Shillong aka the Scotland of the East and the Rock Capital of India is a place where you see a blend of the cultural world and modern civilization. Shillong is the capital of the state of Meghalaya (meaning abode the clouds) and very true to its description. Shillong is also the District Headquarters of East Khasi Hills District and is situated at an altitude of 1,496 metres above sea level. The capital city has a bracing climate throughout the year. This city has been the seat of Government since the consolidation of the British administration in this part of India more than a century ago.
The city is well connected with motorable roads, has its own charm, different from other hill stations, and presents a natural scenic beauty with waterfalls, brooks, pine grooves and gardens. The place, the people, the flora and fauna and the climate all combine to make Shillong an ideal resort throughout the year. Shillong offers amenities for tourists with good hotel accommodations, facilities for sports, angling, trekking and hiking.
Meghalaya’s main ethnic communities, each having its own distinctive customs and cultural traditions are the Khasis (of Mon-Khmer ancestry), the Garos (of Tibeto-Burman origin) and the Jaintias said to be from South East Asia. The common trait binding all three communities is its matrilineal system in which the family linage is taken from the mother’s side. The people of Meghalaya are known to be hospitable, cheerful and friendly.
Just about 90 kms from Shillong city is Cherrapunji – ‘the Rainiest Place on Planet Earth’ where the clouds cease to clear the sky and drops of rains continue to fall on your windshield in the majestic three (3) hour drive from Shillong to Cherrapunji. The picturesque landscape on your way will surely make you fall in love with this drive across the misty hills and you will surely make your mind to visit Cherrapunji again!
Cherrapunji is located in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya and is home to five of the most famous waterfalls of the State that has now turned into favorite tourist destinations. One noteworthy among these list of five is the Nohkalikai Falls, which is also India’s tallest plunge Waterfall standing tall at a height of 1115 feet (340 meters). As per the Khasi folklore an interesting story exists behind this waterfall’s name.
If you are from the North East the name Shillong would mean a perfect weekend get away for you. The pleasant weather, the spectacular drive along NH 40, the Barapani lake, the numerous waterfalls, cheap booze (this one to lift you damp spirits), mouth watering dumplings and not to forget the Second wettest place on Earth ‘Cherrapunji’ are sure motives to get you hit the road and drive to Shillong.
Places to visit in Shillong:
- India’s only Glass Mosque
- Umiam Lake
- Elephant Falls
- Shillong Peak
- Butterfly Museum
- Air Force Museum
- Golf Course
- Don Bosco Museum
- The Cathedrals and Churches of Shillong
- Cherrapunji – the Second Wettest place on Planet Earth and Land of the Double Decker Living Root Bridge and India’s tallest Plunge Waterfalls
- Mawlynnong Village – Asia’s cleanest village
- Dawki ~ the Border of India and Bangladesh
- Umngot River ~ the Clear waters of Umngot
- Umiam Lake – the biggest artificial lake in the State
- Pynursla – Home to the Longest Living Root Bridge
- Dwarksuid – Devil’s doorway
- Jakrem – Hot water springs of sulphur water which is believed to have curative medicinal properties
- Nongkhnum Island – Biggest river island in Meghalaya and the second biggest river island in Asia
- Mawphlang – the Site of the Khasi Hills Sacred Groves and David Scott Trail Trek
- Mawlyngbna – the Land of Undulating mountains and pristine clear waterfalls
- Tura – the Home to the Red Pandas at the Nokrek National Park
- Mawsynram – the land of steep sliding slopes, the fresh air, the rolling green mountains and the deafening but beautiful waterfalls
Jungleideas welcomes you to India’s North East to visit Shillong – ‘the Scotland of the East’ and ‘the Rock Capital of India’, the State of Meghalaya, Incredible India!
To Plan your visit to Shillong and Meghalaya along with Kaziranga National Park please fill the form below ~
Suggested Itinerary for your visit to Shillong and Meghalaya ~
Day 1: Guwahati Airport – Kamakhya Temple – Shillong
Arrive at the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport at Guwahati. At the airport you will be received by our representative welcoming you in a traditional Assamese style. From the airport we board our Innova vehicles and we head to the Holy Maa Kamakhya temple at the Nilachal hills in Guwahati. Known as the temple of the bleeding Goddess, Kamakhya temple is one among the 51 Shakti Peethas in India and is the holiest temple shrine in North East India. At the Kamakhya temple we will meet with a temple priest (Panda) who will welcome us and take us across the pathway to reach the temple entrance and we begin our Darshan of the this holy temple shrine guided by the priest.
As per Hindu mythology, after Lord Vishnu had mutilated Goddess Sati’s body into 51 pieces and Lord Shiva was still carrying the mutilated body of Goddess Sati in his hands and performing the Tandava whilst flying across the Indian Subcontinent, the 51 parts of the body fell across various parts of the Indian Subcontinent and the womb of the Goddess feel atop the Nilachal Hills in Guwahati and a temple shrine was built here and this temple shrine of the Kamakhya temple celebrates the spirit of woman hood and the ability of the Mother to give birth to a new life. Kamakhya temple was renowned for the various tantric practices and the various Holy Sadhus in India revere this shrine and ensure that they come here every year in June. It is said that every year in the month of Asad (June) the Goddess menstruates and the waters of the Brahmaputra river turns red therefore calling for a grand festival of the Ambubachi Mela (Eastern Mahakumbh) that see devotees coming from across the World to the Kamakhya temple to witness this festival. We will visit the inner sanctum of the Kamakhya temple and seek blessings of the Goddess by touching the holy water and sprinkling it on our head.
After our Darshan is over we start on our drive towards Shillong from Guwahati crossing Jorabat and Byrnihat to reach Nongpoh area where we break for an early lunch at the Jiva’s veg restaurant. One of the most popular food joints in the area the Jiva’s restaurant serves fresh vegetarian food at the place and we savour our lunch here and later continue on our drive to Shillong. We reach the Barapani area where the Umiam Lake is located and this lake is the largest man made water reservoir in North East India. At Barapani we admire the beautiful and clean blue waters of the Umiam lake and observe the locals fishing on the lake and later head to the Umiam Sports complex at Barapani where we spend our time boating on the clear waters of the Umiam lake and later we continue on our drive to Shillong.
The beautiful city of Shillong – the Scotland of the East welcomes us and the built of the place with the houses constructed atop the hills, the roads running across the steep hills reminded the British of the place’s landscape to that of Scotland and hence they came up with the name – Scotland of the East. At Shillong city we will be welcomed with traffic and we gradually drive on our way to the Guest House in Shillong. Across the roads we can see various traditional and modern shops of Shillong and the place has a rustic charm to it with old shops reminding us of the colonial era here. One thing noteworthy to notice is that Shillong is inhabited by the Khasi tribes of Meghalaya and you will notice that most of the shops and local business establishments of Shillong are run by the women folks here. Not only the businesses, the women of the Khasi tribe also hold high and respectable positions in the government services and administration as well and this is because the Khasi people practice the matrilineal system and the family lineage is taken from the Mother’s side and the women is considered to be the head of the household. Many business establishments including the meat shops are to be seen run by the women folks of Shillong.
We soon reach the Guest House at preferably the Laban area in Shillong and we check into the place and relax for a while. Later in the afternoon we head to visit the beautiful Ward’s lake in Shillong that is a prime tourist attraction in the heart of Shillong city. Primarily dug out by the prisoners of the Central Jail who were noticed to put on weight sitting idle in the jail premises the Ward’s Lake (named after the British General Ward) has come a long way and today sees visitors in hundreds every day from India and abroad as well. The Ward’s lake has a well laid out walking track and boating facility as well and a restaurant where you can admire the beauty of the place over a cup of tea or coffee.
After this we visit the famous market area in Shillong of the Police Bazar and this is a mix of the modern and traditional markets of Shillong. We will take some time exploring the Police Bazar in Shillong and we observe an interesting betting game stall called as the Shillong Teer. In this unique betting game, the people come to these stalls and place their bets on certain numbers and the archers gather at the Polo Grounds in Shillong and they shoot their arrows on a board with certain numbers on it. The number with the most number of hits becomes the winner and the player placing his bets on this number wins an amount almost 80 times he places as bet. This is very popular betting game across Meghalaya and you can find counters at various places in the State. With this we call it a day and head on our drive back to the Guest House.
Night Halt: Sunrise Guest House at Shillong or Similar
Meals Included: NA
Day 2: Shillong – Laitlum Canyons – Shillong
Today we will head to visit the Laitlum Canyon near Shillong and our day will start early to head from Shillong to Laitlum area. The drive from Shillong to Laitlum will take us about an hours’ time and the best time to witness the place is during the morning when the sun is not up completely. We will have packed breakfast to be had on our way and we reach Laitlum and we enjoy our breakfast overlooking the beautiful canyons of Laitlum and savour our breakfast along with a cup of fresh black tea. Laitlum was earlier a not so renowned tourist destination and it shot to fame after the movie Rock On 2 was shot here and now visitors visit this sublime place of beauty that reminds one of the Scottish highland. Once you reach the parking spot you need to hike for some distance to reach the local villages but you can also just view the Laitlum canyon from the parking area as well mostly to admire the vast natural beauty of this place. From the top of the view point at the Laitlum canyon near Shillong you will catch a 360 degree view of the verdant landscapes of Meghalaya that are covered with lush green tropical forests that are on a mountain terrain and it looks like a huge amphitheatre area surrounded by trees. People come here to catch a glimpse of the sunrise and sunset mostly during weekends from Shillong as well as Guwahati.
We complete our sightseeing at the Laitlum canyons and later head back to Shillong to spend our day of sightseeing around Shillong where we will witness some of the other tourist places in Shillong city. We reach Shillong by around 10 AM and we head to the Bara Bazar area in Shillong that is the largest traditional market in North East India and every day the local farmers and the villagers come here to the Bara Bazar along with their produce and they sell their produce here and it is a very vibrant market to seen with vegetables and fruits of different colours and it is a must visit place in Shillong to try the local Khasi food of Shillong. Mind you, the Khasi people observe a non-vegetarian diet and as over 90% of the population practice Christianity as their faith so they consume both pork and beef along with chicken and fish and if you are a vegetarian then it is better to avoid the local food and have your meals in the upscale restaurant that serve a wide array of vegetarian dishes. But if you eat pork then one thing you cannot miss during your visit to the Bara Bazar in Shillong is the ‘Jadoh’ – that is a special rice cooked in pig blood and the aroma of this dish is simple amazing and it is served with accompaniments like pork fry, pork curry, pork intestines, etc. that is a blend of various herbs and spices and it is a hot dish as well.
At the Bara Bazar area in Shillong we take a walk across the market and get to witness the fresh produce brought in by the farmers to Shillong from the various neighbouring villages. Khasi community in Shillong and Meghalaya are mostly farmers by profession especially in the villages and they are very hard working people who spend their time growing various vegetables and rice and the main produce are carrots, potatoes, capsicum, green chillies, coriander, etc. After exploring the Bara Bazar market we head on our drive to the Don Bosco Museum in Shillong that is a huge 7 storey museum that illustrates the rich culture, history and heritage of the indigenous people of North East India. We purchase our entry tickets and start exploring the Don Bosco museum in Shillong that has a very modern design and technology integration and once you enter the premises along the pathway of this museum in Shillong you can find pictures of the various tribes of North East India all dressed in their traditional attires and jewellery displayed. At the ground floor there is a souvenir shop where you can purchase various ethnic crafts and handlooms of Meghalaya along with the Meg Tea – that is a unique tea blend of Shillong and Meghalaya and is to be found quite rarely.
We start our exploration and you do not need a guide to explore the Don Bosco Museum in Shillong because the place itself is quite self-explanatory with detailed descriptions of the various models and pictures all around the place. The lighting is automated and each of the rooms’ lights up when a visitor walks in and turns off when there is no one in the room. At the entrance of each of the display rooms at the Don Bosco Museum there is a self-service Kiosk that plays interactional videos and once can view and listen to more details about the artefacts in that room of the museum here in Shillong. On the top of the museum there is a sky walk and from this sky walk one can get a bird’s eye view of the Shillong city. Later we visit the Polo grounds in Shillong and if we are on time we can watch the archers participate in the betting game of the Shillong Teer. After this we visit the Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians at Laimukrah area in Shillong that is one of the every beautiful church in Shillong city. As the majority of the population of Meghalaya are Christians therefore it is evident that numerous churches and cathedrals in the city and this is one of the very beautiful churches here in Shillong.
The lush green lawn at this Cathedral is a beautiful sight to view and we admire the architecture and the blue building here at the Cathedral and head back towards our Guest House in Laban. Though a majority of the population are Christians, there is also a sizeable population of Hindu and the Muslim community in Shillong as well and the Muslim community in Shillong came up with a unique idea of building a glass mosque and this happens to be the only glass mosque in India located at the Laban area in Shillong. The mosque happens to be on the way on our way to the Guest House and also the best time to visit this mosque is during the evening when the lights are turned on and the entire building is illuminated in a bright green colour with the glass panes shining and we spend some time here at the Madina Masjid in Shillong and later head back to our guest house and retire for the day.
