Your visit to the Indian state of Meghalaya and the exciting journey of visiting Shillong and Cherrapunji starts when you are at the Umiam Lake at Barapani in Meghalaya. This lake has waters so crystal clear that it appears as though a blue carpet has been spread across the land area and this is the first approach towards Shillong where visitors make a stop to admire the vast natural surroundings of Meghalaya. Umiam Lake was originally dug out to provide hydro energy and provide water to the dam that you cross on your drive to Shillong and this is the largest artificial water reservoir in North East India and today Umiam Lake has become a favoured tourist destination in Meghalaya. The beautiful Umiam Lake is located around 8km before reaching Shillong city (the capital of Meghalaya) and the place can be described as a popular tourist destination that offers visitors grand views of the Umiam Lake, Boat ride on the Umiam Lake, Adventure Sports and even stay alongside the Umiam Lake at the Grand Orchid Lake Resort where you will wake up to the beautiful pine tree cover, the soulful chirping of the birds, the blossoming of the cherry blossoms in winter and off course the crystal clear waters of the Umiam lake.
Umiam Lake was earlier mostly a halt over spot from a viewpoint atop the highway that drives to Shillong and visitors stopped here to take a break and stretch their legs after a long journey from Guwahati to Shillong and there are numerous road side stalls here selling tea and snacks and this was recommended as a halt not only to take a break after a long drive and admire the grand waters of the Umiam Lake but also because of the drive ahead where you get stuck in an endless traffic before you approach Shillong city. Visitors savoured their tea and snacks and admired the crystal clear waters of the Umiam lake and later started on their drive again. This was thought of to be a good weekend getaway for the people of Guwahati so the place has now been transformed into a popular tourist destination with luxury stay at one of the resorts alongside the Umiam Lake and guests can enjoy their stay amidst nature and also savour some very fine cuisine as well. The best property of Meghalaya – Ri Kynjai Serenity by the Lake is also located alongside the Umiam Lake as well as several other resorts and retreats like Café Umbir, Nohsngithiang Resort, La Nicholas Dei Da Kine Resort, Umiam Lake Resort, etc.
To reach Umiam Lake in Meghalaya, you can access the place via Air, Rail and Road. The nearest airport is the Umroi airport that is located at Barapani. The airport is located around 25km from the Umiam Lake and you can hire the services of a taxi to reach Umiam Lake from the airport. One good thing about Shillong is the local taxi availability and the local Khasi men drive these taxis (mostly Maruti 800, Alto) vehicles across the Umiam Lake and Shillong city as well as Barapani. So you can be rest assured that you will get a ride at affordable prices to reach Umiam Lake from the Umroi airport. However the most popular mode of accessing Shillong as well as Umiam Lake is from Guwahati city that is located around 100km away from the Guwahati airport and the Guwahati Railway station. You can hire private taxis from the airport or the railway station to reach Umiam Lake or else you can come to Khanapara area is GS road as well as here you will have the availability of a lot of shared Tata Sumo vehicles that will take you on a pocket friendly ride to Umiam lake. The Umiam Lake is a best to sight tourist destination in Meghalaya and you must ensure to pay a visit here on your visit to North East India.
The Umiam Lake near Shillong in Meghalaya was formed in the mid of 1960s by damming the Umiam River and the chief catchment area of this lake is spread across an huge area of 220 sq. km. The construction of the dam across the lake started in 1965 and this was the first hydro power project for North East India. Today, the Umiam Lake can be compared to one of the stunning lakes of Scotland (Shillong is often referred to as the Scotland of the East) and the place serves as a favourite picnic spot for locals as well as tourists. The mesmerizing view of the Umiam Lake makes it an ideal retreat for all nature lovers and it is indeed a treat for your eyes and visitors can keep gazing at the beauty of the Umiam Lake for hours at a stretch. The Umiam lake area consists of a waters sports complex, the Nehru Park and the Orchid tourist home. Various water sports are conducted at the Umiam Lake that include Kayaking, water cycling, boating, etc. and coming here is a surely rewarding experience for any tourist. These waters of the Umiam Lake also serves as a very good area for fishing and locals of the place can be seen sitting across the lake with their fishing rods and spending their time fishing and they often put up their catch for sale alongside the road and these are very tasty fresh water fish that you can buy and cook at your place of stay as well.
To plan your visit to Umiam Lake in Meghalaya please fill the form below:
You can come over to the Umiam Lake and check yourself at either of the various resorts at the vicinity of the lake and experience the best in class hospitality here and at the same time enjoy the grand views of Mother Nature all around you. One thing you should not miss out on your vacation alongside the Umiam Lake is that of the sunrise and sunset along the waters of the lake. The Nehru Park near the Umiam Lake is a very attractive picnic spot for the various local people of Shillong and Guwahati as well and they come here for a weekend getaway to celebrate a day of picnic. You can also take time to enjoy your retreat at the place of stay and observe the clear waters of the Umiam Lake and enjoy calm and tranquillity of the place and also observe the daily life of the local people residing around the Umiam Lake who come here in search of their food and the local fishermen who fish everyday on the waters of the lake and sell their catch along the highway. Umiam Lake is no doubt one of the most upcoming tourist destinations near Shillong and the view of the lake waters is simply alluring to your eyes. No matter from which angle you view the waters of the lake be it from atop the viewpoint, along the banks of the lake or from atop the Ri Kynjai, the waters of the Umiam Lake look absolutely stunning!
You can also take a short adventure hike from your place of stay across the pine trees and come to visit the Umiam Lake as well as the Nehru park and even enjoy the various adventure activities that are conducted on the waters of the Umiam Lake like Kayaking, boating, etc. and at the same time enjoy the lush green view of the green hills that cover all the three sides of the Umiam Lake here is Meghalaya – the Abode of the Clouds. One new offering that visitors to Umiam Lake can enjoy is a stay in a boathouse that will remind you of your vacation on the backwaters of Kerela. This boathouse stay experience is at the Lumpongdeng Island that is an island that is located in the waters of the Umiam Lake. The boathouse stay is one of the offbeat experiences you can try on your visit to the Umiam Lake and this beautiful boat house is kept afloat and anchored on the waters of the Umiam Lake at the Lumpongdeng Island. Prior booking is necessary to enjoy your stay at this boathouse at the Lumpongdeng Island at Umiam Lake and once you have the place booked here you can travel to the Water Sports Complex at Umiam and park your vehicle and later hire the services of a boat to go to Lumpongdeng Island. One thing to be mentioned is that you will need to carry your food supply and cooking supply to this place and also carry adequate drinking water and provide the cooking supply to the caretaker cum cook who will take care of your food preparation while you enjoy your stay here amidst nature.
Coming to the Umiam Lake Houseboat that is located at the Lumpongdeng Island, this place is nestled amidst the lush green pine trees and forest cover of the Ri Bhoi district of Meghalaya and this boathouse near the Umiam Lake is a perfect retreat for all nature lovers and travellers who want more from a destination on their visit. The Umiam Lake boathouse is where guests can enjoy the complete vacation experience ranging from comfortable stay amidst nature, dine on organic food, take nature walks and enjoy the scene of Mother Nature all around you. The Umiam Lake boathouse is anchored to the Lumpongdeng Island and the retreat utilizes the facility of solar power to assist guests to keep their lights in the room and electronic gadgets running. The Umiam Lake boathouse boasts of a vast natural surrounding and rooms/cabins that are built with wood and also wooden interiors that has a large bed and attached bath. The cabins at the Umiam Lake Boathouse have a roof built with dynaroof sheets, glass windows and it is a complete tranquil environment to enjoy. The Umiam lake Boathouse at Lumpongdeng island can accommodate a max. of 4 guests and the place also has a living room and a kitchen that is accessible to the guests staying at the place. This is a very popular stay option near the Umiam Lake and therefore guests need to ensure to have a prior booking to stay here and not simple reach the place and look for accommodation. The Umiam Lake boathouse do not offer lunch and dinner facilities and it is only prepared by the cook or the guests coming here and so they need to ensure to carry the food supplies to provide to the cook cum caretaker or the guests can cook their meals themselves at a price.
Apart from the meals that the cook will prepare for you at the Umiam Lake boathouse, morning tea is served complimentary to all guests. Apart from you pleasant stay at the Umiam Lake boathouse; you can get to enjoy a few other activities around the place as well and you can go for forest hikes and enjoy a hike around the beautiful nature around you and this can be spoken to arrange by the caretaker of the place. Also you can take a country boat ride across the waters of the Umiam Lake and enjoy the natural breeze that keeps blowing across the place. These activities are again chargeable and you have to pay an additional cost for the same. Also you can visit the Nonkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary that is present close to the place and this place has several beautiful and delightful animals and birds to look out for. The boathouse is powered by a solar cell that is adequate to power a bulb for 5-6 hours and also to charge your electronic gadgets. However, this becomes a problem during the monsoon season and therefore it is advised that you carry a power bank during the monsoon season. Also please adhere to the timings that will be mentioned to you at the time of check in. The boathouse stay at the Umiam Lake can accommodate around 4 guests at a time and the boathouse includes a conveniently designed bedroom with 1 sofa and 2 floor mattresses inclusion of an attached bathroom and kitchen.
