Huh! Not sure where to start with. I have been planning this trip to Meghalaya for quite a long time, but couldn’t make it possible due to various reasons. Sometimes due to shortage of budget, sometimes due to shortage in number of days I could manage. But whatever it be, I didn’t wanted to be done with Meghalaya just with it’s common circuit of Shillong – Cherrapunji. When I started planning for Meghalaya, I found that 80% of the tourists restricts themselves to Shillong – Cherrapunji and missing out on the hidden beauty, the state has to offer. Hardly another 10% – 15% of the tourists makes it to Mawlynnong and Dawki which came in limelight from last 2-3 years I believe. But whatever it be, after lot of shifting plans for last 2-3 years, here I’m finally, proudly made it to Meghalaya.
I do understand that every state has a lot to offer, and thus the journey never ends. Everytime I visit somewhere, I always come back saying “Definitely next time“. Meghalaya was no different too!! It leaves me no room to forget that, without this man, Karikor, my Meghalaya trip wouldn’t have been so much enjoyable and successful. Infact he being a local, is the pioneer for anyone planning to Meghalaya. One can reach him at TripAdvisor Forums or at India Mike Forums where he’s a regular contributor. His immense knowledge about the place and minute details would made anyone fall in love with Meghalaya. So yes, if you are planning to something offbeat, non-touristy thing, do get in touch with him and you’d be amazed! The best thing I loved about this man is his eager to help people in a non-biased manner. He being a explorer himself, keeps on exploring various hidden gems and thus for people like me, he’s always a reason to head back to Meghalaya. I still remember one of his saying when we met while in Shillong “After a long day at work, when I come back and contribute on these forums which really help people, there’s a different kind of inner feeling I get. That’s what makes my day. That’s what I call relaxation.“.
Definitely with his help after lots of corrections, I finally came up with first draft of our itinerary. We booked our hotels, trains and flights accordingly. Thanks to Karikor again, he really ran for me on his bike for numbers of few guesthouses which we were unable to contact or find it’s traces anywhere in the internet. However our onward journey was planned via train but later due to trains being cancelled resulting from North East floods, we had to change our mode of transport to Bus followed by flight. Thanks to Indigo for it’s ever known offers of low fares!! I must say if the Indigo offer didn’t came up at the right time, we’d have to go through a lot of pain and more expenses. As Buses were till Siliguri on such devastated road after flood and from there we’d have to make it to Guwahati by some other means, the cost would have doubled up. But then the Indigo offer came in at right time and saved us!!
However by that time, we had all our hotels booked already, else I’d have flied on 23rd itself and would have covered a hidden gem which I found while scanning through various hidden gems of Meghalaya. The gem I’m talking about here is Lumpongdeng Boat House which immediately caught my eye. But as we had all our hotels booked accordingly, we had no choice other than to miss this rejuvenate experience. As I already said before, there’s always a next time with me 😛
Well Bornav is another helpfull lad in this sector who can help you with planning for any of the 7 Sisters with his immense knowledge. Though after 11N of Meghalaya plan, I still had 3N left, which I was mostly confused with. Whether to go for Garo Hills or cover any of the other state, if possible, but definitely not like getting done with it anyhow. My plan for travelling is never to tick off places from my list, instead explore it to it’s fullest. However with help of Bornav, it seemed Manipur would be perfect for 3N. Bang on!!
Here’s the final itinerary that we followed…
24th Sep : Reach Guwahati. Halt at Guwahati
25th Sep : Guwahati – Mawphlang. Halt at Mawphlang
26th Sep : Mawphlang – Mawlyngbna. Halt at Mawlyngbna
27th Sep : Mawlyngbna – Mawphanlur. Halt at Mawphanlur
28th Sep : Mawphanlur – Sohra. Halt at Sohra
29th Sep : Sohra Sightseeing. Halt at Sohra
30th Sep : Nongriat Trek. Halt at Nongriat / Sohra
1st Oct : Sohra – Mawlynnong – Dawki – Shnongpdeng. Halt at Shnongpdeng
2nd Oct : Shnongpdeng – Amlarem – Jowai – Ialong. Halt at Ialong
3rd Oct : Ialong – Shillong. Halt at Shillong
4th Oct : Shillong sightseeing. Halt.