Night halt: Sunrise Guest House at Shillong or Similar
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 3: Shillong – Mawphlang – Mawsynram – Shilong
Today we will proceed to visit the two unique destinations near Shillong Viz. Mawsynram (the place that records the highest rainfall in the World) and Mawphlang (the site of the Khasi Hills Sacred Groves) near Shillong. We start after an early breakfast and head on our 65 km drive to Mawsynram but at first we will make a stop at the Khasi Hills Sacred groves at Mawphlang about 45 minutes’ drive from Shillong. At the Khasi Hills sacred groves at Mawphlang we head for a short trek inside the pristine forest reserves here accompanied by a local guide who will speak to us about the various facets of as to why certain forest pockets are called as the Sacred Groves across Meghalaya. The Khasi people earlier believed that the numerous bounties of nature are their Gods and they worshipped them and to prevent people from committing any acts of nonsense like chopping of trees for timber they declared certain forest pockets as Sacred Groves and no acts of nuisance are to be committed in these forest pockets and this has given rise to growth of abundance of flora and fauna inside these forest pockets. In the earlier days various rituals used to be conducted in these sacred groves and the Khasi elderly folks used to offer prayers on the sacred monolith stones here and the appearance of a tiger would mean the presence of a bountiful harvest for the next year and the appearance of a snake would mean a famine. The guide will speak more about the trees in the sacred groves some of them they say have properties to treat cancer as well. We will also visit the site of the Khasi Heritage Village at Mawphlang as well.
We reach the beautiful tinsel town of Mawsynram and the cool weather greets us here. In case our visit is planned during the pre-monsoon month of May then we can get to witness the amazing rains of Mawsynram and a unique opportunity to sight a waterfall that falls across the road from top. At Mawsynram we head to visit the Mawjymbuin caves at Mawsynram near Shillong. Meghalaya has numerous caves and of which few are explored in details and now been opened to tourists. This Mawjymbuin cave at Mawsynram is one example of such a cave and what attracts tourists to this cave is the presence of a naturally formed Shivalinga at the cave entrance. Devotees to this cave consider this to be an auspicious moment to sight a naturally formed Shivalinga and if you observe carefully you can see a continuous dripping of water on top of the Shivalinga from the top of the cave that makes it a unique thing as well. Also this Shivalinga is located near the entrance of the cave itself and you can also see the formations of various stalactites and stalagmites at the cave entrance. We spend some time exploring the Mawjymbuin caves at Mawsynram near Shillong and later visit the Jakrem Hot springs at Mawsynram that is a unique hot water spring that is said that if you bathe in the waters of this spring it helps you to get rid of various body ailments.
If you are interested to take a bath then there are bathroom built here and the water from the spring is brought in here by pipes and water buckets filled with this water is provided to the visitors who can enjoy the bath here. Later we visit the Mawsynram local market to witness some unique handicraft products of Meghalaya. Bamboo is available in abundance in the forest pockets of Mawsynram near Shillong and hence the artisans here have come up with unique ideas to create various handicrafts out of bamboo and cane and they often bring these products to be sold at the local market here. But majority of the products are either sent to Handicraft Emporiums in Shillong or even exported as there is a lot of demand for these products. We will also savour our lunch here at a decent restaurant at the Mawsynram market and later head back to Shillong. We reach Upper Shillong in the early afternoon and we head to visit the Shillong peak in Upper Shillong that is located at the Air Force settlement in Shillong. We will cross the beautiful forest cover and one can see the potato cultivations all around along with the Meg Tea cultivations as well.
At the Air Force settlement area we will need to get down from our vehicles and pass through a security procedure and later we will head to the Shillong Peak area from where we get a bird’s eye view of the entire city of Shillong. Though it is best witnessed during the evening but due to security concerns the place is opened only up to 4 PM and hence we have to visit prior to that time. The Shillong peak is the highest point of elevation in the East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya. We admire the beauty of the city of Shillong – the Scotland of the East and later travel back to Upper Shillong area to visit the Elephant Falls in Shillong. Meghalaya is known to be the home to various waterfalls in India including the famed Nohkalikai Falls at Cherrapunji – the tallest plunge waterfall in India. On our third day we will catch a glimpse of the first waterfall near Shillong that is the Elephant falls. The Elephant falls in Shillong is a three tier waterfall with one fall on top and the two cascading waterfalls down along the stairway. This waterfall was named as the Elephant Falls because of the presence of a rock here when it was discovered by the British and this rock was in the shape of an elephant’s head and hence they named it as the Elephant Falls but however the rock was destroyed in the earthquake of 1897. We admire the waterfall on top and later we climb down the stairway to view the other two falls here and with this we wind up our visit for the day and head back to our Guest House in Shillong.
Night Halt: Sunrise Guest House at Shillong or Similar
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 4: Shillong – Dawki – Mawlynnong – Cherrapunji
Today is a long day for us and we will visit the places of Dawki – the border of India and Bangladesh and Mawlynnong – the Cleanest Village in Asia. We will drive back to Cherrapunji from Mawlynnong and make our night halt at Cherrapunji thereby bidding farewell to Shillong and we will travel back to Shillong on our way to Kaziranga National Park from Cherrapunji. We start after an early breakfast as we drive from Shillong to Dawki. We cross Upper Shillong and we drive across the beautiful verdant landscapes of Meghalaya to reach at a junction where we take a left towards Dawki and the straight road leads to Cherrapunji. We continue on our drive to Dawki and we stop at a beautiful viewpoint to take a short break and have tea as well. We start on our drive again and we reach Dawki by 10 AM and head to the border of India and Bangladesh where we cross the Indian border to reach the no man’s land at the pillar 1275.
Here we click our pictures at the International border of India and Bangladesh and later we come to the boating point where we enjoy a 30 minute boat ride on the crystal clear waters of the Umngot River at Dawki. After our boating experience we proceed to the cleanest village of Asia at Mawlynnong to arrive by 12.30 PM and at Mawlynnong we will visit the Riwai Single Decker Living Root Bridge. These Living Root Bridges are unique to Meghalaya and are grown by the Khasi and Jaintia people of Meghalaya. As there are numerous small villages across the forests and mountains and many perennial streams flowing across these forests the locals came up with a unique idea of not constructing bridges but instead growing them with the help of the roots of the Rubber trees in a certain direction to cross over these streams. Over the years these roots grow and they are provided guidance with the help of hollowed out areca tree trunks and the vines grow along these trunks to reach the other side of the stream and these roots form a bridge that are later made walk able by the use of wood planks and stones and these are the unique Root Bridges growing across Meghalaya. The plus point is that with so much rainfall across the place these Living root bridges unlike the iron bridges that rust easily with water the root bridges grown stronger with rains.
We hike for about 10 minutes on a downward path from the parking spot to reach the Riwai Living Root Bridge near Mawlynnong and the grandeur of this Bioengineering marvel is a unique sight to behold. Next up we drive towards Mawlynnong village and we break here for lunch. Our lunch will be a traditional Khasi meal and after lunch we head out to explore the cleanest village of Asia and what today is a prime tourist attraction in Meghalaya. Known to be a village of around 100 households the people of Mawlynnong have always practiced the unique way of keeping the premises of the village clean. They segregate the waste and the organic waste if used for fertilizer and the plastic waste is sent to Shillong to be recycled. We admire the clean and green village of Mawlynnong and later head to visit the Balancing rocks at Mawlynnong that is a unique structure where a huge stone boulder rests on a much smaller stone and it has been like this since many years. With this we wind up our visit at Mawlynnong and head on our drive to Cherrapunji in Meghalaya and check into our place of stay at Cherrapunji.
Night Halt: Sohra Plaza Homestay at Cherrapunji
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 5: Cherrapunji
Today is our day of exploring the pristine landscapes of the beautiful town of Cherrapunji in Meghalaya. Earlier Cherrapunji held the record of being the wettest place on planet Earth before it lost this coveted title to Mawsynram. However it still holds the second spot and this makes it a land of beautiful waterfalls and numerous caves. From Cherrapunji if you drive to Tyrna and then hike to the Nongriat village then you get to witness the majestic Double Decker Living Root Bridge that is renowned across the World and is a wonderful Bioengineering marvel to sight (PS: In this itinerary of ours we have not included the trek to Nongriat village. You can choose to add your visit to the Double Decker Living Root Bridge at Nongriat and this would increase your day of visit by another day). We will start our day after our breakfast at leisure as we do not have to travel much today and only visit the sightseeing spots around Cherrapunji itself. After breakfast we drive to the top of the mountain to the site of the Nohkalikai Falls – the tallest plunge waterfall in India and also the third tallest waterfall in India. The grandeur of the Nohkalikai falls leaves any visitor to the place enthralled and we admire the beauty of this waterfall and listen to the gushing sound of the falling water from 340 m.
The place has numerous vendors who set up small stalls in the place to earn a living and they sell some best available cinnamon sticks and turmeric powder sources from the local forests. They even sell fresh fruits and one thing not to miss is the pineapples they serve here that are the sweetest you can taste. We walk across the area and learn about the history of why this waterfall is called as the Nohkalikai Falls that means the Leap of Ka Likai. After winding up our visit here we will visit the Mawsmai cave area in Cherrapunji. Another of the caves that is open to tourists to explore – the Mawsmai cave is another prime tourist attraction in Cherrapunji and sees hundreds of visitors each day during the tourist season. Earlier a very large portion of the Mawsmai cave was open to tourists but now this exploration area has been reduced but yet it is sufficient enough to get a feel of the cave environment and one gets to view the various rock formations, the fossils and the stalactites and stalagmites. After this we head on our drive to the Seven Sister waterfall near the Mawsmai Cave area in Cherrapunji. The Seven Sister falls is a group of seven waterfalls that fall down from a cliff and looking absolutely stunning in the monsoon season.
We can also view the plains of Bangladesh from the view point here and the entire lush green valley view brings a soothing effect on a viewer’s mind. We have a cup of black tea at the parking area of the Seven Sister falls and later travel to visit the Arwah Caves in Cherrapunji that is a must visit experience here to witness the true wonder of a caving experience. The Arwah Caves is located close to our place of stay and we drive atop a hill to reach the parking spot at the Arwah Caves. From the parking spot we need to hike for a certain distance to reach the cave entrance and once you are here you need to climb down a stair to reach the inside of the Arwah Cave. It has is a much wider cave compared to the Mawsmai cave and there is a small stream flowing inside the Arwah cave as well. We go deep inside the cave observing the various fossils on the cave walls and we also see various stalactites and stalagmites. Up to one point the cave is well lit and then there is a small passage as well and if you are not claustrophobic then you can go inside this passage as well. We come out of the Arwah cave and later travel to have our lunch at the Orange Roots Restaurant at Cherrapunji.
The Orange Roots restaurant at Cherrapunji is one of the very neat and hygienic places to eat here in Cherrapunji and the place serves some real good South Indian vegetarian recipes as the owner of the place is one of the pioneers of tourism in Cherrapunji who is a retired banker from Tamil Nadu and he is settled in Cherrapunji and had married a local Khasi lady and he runs the Cherrapunji Holiday Resort as well near Tyrna that is one of the oldest stay options in Cherrapunji. He is also said to have introduced the World to the Double Decker Living Bridge at Nongriat as he encouraged visitors staying at his place to visit the place on their hike to Nongriat village. We enjoy some hot masala dosas for lunch along with butter milk and we head back to our place of stay to spend some time relaxing.
Later in the afternoon we head to the Wei Sadogn falls near the Homestay and this is a true gem of a waterfall in Cherrapunji and visitors have the opportunity to walk to the base of this waterfall and enjoy the view of the waters falling from top. Next up we head to the Dainthlen Falls a little further ahead and this is a waterfall located amidst a beautiful landscape famous as a movie shoot location. We admire the beauty of the Dainthlen falls and head to visit a local village area and later come back to our place of stay at the Sohra Plaza Homestay.
Night Halt: Sohra Plaza Homestay at Cherrapunji
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 6: Cherrapunji – Kaziranga National Park
Today we drive from Cherrapunji to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kaziranga National Park – the land of the Indian One Horned Rhinoceros and the most preferred tourist destination in Assam and even North East India. The drive from Cherrapunji to Kaziranga National Park will take about 6 ½ hours and hence we will start by 8 AM to reach Kaziranga by early afternoon where we will visit the Kaziranga Orchid Park – the Largest Orchid Park in India. We start after an early breakfast and drive from Cherrapunji towards Kaziranga National Park crossing Shillong and we need to leave early to avoid the office hour traffic rush in Shillong that starts generally by 9 AM and we try to cross Shillong by 10 AM to reach Barapani at the Umiam Lake and then continue on our drive further to Nongpoh where we take a short break for tea and later continue towards the border of Meghalaya and Assam at Jorabat.
From Jorabat we drive towards Sonapur, Jagiroad, Raha to reach the Nagaon Bypass where we break for our lunch at the Anuraag Dhaba and we savour an ethnic Assamese Thali at this dhaba. After lunch we start on our drive again to cross Koliabor and Jakhlabandha and finally reach the Burapahar range of Kaziranga National Park. The beautiful tea gardens of Assam welcome us here at Kaziranga and we witness the lush green mountains of the Karbi Anglong hills landscapes. We cross the Burapahar range to reach Bagori range at Kaziranga and this is where the Elephant Safari rides are conducted for Indian Nationals and we proceed further to finally reach the Kohora area of Kaziranga National Park. Kohora is the main market place is of Kaziranga and had numerous Hotels and Resorts that cater to the comfortable stay of guests here at Kaziranga. We head to visit the Kaziranga Orchid Park – the largest Orchid Park in India and here we admire the various orchid species that are in bloom at the green house area. Kaziranga Orchid Park is a one stop destination to learn about the various traditions and cultures of Assam and there are sections here that depict the various bamboo crafts of Assam and also the traditional handlooms and the unique process of handloom weaving on the traditional loom as well.
