[Trip Report] 11N/12D Offbeat Meghalaya

#1 Nov 5th, 2017, 12:06
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Offbeat Meghalaya - Mawphlang - Mawlyngbna - Mawphanlur

Huh! Not sure where to start with. I have been planning this trip to Meghalaya for quite a long time, but couldn't make it possible due to various reasons. Sometimes due to shortage of budget, sometimes due to shortage in number of days I could manage. But whatever it be, I didn't wanted to be done with Meghalaya just with it's common circuit of Shillong - Cherrapunji. When I started planning for Meghalaya, I found that 80% of the tourists restricts themselves to Shillong - Cherrapunji and missing out on the hidden beauty, the state has to offer. Hardly another 10% - 15% of the tourists makes it to Mawlynnong and Dawki which came in limelight from last 2-3 years I believe. But whatever it be, after lot of shifting plans for last 2-3 years, here I'm finally, proudly made it to Meghalaya.

I do understand that every state has a lot to offer, and thus the journey never ends. Everytime I visit somewhere, I always come back saying "Definitely next time". Meghalaya was no different too!! It leaves me no room to forget that, without this man, Karikor, my Meghalaya trip wouldn't have been so much enjoyable and successful. Infact he being a local, is the pioneer for anyone planning to Meghalaya. One can reach him at TripAdvisor Forums or at India Mike Forums where he's a regular contributor. His immense knowledge about the place and minute details would made anyone fall in love with Meghalaya. So yes, if you are planning to something offbeat, non-touristy thing, do get in touch with him and you'd be amazed! The best thing I loved about this man is his eager to help people in a non-biased manner. He being a explorer himself, keeps on exploring various hidden gems and thus for people like me, he's always a reason to head back to Meghalaya. I still remember one of his saying when we met while in Shillong "After a long day at work, when I come back and contribute on these forums which really help people, there's a different kind of inner feeling I get. That's what makes my day. That's what I call relaxation.".


Definitely with his help after lots of corrections, I finally came up with first draft of our itinerary. We booked our hotels, trains and flights accordingly. Thanks to Karikor again, he really ran for me on his bike for numbers of few guesthouses which we were unable to contact or find it's traces anywhere in the internet. However our onward journey was planned via train but later due to trains being cancelled resulting from North East floods, we had to change our mode of transport to Bus followed by flight. Thanks to Indigo for it's ever known offers of low fares!! I must say if the Indigo offer didn't came up at the right time, we'd have to go through a lot of pain and more expenses. As Buses were till Siliguri on such devastated road after flood and from there we'd have to make it to Guwahati by some other means, the cost would have doubled up. But then the Indigo offer came in at right time and saved us!!

However by that time, we had all our hotels booked already, else I'd have flied on 23rd itself and would have covered a hidden gem which I found while scanning through various hidden gems of Meghalaya. The gem I'm talking about here is Lumpongdeng Boat House which immediately caught my eye. But as we had all our hotels booked accordingly, we had no choice other than to miss this rejuvenate experience. As I already said before, there's always a next time with me :P

Well Bornav is another helpfull lad in this sector who can help you with planning for any of the 7 Sisters with his immense knowledge. Though after 11N of Meghalaya plan, I still had 3N left, which I was mostly confused with. Whether to go for Garo Hills or cover any of the other state, if possible, but definitely not like getting done with it anyhow. My plan for travelling is never to tick off places from my list, instead explore it to it's fullest. However with help of Bornav, it seemed Manipur would be perfect for 3N. Bang on!!

Here's the final itinerary that we followed...

24th Sep : Reach Guwahati. Halt at Guwahati
25th Sep : Guwahati - Mawphlang. Halt at Mawphlang
26th Sep : Mawphlang - Mawlyngbna. Halt at Mawlyngbna
27th Sep : Mawlyngbna - Mawphanlur. Halt at Mawphanlur

28th Sep : Mawphanlur - Sohra. Halt at Sohra
29th Sep : Sohra Sightseeing. Halt at Sohra
30th Sep : Nongriat Trek. Halt at Nongriat / Sohra

1st Oct : Sohra - Mawlynnong - Dawki - Shnongpdeng. Halt at Shnongpdeng
2nd Oct : Shnongpdeng - Amlarem - Jowai - Ialong. Halt at Ialong
3rd Oct : Ialong - Shillong. Halt at Shillong

4th Oct : Shillong sightseeing. Halt.
5th Oct : Shillong - Guwahati - Imphal. Ima Market & Local Sightseeing
6th Oct : Andro Village & Loktak Lake
7th Oct : Moreh Border
8th Oct : Deperture

Before proceeding further, let me introduce you to our group which consisted of Me (obviously!!), my wife Suparna, my mom, my dad, my aunt and my cousin Akash.

Day 1 - 24th September : Reach Guwahati. Halt at Guwahati :
As our day was nearing by, our excitement level seemed to have gone up gradually day by day. However due to last minute work pressure resulting in from a critical project that I had to handle, was making me more impatient. Finally the D Day came. As our flight was at 6:50 AM in the morning, we'd have to wake up at 2 AM in the morning and leave for Airport by 3 AM to make it within time. So that way we'd neither get a sound sleep and would have to rush at the last moment as the Pandal hopping already began by then. And anyone who haven't been in Kolkata during Puja's, is surely going to underestimate the crowd even at such wee hours of the day. So Dad suggested to make it to Airport previous night instead and have a sleep there if we want to. So on 23rd Sep, after having our dinner we left for Airport at around 12:15 PM (Technically it's 24th Sep only). As correctly guessed by dad (experience does matter!!), we faced a huge traffic jam nearby Ultadanga Flyover upto Baguihati, and thus it took us more than around 1:30 Hours to reach Airport even at such wee hours of the day.


Me and Akash went for a smoke (thanks to the Smoking Rooms at the Airports, else it'd have been very difficult to spend such a long night there) and just to pass the time, we sat over with a glass of Kingfisher Ultra (For Rs. 400/- LOL). Later Suparna joined in (Another 400/- huh) too. Now it seems like the long night passed by at a blink of an eye. Finally the display board flashed Security Check for our flight. So we went ahead for our Baggage Check and finally checked in. And we noticed a long queue formed already by the time for the same. Finally after being done with all the required procedures we were waiting for Departure announcement over a cup of coffee.


Akash was very excited for being a first timer, same as mine while on our Trip To Goa. Finally deperture announcement was made and we were taken to the flight by Bus. Akash took over the window seat. He being a first timer, we let him have it to make his journey more enjoyable. Well thanks to the Web Check in I did timely to grab two of those!!

I must admit, be it first time or whatever, flying is always something excited. Finally we flew towards Guwahati. This was our first time at Guwahati Airport, and the first impression I had about Guwahati Airport was, it was definitely smaller than Kolkata Airport which is something very definite. Our flight was on time and it didn't took us more than 10 minutes to collect the luggage. Our driver Bimal Da was waiting for us already at the parking.


Our plan was to first check in to the hotel, Hotel Mayflower, which we had already booked from Goibibo on a great deal. We had already informed our hotel about our early checkin and they assured us to help, provided the rooms are available. It took us around 1 Hour to reach our hotel. We were informed that our room is ready and we can go ahead with our early checkin. The staffs helped us putting our luggage to the rooms. Bimal Da informed us to be here by next 1 Hour and we can freshen up and have breakfast by then. Our plan for the day was to visit Umananda Temple, Kamakhya Temple and if possible go for Brahmaputra River Cruise in the evening or for dinner.

We started late at around 11 PM. The parking beside Brahmaputra for Umananda was just 10 minutes drive from our hotel. Although the people out there was asking too much at the beginning, but Bimal Da helped us negotiate with the Boat for Umananda. Finally it came to Rs. 150/- per person in sharing or else Rs. 1500/- for private boat (both including the return journey). As we also had to cover Kamakhya, and Bimal Da informed us that, due to the Durga Puja festival going on, it'd take a lot of time even if we opt for VIP Queue. Thus we decided to opt for private boat as the fare seemed justified according to the plans we had lined up next.




It was a 10 minutes boat ride to Umananda. The temple is situated in a smallest river island named Umananda Island in the midst of river Brahmaputra. Though same as like most other temples, I'm sorry to say it felt nothing more than a Business Hub demanding money at every step. Even at one instance, while offering Puja, yes we bought Puja Thali outside the temple, we were asked to donate first in order to touch the Siva Linga. So I'd say other than experiencing the boat ride, we didn't felt anything else worth to visit Umananda. The boat ride to Umananda and back took us around 1:30 Hour.






And then proceeded towards Kamakhya. While only my mother was interested in offering the Puja, we were hungry like hell. So we all went ahead for lunch at a hotel, Maa Kamakhya, suggested by Bimal Da, whereas my mom and dad went ahead towards the temple. After a stumptous finger licking bengali lunch, we proceeded towards the temple as suggested by the owners there. They informed us that around 2 Lakh was spent towards the decoration of the temple due to the festival which is something definitely not to be missed. The decoration was definitely eye catching with various species of orchids and other flowers. It was defintiely crowded with lots of more processions coming in on the way. We could spot my mom and dad, and upon enquiring we came to know that, by normal queue it'd would be impossible to make it by the end of the day, even the VIP Queue seemed to take more than 3-4 hours. It was already around 1:30 PM by then and there was no reason to go for any of the queue. Instead we got hold of a priest who agreed to offer the Puja of our behalf for a donation of Rs. 51/-.














Finally we were dropped back to our hotel by 3:30 PM. We decided to take a small afternoon nap (most infamous thing to do among Bengali's). During the evening, we went ahead to Fancy Bazaar. A Rickshaw ride to the market cost us Rs. 20/- per rickshaw from our hotel. Although it would have been a 15 mins walk from our hotel, but due to slow walking speed of my mom and wife, we decided to take a rickshaw instead :P

Whoa!! Believe me, the crowd there was nothing less than what you see in Esplanade or Gariahat during pre-puja shopping season. Although we had plans to visit Paltan Bazaar too, but we knew we wouldn't have made it after handling this crowd at Fancy Bazaar. It seemed to be one of the most crowded market for shopping clothes among various other things. Our, well actually my mom's and my aunt's mostly, main motive was to buy a Mekhela which is famous in Assam. And that I'd say ate up most of our evening time, browsing and scanning through the crowds.

The day being my wife's birthday, I was planning to have something special. Amongst the various options for Brahmaputra River Cruise, Alfresco Grand seemed to be the most viable and economical option. However considering we were 6 pax, it'd have costed us Rs. 7200/- for a dinner cruise. Sunset Cruise could have been nice though, but our whole evening was spent in this market only. So we thought of trying out some Assamese Cuisine instead, while being at Assam which would also be economical. And thus among all the restaurants suggested by Karikor, same evening, we choose Heritage Khorika for having our dinner. The restaurant being situated a bit far from the Fancy Bazaar, we opted for an Uber Ride to the restaurant. I knew, Karikor can never go wrong. Our first impression upon entering the restaurant was, authentic, exactly what we were looking for. We already had scanned through their menu at Zomato, before choosing the place. My mom, dad and aunt opted for Seasonal Veg. Thali along with Mustard Fish Curry whereas we 3, as suggested by Karikor, opted for Duck Meat Fried, Pigeon Meat Fried, Chicken Curry and Chicken Kebab along with rice and our all-time favourite fried Brinjal.
