5th Oct : Shillong – Guwahati – Imphal. Ima Market & Local Sightseeing
6th Oct : Andro Village & Loktak Lake
7th Oct : Moreh Border
8th Oct : Deperture
Before proceeding further, let me introduce you to our group which consisted of Me (obviously!!), my wife Suparna, my mom, my dad, my aunt and my cousin Akash.
Day 1 – 24th September : Reach Guwahati. Halt at Guwahati :
As our day was nearing by, our excitement level seemed to have gone up gradually day by day. However due to last minute work pressure resulting in from a critical project that I had to handle, was making me more impatient. Finally the D Day came. As our flight was at 6:50 AM in the morning, we’d have to wake up at 2 AM in the morning and leave for Airport by 3 AM to make it within time. So that way we’d neither get a sound sleep and would have to rush at the last moment as the Pandal hopping already began by then. And anyone who haven’t been in Kolkata during Puja’s, is surely going to underestimate the crowd even at such wee hours of the day. So Dad suggested to make it to Airport previous night instead and have a sleep there if we want to. So on 23rd Sep, after having our dinner we left for Airport at around 12:15 PM (Technically it’s 24th Sep only). As correctly guessed by dad (experience does matter!!), we faced a huge traffic jam nearby Ultadanga Flyover upto Baguihati, and thus it took us more than around 1:30 Hours to reach Airport even at such wee hours of the day.
Me and Akash went for a smoke (thanks to the Smoking Rooms at the Airports, else it’d have been very difficult to spend such a long night there) and just to pass the time, we sat over with a glass of Kingfisher Ultra (For Rs. 400/- LOL). Later Suparna joined in (Another 400/- huh) too. Now it seems like the long night passed by at a blink of an eye. Finally the display board flashed Security Check for our flight. So we went ahead for our Baggage Check and finally checked in. And we noticed a long queue formed already by the time for the same. Finally after being done with all the required procedures we were waiting for Departure announcement over a cup of coffee.
Akash was very excited for being a first timer, same as mine while on our Trip To Goa. Finally deperture announcement was made and we were taken to the flight by Bus. Akash took over the window seat. He being a first timer, we let him have it to make his journey more enjoyable. Well thanks to the Web Check in I did timely to grab two of those!!
I must admit, be it first time or whatever, flying is always something excited. Finally we flew towards Guwahati. This was our first time at Guwahati Airport, and the first impression I had about Guwahati Airport was, it was definitely smaller than Kolkata Airport which is something very definite. Our flight was on time and it didn’t took us more than 10 minutes to collect the luggage. Our driver Bimal Da was waiting for us already at the parking.
Our plan was to first check in to the hotel, Hotel Mayflower, which we had already booked from Goibibo on a great deal. We had already informed our hotel about our early checkin and they assured us to help, provided the rooms are available. It took us around 1 Hour to reach our hotel. We were informed that our room is ready and we can go ahead with our early checkin. The staffs helped us putting our luggage to the rooms. Bimal Da informed us to be here by next 1 Hour and we can freshen up and have breakfast by then. Our plan for the day was to visit Umananda Temple, Kamakhya Temple and if possible go for Brahmaputra River Cruise in the evening or for dinner.
We started late at around 11 PM. The parking beside Brahmaputra for Umananda was just 10 minutes drive from our hotel. Although the people out there was asking too much at the beginning, but Bimal Da helped us negotiate with the Boat for Umananda. Finally it came to Rs. 150/- per person in sharing or else Rs. 1500/- for private boat (both including the return journey). As we also had to cover Kamakhya, and Bimal Da informed us that, due to the Durga Puja festival going on, it’d take a lot of time even if we opt for VIP Queue. Thus we decided to opt for private boat as the fare seemed justified according to the plans we had lined up next.
It was a 10 minutes boat ride to Umananda. The temple is situated in a smallest river island named Umananda Island in the midst of river Brahmaputra. Though same as like most other temples, I’m sorry to say it felt nothing more than a Business Hub demanding money at every step. Even at one instance, while offering Puja, yes we bought Puja Thali outside the temple, we were asked to donate first in order to touch the Siva Linga. So I’d say other than experiencing the boat ride, we didn’t felt anything else worth to visit Umananda. The boat ride to Umananda and back took us around 1:30 Hour.