There is a rice museum, cactus garden, souvenirs shop and as well as a bamboo park inside the premises of the Kaziranga Orchid park and we admire the display across each of these places and finally come to the open stage area to witness the traditional folk dance performances of Assam here at the Kaziranga Orchid Park. At regular intervals the stage here hosts traditional folk dances of Assam like the bamboo dance and the Bihu dance and young boys and girls perform these colourful dance numbers here. There will be a performance of the traditional bamboo dance of Assam that is a unique performance where the balance of the young girls are tested and the boys hold the bamboo across each end and they form a maze like structure and move the bamboo in a unique formation to the sound of a beating drum and the girls step in and out of these bamboo maze in a rhythmic manner performing this dance. Next up is the Bihu dance of Assam that is a very vibrant and colourful dance performance where a young girl dressed in the traditional Muga silk attire dances gracefully to the tunes of the boys singing and playing the traditional musical instrument. The Bihu dance of Assam is performed mostly during the Rongali Bihu festival that happens to be the Assamese New Year in the month of April and is a time for celebrations to welcome the spring season after a long spell of the dry months of the winters and in this time the flowers bloom and the atmosphere becomes green again because of the torrential downpour. After this we wind up our visit of the day and as we have an early day tomorrow before we head back to Guwahati.
Night Halt: Bonhabi Resort at Kaziranga or Similar
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 7: Kaziranga National Park – Guwahati
Today is your Safari day at Kaziranga National Park and we will enjoy the safari rides at the UNESCO World Heritage Site before heading back on our drive to Guwahati to catch a late evening flight back to the onward destination or home. Our elephant safari will be scheduled at the Bagori (Western) range of Kaziranga National Park and the slot timing will either be at 5 AM or 6.30 AM in the morning and this will be finalized the day before our elephant safari ride here in Kaziranga National Park. We will leave from our place of stay to the Bagori range where we will enjoy an hour long elephant back rife and sight the varied flora, fauna and avifauna of Kaziranga National Park. The good thing about the elephant back ride is that you get to sight the rhinoceros up close from here.
After our elephant ride is over we return back to our resort for breakfast and later we embark on our jeeps to ride to the Kohora (Central) range of Kaziranga National Park and we enjoy our hour and half long jeep ride inside the forest reserves here where we go deeper into the forest reserves of Kaziranga and look out for more fauna species here. The Jeep ride offers a good opportunity for bird watching here at Kaziranga National Park and we get to spot various bird species here as Kaziranga is an Important Bird Area (IBA). There is a healthy population of tigers as well in the forest reserves and if our luck is good then we may have the opportunity to sight tigers in the forest reserves of Kaziranga as well. Our jeep ride will by 10 AM and we return back to our resort to pack up to leave Kaziranga National Park by 11 AM to drive towards Guwahati. We will have our lunch at the Triptire Ehaaz dhaba at Amoni and later we drive towards Guwahati to reach the airport by 3.30 PM to catch a late evening flight to your onward destination/home. Tour Ends. Bid Adieu!
Night Halt: NA
Meals Included: Breakfast
Exploring Shillong – the Scotland of the East
Being the owner of a travel company, that plans and executes responsible tours across North East India, it is evident that we keep travelling across the Seven Sister States of North East India especially at Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. A visit to Meghalaya and Assam is a must on all our itineraries and so we can state that we have to visit Shilling in across all our itineraries. Many a time we make a shalt at Shilling city while few of the times we stay outside the heart of Shillong city at the outskirts at Mylliem area or Barapani or even Cherrapunji, Mawlynnong or Jowai. In this write up we will share our experiences of visiting Shillong with our guess from all across the World.
Exploring Shillong with our guests from USA
Ms Heather had planned her visit to Assam and Meghalaya with us and we had planned on first visiting the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam near Guwahati that is the home of the highest population density of the Indian One Horned Rhinoceros and post our safari experience at Pobitora we would travel to Shillong. Ms Heather was accompanied by her two young children and so we had planned on our easy drive to Shillong. We crossed the Sonapur area in Assam to enter Meghalaya at Jorabat and we drive towards the Nongpoh area where we stopped for our lunch at the Jiva’s restaurant.
The Jiva’s Veg is a renowned restaurant at the Nongpoh area and this will be evident when you take your place at the restaurant and it is having many other customers and the place is known to serve delicious, nutritious and hygienic vegetarian dished of various cuisine like South India, North Indian, Chinese and Continental and we order our meal here and we enjoyed our food overlooking the beautiful valleys of Meghalaya and post lunch we continued on our drive to the Barapani area near Shillong. At Barapani area we set out to explore the grand waters of the Umiam Lake near Shillong that is the largest artificial water reservoir in North East India with crystal clear waters. The waters of the Umiam Lake near Shillong is used for hydro power generation and the Dam on the Umiam River was commissioned in 1965 and the hydro power project is below this dam and now apart from hydro power generation, the Umiam Lake is a renowned tourist destination. The waters of this lake near Shillong appear to be crystal clear blue in colour due to the sky reflection and this is what attracts tourists to this lake at Barapani near Shillong.
We went to explore the Umiam Lake at the Umiam Water Sports complex at Barapani near Shillong and here we witnessed the grand waters of the Umiam Lake and at the same time we also enjoyed time boating on the clear waters of this lake and we came back to the parking area to start on our drive to Shillong – the Scotland of the East. We approached Shillong city and the place has a unique colonial era charm to it and it was the British who had given the title of the Scotland of the East to Shillong because the landscape of the place reminded them of Scotland. The shops on the streets remind you of a colonial era charm and they have been placed in a planned manner.
There is a water sports complex area near the Umiam Lake and various adventure activities like boating, kayaking, water scooter rides, etc. are conducted on the Umiam Lake under strict supervision of experienced professionals and also there is a beautiful resort near the Water Sports complex called as the Orchid Lake Resort that is present here where guests can enjoy their stay alongside the waters of the Umiam Lake and enjoy they weekend or vacation. In the Lake that is also an island and this is called as the Lumpongdeng Island and there is a beautiful boathouse stay present here as well and in case you want to enjoy your stay in peace and calm then you can choose to halt here. Also present at Barapani is the Ri Kynjai – Serenity by the Lake that is one of the finest properties to halt on your visit to Meghalaya and in case you are planning to stay viewing the waters of the Umiam lake and you are not a budget traveller then you can surely choose to stay at the Ri Kynjai Serenity by the Lake. We will admire the crystal clear waters of the Umiam Lake and later we continue on our drive to enter the city of Shillong viz. the State capital of Meghalaya often referred to as the Scotland of the East and the rock capital of India. Shillong is a blend of the traditional and the modern World and you will see this once you are crossing across the city travelling towards Upper Shillong.
While on one side you will notice all the traditional Kirana shops and on the other side you will notice the modern day shops and one thing noteworthy to be seen in Shillong is that most of the business establishments are run by the women folks. This is because Shillong is inhabited by the Khasi community of Meghalaya and these people practice the matrilineal system where the family lineage is taken from the Mother’s side and the head of the household is a woman. She is responsible for the daily operations of the household and she is also entrusted to earn the livelihood for the family and so not only the business establishments, the women also hold various jobs in the administrative departments of the Meghalaya government and they hold high positions in the various offices that are present in the Capital city of Meghalaya at Shillong. The family’s ancestral property is passed on to the youngest daughter in the family and she is entrusted with the responsibility to take care of her aged parents and her unmarried siblings. Another thing to mention is that almost 90% of the population practice Christianity as their faith and so there are numerous chapels, churches and cathedrals you will see across Shillong. We had gone to explore the Cathedral of the Mary’s Help of Jesus in Shillong after our visit to the Don Bosco Museum in Shillong.
The Don Bosco Museum is located the Mawlai area in Shillong and it is one of the finest museums across North East India and the museum is spread across 7 floors and the exploration of the museum starts with two level below the ground and we keep exploring further on top and each of these floors represents one aspect about the life of the indigenous people of North East India and these include the traditional attires of the people, the traditional occupation of the people, how they farm and raise animals as a livelihood and also how they fish and weave out exquisite handicrafts and handlooms as well. There is also one section of the museum that clearly depicts the various handicrafts and handlooms work of these people that you will get to see when you travel across the various remote villages of North East India and you will still find that the men and women wear clothes that are woven completely by hands and they put in a lot of work and art into the designs of these handlooms that make them very grand. Each and every tribe have different attire and they are woven in separate traditional looms and today these handloom products of the tribes of North East India are in demand across the World as well. We will notice this at the Don Bosco Museum at Shillong and later we went on the top floor where there is a skywalk and we get a beautiful aerial view of the Mawlai area in Shillong and we came back to the parking area and boarded our vehicle to travel to the Laimukrah area in Shillong city.
After exploring the Don Bosco museum in Shillong we went to check into our place of stay at Shillong at the Laimukrah area and this was one of the very nice residential areas of Shillong and the hotel was a heritage bungalow that has now been converted to a hotel at Shillong and the name of the place was Café Shillong. Our guests checked into the Hotel and it was a beautiful place with a colonial era charm to it and there were individual rooms at the place that has all the modern amenities present to the make the stay of guests a very comfortable and pleasant tone here at Shillong – the Scotland of the East. I went to check into my place of stay in Shillong that was located close by and it was a budget priced yet a decent stay and after freshening up we set out to explore the Mary’s Help of Christians Cathedral that is one of the very beautiful cathedrals to witness here in Shillong and it is located at the Laimukrah area itself. The majority of the population of Shillong are Christians and so there are various churches, chapels and cathedrals present across the city and the Khasi people had converted to Christianity after the missionaries came to Meghalaya and they helped to convert the people to Christianity.
The Mary’s help of Christians Cathedral is a beautiful blue colonial era building and we went to explore this beautiful place of worship. There is a huge lawn across the place and we could see the locals of Shillong and tourists coming to the place to spend their evening here and we explored this cathedral in Shillong and later we went back to our hotel in Shillong at the Café Shillong and after I dropped our guests I set out to explore the local market at the Laimukrah area and the market in Shillong is very different than the markets that you see across other parts of the country and there is something different about the place. The place where I was staying did not have a kitchen and restaurant and I had to make my own arrangements for food here in Shillong and owing to the fact that the market was close by it was not a problem. Two of my friends from Shillong were also scheduled to meet me at my hotel in Shillong in the evening and so I decided to pick up something to eat and I too was famished and so I had noodles and I carried back some chicken fry and fried rice to be had for dinner at the hotel. The next day we would travel to Cherrapunji to sight the beautiful waterfalls and the caves of Cherrapunji and later in the day we will return to Shillong.
The local people of Shillong and the East Khasi hills place a bet on certain numbers of the day and the numerous betting stalls that are found across Meghalaya and the Police Bazar area near Shillong accept these bets. In this game of Shillong Teer, that is basically an ancient archery game, every day the traditional archers of Shillong go to the Polo Grounds area where they take aim at a rotating board that has on it the numbers of the day pasted and the number on the board that receives the maximum number of arrow hits is declared as the winning number of the day and the person placing a bet on that number wins an amount much higher that the bet amount he had places and this the most popular ancient betting game of Shillong and Meghalaya. The numerous counters that place a bet on the Shillong Teer are to be found at the complex at the Police Bazar and we will see how the locals come to place their bets here. Post this we went to explore the Ward’s Lake area that is one of the very popular tourist destinations in Shillong located at the heart of Shillong city and we took some time to explore the Ward’s Lake that is a big man dug out lake in Shillong and this was commissioned to be dug out by the then Commissioner of Assam General Ward who saw that the prisoners of the Central Jail in Shillong were putting on weight without having much work to do.
He ordered these prisoners to dig out this lake and later this lake became a recreational area for the British officials and today the Ward’s Lake attracts many tourists and locals alike to the place. It is a big lake that is surrounded by a walk able pathway and there is boating facility available on the waters of the Ward’s Lake. There is a walk able bridge across the lake and also a nice café where guests can enjoy their evening snacks and coffee. We took some time to explore the Ward’s Lake in Shillong and later we went to check into our place of stay in Shillong at the Laban area. Before reaching Laban we made a stop at the Madina Masjid that is the only glass mosque in India. While a majority of the population of Shillong and Meghalaya are Christians a small part of the population also practice Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism as well and the Muslim community of Shillong came up with a unique idea to build a mosque entirely with glass to offer their Namaz and this went on to become India’s only Glass mosque. The place gets illuminated in the evening with beautiful green lights and the view of the Madina Masjid is absolutely grand. Post our visit here we went to check into our place of stay at Shillong at the Nalgare’s Guest House.
One floor of the Guest House was booked for our entire group and everyone checked into their rooms and dinner order was placed at the Guest House itself and everyone enjoyed their dinner and later they went to take a short stroll across the Laban area in Shillong and we called it a day. On this tour of Shillong we also explored the Don Bosco Museum in Shillong that is one of the finest museums in North East India located at the Mawlai area in Shillong. The Don Bosco museum is spread across 7 floors and each of these floors depicts one aspect about the life, culture, traditions and practices of the indigenous people of North East India. North East India is home to over 200 tribes and their sub tribes and there people have been inhabiting this region since times immemorial and they have passed on their legacy from across one generation to another, Shillong is inhabited principally by the Khasi tribes of Meghalaya, and the three major tribes inhabiting Meghalaya are the Khasi, Garos and Jaintias and similarly the tribes of Assam are the Bodo, Karbi, Tiwa, Mishing, Tais, Tea garden tribes, etc. The Don Bosco museum in Shillong aims to highlight the ancient culture and traditions of these indigenous people of North East India and we went to explore the place.