The food was great I'd say. Everything was so perfect and we really enjoyed our meal over there. Finally we took an Uber Ride back to our hotel after such fun filled evening followed by dinner.

Same evening, Bimal Da informed us that due to visit of BJP leader, Amit Shah, next day, various of his patrons are seizing the vehicles on his way to Shillong as informed by one of his friend. Thus he suggested us to start early tomorrow so that we can enter Shillong by early morning within 8-9 AM to avoid any such issues. We agreed definitely and planned to start by 5:30 AM in the morning. Accordingly we completed all the checkout procedures last night only to avoid any surprises next morning.

Day 2 - 25th Sep : Guwahati - Mawphlang. Halt at Mawphlang :
Our day started very early at around 4 O' clock in the morning. Thanks to the Irish Rooms we opted for which comes with Complimentary Tea Packs, without which we'd have faced real problems continuing with our morning chores!!


We started at around 6 AM and drove through the beautiful Shillong highway. Jiva Veg is the most famous option along with highway to have breakfast. But we being strict non-veg, opted for a small roadside food joint named "Khasi Tea Stall" or famously known as "Kong Da" instead as suggested by Karikor. The food is good there. So if you are looking for non-veg options (or strict non-veg like us :P ) or plan to try out local Khasi dishes, definitely hop into Kong Da instead.


Finally again we were back into the smooth Shillong Highway and on the way we came to know that Amit Shah's visit have been postponed to 8th October. Although it's a good thing that we started early as we could now make use of the full day light. This part of the country gets early sunset at around 5 - 5:30 PM. So starting early is definitely going to help you make use of the full daylight. The sunset's are more earlier as you move towards Arunachal. Finally we reached our first point for the day, Umium Lake, also popularly known as Barapani, at around 9:30 AM.


After spending sometime there we proceed towards Shillong. Due to being late last night, we missed to buy our poison for next few days. So that was the first task Bimal Da helped us achieved after struggling through the infamous traffic jam one had to face while entering Shillong. Our next point for the day was Beadon Bishop Falls.

We'd also have gone for Shillong Peak today, but Bimal Da informed us that entry is restricted from Laitkor Gate and thus we'd cover it on Shillong Sightseeing day when we come back to Shillong. We also skipped Sohliya Strawberry Farm on the way to Shillong, as there wouldn't have been much to do during this season.

And next was Air Force Museum, but upon reaching there we came to know that they were closed on Monday. I must say, throughout our trip to Meghalaya we came to follow this unique thing. Each spot is closed on atleast on one of the day. Mostly it's Wednesday, but there are some on other days too. We were not much disappointed as we'd come back to Shillong again and have a proper day allocated for Shillong Sightseeing which is Wednesday. So we moved on to Elephant Falls.


As we reached Elephant Falls we were welcomed to Meghalaya by it's famous rains which we have always known for, in our childhood. We were definitely carrying proper rain gears i.e. Umbrella for light showers and raincoats for everyone for heavy rains!!

So we started proceeding towards Mawphlang. Again, as suggested by Karikor we halted at Susie's German Restaurant for Lunch at Mawkriah just before reaching Mawngap. The food was just awesome there. Though the owner, Susie is a bit moody, but she can be very nice once you know how to get along. She even promised us to gift few saplings from her garden on our way back. Ahh I forgot to mention, my mom and aunt being a botany student is very fond of greeneries and have their own garden which is something unique on their own. They are like fond of collecting interesting saplings and bring them to Kolkata. Believe it or not, she have made all of them survive at this environment in Kolkata which most people suggest otherwise. Infact saplings from Shimla to Bhutan to Sikkim to now Meghalaya, all of them are alive. It might not be flowering or producing fruits as it should in correct environment, but atleast they didn't died. And man...I tell you, hurt a greenery in front of her, and only god can save you. Needless to say, my wife has also been admitted to the gang after her marriage :P















Finally after having finger licking lunch as Susie's we proceeded towards Mawphlang. Though our plan was to cover Sacred Forest on Day 5, but having a lot of time in our hand, both Bimal Da and Karikor suggested us to cover it today only.

One needs to hire a Guide here and have options to go for Half Trek or Full Trek accordingly. Although everything is covered in Half Trek only but one can go for Full Trek for doing a round walk if interested. Although I mention the word "Trek" here, but it's just more of a trail along the Sacred Forest. So don't worry if you have kids or elder persons with you, anyone can go for this walk. Alfred, our guide, was good in explaining things to us. Light showers welcomed us as we entered the Sacred Groves. We loved walking through the forest as it felt so natural.




I specifically mentioned my aunt and mom to not to take anything out of this forest as it's sacred and it'd a sin to do such thing. Although one should not always try to judge logically the reasons behind everything, so it'd be a foolish's task I'd believe to judge the same in case of Sacred Groves too. Moreover I liked the idea of protecting the forest during such age of demolition everywhere. You see, if the outcome of a belief is positive, then one should definitely support the same. Besides, questioning one's belief can hurt the local sentiments and traditions.




Besides the Guide fee of Rs. 300/- for half trek we donated another Rs. 100/- for the cause. Finally after having Tea and some some snacks at local shop we went ahead towards our shelter for the day, MaplePine Farms. It's setup by James, a Canadian by origin who came over here and got settled down after marrying a Khasi girl. Let me warn you, MaplePine is not like another hotel or resort or homestay as you might have experienced. It's very different in every nature, as they are off the grid and at every step you can experience them embracing the nature. So if you want to stay there, make sure to go through each and every page of their website.

Though this might sound horrible, but believe me, it'd be a lifetime experience. James and his family is very friendly and welcoming but that doesn't mean they are there to fulfil your wishes (or should I say your demands). The road on the way to MaplePine Farm is not achievable by general vehicles thus his son picked us up by the Jeep from nearest point. We had booked the Twin Cabin Room 1 and 2 both. We were offered Tea and some Snacks accordingly.


Rest of the evening we spent on the drinks, chitchatting among ourselves.

Day 3 - 26th Sep : Mawphlang - Mawlyngbna. Halt at Mawlyngbna :
Our day started a bit later than last day. Breakfast was complimentary at MaplePines Farm, but you need to tell them previous night what you'd like to have. Please also make a note of it that, Breakfast is complimentary only if you take it before 8:30 AM, else it's chargeable. So we started our day at around 7:30 AM after bidding goodbye to James and his family. His son dropped us to the parking point by the jeep.

Our first point for the day was Mawjymbuin Cave at Mawsynram. Mawsynram is also known for being the wettest place on earth. Previously it was Cherrapunji though, as we used to read it in Geography back in our school. Upon reaching there we found no one at the ticket counter and the gate was closed too. Luckily there was a plate hanging on the gate with 2 numbers written on it. We called up the numbers and within few minutes one person came running opening the gate and counter for us. May be they didn't expected visitor so early in the morning. Though it's a cave but seems more of a temple. The cave houses a Shiva Linga formed naturally by rock and surprisingly water is droppping due a pointed rock just on top of the Shiva Linga. It is totally a natural formation. Bimal Da told us a story behind it. Several years ago, it used to be milk falling on top of Shiva Linga, but Britishers trying to find it's source, made a hole and from then water started flowing instead of milk. Also one can hear the sound of waterfall throughout the cave but surprisingly it's being said that no one could found the source of water there.





After spending some time we headed towards Mawlyngbna. While crossing Welloi on the way to Mawlyngbna, Bimal Da told us another story of having a belief of not eating anything at Welloi. There was a man who once on his way through Welloi, being tired, ate something there. Then the same night he was surrounded by snakes demanding to return for what he had taken from the place. Obviously he couldn't return anything and he had to pay the debt with his life. And thus it's still believed that if you have something at Welloi, you would have to return it by any means.




We reached Mawlyngbna at around 10:20 AM in the morning. The road to Mawlyngbna is so clean (seems like newly constructed or well maintained) that we couldn't resist ourselves clicking pictures lying on it.


Mawlyngbna Traveller's Nest have only 2 cottages as of now and we had booked both of them. The cottages are amidst the forest offering a natural surrounding. Perfect place to enjoy the tranquility. Mr. Lever the owner cum manager of the place already shared the number of our Guides for the day, Chester and Welbert. They are more of like staffs and double up as a local guide. I took out some time to discuss our planned points for the day with them, and accordingly as we still had lots of time for lunch, we went ahead on exploring and enjoying Kayaking at Umkhakoi Reservoir.








It was a great experience Kayaking for first time. Then we went ahead for Split Rock.


After exploring Split Rock, before heading back to Mawlyngbna Traveller's Nest, we made a brief stopover at Pitcher Plant Park. This is the first time we were experiencing a Pitcher Plant. Before this we have only read about it in our Geography classes back in school.


Post lunch, me and Akash started for the most highlighted part of the day, Trek to Iew Luri Lura while rest went ahead for some rest. A trail through canopy along with Mawlyngbna Traveller's Nest leads to a plateau of rock and grass that extends endlessly towards open blue skies and following the trail further leads to Iew Luri Lura which is famous for animal footprints erupted from the actual volcanic lava. Iew Luri Lura is said to be the animal marketplace, from the time when animals could speak. One can spot various fossils along the way.




The trek took us around 3 Hours with various rests in between and was totally unique experience for us. Although due to the mud, we had to dismiss our socks, boots and jeans, but we are glad that we did this trek. Thanks to Karikor for helping us clearing the confusion with Guides we had in the first place. And special thanks to Welbert without whom we haven't made it there. As there was lots of muds, due to last night's rainfall on the way, he took up the charge to spot the best way we can walk through. Also our shoes betrayed us with it's grip and Welbert took it upto him to made us pass through the slippery steps. But remaining 60% of the steps we walked bare foot as suggested by him, to avoid any accidents. You see this is another reason why I always try to promote the locals. The business mentality is still miles away from them and guests becomes like family in a moment to them. Definitely guests too needs to perform their role by not being a jerk, of their so called city life. The trek ends at Pitcher Plant Park via Umdingkain Waterfall. Those who can't go for the trek, can reach the waterfall from the Pitcher Plant Park end, as the rest of our group did. Chester too helped my family too, making them to the waterfall by literally carrying them where he could.

























Finally, after meeting them, we went ahead at Mih-Um-Spring, and headed towards Lawbah Market.


It was already evening by then, else we'd have definitely covered Phantom Waterfall. But the same being situated out of the town and a long distance drive, we had to miss it considering the sun was already down by then. Instead we had some Tea and Snacks at Lawbah Market. Bimal Da was in mood to cook fish for us today, and thus he went ahead to made his arrangements accordingly. Finally we headed back to towards Mawlyngbna Traveller's Nest. It was a completely different experience staying amidst the forest I'd say. We enjoyed the evening over the drinks after Bimal Da was done with his preparation.