The place also offers you to camp on the Lumpongdeng Island under the clear skies and you can enjoy the vast natural beauty of this island on a nature walk across the place. You can plan your visit to Umiam Lake across the year and though the monsoon season is not too much advised for your stay here as the continuous rains turn the waters of the lake muddy but still you can enjoy the luxurious hospitality in one of the many resorts that are to be found here at the Umiam Lake area. The monsoon season is also the best time to visit Cherrapunji – the land of waterfalls and the views of the waterfall here are absolutely a magical experience to be witnessed in the monsoon season. The best time to visit Umiam Lake remains from the months of March to December. The Umiam Lake opens for public viewing every day from 9AM to 5PM and the cost of the various water sports activities to be enjoyed at the Umiam Lake is as below:
River Boating Bus: INR 50 per head for 20 min ride
Yachting: INR 100 per person for 1 hour ride
Pedal Boat: INR 20 per person for 30 min ride
Scooter Boat: INR 50 for 5 min ride
Please be advised that these rates are recorded in 2018 and so the prices must have gone up and therefore it is advised that you check the prices and then board your rides at the Umiam Lake.
One place noteworthy to be mentioned for your stay near Umiam Lake is that of the Umiam Lake Retreat that is located at Barapani. The Umiam Lake retreat has a sprawling garden, swimming pool and offers free Wi-Fi and various other facilities to their guests. The Umiam Lake Retreat also provides room service, luggage storage and even car rental service to its guests. The accommodation options available at the Umiam Lake Retreat are in the form of cottages (INR 5,200+tax) and Swiss Tents (INR 4500+tax). There are 4 cottage options and 3 Swiss tents for the comfortable stay of guests. The cottages and tents have private bathrooms attached and each bathroom is fitted with a shower and offer free toiletries to its guests. The rooms are having a seating area and an A la Carte breakfast is served to all guests on a complimentary basis.
When you are going to visit the Umiam Lake in Meghalaya and you have reached the Water Sports complex at the place then you must ensure to pay a visit to the Nehru Park that is located adjacent to this complex and this is also called as the Lum Nehru Park. This park is an ideal destination for holiday makers and the place is known for its orchid house, aviary and the beautifully maintained lawn that makes it an ideal holiday retreat on your visit to the Umiam Lake. One ideal place to stay near Umiam Lake is the Orchid Lake Resort that is operated by the Meghalaya Tourism Development Corporation and this is located at the Umiam Water Sports complex on the banks of the Umiam Lake. This is located in the Ri Bhoi district of Meghalaya and not to be mistaken to being in the East Khasi Hills district. The Orchid Lake Resort is a place that is surrounded by the thick cover of the pine trees and alpine forest and the fresh breeze from the lake surrounds the atmosphere of the Orchid Lake Resort that is a calm and serene environment. One of the luxurious properties to stay at, the Orchid Lake Resort is run by the Meghalaya Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) that also operates the grand Pinewood hotel in Shillong and even the State Convention Centre as well.
The Orchid Lake Resort offers comfortable and pleasant accommodation option to their guests and various in room facilities make the stay all the more enjoyable. The Orchid Lake Resort at the Umiam Lake in Meghalaya offers a fully functional Bar and Restaurant called as the Blue Venda where guests can enjoy a wide variety of delicious cuisines and also enjoy a drink or cocktail overlooking the crystal clear waters of the Umiam Lake. To suit the requirements of corporates, the Orchid Lake Resort at Umiam also offers a grand conference hall that is designed for corporate meetings and they also arrange for holiday plans that include water adventure sports to corporate clients. The water sports activities are again conducted at the Umiam Water Sports complex where guests can enjoy kayaking, water skiing, boating, etc. The Orchid Lake Resort offers Wi-Fi across the rooms and it is a 24 hours service that can also be availed at the lobby and the conference hall. Coming to the rooms at the Orchid Lake Resort there is the option of Deluxe rooms that are a total of 12 nos. and are double occupancy rooms. Each deluxe room has a tariff starting INR 2,200 and it offers facilities like colour TV, intercom, Wi-Fi, coffee/tea maker, etc.
The next category of room is the executive rooms that are a total of 10 in nos. and are again double occupancy rooms that have tariffs starting at INR 3,250. The final is the luxury suite that is the most expensive category room at the Orchid Lake Resort with tariff starting from INR 7,000 and there is only one suite room here where guests coming to the Umiam Lake can relax in this pleasantly appointed suite and take time off from busy city life and unwind overlooking the grand waters of the Umiam Lake. The Orchid Lake Resort also houses a swimming pool where guests can relax and unwind. Guests can also enjoy by the poolside and savor spectacular cocktails and snacks as well. He Orchid Lake Resort near the Umiam Lake has ample parking space for the guests that is guarded by security and can accommodate the vehicles of the guests.
The Ri Kynjai – Serenity by the Lake is one of the most premier properties that you can stay on your visit to Meghalaya and this luxurious resort is located alongside the Umiam Lake perched atop a hill. The Ri Kynjai – Serenity by the Lake is one of the ultra-luxurious resorts that is a combination of modern luxury coupled with the ancient Khasi heritage and the place conveniently overlooks the crystal clear waters of the Umiam Lake. Ri Kynjai can be described to the modern architecture that combines the ancient Khasi heritage with that of the inoculate beauty and the place has the traditional Khasi thatch roof style that resembles an inverted boat. The Ri Kynjai Resort is not visible from the narrow road that goes down towards the Umiam Lake from the Barapani entrance side and a drive from the gate towards the entrance of the hotel reception will reach you to a place of stunning architecture. The reception is located on a floor below the ground and one gets to view the grand waters of the Umiam Lake from across the area of the lake.
The property is spread across a sprawling campus that has abundance growth of the tall trees and the Ri Kynjai houses 11 rooms and 3 cottage for the comfortable stay of visitors to the Umiam Lake. Each rom speaks of luxury and the room tariffs state at INR 8000 going up to INR 12,000 plus taxes. The rooms are elegant at the Ri Kynjai and are equipped with a ultra-comfortable double bed and sitting space. The room opens to a spacious verandah from where you get to view the crystal clear waters of the Umiam Lake. One of the cottages at Ri Kynjai is built in a traditional Khasi architecture with a thatch roof and bamboo and grass construction and the others follow a metallic build. The name Ri Kynjai translates frim Khasi into English as the land of serene environs and this is a perfect stay for all travellers who want to experience traditions mixed with luxury. The place offers a natural Spa that provides traditional Khasi health treatments and visitors at the Ri Kynjai can also indulge in delicious local Khasi cuisines as well. The Ri Kynjai boasts of the distinctive lake views from the cottages and these cottages at the Ri Kynjai are built on tall circular stilts and the entire architecture of this luxurious retreat is derived from the vernacular Khasi architecture.
The entire architecture of the Ri Kynjai – Serenity by the Lake portrays a transition from the traditional to modernity and it is an excellent portrayal of the Khasi heritage in the form of an inverted boat rook in metallic thatch. The entire property is designed with an attention to detail and has an intricately floor design that is set off by red pine walls and flooring. The rooms here have a fireplace inside that adds to the cosy environment across the cold winter nights. The place is having a stairway across the place and at the garden area there is the dining room, bar and conference hall facilities that overlook the grand views of the lake, hills and forests of Meghalaya. The restaurant at the Ri Kynjai is called as ‘Sao Aiom’ and it serves authentic Indian, Continental, Chinese and North Eastern cuisine mostly the local Khasi cuisine of Meghalaya. The package stay at Ri Kynjai includes stay in the lake view cottages that include a sleeping and living area, bathroom, living rooms and opens at the balcony viewing the Umiam Lake and the package also includes vouchers for food, spa and trail experience across the forests of Ri Kynjai – Serenity by the Lake.
The Ri Kynjai – Serenity by the Lake boasts of furnishing and amenities that are upscale and are in tune with the natural build of the place. The place is designed to look ethnic with the use of ethnic arts, handicrafts, local fabrics and handlooms, rattan chairs and this provides the exclusive heritage look at the Ri Kynjai – Serenity by the Lake. Apart from enjoying your luxurious stay at the Ri Kynjai – Serenity by the Lake you can also take this opportunity to visit Shillong and explore the places of interest in Shillong city like the Shillong Golf course, the Don Bosco Museum, the Cathedrals in Shillong, the Police Bazar and Bara Bazar areas, the grand Laitlum canyons, the Ward’s Lake, the Laimukrah Area, the Madina Masjid, Elephant Falls, Shillong Peak, etc. One very good thing about the Ri Kynjai – Serenity by the Lake is that the resort has provided employment to the local people and this in turn is helping to support the Khasi culture and the local economy as well. The rooms and cottages at the Ri Kynjai – Serenity by the Lake are one of the most stunning architectures to be seen in any place of hospitality in North East India and each room is fitted with a large flat screen TV, and the fire place area adds to the rustic colonial charm. The rooms are not air-conditioned and this is not necessary because the resort is situated at an altitude of 1000m and so the weather remains favourable across the year.
The bathroom accompanying the rooms at the Ri Kynjai – Serenity by the Lake are spacious and modern luxurious that houses a single bathtub and shower. The bathrooms have a sliding French Door and the space between the bathroom and the living room area has a closet and a makeup area as well. The ‘Sao Aiom’ restaurant at the Ri Kynjai – Serenity by the Lake has a big top table for large dinner parties and also a smaller dining area. The décor of the restaurant is superb and it employs traditional Khasi fabric and delicate lighting. The food served at the Ri Kynjai – Serenity by the Lake is top notch and you have the choice of Chinese, home style Indian, Continental and local Khasi cuisine on the offering here. Do try out the Indian Mughlai cuisine that is cooked in rich gravies and have a sizeable portion to feed two people. The Khasi cuisine offered has the main offerings of pork that is cooked in various flavours viz. smoked, gravy, boiled with vegetable and bamboo shoot, etc. A stay at Ri Kynjai – Serenity by the Lake is highly recommended if your wallet suites the prices of the place because you will be pampered on your stay here. Ri Kynjai – Serenity by the Lake is one of the top notch Hotels in North East India and also one of the very luxurious ones as well.