The Don Bosco Museum in Shillong is spread across 7 floors and each floor depicts one aspect of the cultural heritage of the tribes of North East India. When you enter this museum from the parking area, you will need to purchase your tickets at the ticket counter and later you will be welcomed by a guide who will take you to the museum at the ground floor. There is a corridor that leads to the Souvenir shop at the ground floor and along the walls of this corridor you will see various framed pictures of the indigenous people of Shillong and North East India and they are clicked from the various remote villages and each of this pictures demonstrate the life of the local people in their remote villages. Some of these pictures show that people in their traditional attires and we will get to see more of such traditional clothes and hand weaving tools that are kept on display at the Don Bosco museum in Shillong. There is also a restaurant present within the premises of the Don Bosco Museum in Shillong and in case you are interest then you can try the food here. However if you are interest in trying out the authentic Khasi recipe of Jadoh that is a special rice that is cooked with certain herbs then you can visit a local stall outside the museum entrance.
The Jadoh is a very unique and delicious rice preparation to try on your visit to Shillong and East Khasi Hills in case you are a non-vegetarian and this rice recipe is cooked with wither the blood of chicken or pig and also various herbs and the rice tastes absolutely wonderful and apart from the Jadoh you can try many other local Khasi recipes at this small stall right outside the entrance gate of the Don Bosco Museum in Shillong and you must try out the various local Khasi cuisine delicacies at this place. At the ground floor, there is a souvenir shop that sell various organic produce sourced from across the villages of Shillong and also the various souvenirs to be carried back home by guests as a memoir of their visit to Shillong – the Scotland of the East and also you will find the Meg tea variety packaged and kept on sale here and though you might have heard and tasted the famed tea of Assam, the tea produced in the Upper Shillong area is equally good to enjoy and it is branded as Meg tea and sold across the country. We can come back to the souvenir section at the end after exploration of the Don Bosco Museum. The guide leads you to a point where your exploration of the museum starts and this is two levels below the ground floor and the entire architecture of the Don Bosco museum is a grand one. This museum in Shillong is a very modern museum and it has made adequate use of technology for guests to enjoy their experience here. The lights of this museum are automated and when you enter each room at this museum in Shillong, the light comes on automatically and it goes off automatically as well when it senses no one to be in the room.
There is also audio/visual screens kept at the entrance of each of the display room at this museum in Shillong and in case you want to learn more about the indigenous people of the region here you can plug in your headphones to this system and listen and watch a documentary as well. In the first room that you enter it will provide you a glimpse about the various indigenous people in the form of models that are adorned in their traditional clothing and the models are almost life like and the carious tribal communities you will see here are the Khasi, Garo and Jaintia from Meghalaya, Karbi, Bodo and Mishings from Assam, Nyshi, Adi and Apatani from Arunachal Pradesh, Angami, Ao and Konyak from Nagaland, Meitei people of Manipur, Lepcha and Bhutia communities form Sikkim, etc. and these are very detailed models and they are adorned with the traditional attires that are indeed actually hand woven kept on display here at the Don Bosco museum in Shillong.
The indigenous people of North East India had mostly migrated from various parts of Asia and South East Asia many hundred years back and they had come to the region and settled across the hills and plains often in search of greener pastures and they found the plains along the Brahmaputra River to be very fertile and so they practiced farming, animal husbandry, dairying, handicrafts and handlooms as their daily activities to sustain a livelihood. Few of these tribes were famous like the ones in Nagaland who were renowned head-hunters and the Angamis, Konyaks and Sumi Naga of Nagaland were known to be among the very fierce head-hunters who went out on expeditions to other villages and they used to chop off the head of the conquered army and they brought back the head to be kept on display at the house porch and these were the head hunter tribes of Nagaland. The Khasi tribes of Shillong and Meghalaya were also warriors and they were divided into clans and the Nongrum dance festival of Shillong highlights these warrior tactics of the Khasi tribes of Meghalaya. The entire tribal class of North East India was consolidated by the Great Ahom King and founder of the Ahom Kingdom Chaolung Sukapha who is credited of bringing in unity among these tribes.
This had allowed the Ahoms to rule Assam for across 600 years and they were the longest unbroken ruling dynasties of India. It was later, the British who came and defeated the Ahoms and they took charge of the region with Shillong as the capital of the entire area and this is why you will see so many colonial era buildings across Shillong because this was the capital of the entire North Eastern region combined. You will witness the colonial era charm and sight the various ancient and heritage bungalows and buildings when you take time to explore across Shillong city. The indigenous tribes still continue to practice agriculture and farming as their primary profession but in the modern times many youth have moved on from farming to working in government sectors and politics as well. So the various farming equipment’s that are used across the vast agricultural fields are put up on display and also the traditional looms that the women folks of a village use to weave the traditional handlooms of each of the tribes. One thing noteworthy to be seen is that each of these tribes have a different attire and costume that are according to the climate of the place and also the raw material availability and the occupation of these people and each of these models at the Don Bosco museum in Shillong are adorned with the detailed attire of each of these tribes that differ from one another and we can explore this at this museum in Shillong. With this you can wind up your visit at the Don Bosco museum in Shillong and travel to your onward destination.
Khasi Hills Sacred Groves
Another very noteworthy place to be visited near to Scotland of the East at Shillong is the Khasi Hills Sacred Groves that is present at the Mawphlang area that is about a 45 minute drive from Shillong and this is a unique forest cover that is considered to be sacred by the Khasi people of Shillong and Meghalaya as well. From Shillong you will need to drive to Upper Shillong area to travel to the Mawphlang area and as mentioned the drive takes around 45 minutes in case you are not stuck in Shillong traffic. Once you cross Upper Shillong, the vehicular movement along the roads get much less and you can admire the beautiful valley views of Meghalaya after Upper Shillong and get to see the various agricultural fields and continue on your drive to Mawphlang area. The Mawphlang area is known for hydropower generation as well near Shillong as the Mawphlang Dam is present here that facilitates power generation on the waters of the Umiam River and post Mawphlang market there is a right diversion that takes you to Mawsynram from Shillong and Mawsynram is the wettest place on planet Earth as it received the highest amount of rainfall in the World. The two very important caves of Meghalaya viz. the Mawjymbuin Caves (that is known to have a natural Shiva Linga present inside the cave) and the Krem Puri (the World’s longest sandstone cave) are present near Mawsynram and so a visit to Mawsynram from Shillong is a must on your itinerary.
We soon approach Mawsynram and at first we can go to explore the Khasi Hills sacred groves at Mawphlang. As mentioned these sacred groves are forest pockets across the East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya and these forest pockets are considered to be sacred by the ancient Khasi ancestors and no acts of nuisance are to be committed at these sacred groves including the felling of trees and it is believed that any person as to so much as taking away a plant from inside the sacred groves at Mawphlang near Shillong is to call upon bad omen upon himself. This has allowed these forests to harbour and they nurture the abundant growth of trees, wild animals and birds as well.
During the olden days various rituals used to be conducted inside these forests on the sacred monoliths that are basically large sacred stone blocks and the Khasi ancestors used to come to these forests and they used to conduct various rituals in order to appease the Gods and Goddesses to give them a year of bountiful harvest and it is believed that if God appeared in the form of a Tiger it would mean a year of plentiful and abundant harvest and if God appeared in the form of a snake it meant a year of famine and so the people had to adjust accordingly to the climatic conditions and start their cultivation or the fields. Today this is a very prominent tourism site near Shillong and thousands of visitors come to the Khasi Hills Sacred Groves every year to witness this forest. It is believed that these sacred groves harbour many trees that are known to possess various medicinal properties and certain of these plants are known to even possess a cure for cancer as well. You can take two options to walk across this Khasi Sacred Groves where in one is a short hike and another is a long trek.
Just adjacent to the sacred groves is he Khasi Heritage Village that used to play host to the annual Monolith Festival of Shillong and Meghalaya but at this time it has been stopped due to certain reasons and this place offers you an insight into the Khasi heritage and culture. At the Khasi Heritage village near Mawphlang you can get to see the traditional huts of the Khasi people here at the Khasi heritage village. Mawphlang is also the place that is the start point of one of the most pristine trek routes of Meghalaya viz. the David Scott Trail trek that takes you on an exciting journey across the dense forest reserves of Meghalaya at the East Khasi Hills. From the sacred groves at Mawphlang near Shillong you will need to travel back towards the Mawphlang market area and you will need to take a right diversion at the village area where there are a few homestays for your stay at Mawphlang near Shillong and here you will need to make an entry and pay some nominal amount towards the community development and you will start on your David Scott Trail trek across the vast valleys of Meghalaya. Along the David Scott trail you will trek across the bounties of nature along the Umiam River and you get to cross numerous clear water streams near Shillong.
You will cross a suspension bridge and then you start on an uphill climb to reach a local Khasi tribe village that offers the lush green countryside view of Meghalaya and you can take rest here for a while and enjoy the beautiful countryside view and also there is a shop here the prepares freshly cooked maggi noodles with vegetables and sells packaged water and you can enjoy this here and later continue on our trek further towards Mawphlang along the Shillong Cherrapunji highway. You will reach the site of crystal clear water pools and the waters are so blue here that you will surely want to walk towards the pool and enjoy the waters here. Next up you will see the valley views of Meghalaya and this is none other than the Mawkdok Valley that you get to witness on your drive from Shillong to Cherrapunji and this is when you come to know that your 16km David Scott Trek Trail from Mawphlang to Lad Mawphlang is nearing to an end and you can ask your vehicles to arrive here and walk towards the parking area and board your vehicles to continue on your drive from Cherrapunji and this is another way of approach from Shillong to Cherrapunji.
From Lad Mawphlang you will need to board your vehicles that had dropped you off at the village in the Mawphlang area on your start of the David Scott Trek and from there you will need to drive on the Shillong Cherrapunji highway to Cherrapunji or Sohra – the Shade of the clouds. Here when we are mentioning about Shillong it is a must to speak about Cherrapunji that is located around an hour and half long drive from Shillong and Cherrapunji is the most beautiful tourist destination in Meghalaya and this place can be called as the land of Waterfalls, beautiful landscapes, warm hearted people and the Living Root Bridges. Cherrapunji is mostly visited by tourists who come to explore the Nohkalikai Falls, the Seven Sister Falls, the Wah Kaba Falls, Dainthlen falls, We Sawdong Falls, Arwah caves, Mawsmai Caves and the Jinkieng Nongriat Double Decker Living Root Bridge at Nongriat Village near Cherrapunji and Shillong. Many of the backpackers and off beat explorers especially come to Cherrapunji from Shillong to trek all the way to the Nongriat Village and they go to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Living Root Bridge at Nongriat near Shillong and they Rainbow Falls and the crystal clear water pools. Cherrapunji near Shillong can be indeed described as a land of breathtaking natural beauty.
When you are visiting Shillong a visit to Cherrapunji is a must even though you might not have much time in your hands to explore across the area and if you are not planning on halting at Cherrapunji then you can make Shillong as your base and you can travel to Cherrapunji in a day’s time from Shillong and come back to stay at the Scotland of the East. The prominent tourist destinations of Cherrapunji that can be explored from your stay at Shillong as well are:
1| Nohkalikai Falls
This is the tallest plunge waterfall in India and your visit to the Nohkalikai Falls can be planned from Shillong as well when you can leave Shillong early in the morning and drive to Cherrapunji and explore the destinations across Cherrapunji and later return back to Shillong. The Nohkalikai Falls near Shillong is the tallest plunge waterfall in Indi and the height of this waterfall in around 340m and this is termed as a plunge waterfall near Shillong because the waters from the various perennial streams across Cherrapunji come and collect at the summit of the plateau of the waterfall and later the waters fall down collectively as one fall and this is why it is called as a plunge waterfall near Shillong. The view of the landscapes across the Nohkalikai Falls is absolutely grand and all you will see is lush green cover of trees and the waters form a crystal clear green pool at the bottom. When you are visiting the Nohkalikai falls in Cherrapunji from Shillong you must take time to explore the various small stalls that are setup by the local Khasi ladies and these shops sell some of the very fresh produce that are sourced from the forests of Cherrapunji and these includes cinnamon sticks, ginger and turmeric.
The Mawsmai caves at Cherrapunji can be planned on a day’s visit from Shillong and you can wrap up your visit at the Nohkalikai Falls at Cherrapunji and later come to explore the Mawsmai Caves area. This is a pre-historic cave and it is a limestone cave that has been formed due to the erosion of the limestone rocks by the water streams and the depositing of this limestone water across the cave walls in the form of stalactites and stalagmites and this is another of the must to see places on your visit to Cherrapunji from Shillong. There are around 3500 caves across Meghalaya and out of which only 1500 of these have been explored and a few of these caves have been opened to tourist for exploration and two of the most popularly visited caves are in Cherrapunji itself that are the Mawsmai Caves and the Arwah Caves. Also there is a Tyrna Ecotourism Elaka Cave, the Caves at Mawlynnong, the Mawjymbuin caves in Mawsynram and the Krem Puri in Mawsynram as well and the most interesting ones are the caves across the Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya that are yet to be explored and some of these can be accessed from Shillong with the help of an able team of cave explorers and local guides.