Day 4 - 27th Sep : Mawlyngbna - Mawphanlur. Halt at Mawphanlur :
Today also we started our day a bit early. Actually my mom and dad being an early riser, always keeps us knocking early in the morning. Though it's a good thing, as sun sets a bit early in this part of the country, so starting early is always recommended and helpful to make use of full day light.

After having our breakfast, we started by around 7:20 AM. We headed back towards Welloi. Last day we missed Symper Rock on our way to Mawlyngbna. Although Karikor tried to help us a lot but even after asking the locals we couldn't spot it. Even our driver Bimal Da was not aware about the spot. Today was no different, we couldn't spot the same even after asking the locals.


Thus without wasting much time we took the right turn from Mawkyrwat - Shillong junction, towards our first point for the day Hot Water Spring at Jakrem. We took a small smoke break after reaching Pongkung Village at around 8 O' clock. Finally we were at Jakrem by 9 AM. We took a bath there which healed the aches resulting in from last day's hike to Iew Luri Lura.


Finally after having a cup of tea at local shop there we started proceeding to Markasa through Pariong. The route through Pariong is full of scenic beauty however the road condition is something which govt. should plan to improve. It took us around 1:30 Hours to reach Pariong from Jakrem and another 30 minutes drive to Markasa through beautiful smooth highway.




Transis, the owner of Mawphanlur Traveller's Nest, was in Shillong to attend a seminar on World Tourism Day. But he assured us that after reaching Markasa, to give him a call and he'd arrange a Jeep for us to Mawphanlur. The road from Markasa to Mawphanlur is in devastating state and thus only a Jeep can accommodate through it. Generally Transis do that himself by his Marshal, but as he was away he arrange a jeep for us. While we were waiting for the Jeep, Bimal Da suggested us to have lunch there. Well one thing we noticed here is, people mostly have Jadoh (Rice and Meat) at their breakfast with Tea. Yes it may sound a bit odd for people from different part of India, but it seemed to be their cuisine. And in lunch too, they have Rice ad Meat, but the way it's served is a bit different. They mix Rice with Sabji and Chicken (or any other meat as you'd like to have, mostly Pork though).


NOTE : At this point, I'd like to mention, if you are planning to head to these part of the state, better hire a local Khasi driver or atleast someone who can speak Khasi fluently. Generally I always like to promote local options whenever possible due to various reasons. But here, in this case, most people here can't speak or understand Hindi or English and can only speak their native language whereas very few handful of people can speak manageable Hindi and English. Bimal Da being spending his entire lifetime here can speak Khasi fluently and always came to rescue for us throughout Mawphlang, Mawlyngbna and Mawphanlur and various other remote areas later in our trip.

As we had a lot of time in our hand, we could have easily covered Kyllang, even the same was in our plan, but accordingly we discussed to proceed to Mawphanlur first. Seldom I knew, we wouldn't have time to accommodate the same next day and also it won't be possible to come back to Markasa again once we reach Mawphanlur. So ideally one should cover Kylland before heading over to Mawphanlur or else next day after checking out from there. Finally after having our lunch, we proceeded towards Mawphanlur. Whoa!! What a journey it was!!


But as we all know "kuch pane ke liye kuch khona padta hai" (To achieve something you must lose something). And when we reached Mawphanlur, it was simply breathtaking, splendid. My dad exclaimed "I can spend rest of my life just by sitting here over a cup of tea". It took us around 1 Hour to cover the 5KM road from Markasa to Mawphanlur. It was stil 1 O' clock and we had entire day to just sit by and embrace the nature.






There's not much activity at Mawphanlur, so it's kind of spending the day in the lap of mother nature. There are various high hill lakes, where one can choose to do Boating and Kayaking. The same is arranged by the guys at Mawphanlur only.




Later during the late afternoon we went ahead for a walk and rest of the evening we spent enjoying and chit-chatting amongst ourselves with our poison!! Later at around 8 PM Transis came and straight away went ahead to us and welcomed us warmly. He felt very sorry that he was not there to attend us himself. Suddenly, weather took a small turn around and it started lightning.


Finally we called off the day after having our dinner at around 9 PM.

Points To Remember :
  • These are very remote places and thus one must understand the facility is very limited and infrastructure is very basic. But warm and beautiful if you can embrace the same.
  • The most popular option for accommodation at Mawphlang is MaplePines Farm and Traveller's Nest at Mawlyngbna and Mawphanlur respectively. There might be some other local homestay / camping opton, but I'm not aware of the same. Traveller's Nest have been setup by the village co-operative society in accordance with the locals, in order to promote tourism and opting a livelihood for the locals.
  • MaplePine Farm at Mawphlang have 4 Rooms and Traveller's Nest at both Mawlyngbna and Mawphanlur have 2 rooms each. So if you are planning to be there, better book the accommodation beforehand.
  • Please try to keep your patience while booking the Traveller's Nests, as telecom insfrastructure is not that reliable there and so it can be easily frustrating, but things will work out if you can hold your horses.
  • Once you are done with the booking, make sure to remind them, or atleast keep in touch with them every one week for Mawlyngbna and Mawphanlur. Else they easily tend to forget :P But don't worry, mistakenly they won't allot the rooms on same date to other person, as they maintain records of the same. But if you contact them after a long time, you'd have a hard time reminding them that it was you who had the booking, which is the exactly same happened in case of me. Being done with the booking in April, when I contacted them in 1st week of September, it was all like out of the blues!!
  • Try to maintain the peace and traquality of the place and be a responsible traveller. Please do not try to disturb the nature there.
  • You might have language problems with the people over there, but you need to understand that, they are also trying to co-operate with you. So unlike so-called city jerks try not to get irritated easily and always keep smiling and things will work out. The people over there are very friendly and welcoming, unless you get into their way.
  • Definitely try to hire a local Khasi driver or if you are hiring Guwahati based driver, then make sure he has already been to these regions before and can speak Khasi fluently.
  • As the sun rises and sets early in this part of the country, better try to start early and make use of the full daylight, as much as you can. As pretty much you'd be confined into your room unlike Shillong, once the sun sets down.
  • Being remote areas, unlike other hotels in Shillong and Cherrapunji, you are expected to complete your dinner by 8:30 PM or at max by 9 PM. I'd suggest to maintain the same considering the local lifestyle. So don't try to make things according to your own way, as in case of most of the main stream tourists I have experienced in reputed tourist destinations. IN some cases I have noticed tourists treating the hotel staffs as their own servants. Try not being a jerk here.
  • At various places you are recommeded to hire a Guide (if not mandatory). I'd suggest to hire one, as that would help you a lot, as a tourist to understand various things and to scan through the places. Also feel good for contributing to the cause of developing local livelihood through tourism.
  • Last but not the least, throughout our journey through Meghalaya, we noticed that Aircel works best, and most locals thus have Aircel connection. Jio is good too at various places. But Vodafone and Airtel mostly doesn't catch signals once you head over to remote regions. However BSNL worked perfectly fine.
Just if you are wondering, why most things starts with Um and Maw, Um means water in Khasi and Maw means Rock.

This post is continued at Offbeat Meghalaya - David Scott - Cherrapunji - Double Decker - Rainbow Falls

Reviews :
Hotel Mawflower, Guwahati : We booked it from Goibobo at very good deal. The hotel looked like 3* hotel for us, so it was way more than enough of what were looking for :P The staffs were always smiling and very courteous. The rooms and washrooms are extremely clean and well maintained. They also have a beautifully maintained lawn, though small, but one can enjoy his evenings there. Tea Packs are complimentary and provided in the room itself, so you can have tea as and when you need.














MaplePine Farm, Mawphlang : MaplePine is the most famous and most probably only accommodation available at Mawphlang. There might be few other homestays, but I'm not aware of the same. It's setup by James, a Canadian who is now settled down here after getting married to a local Khasi girl. The rooms and the place is extremely clean and well maintained. They have only 4 rooms as of now, besides tents, if one choose to do camping under full wrath of the sky. However by his website, it might seem like hostel with strict rules, but believe me James and his family is very friendly and welcoming. However as they live off the grid, tourists should co-operate with them too. One must understand, the same being disconnected from the hustle bustle town of Shillong, the infrastructure is very basic. One must inform them about the food preference beforehand, atleast a day or two in advance. They can definitely prepare you the items you want given the adequate time to hosts to arrange the same. Please note that if you are opting for any of the Twin Cabin 1 or 2, the Bathroom is detached and common. However the cabins have attached latrine with washbasin. You'll get all these informations at his website, so make sure to go through Cabins, Meals and specially the Understanding section. BTW, car cannot reach there except winters maybe, so after reaching the nearest point, you may call James and his son will pick you up by his Jeep.






Mawlyngbna Traveller's Nest : Traveller's Nest throughout Meghalaya has been setup by Village Co-Operative Society in accordance with the locals to develop tourism and for livelihood of the locals out there. The place is extremely clean and well maintained. They have only 2 cottages as of now which can accommodate 3 pax with a extra bed. The cottages are amidst the forest offering a natural surrounding. Perfect place to enjoy the tranquility I'd say.








Mawphanlur Traveller's Nest : To reach here, one need to park their vehicle at Markasa, as only a Jeep can navigate further to Mawphanlur due to the pathetic road ahead!! Transis and his family is extremely warm and welcoming. They have 2 cottages as of now and another one is being built. There's pretty much nothing to do at Mawphanlur except to enjoy the serene beauty of the place lying in the map of mother nature. Otherwise one can choose to do boating or Kayaking at the high hill lakes which is arranged by the guys there at the Traveller's Nest only. The rooms and the place is very clean and extremely well maintained.




NOTE : If you are planning to stay at MaplePine at Mawphlang or Traveller Nest's at Mawlyngbna and Mawphanlur, you must understand that these places are very remote and markets are generally more than 5KM away or so. So please let them know about your food preference to allow them adequante time to arrange the same beforehand. Atleast informing them in 1 or 2 days in advance would do. Generally they serve Rice, Dal, Alu Bhaji, Sabji and Chicken (if you are non-veg). Food is nothing fancy but homely and definitely tasty.

Contacts :
Hotel Mayflower, Guwahati : 0361-2970777 / 0361-2970888 / +91-91270-16700. Website : Hotel Mayflower

James, MaplePine Farm, Mawphlang : +91-98560-41205. Email : cp@culturalpursuits.com / james@culturalpursuits.com. Website : http://www.culturalpursuits.com

Alfred, Guide for Sacred Forest : +91-96158-84327 / +91-82588-83298

Bakha Lever Totih, Mawlyngbna Traveller's Nest : +91-80140-49039

Welbert, Guide at Mawlyngbna : +91-85751-17622. Both Welbert and Chester was more than a guide to us. They have became our buddies in such short time, specially Welbert. Without him, we wouldn't have made it to Iew Luri Lura safely. He literally carried us through the slippery steps and crossing the streams where our shoes failed with it's grips.