It is an ideal stay option for business travellers, couples on their honeymoon and even for foreign Nationals who come to explore the vast natural beauty of the Indian State of Meghalaya. When it comes to deciding on planning on when to visit Meghalaya and take the opportunity of staying at Ri Kynjai – Serenity by the Lake it is an ideal time to visit Meghalaya across the year because it being a hilly state the climate remains favourable across the year. To witness the grand waterfalls of Cherrapunji the ideal time to visit is during the monsoon season mostly in July when the summer breaks are on but as a whole it can be said that you can visit Meghalaya across the year and take the opportunity of staying and pampering yourself at the Ri Kynjai – Serenity by the Lake. The resort has an adequate parking area and guests can bring along their vehicles with their drivers as well. For the stay of the drivers of the Ri Kynjai there is a large dormitory area and a nominal amount is charged for the fooding and lodging of the drivers stay here. The resort is well nestled in a closed area with a huge entrance gate that is guarded by private security personnel and so you do not need to worry about the security. To access the Umiam Lake you can inform the reception and they will arrange for your visit from the Ri Kynjai – Serenity by the Lake.
Sample Itinerary for your visit to Umiam Lake in Meghalaya:
Day 1: Guwahati – Barapani
Day 2: Barapani – Shillong – Barapani
Day 3: Barapani – Cherrapunji
Day 4: Cherrapunji – Nongriat – Cherrapunji
Day 5: Cherrapunji – Mawlynnong – Dawki – Shillong
Day 6: Shillong – Kaziranga National Park
Day 7: Kaziranga National Park
Day 8: Kaziranga National Park – Guwahati
Day 9: Kamakhya Temple – Guwahati Airport
Detailed Itinerary is as below:
Day 1: Guwahati – Barapani
Arrive at the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport at Guwahati and upon arrival you will be received by our representative offering you a warm welcome in traditional Assamese style. From the airport board your comfortable vehicles and we begin on our drive towards Guwahati city and we will cross across the grand Deepor Beel area at Pamohi. This Deepor Beel is a vast lake and it is a Ramsar Site and also a Wildlife Sanctuary as well. This is one of the surviving grounds of the endangered Greater Adjutants and during winter season this place becomes a renowned birdwatching destination as thousands of birds both migratory and resident flock to the Deepor Beel area and we will stop here to admire the grand waters of the Deepor Beel and also have tender coconut water that is served by vendors who setup roadside stalls along the area and also we get to see the local fishermen stand along the road with their catch and these are the fresh water fish that are caught in the morning on the waters of the Deepor Beel and this will be a like a pre-show for us before we visit the even more grand Umiam Lake in sometime.
We will reach Khanapara area near Guwahati and we will soon cross the border of Assam to enter into Meghalaya. We will soon approach Burnihat and post this the drive starts across the hilly terrain of Meghalaya. The roads are good and you can enjoy your drive and we will soon reach Nongpoh area in Meghalaya where we will stop for our early lunch at the Excellencia Dhaba at Nongpoh that is known to serve fresh and delicious meals to all guests. We will stop for our lunch here and post lunch we start on our drive again towards Barapani. The grand waters of the Umiam Lake will greet us at Barapani and we will take a right diversion from the road to drive towards Shillong in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya while the straight road goes towards Jowai in the West Jaintia Hills and also to the Umroi Airport of Meghalaya.
We will admire the grand waters of the Umiam Lake from the viewpoint and also we will get to witness the various local people of Meghalaya sitting across the Umiam Lake with their fishing rods and waiting their turn to catch a fish. We start on our drive again and in some time we will reach the Orchid Lake Resort near the Umiam Lake. Operated by the Meghalaya Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC), the Orchid Lake Resort is one of the very fine budget stay properties to near Umiam Lake and is having all the great amenities to make your stay here a grand one. We will check in at the reception of the Orchid Lake Resort and we take time to freshen up and later we will go to explore the water sports complex at the Umiam Lake and also the Lum Nehru Park. (PS: We can also arrange to make your stay much more luxurious in case you opt for it and this booking will be done at the Ri Kynjai – Serenity by the Lake near Umiam. In case you choose to halt at the Ri Kynjai then do let us know and we will make the reservations accordingly). After you freshen up we will drive to the Umiam Water Sports Complex and as this place closes to visitors by 5PM we will try to reach there as soon as possible so that you can enjoy some of the water sports activities that are conducted on the Umiam Lake here.
We will plan to go for a boat ride in the waters of the Umiam Lake and this will be a short 30 minutes boat ride across the crystal clear waters of the Umiam Lake and we will get to enjoy the grand views of the Umiam Lake on this boat ride. The boat ride will take us across the Lumpongdeng Island that is an island located on the waters of the Umiam Lake and we will get to see the Umiam Lake boathouse kept anchored on the Lumpongdeng Island and this is a nice boathouse that can accommodate 4 people who would want an adventurous stay here at the Umiam Lake. Our boat ride will last for about 30 minutes on the crystal clear waters of the Umiam Lake and soon we will be brought back to the start point and later we will go to explore the Nehru Park that is located at this place and we will allow you to take a walk across the Nehru Park and you can admire the grand lawn area of this park and also sight the beautiful cover of the pine trees that are to be seen here. The area across the Umiam Lake is surrounded by the lush green trees and forest cover and the view is absolutely mesmerizing.
After our exploration of the Nehru Park near the Umiam Lake in the Ri Bhoi district of Meghalaya we will return back to the orchid Lake resort and the evening will be free for you where you can relax by the poolside at the Orchid Lake Resort and sip your favourite cocktail at the Bar of the Orchid Lake Resort and also you can enjoy the scenic sunset view across the Umiam Lake. The Orchid Lake Resort is one of the very fine places to stay and the place offers various accommodation facilities to its guess. Dinner will be served at the restaurant and after dinner we will call it a day to prepare for our next day of exploration of Shillong city.
Day 2: Barapani – Shillong – Barapani
Today is our day of exploration of Shillong city – the Scotland of the East and the Capital of the state of Meghalaya and the district headquarters of the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya and we will start our day after an early breakfast and we start on our drive to Shillong city where we will get to explore the places of interest in the city. We will start by going to the Elephant Falls in Shillong that is one prime tourist attraction in Shillong and this is located in the Upper Shillong area. The Elephant Falls is a three tier waterfall and this is called as the Elephant Falls because of the earlier presence of a large rock that was shaped in the form of an elephant head but this rock was destroyed in the great earthquake of 1897.
The first level of the waterfall is on the top and the second level is on the middle to be followed by the third level that is the grand one that is at the bottom. The elephant falls is a tapered shaped waterfall wherein the first fall is narrower when compared to the second and third falls and the waterfall gradually widens as one goes down the fleet of stairs to reach the third level and here the waterfall is much wider and there are various large rock formations here that speaks that this is a very old waterfall area and we will admire the grandeur of the elephant falls at Shillong and click our pictures here. We head back to the top and here we will see the various tourists getting their pictures clicked wearing traditional Khasi attires and there is a shop here that rents out these Khasi traditional attires to tourists on a nominal charge including traditional ornaments for the women and you can get your pictures clicked wearing these Khasi traditional attires. In case you are interested we will stop here and allow you to get your pictures clicked and if not then we proceed on our drive to visit the Shillong peak area that is the highest point in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya. We will take a left diversion from the road and continue on our drive towards the Indian Air Force base (Eastern Air Command) at Shillong area and as this is a heavily guarded and protected area you need to be prepared to be frisked and keep an ID proof ready.
The drive is across the beautiful countryside of Shillong and we will see a lot of potato cultivation all across the place and there is a small market setup here as well and this market sells some of the very fresh and organic produce of vegetables and we will continue on our drive to the Shillong peak and in some time we will approach the Air Force Base and we will need to produce our valid ID proof and after some time we will be allowed to cross the gate and travel to the view point area of the Shillong Peak. This is another of the very popular tourist attractions in Shillong and we will get to see the aerial view of Shillong city from the Shillong Peak area and this is a very nice view to witness. We admire the grandeur of the view from the Shillong Peak and in some time we will begin on our drive back to Shillong city towards the Mawlai area where we will go to visit the Don Bosco Museum in Shillong. This is one of the finest museums across North East India and it details the various tribes and their customs and cultures from across the region.
We will reach the Don Bosco Museum soon and this will be one last place of exploration before lunch and post lunch in the heart of Shillong City at Police Bazar we will go to explore some more places of interest in Shillong. The Don Bosco Museum spreads across 7 floors in total with two floors below the ground level and each floor depicts one aspect of the various tribes of North East India. The region is home to around 200 tribes and their sub-tribes and this museum aims to highlight the various facets of these tribes to the people. We will get down from our vehicles and set out to explore the Don Bosco Museum and our representative will assist you with the ticket purchase and we will set out to explore the Don Bosco Museum. Once you enter the museum there is a hallway and this place has several pictures of the various tribes dressed in their traditional attires and engaging in some traditional occupation and activities in their village. At the ground floor there is a souvenir shop and you can make a purchase of a memoir of your visit to Shillong from here and we will do this after exploring the museum area.