Take time to explore the Mawsmai Caves at Cherrapunji on your visit to Shillong and this is actually a very big cave in area but only a part of it is opened to tourists for exploration in the interest of their own safety and this is enough to provide you an experience of a cave where you would get to see the numerous fossils and the stalagmites and stalactites. The area behind the cave has a lush green forest cover and also the entrance of the cave is from one side and the exit is from another side and the most beautiful and pristine forest area is seen here.
Seven Sister Falls
A not to miss out opportunity on your visit to Cherrapunji from Shilling is to go to spot the grandeur of the Seven Sister Falls along the Sohra Shella road at Cherrapunji and this is one of the grand waterfalls in Cherrapunji. The Seven Sister Falls is a seven segmented waterfall and there are seven distinct waterfalls that are clearly visible here during the monsoon time and hence the name Seven Sister Falls. From the viewpoint area of this falls you get to witness the beautiful valleys of Cherrapunji and also the plains of Bangladesh as well.
Arwah Caves – Cherrapunji
Another of the very pre-historic caves that is present on your visit to Cherrapunji from Shillong is the Arwah Caves that is located at the entrance of the Cherrapunji town and this is one of the other very beautiful caves areas across Cherrapunji that provides you views inside the caves of the fossils, stalactites and stalagmites. The Arwah caves as well are located across a beautiful valley view of Cherrapunji and this place is renowned as the wide cave of Meghalaya and there is also a stream flowing inside the area of the cave. To approach the entrance of the cave, you will need to take a short hike and then you will need to enter the cave mouth and upon entrance you will get to see the fossils on the cave walls and this is a very exciting experience on your visit to Cherrapunji from Shillong. You can also hire the services of a local guide to explore the Arwah Caves in Cherrapunji from Shillong and the guide will carry a high beam torch with him that will allow you to sight the various fossils, stalactites and stalagmites on the walls of the Arwah Caves at Cherrapunji near Shillong.
This cave near Shillong is a very well lit cave up to a certain point and this is the point where the cave is the most wide and post this there is a very narrow passage without light and in case you are interested then you can go to explore this area where you will need to squeeze across the walls to reach the cave interiors and later you can come out of the Arwah caves in Cherrapunji near Shillong and there is a view point area here that provides grand views of the pristine valleys of Meghalaya and this is also the top of the Wah Kaba Falls and the entire scene is absolutely grand. With this you can wrap up your visit at Cherrapunji and drive back to Shillong or you can go to explore more of the places as mentioned below:
This is another of the grand waterfalls in Cherrapunji near Shillong and this is located along the road that takes you to the Saimika Resort. The Dainthlen Falls has one of the most amazing landscape views across the place and the rock bed of this waterfall will remind you of the cooking utensils because the rocks are shapes in such a manner and it would appear as though a big feast was held as this place. The legend associated with this waterfall in Cherrapunji near Shillong states that there was a snake demon who lived at the cave and it used to kill and devour the people who travelled across this area in odd groups and a knight was called upon who killed this demon snake (Thlen) by feeding him hot iron rods that killed this demon snake and to celebrate this a huge feast was organized at the site of the Dainthlen Falls near Shillong and the utensils that were used to prepare this feast was left at this site that later turned into stone can be still seen today.
Wei Sawdong Falls
Located about 2 km away from the Dainthlen Falls is the Wei Sawdong Falls that is another of the very spectacular waterfall of this place and this is also a three tiered waterfall that has the waters flowing from top and the water gets accumulated at the middle level and later it falls down to the ground level and you can walk down to the base of the waterfall as well.
Living Root Bridge – Nongriat
Perhaps one of the most spectacular bio-engineering marvels in the World can be seen at the Nongriat village near Shillong and this is none other than the Jinkieng Nongriat Double Decker Living Root Bridge. On your visit to Shillong and further to Cherrapunji, you must not miss out to travel to Nongriat village from Cherrapunji and go to view the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Double Decker that is the only Double Decker Root Bridge in the World. Tourists who come to Shillong and are up to some adventure make their arrangements to travel to Cherrapunji and after spending a few days in Shillong they travel to Cherrapunji to go further to Tyrna and from Tyrna they start on their hike to the Nongriat village to sight the Double Decker Root Bridge. This is a tough hike as one has to trek across a fleet of 3500 stairs and trek to Nongriat and once you reach the Nongriat Village you will be able to sight the Bio-engineering wonder of the World viz. the Double Decker Living Root Bridge. This is indeed a wonderful sight to view as there are two root bridges that are growing on top of one another and another set of root bridge is being grown that would make this a tripe Decker Root Bridge.
The living Root Bridge are unique to the Khasi and Jaintia hills of Meghalaya and these can be termed as the perfect bioengineering marvels that are grown by man with assistance from nature. Across the East Khasi Hills and the West Jaintia Hills that can be accessed via Shillong, there are numerous small villages across the remote forests and these villages are separated by the small streams and rivulets and crossing these in the monsoon season is a tough challenge when the waters flow in full force and this is when the villagers found that they had to find a way to build bridges over these streams in order to cross the stream in the monsoon season. But building of iron bridges across these remote locations was not feasible and economical at the same time and so the authorities couldn’t do much to help the local people and this is when they came up with the unique idea to grow bridges instead of building them and this allowed them to cross the streams. Generally the roots of the rubber tree are used to grow these bridges that are found in abundance across the tropical forests of Meghalaya and Shillong and these young roots of this rubber these are tied up and they are allowed to grow in one particular direction.
The young roots take about 15-20 years to completely grow from one end of the stream to the other and once they are completely grown, a walk able pathway is built by the use of wooden planks and stones. Once a living root bridge is completely grown it last for about 500 years and this is the unique bio-engineering marvel of the Khasi and Jaintia people of Meghalaya. The unique thing about these living root bridges is that they grow more stronger with rains unlike the iron bridges that are prone to easy rusting and with the amount of rainfall being received mainly across Shillong and Meghalaya, these iron bridges would not last for long and would need constant repairs and this is not the case with the living root bridges as they would no longer need any major repairs across its life so the inability for construction of these iron bridges came as a boon to the local people of the villages who came up with the unique idea of growing these living root bridges.
There are numerous such living root bridges across the East Khasi and West Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya but only a few are popular among the tourists who come from all across the World to visit them and admire the grandeur of these bioengineering marvels of the living root bridges on their visit to Shillong and other destination. The most popularly visited living root bridge is the Riwai single decker living root bridge at Mawlynnong village (around 2 hours’ drive from Shillong) and this is also the widest among all the living root bridges of Meghalaya and what makes this root bridge very popular among the tourists is the ease of accessibility of this root bridge. While most of the living root bridges are located at remote locations across Meghalaya, so in order to access these root bridges one has to go for long treks that require almost a day’s time and one has to walk across different terrains to reach these root bridges but in order to access the living root bridge of Riwai at Mawlynnong village one can easily reach the place by hiking for 10 minutes from the parking spot and this allows people from all ages to easily have access to this root bridge.
Mawlynnong – Cleanest Village in Asia
Another very important place of tourist interest to be visited on your visit to Shillong is the tinsel village of Mawlynnong that is located in the East Khasi Hills along the border of India and Bangladesh and this village has earned the tag of being the Cleanest Village in Asia. He drive from Shillong to Mawlynnong takes around 2hours and it is across one of the most pristine valley views of Meghalaya and a layover at Shillong or Cherrapunji is recommended during your travel to Mawlynnong. The beautiful valleys of Pynursla are a treat to your eyes and at one point you will be driving above the clouds and no wonder the term Meghalaya literally translates to the Abode of the Clouds. At Pynursla on your visit to Mawlynnong from Shillong you can take the opportunity to go and visit the Longest Living Root Bridge in the World. This is a lesser known tourist destination even though it one in the World and it is not known to many tourists and so the number of visitors who come here are quite less and so you will have the opportunity to explore the longest Living Root Bridge at Pynursla near Shillong.
After visiting Pynursla, drive across some magnificent landscape views to travel to Mawlynnong and you will cross the beautiful farm of areca nut trees and betel nut plantations to finally reach Mawlynnong – the Cleanest Village of Asia. The places of interest at Mawlynnong are:
1| Riwai Living Root Bridge
The first tourist attraction at Mawlynnong as mentioned earlier is the Riwai Single Decker Living Root Bridge that happens to be the most easily accessible living root bridge in Meghalaya. The bridge is visited by thousands of tourist every day in the peak tourist season and it is connecting the village of Riwai with the village of Nohwet. This is the widest Living Root Bridge in the World and the place has a beautiful water steam flowing underneath it. Take your time to explore the vast natural beauty across the Riwai Living Root Bridge on your visit to Mawlynnong from Shillong. There are various local stalls across the pathway to the root bridge and you will find various locally made products put up on sale here and this can be bought as a memoir of your visit to Shillong.
Balancing Rocks – Mawlynnong Village
This is one of the very amazing and grand natural phenomenon that you can get to witness near the Mawlynnong Village and this structure defies the law of gravity wherein one very large rock boulder rests atop another much smaller boulder and this structure has been standing like this since many hundred years. Two major earthquakes have not been able to disrupt these balancing rocks at Mawlynong and the structure has been standing like this and in the olden days, the Khasi people used to consider this site of the balancing rocks as sacred and many rituals used to be performed at this site of the balancing rocks to appease the Gods and Goddess so that they provided the local people with a bountiful harvest. The place is now a popular tourist attraction and tourists who come from Shillong to Mawlynnong ensure to make a stop at the site of the balancing rocks at Mawlynnong village to admire this gravity defying phenomenon. The area across the balancing rocks is a beautiful forest cover and also you will find very unique mushroom species at this place including a one that glows in the dark. A visit to the balancing rocks on your visit to Shillong is a must for sure.
Asia’s Cleanest Village – Mawlynnong
On your visit to Shillong, after you finish your sightseeing’s across Shillong and Cherrapunji you can go to visit Mawlynnong – the Cleanest Village in Asia. Mawlynnong was awarded the tag of being the cleanest village in Asia by the Discover India Magazine in 2003 and later BBC aired a documentary on this about the various cleaning practices adopted by the local people of Mawlynnong Village and also how each and every household used to have a toilet within its premises since long ago. Mawlynnong is a small village of around 100 households and they have been involved in the cleaning activities since long and this is what makes Mawlynnong a very nice tourist destination that can be visited from Shillong. The waste management system is quite admirable in a small village like this and the locals know about the segregation of the degradable waste and non-degradable waste and they use the degradable waste as manure in the fields and the non-degradable waste mostly plastic is collected and sent across to Shillong to be recycled or disposed of responsibly. This is what makes Mawlynnong a must visit place on your visit to Shillong in Meghalaya.
While on your visit to Shillong you will mostly prefer to stay at a high end hotel or resort to enjoy the comfort and luxury of the place at Shillong but one thing recommended is a stay at Mawlynnong as well at one of the various homestays here so that you will have the opportunity to stay with the local Khasi people of Mawlynnong and get to learn about their life and way of living at these homestays and also get to enjoy traditional Khasi cuisine as well. These homestays are basic stays but you can be rest assured to find a neat and clean stay experience with spacious rooms and a clean bathroom as well.
On your visit to Mawlynnong from Shillong you must also take the opportunity to visit the Nohwet Village as well and the recommended way is to take a hike from Riwai to Nohwet across the Living Root Bridge and the trek takes you across a beautiful forest reserve and you will reach Nohwet Village. At Nohwet take the opportunity to go and visit the oldest Khasi hut at Nohwet Village and get to see the Khasi people used to live in the olden days in mud huts with thatch roof and also visit the Nohwet sky view point that is a bamboo tree house that overlooks the plains of Bangladesh and the beautiful valleys of Meghalaya.
Perhaps one of the most sought after destination across North East India after Kaziranga National Park and Cherrapunji in Meghalaya is the land of the crystal clear waters of the Umngot River at Dawki. The river flows across Dawki and it is a natural border along the countries of India and Bangladesh and also the East Khasi Hills and the West Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya as well. The waters of the Umngot River at Dawki are so clear that visitors can easily get to see the rock bed under this river and also at the same time it appears as though the country boats plying on the waters of the Umngot River at Dawki are floating in the air and not just floating on the water speaking of the laws of refraction and how the crystal clear waters of the Umngot River at Dawki indeed are. A visit to Dawki from Shillong is a must and post this you can continue to visit Mawlynnong village in Meghalaya. Dawki is where the local people allow guests to go for boat rides on the Umngot River at Dawki and it is a truly rewarding experience when you will literally float on the clear waters of the Umngot River in a country boat and the boatman takes you across an hour long boat ride across the Umngot River at Dawki.
The boat ride will take you across the beautiful river and you will travel up to the suspension bridge at Dawki that was built in 1932 by the British and it is still operational handling the flow of traffic and later the boat on the Umngot River takes you to an island and further you are dropped back at the river bank. Dawki is a must visit place on your Itinerary across Shillong and post this you can continue on your drive to the border of India and Bangladesh at Dawki. Dawki (around 2 ½ hours from Shillong) is also the International border of India and Bangladesh and this is where the visitors can get to cross the Indian Territory after seeking due approval from the officials of the BSF and they can travel to no man’s land at Pillar 1275 and they can witness the border of both these countries of India and Bangladesh and later they can come back to the Indian side of the border as well. This is an important trade route across India and Bangladesh and you will see many trucks and tippers lined up transporting goods across these two countries. Though visitors and tourists come to spend a day’s time from Shillong at Dawki but if you are an offbeat traveller you can also chose to halt at a place called as Shnongpdeng near Dawki that is one of the very beautiful places in Meghalaya and the place offers you uninterrupted views of the Umngot River at Shnongpdeng near Dawki.