And then proceeded towards Kamakhya. While only my mother was interested in offering the Puja, we were hungry like hell. So we all went ahead for lunch at a hotel, Maa Kamakhya, suggested by Bimal Da, whereas my mom and dad went ahead towards the temple. After a stumptous finger licking bengali lunch, we proceeded towards the temple as suggested by the owners there. They informed us that around 2 Lakh was spent towards the decoration of the temple due to the festival which is something definitely not to be missed. The decoration was definitely eye catching with various species of orchids and other flowers. It was defintiely crowded with lots of more processions coming in on the way. We could spot my mom and dad, and upon enquiring we came to know that, by normal queue it’d would be impossible to make it by the end of the day, even the VIP Queue seemed to take more than 3-4 hours. It was already around 1:30 PM by then and there was no reason to go for any of the queue. Instead we got hold of a priest who agreed to offer the Puja of our behalf for a donation of Rs. 51/-.
Finally we were dropped back to our hotel by 3:30 PM. We decided to take a small afternoon nap (most infamous thing to do among Bengali’s). During the evening, we went ahead to Fancy Bazaar. A Rickshaw ride to the market cost us Rs. 20/- per rickshaw from our hotel. Although it would have been a 15 mins walk from our hotel, but due to slow walking speed of my mom and wife, we decided to take a rickshaw instead 😛
Whoa!! Believe me, the crowd there was nothing less than what you see in Esplanade or Gariahat during pre-puja shopping season. Although we had plans to visit Paltan Bazaar too, but we knew we wouldn’t have made it after handling this crowd at Fancy Bazaar. It seemed to be one of the most crowded market for shopping clothes among various other things. Our, well actually my mom’s and my aunt’s mostly, main motive was to buy a Mekhela which is famous in Assam. And that I’d say ate up most of our evening time, browsing and scanning through the crowds.
The day being my wife’s birthday, I was planning to have something special. Amongst the various options for Brahmaputra River Cruise, Alfresco Grand seemed to be the most viable and economical option. However considering we were 6 pax, it’d have costed us Rs. 7200/- for a dinner cruise. Sunset Cruise could have been nice though, but our whole evening was spent in this market only. So we thought of trying out some Assamese Cuisine instead, while being at Assam which would also be economical. And thus among all the restaurants suggested by Karikor, same evening, we choose Heritage Khorika for having our dinner. The restaurant being situated a bit far from the Fancy Bazaar, we opted for an Uber Ride to the restaurant. I knew, Karikor can never go wrong. Our first impression upon entering the restaurant was, authentic, exactly what we were looking for. We already had scanned through their menu at Zomato, before choosing the place. My mom, dad and aunt opted for Seasonal Veg. Thali along with Mustard Fish Curry whereas we 3, as suggested by Karikor, opted for Duck Meat Fried, Pigeon Meat Fried, Chicken Curry and Chicken Kebab along with rice and our all-time favourite fried Brinjal.
The food was great I’d say. Everything was so perfect and we really enjoyed our meal over there. Finally we took an Uber Ride back to our hotel after such fun filled evening followed by dinner.
Same evening, Bimal Da informed us that due to visit of BJP leader, Amit Shah, next day, various of his patrons are seizing the vehicles on his way to Shillong as informed by one of his friend. Thus he suggested us to start early tomorrow so that we can enter Shillong by early morning within 8-9 AM to avoid any such issues. We agreed definitely and planned to start by 5:30 AM in the morning. Accordingly we completed all the checkout procedures last night only to avoid any surprises next morning.
Day 2 – 25th Sep : Guwahati – Mawphlang. Halt at Mawphlang :
Our day started very early at around 4 O’ clock in the morning. Thanks to the Irish Rooms we opted for which comes with Complimentary Tea Packs, without which we’d have faced real problems continuing with our morning chores!!
We started at around 6 AM and drove through the beautiful Shillong highway. Jiva Veg is the most famous option along with highway to have breakfast. But we being strict non-veg, opted for a small roadside food joint named “Khasi Tea Stall” or famously known as “Kong Da” instead as suggested by Karikor. The food is good there. So if you are looking for non-veg options (or strict non-veg like us 😛 ) or plan to try out local Khasi dishes, definitely hop into Kong Da instead.