The indigenous people of North East India inhabit the various villages across the plains and hill areas of the state. Some of the tribes inhabit places in the remote forests as well and they have been dwelling in these remote places since times immemorial and these remote places are not even accessible to the general public working mostly in places across Nagaland. These people have preserved their ancient traditions and cultures and they have passed it down across their generation be it their food habits, their attires, farming methods, etc. and all these aspects are detailed across each of the floors of the Don Bosco Museum in Shillong. There are beautifully crafted models that are dressed up on their traditional attires including the traditional jewellery and it is a very elaborate demonstration. At the entrance there is a display unit that plays a video and in case you are interested to learn more you can visit this display and witness it for yourself. The museum is designed in a very modern architecture and makes efficient use of technology for the power saving method because the rooms are placed with a sensor that detects the presence of a person entering the room and turns on the light automatically and once the room is empty the light turns off automatically.
The Don Bosco Museum visit is a once in a lifetime experience that all visitors will cherish for a lifetime. We will take time to explore each floor of the Don Bosco Museum at Shillong and our visit will end at the Skywalk on top from where we catch a glimpse of the Mawlai area in Shillong and the beautiful mountains of the East Khasi Hills area. With this we wrap up our visit at the Don Bosco museum and we proceed to visit the Police Bazar area in Shillong where we will stop for lunch. Along the way we will sight the Shillong golf course that is one of the very fine golf courses in the country and we will also cross the Shillong Polo grounds that are one of the very popular places for the athletes and also the archers who participate in the Shillong Teer game. The Shillong Teer is an ancient betting game among the Khasi people and you will see across Shillong there are numerous small shops that place bet on certain numbers of the day and the people come and place their bets on these numbers. Every afternoon the local archers gather at the polo grounds in Shillong and they aim and shoot at a display board that is a circular dashboard and it is spun and has the various numbers of the day fixed on the board. The archers aim for the board and they shoot the arrows and the number the received the most number of hits becomes the winning number of the day and the winner gets a large amount (almost 80 times) to the bet he had placed.
This is a very popular ancient game and the practice continues even today and there are numerous stalls across the Police Bazar area and we will take the opportunity of looking at once such shop on our visit. We will soon reach the Police Bazar area in Shillong and our vehicles will take us to the City Hut Dhaba in the Police Bazaar area and we will stop here for lunch. The City Hut Dhaba is a very popular restaurant in the heart of Shillong city and the owners of the place operate numerous restaurants across the East Khasi Hills district in Meghalaya and we will take our time to savour our lunch here. Post lunch we will allow you sometime to explore the vibrant Police Bazar market area in Shillong. This is one market where you can see the blend of the modern and traditional Worlds and on one side there are the old family run shops and on the other side there are the high rise malls. The local traders of Shillong bring in several of the local produce that are grown across the villages of Meghalaya and they put it up for sale at the Police Bazar. In the evening, the place turns into a fast food market and you can try out some of the very special Khasi delicacies at the place.
You will take some time to explore the Police Bazar area and we will assemble at the meeting point and post this we will go to explore the Ward’s Lake area in Shillong that is a very popular tourist spot in the heart of Shillong city and it was commissioned by the then Commissioner of Assam – General Ward who saw that the prisoners of the Central Jail who were becoming fat not having work and so he had ordered them to dig out a lake and this later served as a recreational place for the British Officials. Today Ward’s Lake has become a very popular tourist attraction and the locals and tourists of Shillong come to enjoy the beautiful atmosphere around the Ward’s Lake. There is pedal boating facility on the lake that allow guests to enjoy boating on the lake and also a canteen that serves delicious snacks and coffee to its guests. We will explore the Ward’s Lake and we will go for our final visit of the day at the Mary’s help of Christians Cathedral at Shillong that is one of the very grand cathedrals at the place and we have to ensure to reach back to our Orchid Lake Resort before sundown and so we will try to match the time and in case we are not having enough time we will wind up our visit for the day after the visit to the Ward’s Lake itself. We will need to cross the traffic in Shillong city that gets dreaded after the work hours from 5PM and so we have to ensure to cross Shillong city limits before this time or else it will be a tough drive for us. We will reach back at the Orchid Lake Resort by early evening and we will have the time to admire the grand view of the sunset here and soon we will have our cocktails and dinner and call it a day to prepare for out next day visit to explore the land of waterfalls, caves and the Living Root Bridges at Cherrapunji.
Night Halt: Orchid Lake Resort at Barapani
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 3: Barapani – Cherrapunji
We will ensure to cross Shillong area before 8AM and therefore we will leave our place of stay along with our luggage at 7.30AM and we start on our drive to Cherrapunji from Barapani. We will have the day of exploration planned today itself because the next day we will mostly trek to the Double Decker Living Root Bridge at Nongriat Village and it will be a tiring trek and so we will keep the visit on that day limited to two waterfall behind our place of stay at Cherrapunji. We cross Shillong city and reach the Upper Shillong area and we cross towards the Mylliem area and further towards Cherrapunji. This is a very beautiful drive across the mountains of the East Khasi Hills and we will soon approach the Mawkdok valley that is one of the very pristine valley views of Meghalaya and has the facility of rappelling as well. We will stop at the Mawkdok valley to admire the grand valley views and later we continue on our drive to Cherrapunji. We will reach Cherrapunji soon and the drive from Shillong to Cherrapunji takes about an hour and half and keeping in mind the stops we will expect to arrive at Cherrapunji at around 9.30AM and we will go to explore our first sightseeing destination of the day when we go to explore the Nohkalikai Falls – the tallest plunge waterfall in India.
We reach the parking spot of the Nohkalikai Falls and the gushing sound of the water falling from atop 340m to the summit in a real treat to the ears and the crystal clear waters of the Nohkalikai Falls in indeed a treat to the eyes and a true work of Mother Nature. The Nohkalikai fall is a plunge waterfall meaning the waters of this falls come down across the various perennial streams of Cherrapunji and it gets collected at the top of the falls and falls down collectively as one main falls from a height of 340m and this water form a green colour pool at the bottom that is due to an illusion and the beauty of this waterfall makes you feel in awe!
Across the area of the Nohkalikai Falls there are numerous stalls setup that you will see and these shops are operated by the local Khasi women of Cherrapunji. One thing noteworthy about Meghalaya mostly among the Khasi and Jaintia tribes is that the people follow a matrilineal society wherein the family lineage is taken from the Mother’s side and the women is the head of the house and she is responsible for the financials of the house and so you will see that most of the shops and business establishments are mostly run by the women folks. Also the Khasi women in Meghalaya hold various high and responsible posts in the Government of Meghalaya as well. The family ancestral property is transferred to the youngest daughter in the house and she in responsible for looking after the old parents and the unmarried siblings. Even the bridegroom after marriage goes to stay at the house of the bride itself and this is a very interesting society. So the local shops are run by the local women and they sell some of the very fresh spices that are sourced from the forests around Cherrapunji like cinnamon sticks, fresh turmeric, etc. and along with it various local fruits and vegetables and homemade pickles. One thing you should surely try out here is that of the freshly cut pineapples that are served along with salt and chilly powder and this is one of the sweetest pineapples you will ever taste.
The Nohkalikai falls has a very interesting legend associated with the waterfall wherein Nohkalikai means the leap of Ka Likai. The folklore is about a local Khasi lady who had leaped from a cliff near the Nohkalikai Falls. It so happened that this Khasi lady was a widow and she had a daughter from her first marriage. She married for a second time and it so happened that the second husband did not like the daughter from the first marriage. One day as Ka Likai had gone out to work and second husband killed the daughter and cooked here flesh as meat and when Ka Likai came back from work the man served her a meal of rice with this meat and Ka Likai unknowingly finished the meal. When she enquired about her daughter the man kept silent and Ka Likai realized what had happened when she went to the kitchen and found the fingers of her daughter chopped and wrapped up in a betel leaf and she not knowing what to do ran out of the house and jumped to her death from the cliff near the Nohkalikai Falls. This is the gruesome story of the folklore behind the Nohkalikai Falls at Cherrapunji. We will admire the area across the falls and head on to visit to the next destination viz. the Mawsmai Caves.
The drive from Nohkalikai Falls in Cherrapunji to Mawsmai Caves will take us around 30 minutes and we will be here at the cave entrance at around 11AM and we will set out to explore this pre-historic cave in Cherrapunji. There are around 3500 caves in Meghalaya of which around 1500 have been explored and only a handful are opened to tourists for viewing like two in Cherrapunji, 1 in Mawlynnong and 2 in Mawsynram and the Krem Puri in Mawsynram is the longest sandstone cave in the World. The Mawsmai doesn’t require much of hiking and by far is the most popular cave to be visited in Cherrapunji. We will purchase our entrance tickets and we begin on our exploration of the Mawsmai caves. At first we have to climb a short fleet of stairs and then we approach the cave tunnel and we can see the various rock formations inside of the cave and this is actually a pretty big cave but only a fraction of it is opened for public viewing along a well-defined path and we can see the various fossils, stalactites and stalagmites along the walls and roof of the cave. The cave is well lit and so these structures are well visible within the cave and the cave route takes you into the cave mouth from the entrance direction of the Mawsmai Cave and you do not come out from this entrance and instead there is a separate exit of the Mawsmai Cave across a low lying walking space and you will come out of the Mawsmai Cave in some time and you are welcomed in a beautiful forest area here and you will cross this area and explore the vast natural beauty of Meghalaya.
