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A solo trip to Meghalaya during the pandemic


Mawylnnong

For as long as I could remember, all I dreamt of was to travel the entire North East beauty of our country. Never having the right opportunity & budget, the trip to the seven sisters states was always pushed to a year later every year. The opportunity to be in Meghalaya presented itself when tourism started opening in the state as Wave 2 was slowly struggling with its last breath.


This is yet another of my solo trips, the longest one ever within India. By now, my confidence level was peaking through the roof with my recent stream of success in solo travels and with the knowledge that people are generally kind when we are kinder to them.



How I planned my 7-day trip


I will repeat this again like I did in other blogs - to cover most of the places in a state or a country, always try to pin places in such a way that it completes a full circle in Maps, mostly covering larger towns/cities where you will prefer to stay for a night or two and then plan for day trips to nearby places while staying at those places. This is how I did for Meghalaya:



While staying in Shillong, you can visit the nearby places like Laitlum Canyon. When staying in Sohra, you can visit the faraway waterfalls, and while in Mawlynnong, one day trip to Dawki, Krang Suri Falls and nearby villages can be arranged. Of course, these are not the only places in Meghalaya to see. I have missed visiting places like Kongthong, Jowai, Mawsynram, Phe Phe Falls, etc. which hopefully I can cover in the near future.


There are three primary tribes existing currently in Meghalaya - Khasi, Jaintia & Garo, with majority of the folks belonging to the Khasi tribe. Did you know Khasi civilisation dates back to 7000 years, older than Indo-Aryan civilisation?
The state follows a matriarchal society where the husbands go to the wives' place after marriage and take the last name of their wives. Although, it's not an imposition anymore, local folks still choose to keep it that way. Isn't that amazing?!


Shillong - Scotland of India



Beautiful mountains, tribal culture interspersed with modern outlook, the love for music, good food and simple living is the definition of an uncomplicated life in this city. Something we yearn to have in the metropolitan areas.


My minuscule stay of 2-nights did not manage to cover every single attraction Shillong had to offer. An entire morning & afternoon was dedicated to Laitlum Canyon which is a must visit place. The canyons are vastly stretched and is so breathtaking that one cannot help but be grateful to be looking at this pure untouched beauty. The trek is a very easy, 30 mins -1 hour walk on an almost plain terrain. I would recommend to pack some snacks from nearby stalls, sit facing the mountains and enjoy the view while eating. Do not forget to take back the trash to keep the place clean.


There is no entry ticket for the canyon.


The other day was spent sightseeing local attractions like the Police Bazaar, Don Bosco Museum, Golf Park, Ward Lake (animals were not kept in good conditions), and Don Bosco Church.


Mawphlang Sacred Grove was another place I visited which holds a historical & cultural importance for the Khasi folks. Guide is mandatory which costed me 250 INR.


The other attractions which I missed were the Tea Garden (Lakyrsiew), Air Force Museum, Rhino Heritage Museum, Madina Masjid, All Saint's Cathedral, Upper Shillong Forest, etc. which would have accounted for a further 2 nights stay.



The city is buzzing with momo stalls at every corner, so do not forget to eat till your heart's content while in the city. I particularly enjoyed the Chinese dishes in the restaurants which were not spicy at all.

Chilli Prawns and Chicken Noodles
The Wok Restaurant

Sohra aka Cherrapunji - Magnifique views, bridges, and comfort food


I had plans to visit the beautiful waterfalls which Sohra proudly boasts of. When I heard from a couple of fellow travellers that the waterfalls are not exactly in their full force as it had not rained for a month, I was disheartened. It is recommended by the locals to come here during the monsoons when the water from these falls splashes across the road and everywhere you turn, you will see a waterfall. God, I would love to travel in monsoon to witness it!!


Double Decker Root Bridge

The journey, back & forth, for this surreal double decker bridge was nothing I had imagined or planned. This bridge was added in my itinerary spontaneously and like a naive person, I assumed this would require a short walk or mini trek like the other attractions. Little did I know, this was one of the toughest trek I would have to undergo to view this beauty.


Dressed inappropriately for the hike with a lump in my throat, I ventured into the unknown. The whole hiking trail is divided into three attractions - single root bridge, double decker root bridge and rainbow falls. The trail till the double decker contains 3500 steps one way which is equivalent to 3 kms. The trail is extremely steep in some parts which adds to the difficulty level. Being an overweight person, this naturally frustrated me.


My guide kept smiling everytime I cribbed or cringed or asked him to pause after every 5 steps. For locals, this hike simply takes an hour (3500 steps*2). For me, it took 5 hours which is still an achievement considering majority of trekkers took 7-8 hours to finish it.


The next 2 days were nothing short of a living hell for my calves and thighs. But, the trek did make me realise how much concentration I need to put on my health. A painful but eye opening experience. The key question is - would I do treks like this again? Sure. After I lose some more weight.


Note: The guide charged 700 INR for me. I am not sure if it's a per person charge.


The next day, limping and moaning I visited Arwa Cave which was at a walkable distance from my hotel. It would have been a good idea to take a shared cab till the "actual" cave entrance as it is a 2 km walk from the first entrance. The entire stretch was a scary walk for me as it was eerily quiet with intermittent rustling sounds coming from the surrounding trees. Arwa Cave is a sunken chamber known for limestone walls with fossils of fish & crustaceans. I bumped into another solo female traveler at the entrance and we