On your visit to Shillong when you want to have an off-beat experience, you can make a stay at Shnongpdeng and this place also offers you camping by the River side and also stays at various homestays and bamboo cottages. The pioneer adventures conduct various water sports activities on the Umngot River at Shnongpdeng and you can enjoy Kayaking, Snorkelling, Scuba Diving, Diving, rappelling, mountain climbing, etc. on the clear waters of the Umngot River at Shnongpdeng from Shillong. Enjoy your visit at Shnongpdeng and get to see many of the local people fish on the waters of the Umngot River and also take time to spend your time in peace and clam here. At the Shnongpdeng area the tourist flow is less and so you can have calm and quaint time across the place and this will allow you to enjoy the true beauty of the Umngot River on your visit to Shillong and also you can swim on the waters here as well.
Your visit to Shillong – the Scotland of the East (the capital of the Indian State of Meghalaya) will be one of the most exciting experiences and after you explore the places of tourist interest across Shillong and the nearby locations, you will surely want more of the vast natural beauty across Meghalaya to be seen. If you are interested in the caves of Meghalaya and even if you are not then you surely will become interested after exploring the caves of Cherrapunji viz. the Mawsmai and Arwah Caves and you will want to surely see the Mawjymbuin Caves and the Krem Puri at Mawsynram. While the Arwah Cave and the Mawsmai caves are limestone caves, the Krem Puri on the other hand is a sandstone cave and the longest of its kind in the World as well. The Mawjymbuin caves at Mawsynram near Shillong is a very renowned cave among the Hindu community as this cave has a natural Shiva Lingam inside the cave and this is fed by a water stream that appears very devotional. Every year during the Shiva Ratri, thousands of devotees come here to offer their prayers to Lord Shiva at the Mawjymbuin caves and they also spend their time at Shillong city as well. From Shillong as mentioned earlier, in order to travel to Mawsynram you will need to travel towards Upper Shillong area and after you explore the elephant falls at Upper Shillong you will need to continue on the Mawphlang road from Upper Shillong and you will reach the Mawphlang market. After crossing the Mawphlang market before you reach the Sacred Groves you will need to take a right diversion to travel to Mawsynram from Shillong and after driving for a while you will reach the Maple Pine Homestay at Mawphlang.
Continue further on your drive to Mawsynram from Shillong via Mawphlang and the roads are narrow yet the landscapes are very beautiful and soon you will approach a waterfall area that is a very unique waterfall as the water flows across the road from the top and the waters will fall on your windshield and soon you approach Mawsynram from Shillong – the Wettest Place on Planet Earth. Mawsynram holds the record of receiving the highest amount of rainfall in the World and this record was earlier held by Cherrapunji in Meghalaya and now Cherrapunji is the second spot. Once you arrive at Mawsynram village you will see the cloud cover greet you and you will love the entire natural ambiance across the place. Continue to explore Mawsynram from Shillong when you go to explore the Mawjymbuin caves that are one of the very renowned caves across Meghalaya and once you enter the cave you will get to have a real caving experience and you will notice the various fossils and rock formations inside this cave near Shillong. At the entrance a little further is the natural Shiva Lingam that is a true gift of nature and you will see the various devotees come here from Shillong to offers their prayers at this Shiva lingam at Mawsynram.
The feeling inside the Mawjymbuin caves at Mawsynram near Shillong is really heavenly and you get a sense of devotions arouse inside your soul and post your exploration of the cave interiors you can come outside and you will get to see a beautiful and tranquil forest area across the surroundings of the cave and you can admire the garden here and later continue to explore more of Mawsynram from Shillong where you can go to explore the Jakrem Hot Springs near Shillong. This is a very renowned tourist spot at Mawsynram and the place is known as the natural location where one can take a bath with the waters of the hot springs that is located with all the natural salts and minerals and a bath using this water is believed to cure you of various skin problems and this is one reason why people believe to take a bath and this place at Mawsynram near Shillong. At this site you are not allowed to travel directly to the hot spring as the water is very hot as it seeps out from the ground and many people have sustained injuries while trying to take a bath directly in the waters of this hot spring.
In order to facilitate guests to take a bath with this water of the Jakrem Hot springs, the authorities have made the provision to being the hot water across pipes and there places for bath built at a location and you can pay a nominal amount for a bucket of water and use this water to have a bath and cleanse your skin of any ailments. This has helped the people coming to the Jakrem hot springs near Shillong to take facility of this bath and with this you can enjoy your bath here and continue further on your drive to Mawsynram market that is a very vibrant market of the Khasi people of Mawsynram near Shillong. The market will show you how the local people of Mawsynram go about their daily life where they bring in the fresh produce from the organic gardens across their villages and they sell the produce here and also the local Khasi people of Mawsynram near Shillong are very expert handicraft weavers and they use the bamboo to create various bamboo handicrafts that are sold at the retail outlets across Shillong.
One thing very nice to see here is the smoked bamboo handicrafts and in this art form they use the bamboo and put it out over the fire to allow it to smoke and this imparts a unique texture and colour to the bamboo and later these are used to weave out some exquisite handicrafts and these products are in demand across the World. Post this you can go to explore more beautiful places across Mawsynram and one place noteworthy to be mentioned is Mawlyngbna that is a natural paradise to be visited on your visit to Shillong. Mawlyngbna is again located across the border of Meghalaya and Bangladesh and this is the place where you get to admire the breathtaking views of the valleys of Meghalaya and the plains of Bangladesh at the same time and the pleasant climate of Mawlyngbna is sure to leave you enthralled and you will love to explore this place and enjoy the vast natural pools across the place. The traveller’s hut at Mawlyngbna is a place to halt here and you can enjoy various adventure activities across this place as well. Mawlyngbna is a must visit place on your travel to Shillong and you must take time to admire the various bounties of nature at this place.
We understand that when you are visiting North East India hence you would love to explore more states at one time and this is to be clubbed with your visit to Shillong in Meghalaya and like Shillong, there are various other popular tourist destinations across the region and we will take a look at a few of these places near to Shillong – the Scotland of the East so that you can plan your visit to these places and have a recommended Itinerary as well. The first place to visit after your visit to Shillong in Meghalaya is absolutely the Kaziranga National Park in Assam. We have already spoken about the places near Shillong like Cherrapunji, Mawlynnong, Dawki, Mawsynram, Mawphlang, etc. that can be visited from Shillong itself and so you will need to travel to various other destinations across Shillong to have a complete 360 experience of the Scotland of the East and so after you explore the beautiful state of Meghalaya you can continue to visit Assam at Kaziranga National Park.
Kaziranga National Park
Kaziranga National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site mostly renowned for its population of the Indian One Horned Rhinoceros and its successful conservation story. From having only a few rhinos a few decades back, today Kaziranga National Park is known to have the highest population of the Indian One Horned Rhinoceros anywhere in the World in the wild. Apart from the One Horned Rhinoceros, the park is also home to the Big 5 and these are the Indian Elephants, Asiatic Wild Water Buffaloes, Royal Bengal Tigers and the Swamp Deers and apart from these, it is home to the only Ape species in India the Hoolock Gibbons and also around 495 species of birds are known to be found at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kaziranga National Park and it is a recommended tourists destination of Assam and people often come to visit Kaziranga National Park after their visit to Shillong – the Scotland of the East. The area of the park is divided across 4 principal, ranges namely the Central, Western, Eastern and Burapahar ranges and to explore the varied flora and fauna of the park, the forest authoriti4es of Assam conducts Jeep and Elephant Safari rides inside the forest interiors of the park so that guests to Kaziranga National Park can enjoy the sighting of the One Horned Rhinoceros and the various other animal species here.
So once you wind up your visit at Shillong ensure to drive to Kaziranga National Park to enjoy the place and Kaziranga National Park is a complete holiday destination and you can enjoy your stay at this National Park in Assam at the various luxury resort and hotels that are located near the Central Range of Kaziranga National Park and surely after enjoying your stay at a beautiful resort in Shillong you can come to enjoy your stay at Kaziranga National Park as well. The most popular among these resorts at Kaziranga National Park are the Borgos Resort, IORA – the Retreat, Landmark Woods, United 21 Grasslands Resort, Infinity Resorts, Polo Kaziranga and Mandu – the Escape and the most deluxe stay is at the Diphlu River Lodge at Kaziranga. These resorts are mostly 3 Star and 4 Star retreats and you can definitely enjoy your pampered and luxurious stay at these resorts and at the same time you can go for wildlife safaris from these resorts. The elephant safari rides at Kaziranga National Park are conducted at the Central range for foreign Nationals and the Western range for Indian Nationals while the jeep safari for all are conducted across all the four ranges of Kaziranga National Park.
When you are visiting Kaziranga National Park from Shillong, you can take the option of going for an elephant safari rides early in the morning at the Western range of the park and later after breakfast you can go to enjoy a jeep safari ride at the Central zone followed by another jeep safari in the afternoon at the Eastern range of the park as well. On your jeep safari rides inside the forests of Kaziranga National Park you are sure to sight the endangered One Horned Rhinoceros species and along with this you can get to see the Tigers, Asiatic Elephants, Asiatic Wild Water Buffaloes, the Great Indian Hornbills, Black necked Stork, greater Adjutant, lesser adjutants, Indian Monitor Lizards, Assamese Macaques, Hog Deers, etc. on your safari rides at Kaziranga National Park as well. Also take the opportunity to visit the Kaziranga Orchid Park – the Largest Orchid Park in India, and this place is home to various orchid species of North East India and Assam and the place aims to preserve and showcase these orchid species and in turn the vast biodiversity of Assam and North East India to visitors who come from all across the World to Kaziranga National Park after their visit to Shillong. Apart from Orchids you can also witness the various traditional handicrafts and handlooms of Assam at the place and the rice museum, orchid photo gallery, bamboo garden and witness the various traditional dance forms of Assam as well.
At the evening, at the Kaziranga Orchid Park, on your visit to Kaziranga National Park from Shillong you can have the opportunity to witness the traditional dance performance of the various indigenous tribes of Assam including the Bihu dance of Assam. This show cum performance is scheduled in the evening at around 6.30PM and visitors need to come to the Kaziranga Orchid Park and they are taken to the open stage area where they can take their seats and witness the dance performances here on their visit from Shillong. The traditional dance forms of the tea garden tribes, the Bihu dance of Assam, the bamboo dance of the Mishing people, etc. are showcased every evening here at this stage and you will get to catch a glimpse of the traditions and culture of the people of Assam after you have witnessed the traditions of the Khasi people of Shillong and Meghalaya. In case you do not have time to come back to the Kaziranga Orchid Park again as you will be tired after a long drive from Shillong to Kaziranga National Park it is not a problem because these dance performances are scheduled at regular intervals during the day as well and so you will get to see them when you visit Kaziranga Orchid Park.
Coming to the stay options at Kaziranga National Park (this will interest you because you will be very tired after your long drive from Shillong to Kaziranga National Park and you would want to enjoy a cool, peaceful and relaxed stay at the same time) so there are various stay options ranging from budget homestays, guest houses, eco camp to high end luxury Hotels and Resorts and this is a very nice thing because this suits the requirement of any traveller coming to Kaziranga National Park from Shillong or even Guwahati as well. Certain budget properties have price ranges starting at INR 1000 per person per night on double occupancy because and also certain of the luxurious properties at Kaziranga National Park starts at INR 7000 per rooms per night that goes up to INR 20,000 per room per night as well. Few of the luxury properties are Borgos Resort, IORA – the Retreat, Landmark Woods, Mandu – the Escape, Infinity Resort and the Diphlu River Lodge and your stay at Kaziranga National Park after you drive from Shillong will surely be a relaxed one is the natural environment overlooking the beautiful tea gardens and the mountains of Karbi Anglong.
Apart from the jungle safari rides across the four ranges of Kaziranga National Park there are various other activities that visitors can come to enjoy here after their visit to Shillong. Guests can take the option of going for cycling across the fringe areas of the park and not inside the core area and they get to witness the beautiful countryside of Assam here at Kaziranga National Park. The areas around Kaziranga National Park are inhabited by the indigenous people like the Karbi, Mishings and the tea garden people of Assam and guests can take the opportunity to ride their cycles and visit the tribal villages where they can get to interact with the local people. Just like the Khasi people of Shillong and Meghalaya, the Karbi people and the Mishing people have lived across Assam since times immemorial and they carry a great legacy and tradition that can be witnessed at Kaziranga National Park and its fringe areas. Get to witness the life and traditions of the local people just like you witnessed the life and customs of the Khasi people of Shillong and Meghalaya and you can also get the opportunity to taste the local rice wine and beer that are brewed by the local people at the villages around Kaziranga National Park.