Finally again we were back into the smooth Shillong Highway and on the way we came to know that Amit Shah’s visit have been postponed to 8th October. Although it’s a good thing that we started early as we could now make use of the full day light. This part of the country gets early sunset at around 5 – 5:30 PM. So starting early is definitely going to help you make use of the full daylight. The sunset’s are more earlier as you move towards Arunachal. Finally we reached our first point for the day, Umium Lake, also popularly known as Barapani, at around 9:30 AM.
After spending sometime there we proceed towards Shillong. Due to being late last night, we missed to buy our poison for next few days. So that was the first task Bimal Da helped us achieved after struggling through the infamous traffic jam one had to face while entering Shillong. Our next point for the day was Beadon Bishop Falls.
We’d also have gone for Shillong Peak today, but Bimal Da informed us that entry is restricted from Laitkor Gate and thus we’d cover it on Shillong Sightseeing day when we come back to Shillong. We also skipped Sohliya Strawberry Farm on the way to Shillong, as there wouldn’t have been much to do during this season.
And next was Air Force Museum, but upon reaching there we came to know that they were closed on Monday. I must say, throughout our trip to Meghalaya we came to follow this unique thing. Each spot is closed on atleast on one of the day. Mostly it’s Wednesday, but there are some on other days too. We were not much disappointed as we’d come back to Shillong again and have a proper day allocated for Shillong Sightseeing which is Wednesday. So we moved on to Elephant Falls.
As we reached Elephant Falls we were welcomed to Meghalaya by it’s famous rains which we have always known for, in our childhood. We were definitely carrying proper rain gears i.e. Umbrella for light showers and raincoats for everyone for heavy rains!!
So we started proceeding towards Mawphlang. Again, as suggested by Karikor we halted at Susie’s German Restaurant for Lunch at Mawkriah just before reaching Mawngap. The food was just awesome there. Though the owner, Susie is a bit moody, but she can be very nice once you know how to get along. She even promised us to gift few saplings from her garden on our way back. Ahh I forgot to mention, my mom and aunt being a botany student is very fond of greeneries and have their own garden which is something unique on their own. They are like fond of collecting interesting saplings and bring them to Kolkata. Believe it or not, she have made all of them survive at this environment in Kolkata which most people suggest otherwise. Infact saplings from Shimla to Bhutan to Sikkim to now Meghalaya, all of them are alive. It might not be flowering or producing fruits as it should in correct environment, but atleast they didn’t died. And man…I tell you, hurt a greenery in front of her, and only god can save you. Needless to say, my wife has also been admitted to the gang after her marriage 😛
Finally after having finger licking lunch as Susie’s we proceeded towards Mawphlang. Though our plan was to cover Sacred Forest on Day 5, but having a lot of time in our hand, both Bimal Da and Karikor suggested us to cover it today only.
One needs to hire a Guide here and have options to go for Half Trek or Full Trek accordingly. Although everything is covered in Half Trek only but one can go for Full Trek for doing a round walk if interested. Although I mention the word “Trek” here, but it’s just more of a trail along the Sacred Forest. So don’t worry if you have kids or elder persons with you, anyone can go for this walk. Alfred, our guide, was good in explaining things to us. Light showers welcomed us as we entered the Sacred Groves. We loved walking through the forest as it felt so natural.
I specifically mentioned my aunt and mom to not to take anything out of this forest as it’s sacred and it’d a sin to do such thing. Although one should not always try to judge logically the reasons behind everything, so it’d be a foolish’s task I’d believe to judge the same in case of Sacred Groves too. Moreover I liked the idea of protecting the forest during such age of demolition everywhere. You see, if the outcome of a belief is positive, then one should definitely support the same. Besides, questioning one’s belief can hurt the local sentiments and traditions.