Chester, Guide at Mawlyngbna : +91-82589-63656

Transis Syiemlieh, Mawphanlur Traveller's Nest : +91-89743-18450 / +91-96150-43847 / +91-87877-86081

Co-Operative Society for Traveller's Nest's : Village Gateaways

Bimal Modak (ML 05P 2532) : +91-96137-75855. Bimal Da drives white Enjoy. He's actually Pradeep Modak's brother. Pradeep Modak is very well known in Meghalaya specially for offbeat circuits, but as he drives a small vehicle himself, he handed over this tour of us to his brother and assured us his full assurance!! Bimal Da is a very jolly person and quickly can be a great friend of yours. He has great experience in cooking. On three instances he cooked himself for us and it was finger licking. I must say, without Bimal Da and Pradeep Da, our trip wouldn't have been such enjoyable.

Pradeep Modak : +91-98630-87418 / +91-82599-64634. Pradeep Modak is the person you need if you are venturing out to Meghalaya, specially any offbeat circuits. He being an explorer himself, keeps exploring various destinations. He's the one who keeps exploring places and guides his brothers. Above all, the person is very honest and speaks his heart out. Money is not the first thing that matters to him. On various instances we found his responsibility for his guests is something to salute for. Believe me, with him around, nothing can go wrong. They are in total 6 brothers, but 3 of them are in this driving line and without him his other brothers wouldn't have been what they are now.

Cost :
Day 1 :
Accommodation at Hotel Mawflower : Rs. 4752/-
Boat for Umananda Temple & Return : Rs. 1500/-. (One can also hire it on sharing for 150/- per person.)
Parking for Umananda Temple : Rs. 40/-

Day 2 :
Toll Tax (Guwahati - Shillong) : Rs. 60/-
Entry Fee for Elephant Falls : Rs. 160/-
Entry Fee for Sacred Forest : Rs. 100/-
Guide Charge for Sacred Forest : Rs. 300/- (For Half Trek)
Accommodation at MaplePine Farm, Mawphlang : Rs. 3400/-
Food Bill at MaplePine Farm, Mawphlang :Rs. 2500/-

Day 3 :
Entry Fee for Mawjymbuin Cave : Rs. 70/-
Accommodation at Mawlyngbna : Rs. 3000/-
Food Bill at Mawlyngbna : Rs. 6120/-

Day 4 :
Entry Fee at Jakrem : Rs. 120/-
Pickup From Markasa : Rs. 700/-
Accommodation at Mawphanlur : Rs. 3000/-
Food Bill at Mawphanlur : Rs. 2800/-
Kayaking at Mawphanlur : Rs. 100/-
Drop To Markasa : Rs. 500/-

NOTE : I have omitted costs of personal nature for easy information.

Special Thanks To :This post is continued at Offbeat Meghalaya - David Scott - Cherrapunji - Double Decker - Rainbow Falls
Last edited by Suparna Acharya; Nov 5th, 2017 at 22:40..
#2 Nov 5th, 2017, 17:10
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#2
Arey you are Krishnandu's Mrs? Means I have been in touch with you more than with him? Hahahahaha
#3 Nov 5th, 2017, 19:04
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#3
Epic and mammoth. Not so much a travelogue as a reference work!

I first saw your post on the phone this morning, and soon realised that it wasted on the "small screen," and must wait for the PC monitor, if only to appreciate the photos.

I don't know if or when I might ever be in that area, so I did not read all the words but I did enjoy absolutely every photo, and would certainly study the post in detail if the travel ever gets planned. It looks like a person could do not better than to follow in your footsteps. Would go with a printed and bound copy of your post in my pocket!

Thank you for your great work!

PS... W H Smith in Kolkata airport? I didn't know they had any presence in India!
~
Life gets aadhar every day.
.
#4 Nov 5th, 2017, 20:42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karikor View Post Arey you are Krishnandu's Mrs? Means I have been in touch with you more than with him? Hahahahaha
No Sir!! Actually while registering on IM, I couldn't register with my Name as the charachter limit was exceeding. Thus I registered with her name instead!!

Hahahah!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick-H View Post Epic and mammoth. Not so much a travelogue as a reference work!

I first saw your post on the phone this morning, and soon realised that it wasted on the "small screen," and must wait for the PC monitor, if only to appreciate the photos.

I don't know if or when I might ever be in that area, so I did not read all the words but I did enjoy absolutely every photo, and would certainly study the post in detail if the travel ever gets planned. It looks like a person could do not better than to follow in your footsteps. Would go with a printed and bound copy of your post in my pocket!

Thank you for your great work!

PS... W H Smith in Kolkata airport? I didn't know they had any presence in India!
Thanks boss!! Thanks a great complement

I'm really honoured
#5 Nov 5th, 2017, 22:20
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#5
The mods have honoured your post with Sticky status (it stays at the top of the forum listing).
#6 Nov 5th, 2017, 22:29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick-H View Post The mods have honoured your post with Sticky status (it stays at the top of the forum listing).
Whoa!! I noticed the same after you just told me the same!!

Thanks a lot @mods for the honour!!
#7 Nov 5th, 2017, 22:37
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#7
Here are few videos which I shoot. They are definitely not anywhere close to professional ones, as this is my first try for vlogging. But just edited a bit with some freely available software.

Markasa - Mawphanlur Road Condition



Hike To Iew Luri Lura


I'm not sure how to embed videos here, except to post the link.

EDIT : Ahh it automatically happens!! Great!!
#8 Nov 6th, 2017, 16:41
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#8
Very informative.
Followed the links and read full.
Enjoyed.

A small query. All daily expenditures are clearly indicated. What about the car expenses? Did I miss?
#9 Nov 6th, 2017, 20:36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prodhar View Post Very informative.
Followed the links and read full.
Enjoyed.

A small query. All daily expenditures are clearly indicated. What about the car expenses? Did I miss?
Thanks!! I'm glad that you liked it

It was mentioned on last post i.e. on Shillong post. Although I'll post all of them here again.

It costed us Rs. 4000/- x 12 Days = Rs. 48000/-
#10 Nov 6th, 2017, 23:20
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Offbeat Meghalaya - David Scott - Cherrapunji - Double Decker - Rainbow Falls

Khublei! After exploring Mawphlang, Mawlyngbna and Mawphanlur, our plan for the day was to proceed to Cherrapunji after exploring David Scott Trail. As per the original itinerary, Sacred Forest was also planned for today, but as we started early on Day 2 and had a lot of time, we explored Sacred Forest on Day 2 itself. David Scott is an old trekking route and one of the most popular trekking routes in Meghalaya. David Scott Trail has been named after David Scott, a British officer who discovered this route in the first half of 1800s in the form of a mule track for travelling from Assam to Bangladesh. This route spread in over 100 km and takes around 5 days to get covered, on-foot. This trail route is separated into smaller trekking routes and the trail between Mawphlang and Lad Mawphlang, is the most famous one. This route covers the lovely terrain of Eastern Khasi Hills.

This post is a continuation from Offbeat Meghalaya – Mawphlang – Mawlyngbna – Mawphanlur

Before proceeding further, here's our itinerary again for your reference...
24th Sep : Reach Guwahati. Halt at Guwahati
25th Sep : Guwahati – Mawphlang. Halt at Mawphlang
26th Sep : Mawphlang – Mawlyngbna. Halt at Mawlyngbna
27th Sep : Mawlyngbna – Mawphanlur. Halt at Mawphanlur

28th Sep : Mawphanlur – Sohra. Halt at Sohra
29th Sep : Sohra Sightseeing. Halt at Sohra
30th Sep : Nongriat Trek. Halt at Nongriat / Sohra

1st Oct : Sohra – Mawlynnong – Dawki – Shnongpdeng. Halt at Shnongpdeng
2nd Oct : Shnongpdeng – Amlarem – Jowai – Ialong. Halt at Ialong
3rd Oct : Ialong – Shillong. Halt at Shillong

4th Oct : Shillong sightseeing. Halt.
5th Oct : Shillong – Guwahati – Imphal. Ima Market & Local Sightseeing
6th Oct : Andro Village & Loktak Lake
7th Oct : Moreh Border
8th Oct : Deperture

Day 5 – 28th Sep : Mawphanlur – Sohra. Halt at Sohra :
Well if you are confused with Sohra, let me inform you upfront that Sohra is the historic name of Cherrapunji. After completing our breakfast, we started from Mawphanlur at around 7:30 AM. Contrary to the last day, we reached Markasa within 30 minutes as it was mostly a downhill drive and also the Marshall provided by Transis was easily able to navigate through the stretch, far better than the Jeep we used while going to Mawphanlur.

We should have covered Kyllang Rock yesterday only, as we had lot of time in our hand. But we were okay, as we really enjoyed our time at Mawphanlur.

After having a short Tea break at Markasa, we started at around 8:20 AM for Mawphlang via Mairang. Pradeep Da had already fixed a guide for us, named John. The drive through the highway was really enjoyable, specially after the back and forth trip to Mawphanlur from Markasa.

At first Bimal Da drove us to a Dam nearby Mawngap. He explained that this Dam is responsible for feeding water to whole Shillong. Sorry I didn't noticed the name of the Dam, but yes the view was breathtaking.


And finally, by 10:30 we reached Sacred Forest parking point. Luckily we met Alfred there, who was our guide for Sacred Forest on Day 2. I felt bad, as if Pradeep Da wouldn't have fixed John, we'd have loved to proceed with Alfred only. After having a cup of Tea, Bimal Da dropped us to the point from where the David Scott Trail starts which is just 3 minutes drive from Sacred Forest parking point.

While others remained nearby parking at Sacred Forest, Me and Akash started for the David Scott Trail. The first 4KM was mostly downhill and thus we really enjoyed walking through the easier part of trail. John was really young in his teen age and frankly speaking, being a guide, he needs to learn a lot. Well, a Guide is generally there to walk along with you. But John was mostly around 500 - 600 meters ahead, leaving us behind. I know, locals cannot generally walk by our speed, as they tend to get tired, but that's what differs a good and a bad Guide.




























After first 4KM, one needs to cross a river stream and then it's mostly uphill, so as expected, we both were taking rest a bit frequently. Though as a person, John was very friendly and we quickly became friends in such a short span.

But then suddenly, weather turned worse and it started raining like cats and dogs. Due to the same, John suggested us to take a leave from the next village which is at a mark of 10 KM. David Scott Trail is total 16KM, and if one wishes, one can also exit from a village at a mark of 10KM. If one wishes to leave from that village, one still needs to walk further 2KM to reach the main road.

Somehow we managed to reach the village on that heavy rain, and John guided us to one of his friends house where we took shelter. The family was really helpful and offered us a cup of Tea while we waited for the rain to come to halt. Me and Akash was still in dual mind thinking, whether to take a exit from here or complete the trail. Finally at around 2:30 PM the rain came to halt and Sun came out of the clouds. After giving it a thought practically, we analysed that it'd be 5 or 5:30 if we now proceed for the remaining trail, thus we decided to agree with John and take a leave from the village.


It took us another 20 minutes of roaming here and there in the village to get connected with our team over the phone. As per the plan they would have been waiting for us at Lad Mawphlang, so we had to inform them about our change in plan so that they can pick us up from the right point.