Another very wonderful activity that you can enjoy on your visit to Kaziranga National Park from Shillong is the boat safari on the waters of the Brahmaputra River under the Koliabhumura Bridge near Tezpur and this activity can be enjoyed on your drive from Shillong to Kaziranga National Park because the point is located along the way near Koliabor. The waters of the river across the area shares the border with the forests of Kaziranga National Park and therefore on the boat safari ride you might have the opportunity to sight some of the animal species that come by the banks of the river to quench their thirst. Also the main idea behind going for this boat safari on your drive from Shillong to Kaziranga National Park is the sightings of the endangered Gangetic River Dolphins on the waters of the Brahmaputra River. There river dolphins were once found in abundance across the waters of the Brahmaputra River and its tributaries but uncontrolled hunting led to a severe decline in their numbers that are now endangered and are found only in the protected rivers of the state and this is one place that you must visit on your drive from Shillong to Kaziranga National Park to spot the species.
Another place noteworthy to be visited after your visit to Shillong and Kaziranga National Park is Majuli Island – the largest River Island in the World and the hub of the Neo Vaishnavite cult of Assam. Majuli is home to the various indigenous people of Assam like the Mishings, Deoris, Sonowal Kacharis, Ahoms, etc. and this is known to be the sacred island where a lot of Neo Vaishnavite Monasteries are present that follow the ideologies and teachings of the holy Saint reformer of Assam (Srimanta Shankardeva and his disciple Sri Madhavadeva). So after you finish exploring Shillong and also complete your jungle safari options at Kaziranga National Park you can continue on your travel to Jorhat that is often referred to as the Tea capital of the World because of the various tea gardens and tea estates across the place. As you are aware that Assam is renowned for its tea gardens and cultivation of tea and all across the World, you will find people savour this tea of Assam. So many tourists who come from all across the World would want to witness this tea production of Assam and therefore they would also like to stay at a tea garden bungalow and also perhaps visit a tea factory to witness how this tea is prepared and so this can be experienced here at Jorhat where there are heritage colonial tea bungalows and one place recommended for your stay is the Burra sahib Bungalow at the Kaziranga Golf resort and this is much prior to Jorhat town and you can go to visit this place and learn about the heritage art of tea brewing in Assam.
The resort can visited after your visit to Shillong and the place is located across a vast and beautiful lush tea garden estate of Assam and the place is a heritage British time property that has now been converted to a Resort and guests from all across the World come to stay at the Kaziranga Golf Resort after their visit to Shillong and they continue later to travel to Majuli Island in Assam. At the Kaziranga Golf Resort you can go to explore the nearby tea plantations and also visit a tea factory and learn about the process of tea plucking and later see how the tea leaves are processed and finally go to enjoy their pleasant and luxury stay at the Kaziranga Golf Resort at Jorhat.
Post this, continuing on your visit to Shillong and Kaziranga National Park you can travel to the Neemati Ghat area near Jorhat and here you can board your ferry to travel to the largest River Island in the World of Majuli in Assam. Majuli Island is located in the midst of the mighty Brahmaputra River of Assam and it is the hub of the Neo Vaishnavite cult of Assam that was founded by Srimanta Shankardeva and later on it received patronage from the Ahom Kings as well. The Satras of Majuli Island are neo-Vaishnavite Monasteries where young boys are admitted at a young age and they spend their life devoted in the praise of Lord. These Satras are also known to practice various traditional art forms like mask making, making of fane of cane, pottery, boat making, scriptures, etc. and they are a treasure of literature and culture and the Satras of Majuli Island are responsible for framing the culture of Assam. Many noted scholars have graduated out of these Satras and they are top noted professors across the Universities of Assam. So ensure to take the opportunity to travel to Majuli Island on your visit to Shillong and Kaziranga National Park and immerse in the soul of these Satras.
The Mishing people are the dominant inhabitants of Majuli Island and they had come to Assam from the present day Arunachal Pradesh many hundred years back and they settled themselves along the banks of the Brahmaputra River and these people are known to follow the customs of the Dony Polo wherein which they worship the elements of nature like sun, moon, rivers, mountains, forests are they are the sole providers of life and this is a trait similar to the Khasi people of Shillong in Meghalaya. The Mishing people of Majuli generally live in stilt houses that are made up of bamboo on a raised platform and this is to protect themselves from the annual monsoon season where the rain waters and the river waters inundate certain parts of the Island and this is where the stilt houses come to a rescue and the families can stay atop the flooded grounds. The Mishing women are expert weavers and they have a traditional loom present below their homes and the girls of the house practice handloom weaving and they weave out exquisite fabrics from the local cotton and silks as well.
The Mishing people mostly like the Khasi people of Shillong in Meghalaya are primarily agriculturalists and farmers and they grow rice as their primary crop along with other vegetables. In the modern times, many of the youth have now moved on from farming and they have educated themselves and they hold good positions in the Government jobs and politics of Assam as well and this again is similar to the practice of the Khasi people of Shillong and Meghalaya as well. They are known for their tribal cuisine and people from all over the World come to Majuli Island after their visit to Shillong to not only enjoy the culture and customs of the place but to catch a glimpse of the Mishing people of Majuli and to dine on the traditional food as well. The local people are always eating fresh and organic produce that comprise of freshly grown vegetables, herbs and organically derived meat/fish and nothing from the farms and they use the fresh ingredients to prepare their food that imparts a unique fresh taste to the meal. The use of powdered spices and artificial colouring to make the food flavourful is unheard of and the only spices that flavour the food are fresh ginger, garlic, green chillies, coriander leaves, etc. So when you are visiting Majuli from Shillong you must stay with the local Mishing people and dine on their traditional cuisine.
Coming to the exploration of Majuli Island, the various Satras of the Island can be explored in a day’s time and the most renowned Satras to be visited after your visit to Shillong here at Majuli are the Auniati Satra, the Samaguri Satra, the Dakhinpat Satra, the Uttar Kamalabari Satra and the Garamur Satra. Apart from these Satras you can also go to visit the Salmora Village in Majuli where you will have the opportunity to witness the traditional pottery making with hands. The heritage art of mask making of Majuli is a renowned art from that is practiced at the Samaguri Satra in Majuli. On your visit to Majuli from Shillong and Kaziranga National Park, take time to go to visit the Sri Sri Samaguri Satra in Majuli Island that is renowned for its heritage art of traditional mask making with hands. The holy Saint reformer Srimanta Shankardeva had found a way to teach religious discourses to his disciples across Assam and in order for the disciples to relate closely with these teachings he decided to narrate these pupils mostly with the teachings of the Bhagwad Gita in the form of a traditional play called as Bhaona and to make the mythological characters look more lifelike he had introduced the concept of these traditional masks.
The artists who would enact the Bhaonas used to adorn these traditional masks over their faces and they would enact out the play and the audience would be able to clearly relate to the various mythological characters in the play. But over the period of time, people had forgotten about these Bhaonas and masks and the art from of traditional mask making was dying out until Dr. Hemchandra Goswami of the Samaguri Satra has decided to revive this art form and he had taken immense pain across the years and this has led to the art form being still alive and renowned across the World in the recent times. Today this mask making art of the Samaguri Satra is known across the World and people from all over the World come to Majuli after their visit to Shillong to witness this art form. These masks are made entirely with hands using bamboo to build a frame and later a special clay is smeared across the surface and once dried organic colours are applied on the masks and the masks are finally ready to be shipped across the World.
When you are visiting the Samaguri Satra in Majuli Island after your visit to Shillong you are sure in for a treat as you will get to witness this many hundred years old art form still alive and being preserved here and you will have the opportunity to meet the person responsible for keeping this art form alive and also get to witness how these masks are used in the various Bhaona performances as well. Post your visit to the Samaguri Satra in Majuli after your visit to Shillong you can go to visit the Salmora village that is located nearby and witness another dying art form of Majuli Island wherein you will get to witness the art of traditional pottery making with hands. Generally when we speak of pottery making we can picture a giant pottery wheel where the artists used clay lumps to mould the various pots but at the Salmora village, there is no use of the pottery wheel and instead everything is done by the hands itself and it is an occupation that is practiced by the women folks of the village and across the country it is mostly a male dominated profession. The pots are made up completely with hands with special clay that is dug out from the deep banks of the Brahmaputra River.
After exploring the Salmora village in Majuli after your visit to Shillong you can go to explore the Uttar Kamalabari Satra in Majuli Island. Majuli Island after your visit to Shillong is located midway between the town centres of Kamalabari and Garamur and the Satra is renowned as the Satra that has kept alive the practice of the Sattriya Nritya. This is one among the 8 classical dance forms in India and it was used as a part of the Bhaonas and the addition of the songs and dances in the middle of these religious dramas could help break the monotony of the drama and so this dance was introduced by the great Saint reformer Srimanta Shankardeva. Today this Sattriya Nritya dance performance of Majuli Island has been taken to a World stage and people from all across the various universities learn about this heritage dance form of Assam. So after your visit to Shillong you must come to Majuli Island to catch a glimpse of the Sattriya Nritya at the Sri Sri Uttar Kamalabari Satra. With this you can end your exploration of Majuli Island but not before you go to the river banks of River Luit to enjoy one of the most spectacular sunsets in the countryside of Majuli and get to see more of the tribal villages.
After your visit at Majuli Island on your continued drive from Shillong and Kaziranga National Park one place noteworthy to be mentioned to be visited is the land of the mighty Ahom Kings viz. Sivasagar. Sivasagar (ex- Rongpur) has served as the capital of the Ahom Kingdom after the was shifted from Charaideo and as this place was the base of the Ahom Kingdom operation, so there are various historical monuments and temples that can be visited and few of the renowned ones are the Rang Ghar, Kareng Ghar, Talatal Ghar, Sivadoul temple and the Charaideo Maidams at Charaideo. So after your visit to Shillong ensure that you take the opportunity to visit Sivasagar to relive the glorious years of the Ahom Kingdom of Assam – the longest unbroken ruling dynasties of India whose rule span over 600 years across Assam. The Ahom Kingdom was founded by Swargadeo Sukapha who has migrated from the Shan Kingdom along with his courtiers, his wife and a small army of men and elephants and he went on to establish the Ahom Kingdom at Charaideo in 1228AD. The Ahom Kings were patrons of art and architecture and this is evident from the numerous monuments and temples that can be seen across Assam.
Some of the finest examples of the Ahom architecture can be seen across the various temple shrines across Guwahati like the Kamakhya temple, the Umananda Temple, the Basistha temple, the Sukreshwar temple, the Aswaklanta temple, the Dirgheshwari temple, etc. and so on your visit to Shillong when you arrive at Guwahati you should take the opportunity to explore the numerous temple shrines that are present across the city and are a part of the Ahom legacy. The Kamakhya temple and its practices is what had made the Ahoms convert to Hinduism and they went on to rebuild the temple shrine after learning about the practices of Shakti and Tantra that are prevalent across this temple shrine. Continuing on your visit to Sivasagar from Shillong take the opportunity to explore the Rang Ghar monument that is often referred to as the Coliseum of the East and this is the Oldest Amphitheatre in Asia and the place was the Royal Pavilion of the Ahom Kings and various traditional games and Bihu dances were stages on the open grounds the Rang Ghar. Rang Ghar meaning the House of entertainment is a must visit place here after your visit to Shillong and this monument has a unique structure that has the shape of an inverted boat on top and the entire structure was built with flat orange bricks and a special mortar of limestone, duck eggs and sticky rice.
The bond of this mortar was so strong that the Rang Ghar monument and the other monuments across Sivasagar have braved the very harsh weather conditions and also two major earthquakes with minimal damage and stands tall even today. The speaks highly about the Ahom architecture because most of the monuments and temple shrines built by the Ahoms are standing tall even today and one other examples is the Namdang Stone bridge that you will be crossing on your drive from Shillong to Sivasagar and this stone bridge was carved out of a single stone and even today this stone bridge handle a good flow of traffic across the NH-37 including heavy trucks laden with coal and heavy machinery equipment’s used in the oil drilling operations as well. Next up on your journey to Sivasagar from Shillong take the opportunity to visit the historic Talatal Ghar fort that was built by the Ahoms and it was the royal fort of the Ahom army. This historic fort had a special build and the Talatal Ghar at Sivasagar is a must visit on your itinerary of Shillong because of the network of underground secret tunnels that was built to confuse the enemy army. This tunnel was constructed in the form of a maze so that the enemy army would get lost inside the fort maze and the Ahom army in case of an enemy attack knew their way out of this network of secret tunnels and while one batch of the would exit the tunnel at the Royal palace of the Kareng Ghar, the other batch would come out by the banks of the River Dikhow where they would regroup and plan a counter attack.
A visit to the Talatal Ghar after your visit to Shillong is definitely recommended to witness the historic fort and also learn about the various ancient canons that were used by the Ahom Army. The next place to visit near Sivasagar is the Kareng Ghar that was the Royal palace of the Ahoms located at Garhgaon. The Palace is spread across 7 floors and it was one end of the exit of the secret tunnel of the Talatal Ghar. The entire area across the palace is having huge trenches that used to be filled with water so that once the enemy army has approached the palace, it would take them sometime to cross this water trench to reach the main entrance of the palace and in that time the reinforcements would arrive from the Talatal Ghar fort.