Besides the Guide fee of Rs. 300/- for half trek we donated another Rs. 100/- for the cause. Finally after having Tea and some some snacks at local shop we went ahead towards our shelter for the day, MaplePine Farms. It’s setup by James, a Canadian by origin who came over here and got settled down after marrying a Khasi girl. Let me warn you, MaplePine is not like another hotel or resort or homestay as you might have experienced. It’s very different in every nature, as they are off the grid and at every step you can experience them embracing the nature. So if you want to stay there, make sure to go through each and every page of their website.
Though this might sound horrible, but believe me, it’d be a lifetime experience. James and his family is very friendly and welcoming but that doesn’t mean they are there to fulfil your wishes (or should I say your demands). The road on the way to MaplePine Farm is not achievable by general vehicles thus his son picked us up by the Jeep from nearest point. We had booked the Twin Cabin Room 1 and 2 both. We were offered Tea and some Snacks accordingly.
Rest of the evening we spent on the drinks, chitchatting among ourselves.
Day 3 – 26th Sep : Mawphlang – Mawlyngbna. Halt at Mawlyngbna :
Our day started a bit later than last day. Breakfast was complimentary at MaplePines Farm, but you need to tell them previous night what you’d like to have. Please also make a note of it that, Breakfast is complimentary only if you take it before 8:30 AM, else it’s chargeable. So we started our day at around 7:30 AM after bidding goodbye to James and his family. His son dropped us to the parking point by the jeep.
Our first point for the day was Mawjymbuin Cave at Mawsynram. Mawsynram is also known for being the wettest place on earth. Previously it was Cherrapunji though, as we used to read it in Geography back in our school. Upon reaching there we found no one at the ticket counter and the gate was closed too. Luckily there was a plate hanging on the gate with 2 numbers written on it. We called up the numbers and within few minutes one person came running opening the gate and counter for us. May be they didn’t expected visitor so early in the morning. Though it’s a cave but seems more of a temple. The cave houses a Shiva Linga formed naturally by rock and surprisingly water is droppping due a pointed rock just on top of the Shiva Linga. It is totally a natural formation. Bimal Da told us a story behind it. Several years ago, it used to be milk falling on top of Shiva Linga, but Britishers trying to find it’s source, made a hole and from then water started flowing instead of milk. Also one can hear the sound of waterfall throughout the cave but surprisingly it’s being said that no one could found the source of water there.
After spending some time we headed towards Mawlyngbna. While crossing Welloi on the way to Mawlyngbna, Bimal Da told us another story of having a belief of not eating anything at Welloi. There was a man who once on his way through Welloi, being tired, ate something there. Then the same night he was surrounded by snakes demanding to return for what he had taken from the place. Obviously he couldn’t return anything and he had to pay the debt with his life. And thus it’s still believed that if you have something at Welloi, you would have to return it by any means.
We reached Mawlyngbna at around 10:20 AM in the morning. The road to Mawlyngbna is so clean (seems like newly constructed or well maintained) that we couldn’t resist ourselves clicking pictures lying on it.
Mawlyngbna Traveller’s Nest have only 2 cottages as of now and we had booked both of them. The cottages are amidst the forest offering a natural surrounding. Perfect place to enjoy the tranquility. Mr. Lever the owner cum manager of the place already shared the number of our Guides for the day, Chester and Welbert. They are more of like staffs and double up as a local guide. I took out some time to discuss our planned points for the day with them, and accordingly as we still had lots of time for lunch, we went ahead on exploring and enjoying Kayaking at Umkhakoi Reservoir.
It was a great experience Kayaking for first time. Then we went ahead for Split Rock.
After exploring Split Rock, before heading back to Mawlyngbna Traveller’s Nest, we made a brief stopover at Pitcher Plant Park. This is the first time we were experiencing a Pitcher Plant. Before this we have only read about it in our Geography classes back in school.
Post lunch, me and Akash started for the most highlighted part of the day, Trek to Iew Luri Lura while rest went ahead for some rest. A trail through canopy along with Mawlyngbna Traveller’s Nest leads to a plateau of rock and grass that extends endlessly towards open blue skies and following the trail further leads to Iew Luri Lura which is famous for animal footprints erupted from the actual volcanic lava. Iew Luri Lura is said to be the animal marketplace, from the time when animals could speak. One can spot various fossils along the way.