The route became very slippery due to the rain, but from our bad experiences with the shoes we had from Iew Luri Lura at Mawlyngbna, we discarded them today and came on our Kito's which really proved to be fruitful. Finally at around 3:30 PM, we reached the Main Road after another 2KM trek.


After paying John his fees and bidding him goodbye, we proceeded towards Garden of Caves at Laitmawsiang and on the way one can experience beautiful splendid Mawkdok Dympep Valley. It was already 5 by then and things started getting dark. There are around 7-8 points which is scattered throughout the place, and thus it generally takes around 1-2 hour to explore the place on your own. Thus Bimal Da suggested to hire a local guide there, who can quickly walk us through the points. We agreed. The guy at Ticket Counter, agreed to help us for a guide charge of Rs. 100/-.






The place is really a gem and off the beaten track as not many tourists knows about this place. One can experience 2-3 beautiful waterfalls and naturally formed stones that of a shape of a baby in womb, heart etc. It took us around 40 minutes to explore the same.

Finally we proceed towards our shelter for next 3 nights, Coniferous Resort at Cherrapunji. Theoretically Cherrapunji lost it's popularity to Mawsynram for being the wettest place on earth. But as we were on our way to Cherrapunji, it felt awesome. It was all cloudy out there such that one cannot see what's there within next 1 meter and it was raining like cats and dogs.

We reached our hotel at around 6:30 PM, and we were showed our rooms. Rest of the evening we enjoyed torrential rains, chitchatting among ourselves.

Day 6 – 29th Sep : Sohra Sightseeing. Halt at Sohra :
We woke up on a cloudy morning with torrential rains since last night. Sohra (Cherrapunji) Sightseeing is spread across Lower and Upper Cherrapunji. Though one can easily cover all the points within a day. After having our breakfast we started our day a bit leisurely at around 8AM in the morning. The first thing we were upset with was when Bimal Da expressed his dicey feelings for Nohkalikai Falls, due to this clouds. Nohkalikai is one of the famous attraction of Sohra and the idea of missing it after coming this long way made us a bit upset.

Still hoping for the best, we proceeded towards our first point of the day, Dainthlen Falls. It was all cloudy through the way with hardly a visibility of 1 meter. I must confess beforehand that pictures of Sohra (Cherrapunji) Sightseeing would not be good, as due to the torrential rains I couldn't get much scope to use my DSLR. Infact at one point I tried using it but my camera was frosted due to the fog which I had to fix it with the car heater afterwards. And from that point onwards, I didn't dared to take out my DSLR again. And also due to the foggy weather, my iPhone Camera failed to capture any eye candy pictures.




Post Dainthlen Falls, we proceeded towards Arwah Caves. We were carrying our raincoats back from Kolkata specially to use it in Cherrapunji for it's famous torrential showers. It was a first time, we visited any Cave and we really liked it. The cave is rich of various fossils.










Post Arwah Cave, we went to Ramkrishna Mission. Sorry, I don't have any pictures of Ramkrishna Mission, as it's not allowed to click pictures there in the Musuem and I personally didn't visited the Temple due to heavy showers. The museum at Ramkrishna Mission displays the culture and ethnic wears of North Eastern States.

Next we proceeded towards the most awaiting point for the day, Nohkalikai Falls. But alas, the only thing we could hear is the sound of the falls with total whitish visibility. We choose to wait for some time, but our luck didn't favoured us. Even after waiting for more than 30 minutes, nothing changed. And thus we decided to proceed towards Cherrapunji Market without wasting much time there. But due to heavy showers we couldn't explore it to it's fullest.

My mom and dad was dying for having home cooked Bengali food. And thus Bimal Da suggested us to have our lunch at Nalgre Restaurant nearby Sohra (Cherrapunji) market. I must say it was simply finger licking. My dad exclaimed, "Bohu din bade pet bhoira khawar khailam" (After a lot of days, had a great meal). Actually they are not used to trying out various cuisines and always rely on home cooked Bengali food. The owner there was very friendly and belongs from Guwahati. So anyone looking out for having Bengali Cuisine while at Sohra (Cherrapunji), do pay a visit at Nalgre Restaurant and you will be overwhelmed with the food served there.

Post a sumptuous lunch, we met Pradeep Da. He asked about our whereabouts, and enquired whether we have any complaints with Bimal Da or anything else. Although we were planning to proceed to Eco Park, he advised us instead. He suggested that it's not worth visiting. He informed us that it's just a park converted to tourist point with views of Bangladesh plains. And as we'd be anyway proceeding to Dawki and Shnongpdeng next, it'd be nothing interesting for us. And also due to this cloudy weather, nothing would be visible anyway.

Thus as per his suggestion, we proceeded towards Khoh Ramhah. Bimal Da, explained a story behind this spot. Once a man was carrying a small stone on this back and at this spot he choose to take some rest and went asleep. When he woke up he saw the rock has grown to the size of a giant as a result of curse. Thus it's believed to be a living rock which is still growing gradually. Well, I cannot guarantee the storyline, but the spot was amazing.


Later we proceeded further towards Thangkharang Park. It's more of a lovely place for people who loves flower or a botany student. But our main interest was to see Kynrem Falls.








As it was 3:30 by then, and due to the cloudy weather, the daylight was gradually decreasing, we decided to proceed towards Mawsmai Cave without wasting much time, else it'd be an issue for us. The entry to the spot is through a small lane and due to which there's a significant traffic one needs to face. Due to few large groups, the entry to Mawsmai Cave was totally blocked. It took us some time to make our way through the crowd. Bimal Da already informed us while at the parking that, except Me and Akash, others won't be able to complete this cave. As one needs to be a bit flexible and fit to pass through it and unlike Arwah Cave, one needs to enter from one point and exit from other way out.


This was our first caving experience passing through the small bends. We really loved it. And after this we specially plan to go Meghalaya again for caving and plan to explore Mawmluh Cave which is more of a actual caving experience and requires to be done with a Guide. This was not in our plans for this trip and thus we didn't had any time allocated for the same.

Finally we proceeded towards our hotel, with a hope to see Nohsngithiang Falls (popularly known as Seven Sisters Falls). But our luck again didn't favoured us here too and it was all whitish. As it was getting dark, we decided to proceed back to our hotel with a hope to experience both Nohsngithiang Falls (popularly known as Seven Sisters Falls) and Nohkalikai Falls on next two days.

Rest of the evening we spent over the drinks chitchatting among ourselves. Although Bimal Da was staying with us, but he got few friends there and choose to enjoy with them.

Day 7 – 30th Sep : Nongriat Trek. Halt at Nongriat / Sohra :
As suggested by Bimal Da last night, we started our day early at around 6:30 AM. Our plan was to come back to Sohra with a fallback plan of staying back at Nongriat. Double Decker Living Root Bridge at Nongriat is the most popular attraction at Meghalaya and considering our physical fitness we allocated one full day for the same.

The trek starts at Tyrna Village and one needs to climb down around 3064 stairs and walk 3KM further to reach Nongriat. Though first 1500 stairs are like we see everywhere but remaining 1500 is steep downhill. Well it's definitely not for the faint hearted or for people with weak knee. Though it might seem that while going downstairs it's not much of an issue, but at every step nature will challenge you to it's fullest even when climbing down the steep stairs. Though for people with good physical fitness or those who are involved in sports it's not much of a concern, but we city lads were very much worried of making it back within a day, as we are hardly used to walking and physical fitness, please...don't make me feel awkward :P


Hahaha!! Thus the fallback plan for staying back at Nongriat in any case. Anyway, after reaching Tyrna, we hired a guide and bought two walking sticks as suggested by the Guide and Bimal Da both. Though the route to Double Decker Living Root bridge is cemented and clearly marked with almost no chance of getting lost, but we still choose to hire a Guide. I'd suggest you to do the same. The first reason behind this is, promoting local livelihood. So a mere Rs. 600/- won't matter for you, but for them it's a lot. Also having a local person walking beside you is a good to have specially when you might feel morally down or to help you with at various conditions. Also it's recommended to buy the walking sticks before starting, as it really helps you balancing while climbing up and passing through the slippery rocks.

Our guide for the day was Manbha. Bimal Da, negotiated with him accordingly and told us it'd cost Rs. 600/- for Double Decker Living Root Bridge and Rs. 1000/- if we choose to go Rainbow Falls. From Double Decker Living Root Bridge one needs to further trek around 1 hour to reach Rainbow Falls which offers a Breathtaking view. That's what I knew while planning for Meghalaya, as very few people make it to Rainbow Falls out of all the tourists who visit Double Decker Living Root Bridge.


Anyway, after having a cup of Tea at a local shop there, we started following Manbha on his path. Soon we became friends. Manbha speaks little English and Hindi besides his native language. But one can make it easily with the body language. While going down it was mostly easy but one needs to keep the pressure on his knee. It started raining on our way down, but we were prepared with our Raincoats on. But due to the physical activity we were going through, Manbha suggested us to take it off instead, as it'd help cooling down our body temperature, else were sweating like hell with our raincoats on.

At a point Manbha informed us that we have already crossed 2000 steps. We met few tourists coming back up and panting. Me and Akash was mostly worried about our condition while coming back up. Anyway, while chitchatting with Manbha about his lifestyle and discussing things like who all are there in our and his family, we finally crossed remaining 1000 stairs too.

The path to the village is a cemented staircase in the middle of the thick jungle, that first reaches the bottom of the valley and then after crossing the river, another flight of stairs upwards lands one at the village. While on our way, Manbha explained, the villagers comes up and goes down daily or sometimes even twice a day for foods. Even the kids follows the same for their secondary schooling and college as in Nongriat there's only a basic primary school. We were overwhelmed and thought how does they do this. Infact, on our way we experienced few villagers carrying heavy wooden pieces on their back. And they easily navigated through it leaving us behind.




Post the stairs, after a short walk ahead one needs to cross two hanging iron bridge. After a short walk up on another flight of stairs, we arrived at Nongriat village. Nestled in the middle of the jungle was this quaint and clean village, freshly sprayed clean with the shower that had just started. The village is fully off the grid and hence has become a hotspot for trekkers who want to be engulfed by nature. There were a few homestays I found on the way where trekkers especially from abroad were relaxing. It is commendable what the villagers have done to encourage responsible tourism while protecting nature. They have contributed towards a community guesthouse for trekkers, have made large dustbins for collecting waste, etc. They respect nature by keeping the village clean.


The aerial roots of Banyan tree on opposite sides of the river are continuously twisted, given direction and woven together, till it can be shaped and strengthened into a sturdy bridge. This is the only means for the villagers to cross the raging water streams to reach the other side. There are two living root bridges in Nongriat, a single deck bridge, and a double decker bridge.


The first view of the root bridge mesmerised me and made the arduous trek fully worth every drop of sweat and every ache in my body. It felt as though I had arrived in paradise. With chirping birds that began to emerge after the downpour, the double-decker bridge in the middle of a thick jungle, set right across a rumbling waterfall and over a gentle water stream, was a sight to behold. The Double Decker Living Root Bridge was a masterpiece in itself, with intertwined roots made sturdy over centuries. The water was so clear, cool and fresh and it was enticing me for relaxing dip. Mesmerised with the bountiful greenery around me, I thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of the place amidst the slight drizzle.