With this we wind up our visit at the Mawsmai cave area and we head to visit the Seven Sister Falls or the Mawsmai falls at Cherrapunji. The Seven Sister Falls is a short 5 minute drive from the Mawsmai Cave and this is another of the pristine waterfalls of Meghalaya and this is a seven segmented waterfall with the waters falling from a height of 315m to the summit making it one of the tallest waterfalls in the country. The seven sister falls is one of the grand waterfalls to view here at Cherrapunji especially during the monsoon season when the rains are full and you can easily distinguish each of the seven falls that fall down across the valley. Below the place is a large valley with views of the plains of Bangladesh and you will be in awe of Mother Nature here at the Seven Sister Falls in Cherrapunji. We admire the place and later we go to have our lunch at the Orange Roots restaurant at Cherrapunji that is a pure veg restaurant just at the entrance of Cherrapunji town and our place of stat is also close by and we go to savour our lunch here at the Orange Roots restaurant that is known to serve the best quality veg food in Cherrapunji and its USP are its South Indian delicacies as the owner of the place hails from Tamil Nadu and he is a retired banker who had settled in Cherrapunji and also owns the Cherrapunji Holiday Resort that is located on the way to the Nongriat village where we will be going tomorrow.
After we savour our lunch we will go to explore the final destination of the day when we go to explore the Arwah caves in Cherrapunji. This is another of the pre-historic caves in Cherrapunji and is a much wider cave compared to the Mawsmai Caves and it also has a water stream flowing across the cave. We will park our vehicles and we need to walk for about 500m to reach the cave mouth and entrance and here there is a board that illustrates the details about the Arwah Caves and we will proceed to enter the cave and just on entrance to the right you will see a fossil on the cave wall. Later there is a small stairway that you need to climb down and begin your exploration of the Arwah Caves. You will need to be careful as the roads can get slippery with rain and therefore walk slowly across the cave and here as well you get to sight various fossils, stalactites and stalagmites as well.
The Arwah Cave is well lit up to a certain point and we will go up to that point and post this there is a narrow passage way without light and in case you are interested and not claustrophobic you can go inside the passageway and come out and with this we will wind up our exploration for the day and we go to check into our place of stay at Cherrapunji at the Sohra Plaza Homestay that is located off the highway at the entrance of the Cherrapunji town and we check into our rooms and freshen up and we will have the evening free for ourselves as we need to prepare for an early morning trek to Nongriat village from the Tyrna Village and we will have an early breakfast and we will drive from the place of stay to the Tyrna Village and from here we will embark on our trek to the Nongriat Village to witness the grandeur of the Jinkieng Nongriat Double Decker Living Root Bridge and also set of two more Single Decker Living Root Bridges and we will later trek back to Tyrna and come back to Cherrapunji. In the evening we will have a bonfire arranged at the place of stay and dinner will be served at the restaurant area here.
Night Halt: Sohra Plaza Homestay at Cherrapunji
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 4: Cherrapunji – Nongriat – Cherrapunji
Today we will have an early breakfast and we will at first drive from our place of stay at Cherrapunji towards the Cherrapunji town market and here we take a right diversion to travel towards the Tyrna village. We reach the site of an abandoned cement factory and from here the roads are narrow and also not in very good condition but it won’t matter for our SUV vehicle and we easily navigate across the road and we will be welcomed by a thick cover of tropical forest around us and we will observe another beautiful waterfall of Meghalaya as well. We will reach a point where we will need to take a sharp U-turn end along the road and soon we will approach the parking area of the Tyrna village. We will be welcomed by our local guide here and he will speak to us about the place and how we will approach the stairway towards the Nongriat village from the village. There are small shops across the place and you can buy your water bottles but ensure to be responsible and do not littler around and you can also hire sticks on rent that will assist you with the climb up and down across the fleet of 3500 stairs that lead you down to the small village and further to Nongriat. We will start on our hike led by our guide and we will soon approach a small village that is a very clean and neat village and the flower garden across the place will be blooming with the seasonal flowers and the entire place feels so heavenly being completely surrounded by the bounties of Mother Nature.
The trek starts across a stairway and at first the steps are broad and well laid out and so it is not much of a challenge to climb down then. Shortly the village ends and we see a wide horizon of the lush green mountains of Meghalaya and we see the steep pathway of stairs down and we begin on our descent across here starts and you must be careful while climbing down the stairs and do not put you entire weight on your toes and instead allow the pressure of your legs to be distributed across the calf muscles and thighs as well. We climb down the stairs and take adequate breaks to relax our leg muscles and we will see the various local people ferrying heavy loaded gunny sacks on their heads and back and they are the ones who ferry goods across the Nongriat village and Cherrapunji market and although they do such a daunting task but they will only greet you with a smile and welcome you to Nongriat. We will soon finish our climb downstairs and here we will reach another village called the Tyrna Elaka and we will see two road diversions, one going straight and the other towards the right.
Since this is the only opportunity many of our visitors will have to visit Cherrapunji and as we do not want then to miss out of sighting any of the opportunities so we will take this right diversion as there are a set of two more Living Root Bridges here and these are single decker living root bridges here and we hike towards the site of these root bridges and we will soon approach this bioengineering marvels. These root bridges of Meghalaya are a unique bioengineering marvel that is grown by the Khasi and Jaintia tribes of Meghalaya. Across the deep forests of the mountains of Meghalaya there are various small villages and these are inhabited by the local people and separating these villages are numerous perennial streams and water crossings. To cross these streams is becomes a big challenge during the monsoon season when the state receives heavy rainfall and the villages remain cut off from the main town areas and to overcome this the villagers approached the various concerned authorities but to no avail because building iron bridges across these remote places was not feasible at all. So the villagers came upon a unique idea of growing bridges instead of building them. They selected the young roots of the rubber trees and they started to allow these young roots to grow in a particular direction across the streams and to guide these roots they used hollowed out bamboo tree trunks or even areca nut tree trunks and the roots grew well in a particular direction and in a few years they grew across the streams and they formed a bridge like structure.
The pathway across these root bridges was built with wood planks and stones and thus these root bridges became functional allowing villagers to cross over the streams from one village to another and to grow one such root bridge it takes around 20 years. These living root bridges last for almost around 500 years and unlike the iron bridges that rust and grow weak with rains these living root bridges grow stronger with more rains and today have become one grand tourist attraction of Meghalaya drawing visitors from all around the World. There are various root bridges across the Khasi and Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya but the most popular ones that are visited by tourists are the Double Decker Root Bridge at Nongriat and the Riwai Living Root Bridge at Mawlynnong. We will admire the bioengineering marvel and click our pictures and then head on further on our hike to Nongriat village. At the small village that we cross we will take a short break to hydrate ourselves and if you are interested you can have some refreshment snacks as well and post this we will head on our trek to Nongriat again.
Shortly we will approach a hanging bridge that is built with steel ropes and iron and flowing underneath this bridge is a very crystal clear water stream with blue waters and this bridge is a slight challenge to cross and we need to approach this bridge crossing carefully allowing only three members to cross over this bridge at a time. The bridge starts to shake and rattle when you cross over it but there is nothing to worry because it is a very strong hanging bridge that handles the daily cross over activities of many villagers to and from Nongriat. Soon we reach another fleet of stairs and we reach a sacred grove area. These sacred groves are forest pockets that are revered by the Khasi people and no acts of nuisance are to be committed at these sacred groves and even felling of tress are not allowed as well. This is where the ancient Khasi people performed various rituals asking the Gods to allow them to have a year of bountiful harvest. Post the sacred groves there are a suspension bridge and we will soon make our approach to the Nongriat village. We will be welcomed buy a single decker root bridge an soon we will see the entrance to the Nongriat village.
Once you are here at Nongriat village you will fee; as though you have come to a different World because backpackers from all across the World can be seen here who come to admire the grandeur of the Jinkieng Nongriat Double Decker Living Root Bridge. We need to walk towards the homestay area and there are various homestays and a coffee bar as well and all these homestays at Nongriat are basic homestays that provide basic facilities at a nominal price and we will see that most of the foreign nationals occupy these homestays here. We will walk across the place and soon we will reach the ticket counter of the Double Decker Living Root Bridge and here we make a purchase of our tickets and pay the requisite camera fees and we will soon be at the root bridge and we will admire the grandeur of the Bioengineering marvel of the Khasi tribes of Meghalaya. It can be easily observed as to how the roots have been allowed to grow in one particular direction. You will be lucky to witness one set of Root Bridge growing on top of the existing two root bridges and soon this will become a triple decker root bridge and the only one in the World. The clear water stream passes underneath this root bridge and at first it forms a crystal clear pool before flowing down under the root bridge.
We will admire the grandeur of the Double Decker Living Root Bridge and in case you are interested you can go for a swim in the water pool and there are changing rooms here as well. The flight of stairs ahead lead to the Mawshaw Bridge and the rainbow falls but we will not go further and instead we will travel back to Tyrna and further to Cherrapunji in sometime. One very interesting activity you can try here is the natural fish spa and there are small fishes swimming in the water pool and once you keep your feet in the water you will see these fishes coming near your feet and biting off the dead skin off your toes and this is a very unique way to rejuvenate yourself. We will spend some time here and later we will go to eat maggi noodles at the small stall that is run by a local lady who churns out delicious maggi noodles and egg omelettes along with tea and various other things like soft drinks, water bottles, packet snacks, etc. After eating the noodles and having tea we will start on our hike back to Tyrna village completing our visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site and also one of the wonders of the modern World here at Nongriat village.