The trek took us around 3 Hours with various rests in between and was totally unique experience for us. Although due to the mud, we had to dismiss our socks, boots and jeans, but we are glad that we did this trek. Thanks to Karikor for helping us clearing the confusion with Guides we had in the first place. And special thanks to Welbert without whom we haven’t made it there. As there was lots of muds, due to last night’s rainfall on the way, he took up the charge to spot the best way we can walk through. Also our shoes betrayed us with it’s grip and Welbert took it upto him to made us pass through the slippery steps. But remaining 60% of the steps we walked bare foot as suggested by him, to avoid any accidents. You see this is another reason why I always try to promote the locals. The business mentality is still miles away from them and guests becomes like family in a moment to them. Definitely guests too needs to perform their role by not being a jerk, of their so called city life. The trek ends at Pitcher Plant Park via Umdingkain Waterfall. Those who can’t go for the trek, can reach the waterfall from the Pitcher Plant Park end, as the rest of our group did. Chester too helped my family too, making them to the waterfall by literally carrying them where he could.
Finally, after meeting them, we went ahead at Mih-Um-Spring, and headed towards Lawbah Market.
It was already evening by then, else we’d have definitely covered Phantom Waterfall. But the same being situated out of the town and a long distance drive, we had to miss it considering the sun was already down by then. Instead we had some Tea and Snacks at Lawbah Market. Bimal Da was in mood to cook fish for us today, and thus he went ahead to made his arrangements accordingly. Finally we headed back to towards Mawlyngbna Traveller’s Nest. It was a completely different experience staying amidst the forest I’d say. We enjoyed the evening over the drinks after Bimal Da was done with his preparation.
Day 4 – 27th Sep : Mawlyngbna – Mawphanlur. Halt at Mawphanlur :
Today also we started our day a bit early. Actually my mom and dad being an early riser, always keeps us knocking early in the morning. Though it’s a good thing, as sun sets a bit early in this part of the country, so starting early is always recommended and helpful to make use of full day light.
After having our breakfast, we started by around 7:20 AM. We headed back towards Welloi. Last day we missed Symper Rock on our way to Mawlyngbna. Although Karikor tried to help us a lot but even after asking the locals we couldn’t spot it. Even our driver Bimal Da was not aware about the spot. Today was no different, we couldn’t spot the same even after asking the locals.
Thus without wasting much time we took the right turn from Mawkyrwat – Shillong junction, towards our first point for the day Hot Water Spring at Jakrem. We took a small smoke break after reaching Pongkung Village at around 8 O’ clock. Finally we were at Jakrem by 9 AM. We took a bath there which healed the aches resulting in from last day’s hike to Iew Luri Lura.
Finally after having a cup of tea at local shop there we started proceeding to Markasa through Pariong. The route through Pariong is full of scenic beauty however the road condition is something which govt. should plan to improve. It took us around 1:30 Hours to reach Pariong from Jakrem and another 30 minutes drive to Markasa through beautiful smooth highway.
Transis, the owner of Mawphanlur Traveller’s Nest, was in Shillong to attend a seminar on World Tourism Day. But he assured us that after reaching Markasa, to give him a call and he’d arrange a Jeep for us to Mawphanlur. The road from Markasa to Mawphanlur is in devastating state and thus only a Jeep can accommodate through it. Generally Transis do that himself by his Marshal, but as he was away he arrange a jeep for us. While we were waiting for the Jeep, Bimal Da suggested us to have lunch there. Well one thing we noticed here is, people mostly have Jadoh (Rice and Meat) at their breakfast with Tea. Yes it may sound a bit odd for people from different part of India, but it seemed to be their cuisine. And in lunch too, they have Rice ad Meat, but the way it’s served is a bit different. They mix Rice with Sabji and Chicken (or any other meat as you’d like to have, mostly Pork though).
NOTE : At this point, I’d like to mention, if you are planning to head to these part of the state, better hire a local Khasi driver or atleast someone who can speak Khasi fluently. Generally I always like to promote local options whenever possible due to various reasons. But here, in this case, most people here can’t speak or understand Hindi or English and can only speak their native language whereas very few handful of people can speak manageable Hindi and English. Bimal Da being spending his entire lifetime here can speak Khasi fluently and always came to rescue for us throughout Mawphlang, Mawlyngbna and Mawphanlur and various other remote areas later in our trip.