A small tea shop right next to the bridge was just perfect to have a cup of hot tea and steaming Maggi. Over a cup of Tea, Me, Akash and Manbha was still thinking whether we should proceed to Rainbow Falls. As it was only 9:20 AM by then, Akash showed his confidence "Dada, sobe 9:30 baje. Amra dhire dhire uthleo 3 ki 4 ghonta lagbe. Cholo Rainbow Falls ta try korei ashi. Eto dur elam. Sorom kothin hole katiye debo majh pothe" (Bro, it's just 9:30 AM and even with our speed it'd take us 3-4 hours to climb up those stairs. So we have a lot of time in our hand and when we came all the way why not try Rainbow Falls too. Let's start and if we feel exhausted, we will return from mid-way and can even stay back at Nongriat.) The locals and Mabha informed us that it's a further 1 Hour trek and it'd be around 3 Hour back and forth to Double Decker Living Root Bridge.


But truly speaking, without his knowledge, I tried enquiring at the local homestays and it was all full with no bed for us. But with his confidence, I too got my confidence back and we started for Rainbow Falls. After a short walk from Double Decker Living Root bridge, one needs to cross two Single Root Bridge and two hanging iron bridge. And further one needs to cross two river streams post which it's a continuous steep uphill walk. Sorry, as it was raining heavily, I could only click limited photos.

It started raining heavily on our way to Rainbow Falls due to which the level of trek changed to Medium - Hard for us. And accidentally on the way, Akash dropped his glasses and due to which he couldn't see anything. At a point he lost his confidence and started crying. Me and Manbha hold our confidence and tried to cheer him up. Manbha was like god to us there. He helped him navigating those steep slippery steps gradually holding his hand. Finally it took us 2 Hour to reach Rainbow Falls.


The view at Rainbow Falls was breathtaking. What a vivacious falls it was. We noticed two more group there, probably college students. Manbha and guides of those two groups helped Akash tying his glass with a root of a tree. Nice Jugaad I'd say. We were more than thankful to them for what they did for us.


After spending some time there we started navigating back. While returning back it was a steep downhill trek through slippery rocks with few stairs in between. Manbha helped Akash navigating through it while I was in front being careful with my steps. A single mistake can be a cause of accident. The time we came by river streams, it turned vivacious due to the rain. Even Manbha was doubtful on crossing it. One needs to cross the waterfalls by it's edge and due to the rain the level of water and current has been increased a lot from what we crossed while going towards Rainbow Falls.


After thinking sometime, Manbha made his way and made us cross the streams one by one carefully. And finally by 3 O' clock we were back to Double Decker Living Root Bridge. It took us around 2 + 2 Hours back and forth to Rainbow Falls.

We were more than hungry by the time, so we decided to have Maggie and a Cup of Tea there. Our knee was wobbling by then and we were really not sure about how we are going to climb back those 3000 stairs next. As we didn't had any other option, as all the homestays were full anyway, we started climbing back at around 3:40 PM. Manbha instructed us to not to hurry through it and instead make small steps gradually. He further instructed us not to look further up, as it can lower down our confidence by the thought of number of stairs remaining to climb.

We followed him and navigated through it gradually. We made a pact of climbing 20 - 30 stairs at a once and take rest and then proceed again. Although it was becoming dark, but our fitness level was going down gradually. First the feet, and then the knee and then back pain. However, we kept our confidence and pushed it further to our fullest with intermediate breaks. Finally we made it to the parking by 6:40 PM.


Whoa!! What a achievement it was. Without Manbha this would not have been possible. He was more than a Guide or Friend to us. Now when we look back, we don't even know, how we made it all the way to Rainbow Falls and back in 10 Hours.

We restrained from smoking throughout the way, to not to make our fitness level detoriate further. As a mark of celebration, we all went ahead for smoke. We happily paid Manabha Rs. 200/- more than what was agreed. One cannot calculate in monetary terms for what he did for us. But Manbha was more than happy with his extra. Finally we left towards our Hotel after a brief hug and droppping Manbha nearby his home.

I must say, Guides like Welbert from Mawlyngbna and Manbha would always be memorable to us. And this is another reason I'd suggest to opt for a Guide even if you are making it to only Double Decker Living Root Bridge. Become a part of Responsible and Sustainable Tourism and help local livelihood.

This post is continued at Offbeat Meghalaya – Mawlynnong – Dawki – Jowai

Points To Remember :
  • Waterfalls throughout Meghalaya is rainfed (not snowfed). Thus one wishing to experience various falls should plan during monsoons when the water level is higher and falls looks vivacious. Thus waterfalls starts drying up November onwards.
  • Well, almost all the points in Meghalaya have Entry Fee and Parking Fee as well. So do not underestimate this amount for costing as when added up in the end, it's a huge amount that you need to keep in mind. Although throughout my articles, I'll be mentioning these costs for your reference accordingly.
  • If planning for Double Decker Living Root Bridge, do start early if you plan to come back to Sohra. And if possible do not try to miss Rainbow Falls too.
  • The trek to Double Decker Living Root Bridge starts from Tyrna Village and one needs to reach Nongriat Village climbing down 3064 stairs and a further 3KM walk.
  • Rainbow Falls is another 1 Hour trek from Double Decker Living Root Bridge. Although for us it took 2 hours one way.
  • Few kids sells sticks at Tyrna. It's recommended to buy one before proceeding as it helps a lot keeping balance and releasing knee pressure.
  • Although the route to Nongriat is cemented all the way, it's highly recommended to hire a Guide. First to promote the local livelihood and be a part of Responsible Tourism and also having a local fellow walking beside you and helping you at every step is a good to have.

Reviews :
Coniferous Resort, Cherrapunji : We really loved our stay there at Coniferous Resort. The staffs were very friendly and courteous there. The rooms, washroom and the property is very well maintained and clean. We opted for 1 Standard Double Bed Room and 1 Standard Family Four Bedded Room. During our stay of 3 Nights, we had our dinner over there only and tried various cuisines. I must say the food was really great and finger licking.




Contacts :
John, David Scott Guide : +91-98564-55948

Coniferous Resort, Sohra (Cherrapunji) : +91-94361-78164 / +91-85757-93713. Email (For Reservations) : coniferousresort@gmail.com / reservations.coniferousresort@ gmail.com. Website : Coniferous Resort

Nalgre Restaurant & Guest House, Cherrapunji Bazaar : +91-97749-53413 / +91-75780-44872 / +91-70859-13237 / +91-97745-69691. They serve excellent finger licking Bengali Cuisine. So if you are looking for home cooked Bengali Cuisine or dying to have a bite of fish, you may have your lunch / dinner here. They also have a Guest House, if you choose to stay there, but I do not have any personal experience staying there, thus I won't be able to review the accommodation.

Manbha, Guide at Double Decker Living Root Bridge and Rainbow Falls : +91-98567-53724. I really recommend having him beside you. He was more than a Guide to us that day. Akash dropped his glasses on the way and was unable to see anything. He helped him navigate through such steep slippery steps to Rainbow Falls and back. Also on our return when the waterfalls turned vivacious he helped us pass through it one by one holding our hand keeping the balance. He was god to us that day. We'll always remember this friendly smiling fellow.

Serene Homestay, Nongriat : +91-94367-39655 / +91-96152-52644


Nongriat Homestay, Nongriat : +91-85757-87310

NOTE : If you are planning to stay at Nongriat, please note that, the infrastructure is very basic there. Thus before making a fuss about it later, do understand the condition you are expected to be in at such mesmerising destination. You are expected to stay in a dorm and use common toilet. I'm not sure if they have private rooms, but you may call and enquire. But rest assured, the beds are clean enough to sleep. And regarding food, don't expect anything fancy, and try to understand they need to carry everything on their back navigating through those 3064 steep stairs that you climbed down to reach this place in the first place. So please try to be happy with whatever they can provide, else plan to come back to Sohra by the day.

Bimal Modak (ML 05P 2532) : +91-96137-75855. Bimal Da drives white Enjoy. He’s actually Pradeep Modak’s brother. Pradeep Modak is very well known in Meghalaya specially for offbeat circuits, but as he drives a small vehicle himself, he handed over this tour of us to his brother and assured us his full assurance!! Bimal Da is a very jolly person and quickly can be a great friend of yours. He has great experience in cooking. On three instances he cooked himself for us and it was finger licking. I must say, without Bimal Da and Pradeep Da, our trip wouldn’t have been such enjoyable.

Pradeep Modak : +91-98630-87418 / +91-82599-64634. Pradeep Modak is the person you need if you are venturing out to Meghalaya, specially any offbeat circuits. He being an explorer himself, keeps exploring various destinations. He’s the one who keeps exploring places and guides his brothers. Above all, the person is very honest and speaks his heart out. Money is not the first thing that matters to him. On various instances we found his responsibility for his guests is something to salute for. Believe me, with him around, nothing can go wrong. They are in total 6 brothers, but 3 of them are in this driving line and without him his other brothers wouldn’t have been what they are now.

Cost :
Day 5 :
John, David Scott Guide : 1200/-
Garden of Caves Entry Fee : Rs. 120/-
Garden of Caves Guide : Rs. 100/-

Day 6 :
Arwah Caves Entry Fee : Rs. 120/-
Arwah Caves Parking : Rs. 20/-
Nohkalikai Entry Fee : Rs. 80/-
Koh Ramahah Vehicle Fee : Rs. 20/-
Thangkharang Park Entry Fee : Rs. 10/-
Thangkharang Park Parking Fee : Rs. 20/-
Mawsmai Cave Entry Fee : Rs. 40/-
Mawsmai Cave Parking Fee : Rs. 20/-

Day 7 :
Walking Stick : Rs. 40/-
Entry Fee at Double Decker Living Root Bridge : Rs. 20/-
Mobile Camera Fee at Double Decker Living Root Bridge : Rs. 20/-
Parking at Tyrna : Rs. 40/-
Manbha, Guide For Double Decker Living Root Bridge & Rainbow Falls : 1200/- (Agreed Fee was Rs. 600/- for only Double Decker and Rs. 1000/- for Rainbow Falls. We paid him Rs. 200/- happily for what he did for us)

Accommodation at Coniferous Resort, Sohra (Cherrapunji) : Rs. 1741 + Rs. 3264=Rs. 5005 x 3 Nights=Rs. 15015/-.
Fooding at Coniferous Resort, Sohra (Cherrapunji) : Rs. 5860/-

NOTE : I have omitted costs of personal nature for easy interpretation.

Special Thanks To :
This post is continued at Offbeat Meghalaya – Mawlynnong – Dawki – Jowai
#11 Nov 6th, 2017, 23:41
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wow.. awesome read. i am reaching meghalaya tomorrow. seemed like a preview.
#12 Nov 6th, 2017, 23:47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trottler View Post wow.. awesome read. i am reaching meghalaya tomorrow. seemed like a preview.
Thanks!!

