, this was a dampener. And there were about 200 tourists flocking for "this" view. We only used mobile cameras, but whichever month one travels in, I think they would save time by avoiding this place.

1: View of Shillong.
2: Zoomed.
3: The quantity and variety of snacks available was symbolic of the number and type of tourists who arrive here.
4: Instead, head to one of these places.
5: We headed here.
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#42 May 13th, 2016, 18:20
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Off we go to Sohra!

Shillong Peak was left behind and we were on our way to Sohra. The views of hills crossing each other on the left with the roads crisply cutting their tops is a sight to behold.

The roads...... Oh the roads! What beauties they are. Didn't see a single bad patch. At a tea shop on the way, we overheard a group of tourists talking about the potential for a new adventure sport in Meghalaya. The game would be played something like this. Concerned ministers from states where roads are really bad would be brought to Meghalaya (that would cause the biggest traffic jam the state has seen). Once here, these ministers would be tied by their legs to the backsides of Jeeps, their noses down. Those who had their noses ground down fastest would be winners! One tourist asked, "what's the fun in it, the noses would be flat in minutes." To this, another said, "that's where you're mistaken. On such smooth roads, it would take a long time to grind those shameless noses down... and the longer it takes, the more the fun!"

Talking of noses, for those who can't live without South Indian food and whose noses twitch with the delicate aroma of coriander leaves floating in hot rasam, Orange Roots is the oasis in the desert (ironical that I have to use the "desert" in the world's wettest place!). Owned by the same people who own Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort (CHR - located near the starting point of Double-Decker Living Root Bridge trek, 18 km from Sohra), this places serves unlimited meals that can beat even the best served in restaurants in central Chennai or Bengaluru. The place is spotlessly clean (including the kitchen, which is open and can be viewed by customers), the waitresses are pleasant and beautifully dressed, and the food is finger-lickingly delicious!

I had the opportunity to meet the proprietor's daughter-in-law, Iris (a very polite and intelligent lady), who said she is from Delhi and can speak a little bit of Tamil.

Both days we had lunch there, we were seated at tables farthest from the kitchen and believe it or not, we ate for 1 hour each time! We simply couldn't stop eating. The food was freshly prepared, had great variety, was always served in appropriate quantities and served any number of times with a smile (I didn't see a single waitress show even a hint of displeasure), and by the end we had to haul our tummies out (now inflated beyond recognition, they were snugly fitting the bottom of the table). At Rs. 150, this was like a godsend. I can't count with both hands how many times we asked for rasam alone... just to drink like soup!


1: Duwan Sing Syiem Viewpoint - haze (dhundh) marred the afternoon view.

2,3: For a place that receives the highest rainfall in the world, the roads were pristine condition. We saw innumerable biking groups pass us... we even waved and some, and they seemed to having a wonderful time!

4: Orange Roots!
5: Iris, with the menu in the background.
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#43 May 13th, 2016, 18:48
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#43
ARWAH LUMSHYNNA CAVE

Once we had eaten like bears preparing for hibernation, we headed to the Arwah cave (right behind Orange Roots). Once we had paid Rs. 20 for vehicle entry and parked, we went on a pleasant walk on a well-paved walkway that looked at times like it was suspended in the sky... the valley below was so deep and the cliff so straight/steep, despite the 4-foot high barricades, one would have to be brave to put full weight on the barricades and lean over to see the very bottom of the abyss! Speakers were placed at strategic points along the 10-minute walk and were piping soft English music. Once we reached the cave, the man sweeping the entrance introduced himself as the guide and off we were into the cave to explore its treasures. The water was ankle high throughout the cave and going barefoot was pretty safe.

Once inside the cool cave, the guide told us that parts of this cave were 55 million years old. He said the cave had opened less than 1-1/2 years ago and was an all-season cave. No amount of rain would increase the water level beyond what it was... ankle high. In the middle of the cave, he showed a rock that was suspended in the air, supported only at certain points by adjoining rocks. He said this rock had not moved an inch during the earthquake that destroyed large parts of Nepal and a recent one earlier this year! In other words, this was an indestructible cave for all seasons and all ages. In comparison to the Mawsmai cave that we saw next day, this was more spacious, more beautiful, better lit, safer, cooler, and had incomparably better views of the stalactites. And its greatest quality was, it had fossils.

We were guided only through certain portions, lit and unlit (all very safe), of the 4 km long cave (or so he said). He showed us so many beautifully preserved fossils that we would usually be looking open-mouthed at one when he flashed his torch at another one down the cave. If one wants to see a cave, this is the one... Mawsmai cave is no match and simply fades in comparison!

1: At the entrance to the driveway that leads to the cave.
2: Board advertising the salient features of the cave.
3: The half-km long well-paved path.
4: The rugged path was actually closed.
5: The 90-degree cliff, the top of which the walkway clung to gingerly.
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#44 May 13th, 2016, 19:02
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1: Wide section of the cave.
2: The suspended rock that has withstood earthquake tremors.
3: Entrance/exit to the cave.
4: Narrow, unlit section.
5: Cave inside the cave ... a small orifice in the wall.
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#45 May 13th, 2016, 19:10
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Fossils on the Cave Roof
1: Leaf.
2: Seashells - notice the small ones surrounding the big one (which was as long as my palm).
3: Moth (similar to a butterfly)... notice the intricate shape, and it was big too.
4: Some crustacean (I can't remember what the guide said).
5: Innumerable assorted fossils like this decorate the walls of the cave.
Attached Images
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