We will bid farewell to the Nongriat village and continue on our hike crossing at first the suspension bridge and later the sacred grove forests to reach the hanging bridge area. We will soon approach the Tyrna Elaka village and we will be welcomed by the tall fleet of 3500 stairs and this is the most daunting part of the Double Decker Root Bridge trek when we need to climb back this steep fleet of stairs. It is not too much of a challenge but if you keep thinking it to be one then we might have a hard time to climb back. The key to climbing back these stairs is to climb ten stairs and take a break and again climb ten stairs and take a break. We will take adequate breaks and stops and soon we will reach back on top at the Tyrna Village and we start on our drive back to Cherrapunji. We will stop to have our lunch at a local market area in Cherrapunji and there is a nice restaurant here where we will try some local Khasi cuisine dishes that are cooked with a lot of organic herbs and vegetable and a choice of meat and later we will explore the Cherrapunji local market where the vendors from across the neighbouring villages bring along their produce to be sold here and also sent across the place in Shillong as well.
We will continue on our drive and we will finish our exploration of the day by visiting two other grand waterfalls that are located behind our place of stay at the Wei Sawdong falls and the Dainthlen falls at Cherrapunji. These two are another grand waterfalls and though we can walk down to the waterfall base at the Wei Sawdong falls we understand that you will be tired after a day long trek and so you wouldn’t want to go down and so we will admire the grandeur of the Wei Sawdong falls from the viewpoint and later we go to visit the Dainthlen Falls at Cherrapunji. The Dainthlen falls is a popular tourist spot in Cherrapunji and the place sees a good footfall of the various movie shoots of the Assamese music videos because the entire landscape of the place is very scenic. We will admire the grandeur of the Dainthlen falls and also learn about a unique folklore attached to the place about how a knight killed a demon snake here and a grand feast was held to celebrate this and later the utensils are believed to have now turned into stones here at the Dainthlen Falls. With this we will wrap up our visit and go back to the Sohra Plaza Homestay for night halt.
Night Halt: Sohra Plaza Homestay
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 5: Cherrapunji – Dawki – Mawlynnong – Shillong
Today is the day we will bid farewell to the land of waterfalls, caves, interesting people and the living root bridges of Cherrapunji and we will head on our visit at first to Dawki in the morning and post that we will explore Mawlynnong – Asia’s Cleanest village and later in the day we drive to Shillong where we will visit the Madina Masjid and you will be free in the evening to explore a café in Shillong and later prepare on your journey to Kaziranga National Park the next day. We will start after an early breakfast and we continue on our drive to Dawki – the border of India and Bangladesh and the land of crystal clear waters of the Umngot River at Dawki. We cross Cherrapunji to travel towards the Mawkdok valley and we will take a right diversion across a country road to travel towards Pynursla. This is one of the very beautiful drives and along the roads you will see the flowering of the cherry blossomas and the tall cover of the pine trees and indeed Meghalaya is a land blessed with nature. We will soon touch the highway again and we continue on our drive towards Pynursla and the landscapes all around you will remind you of Scotland and we will continue towards Pynursla.
At Pynursla we will stop to refuel our vehicles as this is the last known petrol bunk in the area and we continue to travel towards Dawki. We will reach a road diversion and while the right diversion takes you to Mawlynnong, the left goes to Dawki and we will go left and soon we will feel the temperature rising because we will be going down the altitude approaching the plains of Bangladesh, We will reach Dawki soon and we will proceed to the border of India and Bangladesh at Dawki. We will cross the Dawki boating point and we will see many vehicles parked along the roads because boating on the clear waters of the Umngot River at Dawki is one experience tourist surely come to enjoy here at Meghalaya. We cross the suspension bridge built by the British in 1932 and soon we will approach the Dawki market area and we continue on our drive towards to border. We approach the International border of India and Bangladesh at Dawki and we park our vehicles before the border and make towards the place where the BSF soldiers are stationed and we seek their permission to travel across the Indian Border to the no man’s land. We seek permission force the BSF team and later we cross the Indian Border to reach the no man’s land near Dawki.
At the place we can see the border of Bangladesh and the soldiers of their country guarding their borders. We are allowed to travel only up to the pillar 1275 and we can see both sides of the border. We will click our pictures at the border and return back to Indian Territory and soon we begin on our drive back to the Dawki boating point. At the Dawki boating point we will get down from our vehicles and we will hire the services of two boats that will take us on a 45 minute boat ride across the clear waters of the Umngot River. This boating in a very attractive tourism spot because at Dawki, the Umngot River has waters so crystal clear that you can spot the river bed and if you see from a distance it will look as though the boats are not floating in the water but are floating in air and this is what makes Dawki one of the every attractive tourism destination in Meghalaya. We will go on our boat ride and the boatman will take us across the Umngot River and under the suspension bridge and then bring us back to the river bank and with this we will wind up our visit at Dawki and we head on our drive to Mawlynnong. The drive will take us about an hour and we will take an alternate route to travel to Mawlynnong and here we will see during the drive that there are tall border fences put up that demarcate the territory of India on one side and Bangladesh on the other side.
We will stop along our drive to view another beautiful waterfall that is called as the Bophill falls and post this we continue on our drive to Mawlynnong. We will soon approach Mawlynnong and at first we will go to visit the Riwai Single Decker Living Root Bridge. This is the widest among all the Root Bridges across Meghalaya and this is by far the most visited Root Bridge because it the most easily accessible root bridge that takes only a 10 minute hike from the parking area unlike the Double Decker Living Root Bridge where we need to spend almost an entire day to reach the Bridge and come back and so most of the visitors find this place easily accessible. We will begin our hike and soon we reach the spot of the Riwai Single Decker Living Root Bridge and the rush of tourists here will surely surprise you as compared to the Double Decker Living Root Bridge where the crowd is much less. This is a much wider root bridge when compared to the one we visited yesterday and the villagers to ensure the control of the flow of visitors across the bridge make them travel one way and come back from another.
We too walk across the root bridge at the beginning and we admire the vast forest cover across the place and we will come back to the other side via another pathway that is built with a bamboo bridge and one thing to be seen here are the various cobwebs that are weaved out by a spider species and this cobweb absolutely matches with the creation of nature all around. With this we will head on our walk back to the parking area and we will drive to the Mawlynnong village. Mawlynnong is said to be the cleanest village in Asia and it was dubbed in 2003 when the Discover India magazine and later BBC released a documentary about the clean practices that were adopted by the local Khasi people of Mawlynnong village in Meghalaya. We will stop for lunch here at a local restaurant at the beginning and we will savour a sumptuous Khasi traditional lunch here and post that we will set out to explore the cleanest village in Asia. We will observe how there are dustbins that are places at regular places in the village and how no dirt spots are to be found in the village. The local people have a community that take charge of cleaning the premises of the village every day in the morning and the evening after the army of tourists leave the village and each household will clean its premises and keep the thrash out in the front dust bins.
The cleaning team comes and collects this thrash and they segregate it into degradable and non-degradable thrash and while the degradable waste is used for manure purposes, the non-degradable ones are mostly sent to recycling centres in Shillong area once in a week. We will take a walk across the village and we admire the beauty of the flowers here at Mawlynnong village. There is a tree house built with bamboo and we will take the opportunity to climb this tree house to view the plains of Bangladesh and also there is a very old Cathedral here as well and this place is almost 120 years old and we admire the build of these Cathedral. The small pathways led to the various homestay across the village and this place is a perfect example as to how tourism itself can allow a place to sustain itself and at one such homestay you can see a pitcher plant as well. We admire the village and later we come back to the parking area to board our vehicles and we make a final stop to view the balancing rocks on our way back at the outskirts of the village. These balancing rocks are a unique phenomenon to be witnessed that defies the laws of gravity and earlier this was considered to be a sacred site among the Khasi customs. In this unique phenomenon a very large boulder is seen resting atop a much smaller rock boulder and this structure has been standing like this since many years and even two major earthquakes couldn’t destroy this structure.
In the olden days, the Khasi people used to consider this road formation sacred and they used to perform various rituals across these stones. We admire this unique rock structure and later we begin on our drive back to Shillong. We will cross the Mawlynnong area and begin on our uphill drive and the temperature starts to get cooler again and we will approach Pynursla area and we continue on our drive across the beautiful valleys of Meghalaya. We will soon approach Upper Shillong area and we cross to drive towards Shillong city and we will be welcomed to Shillong – the Scotland of the East. The city is called as the Scotland of the East because when the British had come to Shillong they saw that the landscapes of the place resembled the landscapes of Scotland and the build of the city will certainly remind you of the landscapes of Scotland. Shillong has a unique rustic charm to the place and it reminds a person a lot about the colonial era and we drive across this beautiful city and soon we will approach the Laban area in Shillong and we will make a final stop to view the grand Madina Masjid in Shillong. This is the only glass mosque in India and it is a place of worship of a small population of the Muslim people who live in the city.