Great!! Enjoy your holiday
#13 Nov 6th, 2017, 23:49
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Here are few videos that I shot of David Scott Trail, Double Decker, Rainbow Falls



#14 Nov 7th, 2017, 00:03
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Here are few videos that I shot of David Scott Trail, Double Decker, Rainbow Falls



#15 Nov 13th, 2017, 00:51
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Offbeat Meghlaya - Mawlynnong - Dawki - Jowai


We heard a lot about Dawki, specially the Umngot River and it's crystal clear view. Thanks to the images at Facebook and Instagram!! After experiencing heaven on earth at Double Decker Living Root Bridge and Rainbow Falls, our plan was to proceed towards the beautiful Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya. But before proceeding for the same, we still had remaining few destinations in Khasi Hills which we planned to cover on the way. The most famous of it being Mawlynnong, which is popularly known as Asia's Cleanest Village.

This post is a continuation from Offbeat Meghalaya - David Scott - Cherrapunji - Double Decker - Rainbow Falls

Anyway, before proceeding further, for those who have landed up here directly, we are on our 16 Day Tour to Meghalaya and Manipur. And we are following the below itinerary...
24th Sep : Reach Guwahati. Halt at Guwahati
25th Sep : Guwahati – Mawphlang. Halt at Mawphlang
26th Sep : Mawphlang – Mawlyngbna. Halt at Mawlyngbna
27th Sep : Mawlyngbna – Mawphanlur. Halt at Mawphanlur

28th Sep : Mawphanlur – Sohra. Halt at Sohra
29th Sep : Sohra Sightseeing. Halt at Sohra
30th Sep : Nongriat Trek. Halt at Nongriat / Sohra

1st Oct : Sohra – Mawlynnong – Dawki – Shnongpdeng. Halt at Shnongpdeng
2nd Oct : Shnongpdeng – Amlarem – Jowai – Ialong. Halt at Ialong
3rd Oct : Ialong – Shillong. Halt at Shillong
4th Oct : Shillong sightseeing. Halt.
5th Oct : Shillong - Guwahati - Imphal. Ima Market & Local Sightseeing
6th Oct : Andro Village & Loktak Lake
7th Oct : Moreh Border
8th Oct : Deperture


Day 8 – 1st Oct : Sohra – Mawlynnong – Dawki – Shnongpdeng. Halt at Shnongpdeng :
We had a long way to go today and thus as usual we started early at around 7:15 AM in the morning. Accordingly we already finalized our bills last night, to avoid any uncertain circumstances today morning. However all our wishes to experience Nohkalikhai Falls and Seven Sister Waterfalls went in vein as it was still raining. With a broken heart, we proceeded towards our first point for the day, Wah Kaba Falls. There are 2 steps at Wah Kaba, one is smaller falls and another one is bigger. However with a broken heart for missing out Nohkalikhai Falls and Seven Sister Waterfalls, none was interested going there. And as it was raining heavily, I decided to just walk upto the smaller one and returned back as one needs to climb down a lot to experience the bigger one.


Post Wah Kaba Falls, we started proceeding further and stopped by Mawjngih Lapynshongdor Veiw Point for our breakfast at around 9 AM. Though we didn't went to the view point as it was all whitish out there, and thus it makes no sense to pay the entry fee for nothing. The restaurant being the only one there, was totally full and crowded. But in the end, after waiting for a quite some time, when we got the breakfast, we were more than pleased, as the Tea was just supurb. A pleasant cup of Tea in the morning can definitely compensate the pain of missing Nohkalikhai and Seven Sisters :P


Finally with a fresh mind, we started proceeding towards Riwai Village. But when we were about to reach there, Bimal Da took a different lane and told us, if weather is clear a surprise is waiting for us. Rains were stopped by then, so we started cheering a bit for the same. He stopped the car by Nohwet View Point. First he took us to a homestay, named Nah I Mei, and informed us that, The Queen of Malaysia stayed here once. The place was really lucrative, well maintained and super clean. Although our excitement didn't last longer, as the weather was totally whitish to see anything. Although we couldn't view anything, but the owner there, offered us organic Hookah!! It was a nice experience I'd say!!






Next we walked a bit ahead towards Rani Falls. Though one need to cross the bridge and go further to actually see the falls, but after last day's trek to Double Decker Living Root Bridge and Rainbow Falls, we were not in mood to walk more!!




On the way to Riwai Village, we had to face a hell lot of traffic, more than that we got on our way to Shillong. Thus we decided to take a walk instead of waiting for the traffic to be cleared. On our way we noticed 4-5 Tempo Traveller, and then we understood the reason behind this traffic jam. Although after doing Double Decker, Single Root Bridge at Riwai was of no interest to me. But as dad and my wife didn't went there, they wanted to experience this.


Finally after navigating through the crowd, we thought of having our lunch at a nearby food joint. Post lunch, we went ahead towards Mawlynnong and stopped by Balancing Rock.


Though after reaching Mawlynnong, we were like, what the hell am I supposed to see here. Yeah it was clean, but then there were other places too which were clean like Mawlyngbna. Entry Fee of Rs. 50/- was a waste I'd say. Although lot of tourists were just roaming around, but we really didn't find anything interesting there. Thus without wasting much time, we proceeded towards Dawki. On the way to Dawki, one can even spot Bangladeshi Tourists by the river side. Just before leaving Khasi Hills and entering Jaintia Hills, one could experience the vivacious Borhill Falls and on the opposite, one can see beautiful Bangladesh Plains.






Post Borhill Falls, we drove to Bydrow Falls


My dad was mostly excited to see Bangladesh, as he had lots of childhood memories from back there. It was already 4:30 by then and the sun started hitting the horizon, gradually reducing the daylight. One can also choose to do boating at Dawki in Umngot river, but we were upset to miss the crystal clear view of the same due to the rains. After a breif halt at Dawki market for Tea and Snacks, Bimal Da asked whether we'd like to go Tamabil. We all exclaimed yes!!


It was a great experience standing at Tamabil by the border checkpost. One step and you'd be in Bangladesh. Lots of Bangladeshi tourists were also there on their tour to Sylhet. They were surprised to see that we could speak Bengali. Few had no idea, what's the state by the border, so we informed them it's Meghalaya. We discussed various things and clicked pictures together. One realization that we all could feel is how, just a pillar has divided us. In the mean time, we could feel what India is and felt proud of our country. Before leaving, we experienced the Flag hoisting by Indian Army.






Finally, at around 6 O' clock, we reached our shelter for the day, Halatong Tourist Homestay at Shnongpdeng. Upon noticing us, the owner, Mr. Manbha came forward welcoming us. The homestay was just beside the main road and in a matter of second, we just loved it. Actually we fell in love with the very basic infrastructure of the place and the environment out there. Bimal Da pointing towards the cieling and table fan there, informed us that, it's going to be warmer here. The temperature was bit high, but definitely not warm. Comfortable I'd say, more on the cooler side though.

After getting freshen up, we went for a brief walk along the village. We met one gentleman on our way, who walked with us and asked us to come by the bridge nearby early morning. Finally after chitchatting for some time, we returned back.

Rest of the evening we spent chitchatting amongst ourselves over the drinks!

Day 8 – 2nd Oct : 2nd Oct : Shnongpdeng – Amlarem – Jowai – Ialong. Halt at Ialong :
Our day started with a spectacular view of Umngot River and beautiful landscape around it. We walked by the iron brige and spent some time soaking ourselves in the lap of mother nature. After spending some time exploring the village, we came back and got ready. With a ray of hope, called Chanmiki for any scope of adventure sports, but he denied considering the condition of Umngot. He frankly said "You guys won't be able to enjoy, as the view would not be clear". Ahh forgot to say, Umngot and it's crystal clear view is heaven for water sports during winter or summer season. One can choose to do Scuba, Snorkelling, Zip Lining among various others. Various adventure tour operators and homestay owners arrange these. One can also choose to do fishing there.






After having breakfast at a nearby restaurant we started our day at around 8:35 AM. It took us around an hour to reach Amlarem. Bimal Da was not much sure about the route to Syndai Cave and Rupasor Bathing Ghat. Over a cup of tea, we got hold of one local guide, Trey, who happens to be from a nearby village close to Syndai Cave. He informed us that, one needs to drive further Krangshuri Waterfalls on Muktapur road. He approached us for a favour to drop him at his village and in return he'd help us explore Syndai Cave and Rupasor Bathing Ghat. We happily accepted the deal. He's actually a truck driver, but being a local, he knows a lot of history about the place.

Our first stop was Krangshuri Waterfalls. Trey really acted like a guide and helped my mom climb down to Krangshuri Falls. Although after going a bit further, there's a view point which offers the view Krangshuri Falls. Rest of the team decided to stay there as they didn't wanted to walk further considering they have to climb all the way up again. While me and Akash proceeded. Wow!! Believe me, the view from that viewpoint is no where close to what it actually looks like. Anyone who's also thinking the same, I'd definitely suggest to climb all the way down to the Falls. This kind of greenish water body is hard to spot.


Post Krangshuri, we proceeded towards our next point, Syndai Cave. Karikor helped us a lot to spot this while on Amlarem. Trey informed us that, the route through this cave goes to Bangladesh and previously the Jaintia Kings used to take this route through Syndai after offering a Puja. We came to know from Karikor that "The Jaintia Kings had two capitals. One is Nartiang during Summer and Jaintiapur (which is not in Bangladesh) for Winter. In Syndai they use to take bath and rest as they travel on their journey".


Trey informed us there's a ruins of temple nearby if we can trek down further. We agreed and proceeded with him.




Trekking down further, one can see Bangladesh plains. Really without this guy Trey, it'd have been not possible for us to spot all these on our own. First of all, these places are really interior and no one would doubt to trek through such steep downhill bushes on their own.

Next we went ahead towards Rupasor Bathing Ghat, a Royal Bathing Ghat back in old ages. On our way to Rupasor, we spotted few small yet beautiful waterfalls. However Rupasor didn't felt much interesting to us.


After spending some time there, we proceeded towards our way back to Amlarem and dropped Trey at his village. We also payed him Rs. 500/- for his guidance. Though this was not discussed, but we felt like paying him for his dedication. A broad smile on his face indicated he was indeed very happy for receiving this bonus. Well, even though he's a truck driver, but his knowledge about the place and it's history is something to be recognised. More than that, he behaved like a professional Guide. Helping my mom on the way to Krangshuri Falls, helping me and my dad climbing down steep rocks through the bushes to the ruins of Temple and etc. Moreover, we were glad to be a part of developing local livelihood. Believe me, these kind of support and appreciation can give him confidence of being a Guide, part time during his off time.


On our way to Amlarem, we skipped Laskar Dam, as one needs to drive few KM's off the road because we thought how much difference it'd make to miss a Dam. Were we wrong? Only god knows!! We decided to have our lunch there at Amlarem before proceeding further.