This is indeed a very good structure to witness here at Sivasagar and the Palace is spread across a huge campus of land and the ground floor and first floor served as the quarters of the servants and also the stables and there was also a courtyard area as well where the Ahom King used to host the darbar and meet his subjects and the floors above were the residential quarters of the Ahom Kings and their family. Post your visits at the Kareng Ghar palace after your visit to Shillong continue to travel to the Charaideo Maidams at Charaideo that is the burial grounds of the Ahom Kings. The Charaideo Maidams are located at Charaideo that is around an hour’s drive from Sivasagar and this place is often referred to as the Pyramids of India because of the manner in which the Ahom royals were buried followed a process that was very much similar to the Pharaohs of Egypt. The Charaideo area was the first capital of the Ahom Kingdom as well and you will get to see the various ancient monuments dating back to the 13th century and once you reach the Charaideo Maidam it will be a dream come true because you will get to see the burials the represent the pyramids.
It is said that there are various tomb like structures at the Charaideo Maidams where the Ahom Kings after his death was buried and as per belief it is said that all his loved ones and belongings were also buried with him that included his wife, his servants and the gold ornaments as well. After the Ahom Kingdom had fallen apart, many miscreants who came to know about the treasures buried underneath these tombs destroyed them in search of the treasures but to no avail as these tombs were built in a way that no one could find the jewellery that was buried inside these tombs at Charaideo. Today only around 29 of these tombs remain and these are protected by the Archaeological Survey of India and it is proposed to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well. With this you can wind up your visit at Sivasagar after your visit to Shillong and you can proceed on your drive back to Guwahati or even the Jorhat airport for your onward destination. However if you are interested to explore more places after your visit to Shillong you can continue as well.
In case you decide to travel back to Guwahati after your visit at Sivasagar on this tour of Shillong, then there are a few more places on the way worthy of your visit and one place definitely recommended on your way back is the Nameri National Park. This is one out of the 7 National Parks of Assam that is also a Tiger Reserve and this National Park is surely recommended on your visit to Shillong and exploration of the nearby places of interest. The Nameri National Park is located on the way of Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh and therefore this is a very popular National Park in this tourist circuit. Generally visitors from Shillong plan their visit to Nameri National Park and further on to Tawang and later they come to Kaziranga National Park and then travel back to Guwahati for their onward destination. So after your visit to Shillong you can also plan on driving directly to the Nameri National Park and enjoy your stay here and later travel to the places in Arunachal Pradesh like Bomdila, Dirang, Tawang, Ziro, Itanagar, Naharlagun and even the border of India and Chine at the Bumla Pass. We will tell you about these places and in case you wish to extend this visit of Shillong to Arunachal Pradesh as well then you must surely visit this circuit to witness the snowfall in Tawang and explore the vast natural beauty of these places in Arunachal Pradesh.
If you are a bird lover and nature lover then nothing will be better than your visit to Nameri National Park and Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh after your visit to Shillong. So continue to take a right diversion at Koliabor and travel on your drive to the Koliabhumura Bridge that spans over the Brahmaputra River and this bridge is one location where you can go for boat safari at the Bhumuraguri point.
This boat safari ride is surely recommended after your visit to Shillong because the waters here have a healthy population of the Gangetic River Dolphins which is an endangered species and this number had declined due to uncontrolled and unprotected hunting of this species and now only a few hundreds remain in the protected waters of the Brahmaputra River. This boat safari ride lasts for about an hour and half and it is a very nice way to go and enjoy sighting these River Dolphin species after your visit to Shillong. Continue further to explore the Agnigarh Fort at Tezpur that is one of the grand monuments at Tezpur city and this monument speaks of a great war between the followers of Lord Shiva and Lord Krishna and how the blood flowed like a river and hence the name of the place is Tezpur – the city of Blood. It is believed that King Banasura in order to not to allow his daughter to marry the grandson of Lord Krishna had kept her confined to the walls of the fort and the area across the fort used to be surrounded by fire so that no one could escape the fort nor make an entry inside and hence this fort is called as the Agnigarh meaning the Fortress of Fire and ensure to make a stop here after your visit to Shillong.
Continue to travel to the Balipara area and further head straight to travel to the Nameri National Park area in the Sonitpur district of Assam after your visit to Shillong. Nameri is one of the National Park in the state that allows visitors to go for jungle treks inside the interiors of the park unlike certain parks where visitors are not allowed on foot inside the park and they need to avail the services of jeep and elephant safari like you must have seen in Kaziranga National Park after your visit to Shillong. Nameri National Park is a paradise for all the bird lovers because you can get to sight some of the very rare and endangered bird species here.
But visitors to Nameri National Park come to the place to not only enjoy the jungle trek and spot some rare species of flora, fauna and avifauna but also they come to enjoy the thrilling experience of River Rafting on the waters of the Jia Bhoreli River that flows across the park after it enters Assam as the Kameng River flowing in from Arunachal Pradesh. There are a few nice resorts and eco camps at Nameri National Park where you can get to enjoy a lovely stay and later go to explore the Park interiors the next morning. In order to access the forest trek inside the forests of Nameri after your visit to Shillong you must at first take the permission of the authorities of the forest office at Nameri and after you pay the requisite fees you will be allowed to travel to the forest interiors of Nameri escorted by an armed forest guard. You are not allowed to venture inside the forests of Nameri on your own as this is a dangerous tiger and wild elephant territory and the armed forest guard escort is for the protection and safety of the guests. You will reach need to cross the Jia Bhoreli river on a country boat to reach the entrance of the forest reserves of Nameri National Park and you will start on your jungle walk after your visit to Shillong.
The jungle trek inside the forest reserves of Nameri lasts for about an hour’s duration and post this you can come back to your place of stay and enjoy a nice breakfast and later in the day go for the river rafting point where you can enjoy the time of river rafting on the waters of the Jia Bhoreli River near Nameri after your visit to Shillong. Take time to explore the nearby local villages of the indigenous people of Assam and after a night’s halt you can continue on your drive to travel to Arunachal Pradesh after your visit to Shillong.
On your further visit from Shillong to Arunachal Pradesh, you will need to ensure to have all the requisite permits to visit Arunachal Pradesh from Shillong as this is a protected state and Indian Nationals need to have a valid ILP and Foreign Nationals need to have a valid PAP to enter Arunachal Pradesh and the same will be verified at the check post at Bhalukpong on your visit to Arunachal Pradesh from Shillong. Take the straight road from Nameri to travel to Bhalukpong and later you can go to verify your permits and proceed on your drive to Dirang in Arunachal Pradesh. The roads are across the mountains and so you simple need to enjoy your drive across the beautiful valleys of Arunachal on your drive to Dirang and you will be accompanied by the waters of the Kameng River on your drive from Shillong to Dirang. At Dirang you can take the opportunity to visit the Mandala Top that is a beautiful compilation of 51 Buddhist Stupas and this is indeed a treat to the eyes. Also take time to explore the Dirang Monastery that is a very beautiful Monastery and it is a must visit place on your tour of Shillong and Arunachal Pradesh. This area in Arunachal Pradesh is inhabited mostly by the Monpa people of Arunachal Pradesh who follow Tibetan Buddhism and therefore you will find various Monasteries across the place.
The Monpa people continue to inhabit this region and you will find them living in Tawang as well and they can brave the tough climatic conditions of Tawang as you will see on your journey from Shillong to Tawang. From Dirang you can continue on your drive to Bomdila that is another of the very beautiful places in Arunachal Pradesh on the way from Shillong to Tawang and along the way you can go to visit the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, that is one of the very renowned places for birding in Arunachal Pradesh and you can get to sight some of the very rare and endangered species of birds here that fly in from all around the world in the migratory season of winters and this is also a very good place to enjoy nature as well. From Bomdila on this journey across Shillong you will need to go to the Sela Pass that is a high altitude pas that remains covered with snow all across the year and this pass is considered very sacred by the local Monpa people of Arunachal Pradesh as there are 101 lakes across the pass that is revered by them. The Sela Pass appears to be like a white snow carpet spread across the mountains and you will need to cross this place before afternoon as it gets dark by 1PM.
You can get down at the Sela Pass and capture fascinating pictures of the landscapes and at the same time you will be able to play with the snow here as well but mind you the climate is freezing and so you need to wear appropriate clothing to beat the weather. Post this on your visit to Tawang from Shillong you will go to stop at Jaswantgarh that is a base of the Indian army and once you reach here and see the brave soldiers of the Army staying here braving the tough weather conditions a sense of respect will rise inside your soul for these brave men who stand tall here braving the tough conditions so that we can sleep peacefully at our homes. At Jaswantgarh, the army provides free hot tea to guests travelling to Tawang from Shillong and so you can stop here to savour this tea and enjoy delicious snacks of samosas and pakoras that are served at the canteen. Jaswantgarh also has a war memorial dedicated to a brave Sepoy of the Indian army Jaswanth Singh who single handeldy had stopped the advancement of the Chinese army in the War of 1962 but eventually he was captured by the Chinese forces and this war memorial is dedicated in his name.
To honour the brave soul of Jaswanth Singh and to appreciate his efforts of trying to protect his motherland, the memorial has a uniform that was adorned by the Sepoy and the Indian Army honours his memory by providing him promotions, change of clothes, and paying his soul the due respect for his bravery. Also there is a souvenir shop run by the Indian Army and here you can make a purchase of various things like scarfs, caps, jackets, etc. Post your visit to Jaswantgarh from Shillong you can continue on your drive to Tawang and you will travel to the Tawang Town and all across the way you will get to witness the snowfall and the beautiful valley of Arunachal Pradesh that will be visible to your eyes on your visit to Tawang. Tawang is the district headquarters of the West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh and it is also home to the largest Buddhist Monastery in India and the Second Largest in the World after the Potala palace in Tibet and a visit to Tawang is a mist after your visit to Shillong to witness the grandeur of the snowfall here and from Tawang you can get to visit the Bumla Pass that is another high altitude pass at the border of India and China.
Exploring Shillong with our guests from Mumbai
We had planned and executed a tour of Shillong with our guests from Mumbai and they would be exploring Shillong, Cherrapunji, Mawlynnong and Guwahati with us and we had made the first night’s halt at Shillong where we would be exploring the places of interest at Shillong and later we would continue on our journey to Cherrapunji. We drove from Guwahati towards Shillong and at first we went to explore the Upper Shillong area where we stopped to visit he Elephant Falls in Upper Shillong that is a very beautiful waterfall area in Shillong. The Elephant Falls is a three tiered waterfall with one level on top, the second in the middle and the grandest level at the bottom and there is a well-defined pathway that takes you from the top to the base of the waterfall. This waterfall is called as the Elephant falls because of the presence of a rock that was shaped on the form of an elephant’s head and when the British has discovered this waterfall they had found this rock and hence the name was kept as the Elephant Falls. This rock near the Elephant Falls in Upper Shillong was however destroyed in the great earthquake of 1897. This is mentioned in a signage board kept near the waterfall.
We went down to explore the elephant falls at Upper Shillong area from the parking spot and we get to see the first falls on top and as it was still the month of October and the rainfall was still happening across the region there was sufficient water to be seen at the elephant falls in Upper Shillong. We walked down the pathway to travel to the falls that is present in the middle and we admired this waterfall as well and later we went down to the base of the waterfall and this was indeed a grand waterfall to view and we admired the grandeur of the elephant falls in Shillong and later we walked back to the parking area after admiring the grand elephant falls in Upper Shillong and clicking our pictures. Near the parking area of the elephant falls in Upper Shillong there is a shop where guests can have the opportunity to adorn themselves in the traditional Khasi attires and get their pictures clicked here and as we did not have time on this itinerary and so we headed on our next destination that is the Shillong Peak area near Upper Shillong. We drove across a hill and the Shillong peak is the highest point in the East Khasi Hills and the place provides aerial view of Shillong city and there is an Air force base of the Eastern Air Command present here at the Shillong Peak area.
On our drive across the hill area in Upper Shillong we could see the various tea plantations under the brand Meg Tea and also the potato cultivation here in Upper Shillong. A major area of the East Khasi Hills and Shillong is under cultivation and the local people who are mostly farmers cultivate various crops and these are potatoes, carrots, coriander leaves, cabbage, etc. and these produce are later sent across various parts of North East India mostly to the markets in Shillong and Guwahati and as per the latest government reports., the per capital income of the farmers of Meghalaya is the highest in the country. We will see the various potato cultivations on our way to the Shillong peak area and soon we reached the site of the Air Force Base and after a quick security check we were allowed to pass through and we went to explore the Shillong Peak area. We went to the site of the Shillong Peak and we got down from our vehicles and we went to the viewpoint area where we saw the grand aerial view of Shillong city from the Shillong Peak area and we admired the grand view from here and after spending some time at the Shillong Peak we started on our drive to Shillong city.
We went to explore the market area in Shillong at the Police Bazar that is a very vibrant market in Shillong and it is located at the heart of Shillong city. The Police Bazar reminds you of a colonial era charm and one side of the market there are the old kirana shops while on the other are the high ride malls and the local vendors who come from the nearby villages to see their fresh produce every day, take a place at the entrance of the Police Bazar and they sell the fresh and organic produce that they bring from their local village and put is up for sale here. We took some time for the group to explore the Police Bazar on their own and later we assembled to have our lunch at the Citi Dhaba that is present near the Police Bazar area and the place serves delightful thali meals and the entire ambiance of this restaurant at Shillong is a wonderful experience. We came back to the Police Bazar area in Shillong after our lunch and we went to witness the counters that place a bet on the ancient betting game of the Shillong Teer. This is a unique game where in the local people of Shillong and across the East Khasi hills of Meghalaya participate every day.
The Elephant Falls at Shillong in Meghalaya