As we had a lot of time in our hand, we could have easily covered Kyllang, even the same was in our plan, but accordingly we discussed to proceed to Mawphanlur first. Seldom I knew, we wouldn’t have time to accommodate the same next day and also it won’t be possible to come back to Markasa again once we reach Mawphanlur. So ideally one should cover Kylland before heading over to Mawphanlur or else next day after checking out from there. Finally after having our lunch, we proceeded towards Mawphanlur. Whoa!! What a journey it was!!
But as we all know “kuch pane ke liye kuch khona padta hai” (To achieve something you must lose something). And when we reached Mawphanlur, it was simply breathtaking, splendid. My dad exclaimed “I can spend rest of my life just by sitting here over a cup of tea”. It took us around 1 Hour to cover the 5KM road from Markasa to Mawphanlur. It was stil 1 O’ clock and we had entire day to just sit by and embrace the nature.
There’s not much activity at Mawphanlur, so it’s kind of spending the day in the lap of mother nature. There are various high hill lakes, where one can choose to do Boating and Kayaking. The same is arranged by the guys at Mawphanlur only.
Later during the late afternoon we went ahead for a walk and rest of the evening we spent enjoying and chit-chatting amongst ourselves with our poison!! Later at around 8 PM Transis came and straight away went ahead to us and welcomed us warmly. He felt very sorry that he was not there to attend us himself. Suddenly, weather took a small turn around and it started lightning.
Finally we called off the day after having our dinner at around 9 PM.
Points To Remember :
- These are very remote places and thus one must understand the facility is very limited and infrastructure is very basic. But warm and beautiful if you can embrace the same.
- The most popular option for accommodation at Mawphlang is MaplePines Farm and Traveller’s Nest at Mawlyngbna and Mawphanlur respectively. There might be some other local homestay / camping opton, but I’m not aware of the same. Traveller’s Nest have been setup by the village co-operative society in accordance with the locals, in order to promote tourism and opting a livelihood for the locals.
- MaplePine Farm at Mawphlang have 4 Rooms and Traveller’s Nest at both Mawlyngbna and Mawphanlur have 2 rooms each. So if you are planning to be there, better book the accommodation beforehand.
- Please try to keep your patience while booking the Traveller’s Nests, as telecom insfrastructure is not that reliable there and so it can be easily frustrating, but things will work out if you can hold your horses.
- Once you are done with the booking, make sure to remind them, or atleast keep in touch with them every one week for Mawlyngbna and Mawphanlur. Else they easily tend to forget 😛 But don’t worry, mistakenly they won’t allot the rooms on same date to other person, as they maintain records of the same. But if you contact them after a long time, you’d have a hard time reminding them that it was you who had the booking, which is the exactly same happened in case of me. Being done with the booking in April, when I contacted them in 1st week of September, it was all like out of the blues!!
- Try to maintain the peace and traquality of the place and be a responsible traveller. Please do not try to disturb the nature there.
- You might have language problems with the people over there, but you need to understand that, they are also trying to co-operate with you. So unlike so-called city jerks try not to get irritated easily and always keep smiling and things will work out. The people over there are very friendly and welcoming, unless you get into their way.
- Definitely try to hire a local Khasi driver or if you are hiring Guwahati based driver, then make sure he has already been to these regions before and can speak Khasi fluently.
- As the sun rises and sets early in this part of the country, better try to start early and make use of the full daylight, as much as you can. As pretty much you’d be confined into your room unlike Shillong, once the sun sets down.
- Being remote areas, unlike other hotels in Shillong and Cherrapunji, you are expected to complete your dinner by 8:30 PM or at max by 9 PM. I’d suggest to maintain the same considering the local lifestyle. So don’t try to make things according to your own way, as in case of most of the main stream tourists I have experienced in reputed tourist destinations. IN some cases I have noticed tourists treating the hotel staffs as their own servants. Try not being a jerk here.
- At various places you are recommeded to hire a Guide (if not mandatory). I’d suggest to hire one, as that would help you a lot, as a tourist to understand various things and to scan through the places. Also feel good for contributing to the cause of developing local livelihood through tourism.