The mosque gets illuminated in the evening with green lights and the place looks absolutely stunning! We will admire the construction of the Madina Masjid in Shillong and later we go to check into our place of stay in Shillong at the Sunrise Guest House in the Laban area. This is one of the very beautiful and yet budget guest houses in Shillong and it reminds you of a Bungalow and the way it is built. It is not a big guest house offering around 5 rooms in total and we will try to have the place just to ourselves so that you can enjoy the view of the place. The is ample parking area for around 5 vehicles and at the front there is a lawn as well and we will enjoy our stay at the guest house before we continue on our drive to Kaziranga National Park the next day from Shillong. We will take the evening to unwind and have a reflection of our tour until now where we explored the grand Umiam Lake, the city of Shillong, Cherrapunji, Mawlynnong and Dawki and again we are now on the last leg of the tour where we will go back to Assam and enjoy our jungle safari rides at Kaziranga National Park and come back to Guwahati and explore the Kamakhya temple.
Night Halt: Sunrise Guest House in Shillong
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 6: Shillong – Kaziranga National Park
Today we will bid farewell to Shillong and Meghalaya to head on our drive back to Assam and we will be travelling to the famed UNESCO World Heritage site of Kaziranga National Park – home of the Indian One Horned Rhinoceros and various species of flora, fauna and avifauna. We will start with an early breakfast and head on our drive to Kaziranga National Park from Shillong. We will cross the Shillong area to travel towards the Umiam Lake in Barapani and we admire the grand waters of the Umiam Lake for one last time and we cross Barapani to travel towards Nongpoh area in Meghalaya. The drive is downhill and so it will be a very enjoyable drive and soon we will reach Nongpoh area and we will stop at a fuel bunk to refuel the vehicle here and continue on our drive to Burnihat area and soon we will cross the area of Meghalaya to enter Assam. We will enter Assam at Jorabat and further continue on our drive towards Sonapur area and further towards Jagiroad. At Jagiroad we will make a stop at the Ni4 restaurant to have tea and snacks and you may use the restrooms if necessary. Post this we will continue on our drive and we head towards the Raha area where we will stop at a roadside stall that sells the various traditional bamboo and cane handicrafts of Assam.
The artisans of Assam are very expert weavers of handicrafts of bamboo and they make various items like baskets, furniture’s, trays, interior decors, fish traps, musical instruments, etc. with bamboo and the same will be displayed and available for purchase at this stall. The finish of these bamboo handicrafts is just unique and one can feel in awe of the artistry involved in the making of these products. These handicrafts of Assam are in demand across the World and these goods are exported from Assam to many countries including the various traditional handlooms of Assam as well. We will take a walk across the place and in case you are interested you can make a purchase of these various handicrafts and carry these as a souvenir back home to gift to your friends and relatives. Soon we will reach the Nagaon Bypass area and we will stop for lunch at the Anuraag Dhaba in Nagaon that is one of the very popular restaurants along the highway and this will be evident with the number of vehicles parked along the road. Even though the place sees a huge rush of people for lunch still the service is quite quick and the food quality is also very good. We will have a room booked for us here and we enjoy an ethnic Assamese thali at the place and post lunch we continue on our drive to Kaziranga National Park.
We will cross Amoni and Koliabor to reach Jakhlabandha area and this is from where the forest reserves of Kaziranga National Park starts. Huge signages will welcome you to Kaziranga National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and various signages will remind us that we are on an animal corridor and we have to drive slowly to ensure the safety of the animals. On one side you will see the tall mountains of Karbi Anglong and on the other side you will see the lush green tea gardens of Assam. We keep driving and soon we approach the Bagori area of Kaziranga National Park and this is one place where the jeep safari rides are conducted inside the forest reserves of Kaziranga National Park and we will cross Burapahar range to drive towards the Bagori range of Kaziranga National Park. In between these two ranges there is a view point area and we will stop at this viewpoint and we might get lucky to spot the pride of Kaziranga National Park and Assam – the Indian One Horned Rhinoceros grazing across the open swamp areas and also the Asiatic Wild Water Buffalo and the Hog Deer species of Kaziranga National Park along with the various bird species as well. We will admire the first glimpse of the One Horned Rhino of Kaziranga National Park here and later we will continue on our drive towards the Bagori area. Bagori range is where the elephant safari rides are conducted for Indian Nationals and in case you are booking the elephant safari rides at Kaziranga National Park we will come to the Bagori range.
Soon after Bagori we will drive across the mountains of Burapahar and we will approach a very sacred temple shrine of the place called as the Buri Ai Than and this place is considered auspicious and most of the vehicles stop along the way to pay their respects here and seek the blessings for a safe journey. Post this we will approach the Kohora area of Kaziranga National Park that is the market area and the most popular tourist range of Kaziranga National Park mostly as the various deluxe hotels and resorts are located around this place and we will make Kohora our home for the next two evenings and we will go to check into our place of stay at Kohora at the Dhanashree Resort. The Dhanashree Resort is one of the most popular resorts at Kaziranga National Park that is a luxury resort but at affordable costs and the place offers stay in individual cottages and independent Villas as well. The Dhanashree resort is surrounded by the lush green tea gardens and the place is filled with the soulful chirping of the birds. We quickly check into our rooms here and later we go out to explore the Kaziranga Orchid Park – the largest orchid park in India. The Kaziranga Orchid Park is located a short 10 minute drive from the Dhanashree resort and we will go to check out the Kaziranga Orchid Park and at first we will go to the green house area to check out the various flowering orchids.
We will be escorted by a local guide who will take us on a short tour of the Kaziranga Orchid Park green house and we will see the various flowering orchid species at the green house area. Upon entering the Kaziranga Orchid Park you will also see the flowering species of the State flower of Assam – the Foxtail orchid (Kopou Ful) that generally blooms in the season after spring before the Rongali Bihu festival of the Assamese New Year and this is a beautiful flower that is violet in colour. The green house is very well planned and organized here at the Kaziranga Orchid Park and we can take a complete round across the place admiring the species of orchids and the species will be clearly explained by the local guide to us. We finish our exploration of the green house area and we head on our visit to the section on the left that illustrates the various bamboo handicrafts and handloom weaving of Assam. We have already seen some of the exquisite bamboo handicrafts on our way at Raha and this place will have on display more of these bamboo crafts mostly the fishing taps and the musical instrument. There is a section that displays local women weaving on the traditional looms and weaving out some very fine handlooms of Assam. Handloom weaving is an important occupation of the local women folks in the villages of Assam and they use the three varieties of Assam silk viz. Muga, Eri and Paat and also cotton to weave out the various silk Mekhela Chadors and the traditional Gamusa of Assam as well.
This handloom weaving is a pride of the people of Assam and especially at Sualkuchi, the silk Mekhela Chadors that are woven on the traditional looms all by hands is renowned across the World and Sualkuchi is the largest silk weaving village in the World and is often referred to as the Manchester of the East. We will admire the handloom weaving and these products are also put up on sale at the souvenir section of the park that we would be visiting shortly. North East India is was also a site of the various royal dynasties that ruled across the place like the Koch Kingdom, Ahom Kingdom, Pala dynasty, Muttock Kingdom, Kachari Kingdom, Dimasa Kingdom, the various dynasties across Tripura and they had built several historic monuments and palaces and temples across the region. Though we will not have the opportunity to visit each of these monuments on this tour and so we will catch a glimpse of these monuments at the monument photo gallery that is present at the place and huge pictures of the various monuments are hung on the walls of the place and we admire the grandeur of these monuments before we head on to the section of the orchid photo gallery. North East India is home to around 1200 varieties of the total 1800 varieties of orchids found in India and this speaks highly of the rich biodiversity of the region.
Although the promoters of the Kaziranga Orchid Park have tried their best to source the various indigenous orchid species native the region but it is not possible for them to house all of the orchid species at the place and also not all of these orchid species will be flowering at your time of visit and therefore a visit to the orchid photo gallery will allow you to see the various flowering orchid plants and this section is under guidance by a specially abled person who is one a wheel chair and he takes visitors on a guided tour of the orchid photo gallery. Next up is the section of the rice museum at the Kaziranga Orchid Park that is known to display the various indigenous rice varieties of Assam and North East India to the visitors at the Kaziranga Orchid Park and you will be amazed at the various types of rice varieties that are grown across the region. What will intrigue you are the two special rice varieties called as the Bora Saul and the Kumal Saul. The Bora Saul is a sticky rice variety that is generally consumed for breakfast and on special occasions and it is served with curd or cream along with sugar or jaggery. The sticky quality of this rice variety was used by the Ahoms to create a mortar to bind bricks in their various monument constructions. The bond created with this mortar was so strong that the monuments survived two major earthquakes of Assam with minimal damage.
We explored the rice museum and we learnt about the rice varieties grown across Assam and apart from the Bora Saul another interesting rice variety is that of the Kumal Saul. This Kumal Saul has a unique property wherein it doesn’t need any cooking by boiling or whistling in a pressure cooker and the rice gets soft by itself when kept soaked in water. It has a unique taste to it as well and this is a very popular rice among the farmers who need to go out very early in the fields and so they do not have time to cook their meals in the morning and so they carry the Kumal Saul rice variety with them and once they are hungry they soak the rice in water for some time and by the time they are ready to eat the rice it is already soft and ready to be consumed. Admiring these rice varieties we next head to the souvenir shop to see the various local produce that are sourced from the neighbouring villages and the sale of the proceedings allow the local people with an additional source of income. We explore the area of the Kaziranga Orchid Park and we go to explore the bamboo garden here and you will now be surprised as to how many varieties of bamboo grows across the forests of Assam and North East India.
