A Malaysian discovers the wonders of the Meghalaya

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Where is Meghalaya? I was at a loss until my trip with three friends and 20 foreigners to a part of India that is not normally frequented by non-Indian tourists.

Meghalaya is a state in northeastern India, where its southern part borders Bangladesh, and on its northeastern side is the state of Assam. Meghalaya means ‘home of the cloud’, and I could see why the state is called that. During my few days there, I really felt like the earth was covered by clouds.

However, that could be because it was fall and the sun was setting at 4pm.

After our tour of Assam, our group traveled to Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya. Our first stop was at a roadside fruit stall to buy some sweet pineapples. The seller cleaned and cut them for us so that we could enjoy them on our trip.

We spent the middle of the morning at Lake Umiam, a reservoir, most of us enjoying a 20 minute speedboat ride on the crystal clear and pristine lake. Around the lake was a large park where you can picnic or just enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Lunch was in a restaurant located in the park. The architecture of the restaurant was impressive with a high ceiling and wooden beams. The service was a bit slow and we had to wait a bit for our food, but the wonderful view of the field, trees and lake from the restaurant more than made up for it. (This is also where I found out that I had lost my earring, one of my favorite.)

After lunch, we continued our journey to Shillong, which is about 15 km away. The landscape had changed from mountains to hills, like the valleys of Scotland. No wonder Shillong is nicknamed “the Scotland of India”.

Our visit to the All Saints Cathedral and Don Bosco Museum was postponed as most places and roads were closed to accommodate the funeral services of an Archbishop.

We stayed at the Lady Bird Hotel, and not far away was a bazaar located along a busy staircase. With my roommate Kiranjit, as well as Rashpal and Ranjit, we walked up the stairs and started shopping for souvenirs and other trinkets. The first thing I received was a pair of earrings for Rs100 (around RM6).

Next on my shopping list was a cashmere shawl, which cost me Rs900 (around RM55). It was already a good deal so I didn’t bother to negotiate a lower price with the seller.

We went to a cafe and drank chaa (tea) and samosas before continuing our adventure.

Elephant Falls in Cherrapunjee, considered “the wettest place on planet Earth”.The next morning, after a hearty breakfast, we drove to Cherrapunjee, which one sign says is “the wettest place on planet Earth.” There were many waterfalls and caves around this place. We explored some of them, such as Elephant Falls, Cave Garden, and Mawsamai Caves.

True to its name, the Jardin des Grottes was surrounded by a number of caves and waterfalls, as well as a thick forest. Mawsamai Caves, on the other hand, were filled with stalactites and stalagmites. We all wore raincoats and umbrellas too, so we managed to stay warm and dry throughout our exploration.

We visited the Cordial Lodge and walked to Seven Sisters Waterfall in the morning which was really close to our hotel.

On the way back to Shillong the next day, we visited the border town of Dawki and the Umngot River that separates Meghalaya (India) from Bangladesh.

Our next stop was the amazing Living Root Bridge in the village of Riwai. It was a challenge walking down the slippery path to reach the root bridge, but it was something most of us wanted to do.

Our lunch was at Mawlynnong, which is said to have been Asia’s “cleanest village”.

By the time we got back to our hotel in Shillong it was already late and we couldn’t go shopping. We were told that Meghalaya’s turmeric was really good, so the hotel helped us place our orders with a local supplier, who delivered our orders early the next morning.

It was a sunny and bright day, and we made our way to All Saints Cathedral, which was built by the British in 1897. Unfortunately, we were too early and the church was still closed to visitors.

Our last stop was the Don Bosco Museum, which had a lot of information about the local indigenous peoples and their culture. The museum is a seven-story building, to represent the seven states located in northeastern India.

It was a lovely private tour hosted by a friend of mine, and I really hope we can do more tours soon.

The opinions expressed are entirely those of the reader.

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