Meghalaya, fondly known as the “abode of the clouds,” is a captivating state in northeastern India that seamlessly combines the charm of Scottish landscapes with an authentic Indian allure. Nestled between Bangladesh to the south and the Brahmaputra valley to the north, Meghalaya boasts stunning landscapes and breathtaking waterfalls that contribute to its beauty.
Geographically, it is characterized by the renowned “Meghalaya Plateau,” earning the state its moniker as the “abode of clouds.” The state’s capital, Shillong, is often shrouded in mist and is a popular pilgrimage site where devotees gather to offer prayers and pilgrims come to seek divine blessings. Among the notable regions within the state, Mawsynram stands out as one of the coldest areas. There’s a lot to explore in this state. Here’s all you need to know.
Places to visit in Meghalaya
Shillong, the vibrant capital of the state, exudes a lively and energetic atmosphere, with a thriving community. The city’s architectural style bears the unmistakable influence of the British colonial era. With its abundance of lakes and picturesque hills, Shillong has earned the moniker “Scotland of the East,” captivating visitors with its natural beauty. Police Bazar, a bustling area in Shillong, is known as the heart of the city, boasting a vibrant market and serving as a hub for larger hotels.
When planning your trip to Meghalaya, many travel rental websites can assist you in finding affordable accommodations to suit your needs. Additionally, Shillong is renowned for its delightful cafes, some of which offer live music, reflecting the city’s vibrant music culture and the passion of its music-loving residents.
Located approximately 60 kilometers away from Shillong, Cherrapunji, also known as Cherrapunjee or Sohra, can be easily reached and explored on a day trip from Shillong. While day trips are possible, it is recommended to consider staying overnight in Cherrapunji to fully experience its beauty and attractions.
The Meghalaya Tourism Company organizes guided tours to Cherrapunji, offering convenient options for visitors. Shared taxis, commonly known as Yellow Sumos, are available at Shillong’s Bada Bazar, providing transportation throughout Meghalaya to various destinations, including Cherrapunji.
3. Nongriat Trek:
Exploring the Double Decker Root Bridge in the charming town of Nongriat is an extraordinary highlight of a visit to Cherrapunjee. While Nongriat can be reached more conveniently from Tyrna, it’s important to note that descending around 3500 steps is required to reach the destination. However, the challenges of the journey pale in comparison to the breathtaking surroundings and warm hospitality that await you in Nongriat. To fully experience the Double Decker Living Root Bridge Trek, it is highly recommended to plan an overnight stay in Nongriat, allowing ample time to immerse yourself in the beauty of the area.
This ingenious creation showcases the harmonious relationship between humans and nature, exemplifying sustainable engineering and traditional wisdom at its finest. A visit to the Double-decker Living Root Bridge is an unforgettable journey into a world where nature’s resilience and human ingenuity come together in perfect harmony.
Mawlynnong, acclaimed as the cleanest village in Asia, is a must-visit destination. Situated a mere 80 km away from Shillong, it is conveniently accessible for a day trip from the capital city. By staying in Shillong, you can easily plan a visit to both Mawlynnong and Dawki within a single day. Meghalaya Tourism provides organized tours to Mawlynnong, along with Cherrapunjee. For a more immersive experience, there are several charming homestays available in Mawlynnong, allowing visitors to spend the night and embrace the village’s tranquil ambiance.
5. Tura, Garo Hills:
Following Shillong, Tura holds great significance as the second-largest city in Meghalaya. Nestled amidst the Garo hills, Tura offers exceptional ecotourism opportunities, showcasing fascinating wildlife within its local wildlife sanctuaries. A notable attraction near Tura is the Siju Caves, known for being one of India’s longest cave systems. Traveling to Tura can be done by taking overnight buses from Shillong Polo Ground or opting for morning sumo rides. Additionally, Tura is well-connected to Guwahati. Visitors to Tura can choose from a range of hotels and homestays for their accommodation needs.
A trip to Meghalaya remains incomplete without exploring the surreal beauty of Dawki and the transparent waters of the Umngot River. You can embark on a boat ride on the crystal-clear waters that reflect the breathtaking landscapes of the surrounding hills. Dawki also serves as the gateway to the Indo-Bangladesh border, offering a glimpse into the region’s cultural diversity.
Best time to visit Meghalaya:
Meghalaya experiences a tropical climate, and the winter season, spanning from October to March, is considered the most favorable time to visit.
However, if your goal is to witness the waterfalls in their full splendor, it is recommended to plan your visit between August and early October, right after the rainy season or shortly thereafter. During this period, the waterfalls showcase their magnificent beauty, making it an ideal time for nature enthusiasts to explore and appreciate the captivating sights of Meghalaya.
If you want to enjoy water sports and the clear water of Umtong River at Dawki, try to avoid the rainy season. Dawki is a small town near the India-Bangladesh border in West Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya. It is famous for the river Umngot which has the cleanest water.
How to Reach Meghalaya:
Meghalaya can be conveniently accessed through multiple modes of transportation including rail, road, and air. The primary civil airport in Meghalaya is the Shillong Airport, also known as Umrai Airport. Presently, this airport offers limited connectivity with flights operating to Kolkata and neighboring states such as Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram, and Tripura.
For more extensive flight options, the most efficient way to reach Meghalaya is by flying to Guwahati in Assam. The nearest airport, Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati, provides excellent connections to various Indian cities including Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai. It also offers international connections to destinations such as Bangkok and Paro.
When it comes to road travel, Meghalaya is well-connected with well-maintained highways, ensuring smooth transportation within the state. However, it is essential to exercise caution, especially during the monsoon season when heavy rainfall can lead to water stagnation and slower road conditions. Safety measures should be taken into account to ensure a comfortable and secure journey. When it comes to traveling by train, the nearest railway station to Meghalaya is located in Guwahati, Assam, approximately 180 kilometers away. Guwahati Junction provides convenient train connections to various cities including Amritsar, Jammu & Kashmir, New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Bangalore. To reach Meghalaya from Guwahati, one can opt for bus services or hire a taxi, offering flexibility in transportation options.
Budget for the Trip to Meghalaya:
Traveling to Meghalaya is affordable, offering a range of reasonably priced options. In Shillong, there are budget-friendly homestays and hostels available, ensuring cost-effective accommodations. Similarly, local food and transportation options are also reasonably priced, allowing travelers to explore the region without breaking the bank. With a backpacking budget of around Rs. 800-1000 per day, you can comfortably enjoy your trip to Meghalaya. The overall cost of your vacation will depend on your preferred level of comfort and the duration of your stay. Whether you choose a budget of Rs. 10,000 or decide to indulge in a higher-end experience, there are options available to suit various budgets and preferences.
Meghalaya is a land of dreams, where nature thrives in all its glory, and cultural richness adds a unique flavor to the experience. From the majestic waterfalls and living root bridges to the crystal-clear rivers and Asia’s cleanest village, every corner of this beautiful state leaves an indelible mark on the hearts of visitors. If you yearn for adventure and desire to immerse yourself in the essence of nature, Meghalaya is the perfect destination that promises to exceed all expectations. Embrace the magic of this incredible land, and let it unravel its secrets and treasures before your eyes, one enchanting step at a time.