We have already seen the use of bamboo to create unique handicrafts of Assam and also bamboo is used for various other purposes and it is truly called as a poor man’s timber. If you travel across the villages of Majuli Island (the largest river island in the World) you will see the use of bamboo is rampant across the local homes and they use bamboo to build their home and also build fences across their houses as well. Bamboo is also used to build furniture items like sofa sets, stools and even dining tables and to a greater construction, bamboo is used to build bridges over water streams that allow motorbikes and people to cross over them. The young and tender bamboo shoot is used in the cooking of various recipes and the pork with bamboo shoot boil is one of the tastiest and healthiest meat recipes you can even eat. Various bamboo saplings are planted across the bamboo garden here at the Kaziranga Orchid Park and you will notice the various bamboo varieties have various diameters and one species called as the Bhuluka is known to grow to have a diameter of up to 1.6 metre that speaks about the strength of this bamboo. Earlier at the two paper mills across Assam, bamboo was used to produce paper and this served as an alternate source to timber to conserve forest and the best thing about bamboo is that it belongs to the grass family and it grows back very quickly.
We witness these bamboo varieties at the bamboo garden at the Kaziranga Orchid Park and later we go to visit the stage area here where various dance forms of Assam are performed at regular intervals here including the famed Bihu dance of Assam and the bamboo dance as well. The bamboo dance is a unique thing to witness here where four boys hold the bamboo pole at the ends and they form a mesh like structure and keeps altering the bamboo mesh and two girls jump in and out of the bamboo mesh in a rhythmic manner without tripping and it is very interesting to watch this dance form. With this we wind up our visit at the Kaziranga Orchid Park and we head back for our night halt at Dhanashree Resort thereby ending a fruitful day of our tour of the Umiam Lake and stay at the Orchid lake resort by the Umiam lake. At the Dhanashree Resort there will be another session of the folk dance performance (based on the number of people staying that evening at the resort) and apart from the Bihu dance performance we will be able to witness the traditional Jhumur dance performance of the local tea garden tribes of Kaziranga National Park as well. Dinner will be served at the restaurant of the Dhanashree Resort and we retire for the night as we have an early morning safari day tomorrow.
Night Halt: Dhanashree Resort at Kaziranga National Park
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 7: Kaziranga National Park Safari
Today will be our day of safari at Kaziranga National Park and we will go for two jeep safari rides inside the forests of Kaziranga National Park to sight the varied flora, fauna and avifauna of Kaziranga National Park. We will go for our safari ride at the Eastern Range in the morning and next at the Central range of Kaziranga National Park at Kohora in the afternoon. We start with an early breakfast and the jeep vehicles will come to pick us up at the Dhanashree Resort and we will go for our rides to the Eastern Range of Kaziranga National Park at Agoratoli (about 45 minutes’ drive) and here we will reach the forest office at Agoratoli and we make our entry formalities and pay our requisite fees and continue to the forest entrance at the Eastern range of Kaziranga National Park. The Eastern range is known for its sightings of the various bird species of Kaziranga National Park and along with this, the Eastern rage of Kaziranga National Park is also known for Bengal Tiger sightings apart from the Rhinoceros, Wild Water Buffaloes, Macaques, Gibbons, Boars and the various bird species. Our first sighting will of the great Indian Hornbill who have their nest at the entrance of the Eastern Rage of Kaziranga National Park and they are generally spotted here and we will admire the bird species and continue on our drive to be welcomes y the grand sighting of the Indian One Horned Rhinoceros and the various other animals here at the Eastern Range of Kaziranga National Park.
Our jeep safari ride will last for about two hours and we will come out of the forest reserves of the Eastern range of Kaziranga National Park to head back to the Dhanashree Resort to freshen up and have our lunch and post lunch our jeep vehicles will come to pick us up again and we will drive to the forest entrance of the Central range of Kaziranga National Park at Kohora and this is the most visited range of Kaziranga and so we might need to wait a little while to have our entry passes and explore the forest reserves of the central range of Kaziranga National Park. This range is ideally known for its sightings of the Rhinoceros, Wild Elephants herds, Asiatic Wild Water Buffaloes, Swamp Deers, Hog Deers and also the Bengal Tigers. The jeep drivers will take us on a ride across the forest reserves of the Central Range of Kaziranga National Park and the ride here takes about an hour and half and we will explore the place and based on our luck we will have various sightings of the animals of Kaziranga National Park at the Central Range. Tiger sighting at Kaziranga National Park is solely based on luck and in case you are lucky you will sight the Tigers in just one safari ride and that too not too deep inside the forests but there have been instances that even after five rounds of safari inside the forests, guests were not successful in sighting the tigers of Kaziranga National Park. We will finish our safari experience and return to the Dhanashree Resort for night halt.
Night Halt: Dhanashree Resort at Kaziranga National Park
Meals included: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 8: Kaziranga National Park – Guwahati
Today we are on the final leg of our tour when we will return to Guwahati from Kaziranga National Park. We have an early breakfast at the Dhanashree Resort and we start on our drive back to Guwahati. We will cross Kohora, Bagori and Burapahar to reach Jakhlabandha and we cross these places to travel further towards Amoni and Nagaon. At Nagaon we met the four lane highway and continue on our drive towards Raha and Jagiroad to finally reach at Sonapur. At Sonapur we will stop for our lunch at one of the Dhabas that are present here and is very popular eateries for the people for Guwahati and it is a nice weekend hang out place as well. We enjoy a nice lunch and continue on our drive to Guwahati crossing the mountains at Jorabat and soon we reach Khanapara area in Guwahati. We will go to check into our hotel at Guwahati near the Ganeshguri area and we will check ourselves at the Hotel D-Courtyard. The vehicles will stop us at the hotel and in the evening we will shop us at the hotel and in the evening we will allow you to explore the bustling market area of Guwahati at the GS Road. There are various malls and silk emporiums here at the GS Road and you can take time to explore the place and buy yourself a souvenir of the silk Mekhela Chadors of Assam.
Dinner will be served at the hotel or in case you are interested to have your dinner at any of the grand restaurants at Guwahati city then do let us know and we will make the arrangement accordingly. Tomorrow we leave early in the morning to the Kamakhya temple and after exploring the grand temple shrine of Goddess Kamakhya we will drop you at the Guwahati airport for your onwards destination.
Night Halt: Hotel D Courtyard
Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 8: Kamakhya Temple and Guwahati Airport
After an early breakfast our vehicles will pick us up at the hotel and we will go to visit the holy Kamakhya temple shrine of Goddess Kamakhya. The Kamakhya temple shrine is located atop the Nilachal Hills and it is the holiest temple shrine in North East India. Known as the temple of the bleeding Goddess, the Kamakhya temple is one among the 51 Shakti Peethas, 18 Maha Shakti Peethas and 4 Adi Shakti Peethas of the Indian Subcontinent and it is believed that Goddess Sati’s womb fell atop the Nilachal Hills where the temple shrine is located. The Kamakhya temple is associated with the celebration of womanhood at the ability of the mother to give birth to a child. It is believed that every year the Goddess menstruates and it is in the time of June (Asad) when the temple celebrates the Ambubachi Mela – the Eastern Mahakumbh.
Lakhs of devotees and holy Sadhus throng to the Kamakhya temple to seek the blessings of the Goddess at this time and during the first three days when it is believed that the Goddess menstruates, the temple doors are kept closed and only opened for worship on the fourth day and devotees go inside the temple shrine to seek the blessings of the Goddess. We will approach the Kamakhya temple and we will go to visit the temple shrine at the inner sanctum. We will be welcomed by the temple priest who will assist us with the temple Darshan and we go to the top of the hill where the main temple shrine is located. Known to have been restores by the Koch Kings who rebuilt the temple with a bar of gold across each pillar of the temple, the temple shrine was later destroyed by a Muslim invader and started to fall into ruins. The Ahom Kings who were very much influenced by the practices of Shakti and Tantra at the Kamakhya temple and the powers of black magic associated here decided to convert to Hinduism and they rebuilt the Kamakhya temple to its present form today. The Kamakhya temple follows a distinct Ahom architecture and in 2020, Reliance Industries gifted the temple with a Golden Dome and it strikes the eyes of the any visitors or devotees at the Kamakhya temple. At first we go to cleanse our hands and feet at the temple pond and here we seek the blessings of Lord Ganesh to begin our Darshan of the Kamakhya temple shrine.
There are two approaches to the inner sanctum of the Kamakhya temple and while one is the general queue to see that sees hundreds of visitors starting in queue from as early as 4AM in the morning and the other is a VIP entry where visitors need to pay INR 501 to purchase a VIP Pass and you will be taken towards the Inner Sanctum of the temple without having to stand in a queue. Only at the entrance where both these queues merge you might need to await your turn to continue to Garbhanga of the Kamakhya temple. Inside the main Garbhagriha you will notice that there is no idol of the Goddess and instead there is a stone shaped in the form of a Yoni (Vulva) and endangered water stream continuously feed this shrine. Our Darshan at the Kamakhya temple ends when we touch the holy water and sprinkle on top of your head. With this we exit the Kamakhya temple inner sanctum and the priest will help us offer our prayers and offer us the Prasad. We will admire the grand architecture of the Kamakhya temple and the various stone sculptures on the temple walls and with this we will wind up our visit and we head to the LGBI airport at Guwahati. We drop you off at the airport for the flight to your onward destination thus ending a successful tour of the Umiam Lake, Meghalaya and Kaziranga National Park. Tour Ends! Bid Adieu!