Karikor informed us to stop at Thlu Amwi Falls and Stone Bridge, on our way to Jowai. He also informed us to drive slow, as it's not a big falls, and as the highway is so smooth, it's easy to miss. Though Google Maps came to rescue here, and we could spot the same and accordingly helped Bimal Da to stop at the spot. Karikor was right, the highway was so smooth, it'd have been an easy miss. One needs to walk a bit from the highway to reach the falls and is best enjoyed from the top.


And on the opposite, there's a Stone Bridge. Although we didn't bother to go down to the Stone Bridge as it was scenic anyway.


Finally we proceeded towards Jowai. The drive to Jowai through such smooth highway was really enjoyable. Jowai seemed to be a huge town of Jaintia Hills. Our shelter for the day is situated a bit outskirts from Jowai at Ialong Park. The Traveller's Nest is situated inside the Park. Ialong Traveller's Nest have 3 Cottages as of this writing, and we had opted for all three of them.

Mr. Budki, had already shared us the number of his manager-cum-caretaker Mr. Sonar. He's a very jolly person and we quickly became friends. After reaching there, it felt like, the place is really well maintained. We decided to went for a brief walk. The park seemed to be a quite offbeat spot. There was a Sacred Forest too and locals informed us to take a walk to the viewpoint. Sorry it was already dusk and I couldn't click any good picture. Locals informed us to drive downhill to the river stream if we want to take a bath which would be really enjoyable experience.

Ahh I must mention, Mr. Budki is a local MLA there and is very friendly and responsible towards his guests. We noticed few guards outside Traveller's Nest and upon enquiring we came to know, Mr. Budki always deploys them when guests are there.

Bimal Da again decided to cook for us that night and as usual it was finger licking, specially the coriander chutney!! Rest of the evening we spent chit-chatting amongst ourselves over the drinks before having dinner and hitting the bed.

Day 9 – 3rd Oct : Ialong – Shillong. Halt at Shillong :
Though we could have started a bit late, but Bimal Da suggested us to start early, so we'd get some time in Shillong to enjoy the evening and explore the market. Thus we started our day at around 6:45 AM bidding goodbye to Mr. Sonar who was really helpful throughout our stay. Infact in such a quiet short time, he became a friend to us.

Our first point of the day was Tyrshi Falls. The route to Tyrshi Falls is still kuccha and Bimal Da expressed his doubts of driving on that route. Although upon asking him several times, he tried driving on that route, but it was literally skitting on red mud. Thus we decided to take a walk to the falls and asked him to wait for us instead of taking such risk.


The walk to Tyrshi Falls was really enjoyable through beautiful meadows.


Although I believe, we needed to go down further, as the spot we reached had blocked views of Tyrshi Falls.

Next came Thadlaskein Lake, but it really failed to impress us specially after such beautiful spots we have been to. Thus we decided to drive further without wasting time there.

We reached Nartiang at around 9 O' Clock. Nartiang is one of the most fascinating spots in Meghalaya. Those stones are back from the stone ages and were carried by people and erected here to mark the victory. Few stones were quite large and quite heavy, which we can only guess nowadays about how a man would have carried such on their back.


Next we went ahead towards Nartiang Durga Temple which is one of the Sakti Peetha and a 500 year old temple. Devi's left high is believed to have fallen here.






Bimal Da, told us an interesting story behind his temple. Previously humans were used to be sacrificed here in the old ages. And once upon a time, no one was ready to be sacrificed, but as per the norm, someone had to be sacrificed. Then a rooster appeared and asked to sacrifice himself instead of humans. And from then onwards, they started worshipping the rooster. Although I can't verify this story line, but seemed quite interesting to us.

Finally we crossed Jaintia Hills and were back to Khashi Hills once again. Before reaching Shillong we took a left turn towards Smit and drove towards Laitlum. The view from Laitlum was breathtaking.


On our way back Karikor put his 100% effort to make us identify Rapleang Peak, Rashi Falls, Lawai Falls, Mawlyngot Organic Tea Farm etc. These places seemed to be a bit offbeat and thus we couldn't spot them in Google Maps. Although Karikor at that time was more efficient than Google Maps directing us turn by turn. However at one point it started raining badly such that it was hard to see anything. And as Bimal Da was not aware about the route, and we were proceeding following the signboards directed by Karikor, it was nearly impossible to follow him.

Thus after waiting for sometime, we decided to return back. Our next point for the day was Sweet Falls. One needs to pass through Gorkha Rifles Training Centre to reach Sweet Falls and thus one needs to take permission from on duty officer in order to proceed. Though Bimal Da informed us that it's just a formality and no one has ever been denied.

Upon reaching Sweet Falls, it seemed like to be Mud Falls instead!! Forget the colour, but it was vivacious!!


Post Sweet Falls, we stopped at Ever Living Museum. This Museum is a personal museum owned by Mr. War. He himself personally provides a guided tour to all of his tourists. I must say this man is a gem. His collection is something to lust for. And surprisingly, we came to know that, he still doesn't gets any support and recognition from Meghalaya Govt. He said, recently Central Govt. was kind enough to put a signboard recently, but nothing else than that. I really wonder, how the hell he's protecting such rarest of rare collection there which is worth Crores. He's an explorer himself and claims to have collected all these on his own and not only that, he's enough knowledgable about preserving the same. As preserving such things, polishing and various other tasks requires impeccable amount of command on such skills. I really pray, may god bless him.






Finally Bimal Da dropped us to our shelter for next 2 nights, El Dorado Guest House, by 2:45 and left for the day. We were hungry like hell, and thus we deiced to have our lunch at their in house restaurant only.

This post is continued at Offbeat Meghalaya - Shillong

Reviews :
Halatong Tourist Homestay, Shnongpdeng : Our stay at Halatong Tourist Homestay at Shnongpdeng, was one of the unique experience throughout our stays in Meghalaya. It's most basic yet warm and cozy surrounded by scenic beauty. Mr. Manbha, the owner is very friendly and always smiling person. Tourists opting to stay here, must understand the condition he/she's going to be in beforehand instead of making a fuss later on. The arrangement is very basic and washrooms are not attached. The homestay is situated just beside the main road which poses an unique experience. Being situated nearby the plains, lizards and some other insects are common here. Thus beds are equipped with mosquito nets. They have 2 Double Bed Room and 1 Four Bedded Room as of this writing and each room is equipped with Mosquito Repellant machine due to obvious reasons. One can also choose to camp by the Umngot River. The place is very well maintained and rooms and washrooms were clean enough. The food is nothing fancy yet tasty. However Manbha lives on the other side of the river and thus the services are limited to max 9 PM.














Ialong Traveller's Nest, Ialong Park : Ialong Traveller's Nest is situated inside Ialong Park, a bit outskirts of Jowai, a offbeat destination. The property is really well maintained by Mr. Sonar, the manager-cum-caretaker of the place. They have 3 Cottages as of now and each Cottage and Washroom is very well maintained and neat and clean. Although that night Bimal Da decided to cook on his own, so I won't be able to comment on the food prepared by Mr. Sonar. However Mr. Sonar is a very friendly person. We really enjoyed our stay at Ialong. One must understand, being a remote destination, frequent power cuts are common here, however candles are provided accordingly. Mr. Budki owns this place and is very friendly and responsible person. Although we couldn't meet him in person, but throughout our interaction he was very nice to us. He even deployed few security personnel by the property for us. This is something unique we experienced throughout our travel life.










Nah - I - Mei, Nohwet : Although we didn't stayed here, but the owner Mr. Hali being friend of Bimal Da, he took us there. The property is really well maintained and one of the best homestay we have ever seen. The rooms were very clean and very well maintained. One looking forward to stay at Mawlynnong, may choose to spend their night here. Nearby is the Nohwet View Point which offers spectacular view on a clear day.










Contacts :
Hali, Nah I Mei Homestay, Nohwet : +91-89745-91430.

Manbha Kongwang, Halatong Tourist Homestay : +91-96157-62788 / +91-87310-96536

If visiting during right time and interested in water sports, one can contact either of the below operators for various water sports at Dawki / Shnongpdeng. I was mostly in touch with Chanmiki, however except Snorkelling, he offers everything else same as Pioneer Adventure Tours. So if you are interested in Snorkelling, you have to opt for Pioneer Adventure Tours which is very popular and well known operator in this belt.

Chanmiki Lamin, Shnongpdeng Adventures : +91-70589-41449 / +91-84130-70707 / +91-96154-51664. Email : chanmikilamin@gmail.com. Website : Shnongpdeng Escapade

Pioneer Adventure Tours : Website : Pioneer Adventure Tours

Mr. Budki Mulieh (Owner), Ialong Traveller's Nest : +91-96152-36508 / +91-89748-06528 / +91-96124-69815

Mr. Sonar (Manager-Cum-Caretaker), Ialong Traveller's Nest : +91-94021-59390

Bimal Modak (ML 05P 2532) : +91-96137-75855. Bimal Da drives white Enjoy. He’s actually Pradeep Modak’s brother. Pradeep Modak is very well known in Meghalaya specially for offbeat circuits, but as he drives a small vehicle himself, he handed over this tour of us to his brother and assured us his full assurance!! Bimal Da is a very jolly person and quickly can be a great friend of yours. He has great experience in cooking. On three instances he cooked himself for us and it was finger licking. I must say, without Bimal Da and Pradeep Da, our trip wouldn’t have been such enjoyable.

Pradeep Modak : +91-98630-87418 / +91-82599-64634. Pradeep Modak is the person you need if you are venturing out to Meghalaya, specially any offbeat circuits. He being an explorer himself, keeps exploring various destinations. He’s the one who keeps exploring places and guides his brothers. Above all, the person is very honest and speaks his heart out. Money is not the first thing that matters to him. On various instances we found his responsibility for his guests is something to salute for. Believe me, with him around, nothing can go wrong. They are in total 6 brothers, but 3 of them are in this driving line and without him his other brothers wouldn’t have been what they are now.

Costs :
Day 8 :
Entry Fee at Nohwet View Point : Rs. 100/-
Entry Fee at Riwai Root Bridge : Rs. 30/- (Rs. 10/- per head)
Entry Fee at Mawlynnong Village : Rs. 50/- (per car)
Entry Fee at Shnongpdeng Village : Rs. 50/- (per car)
Accommodation at Halatong Tourist Homestay, Shnongpdeng : Rs. 2000/-
Food Bill at Halatong Tourist Homestay, Shnongpdeng : Rs. 2130/-

Day 9 :
Entry Fee at Krangshuri Falls : Rs. 40/- (Rs. 20- per head)
Guide For Syndai Cave and Rupasor Bathing Ghat : Rs. 500/-
Entry Fee at Ialong Park : Rs. 20/- (per car)
Accommodation at Ialong Traveller's Nest : 6000/-
Food Bill at Ialong Traveller's Nest : 1700/-

Day 10 :
Parking Fee at Laitlum : Rs. 30/-
Parking Fee at Sweet Falls : Rs. 80/-
Entry Fee at Ever Living Museum : Rs. 350/- (Rs. 50/- per head + Rs. 50/- Camera Fee)

NOTE : I have omitted costs of personal nature for easy interpretation.

Special Thanks To :
This post is continued at Offbeat Meghalaya - Shillong

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