- Last but not the least, throughout our journey through Meghalaya, we noticed that Aircel works best, and most locals thus have Aircel connection. Jio is good too at various places. But Vodafone and Airtel mostly doesn’t catch signals once you head over to remote regions. However BSNL worked perfectly fine.
Just if you are wondering, why most things starts with Um and Maw, Um means water in Khasi and Maw means Rock.
This post is continued at Offbeat Meghalaya – David Scott – Cherrapunji – Double Decker – Rainbow Falls
Hotel Mawflower, Guwahati : We booked it from Goibobo at very good deal. The hotel looked like 3* hotel for us, so it was way more than enough of what were looking for 😛 The staffs were always smiling and very courteous. The rooms and washrooms are extremely clean and well maintained. They also have a beautifully maintained lawn, though small, but one can enjoy his evenings there. Tea Packs are complimentary and provided in the room itself, so you can have tea as and when you need.
MaplePine Farm, Mawphlang : MaplePine is the most famous and most probably only accommodation available at Mawphlang. There might be few other homestays, but I’m not aware of the same. It’s setup by James, a Canadian who is now settled down here after getting married to a local Khasi girl. The rooms and the place is extremely clean and well maintained. They have only 4 rooms as of now, besides tents, if one choose to do camping under full wrath of the sky. However by his website, it might seem like hostel with strict rules, but believe me James and his family is very friendly and welcoming. However as they live off the grid, tourists should co-operate with them too. One must understand, the same being disconnected from the hustle bustle town of Shillong, the infrastructure is very basic. One must inform them about the food preference beforehand, atleast a day or two in advance. They can definitely prepare you the items you want given the adequate time to hosts to arrange the same. Please note that if you are opting for any of the Twin Cabin 1 or 2, the Bathroom is detached and common. However the cabins have attached latrine with washbasin. You’ll get all these informations at his website, so make sure to go through Cabins, Meals and specially the Understanding section. BTW, car cannot reach there except winters maybe, so after reaching the nearest point, you may call James and his son will pick you up by his Jeep.
Mawlyngbna Traveller’s Nest : Traveller’s Nest throughout Meghalaya has been setup by Village Co-Operative Society in accordance with the locals to develop tourism and for livelihood of the locals out there. The place is extremely clean and well maintained. They have only 2 cottages as of now which can accommodate 3 pax with a extra bed. The cottages are amidst the forest offering a natural surrounding. Perfect place to enjoy the tranquility I’d say.
Mawphanlur Traveller’s Nest : To reach here, one need to park their vehicle at Markasa, as only a Jeep can navigate further to Mawphanlur due to the pathetic road ahead!! Transis and his family is extremely warm and welcoming. They have 2 cottages as of now and another one is being built. There’s pretty much nothing to do at Mawphanlur except to enjoy the serene beauty of the place lying in the map of mother nature. Otherwise one can choose to do boating or Kayaking at the high hill lakes which is arranged by the guys there at the Traveller’s Nest only. The rooms and the place is very clean and extremely well maintained.
NOTE : If you are planning to stay at MaplePine at Mawphlang or Traveller Nest’s at Mawlyngbna and Mawphanlur, you must understand that these places are very remote and markets are generally more than 5KM away or so. So please let them know about your food preference to allow them adequante time to arrange the same beforehand. Atleast informing them in 1 or 2 days in advance would do. Generally they serve Rice, Dal, Alu Bhaji, Sabji and Chicken (if you are non-veg). Food is nothing fancy but homely and definitely tasty.
Hotel Mayflower, Guwahati : 0361-2970777 / 0361-2970888 / +91-91270-16700. Website : Hotel Mayflower
Alfred, Guide for Sacred Forest : +91-96158-84327 / +91-82588-83298
Bakha Lever Totih, Mawlyngbna Traveller’s Nest : +91-80140-49039
Welbert, Guide at Mawlyngbna : +91-85751-17622. Both Welbert and Chester was more than a guide to us. They have became our buddies in such short time, specially Welbert. Without him, we wouldn’t have made it to Iew Luri Lura safely. He literally carried us through the slippery steps and crossing the streams where our shoes failed with it’s grips.
Chester, Guide at Mawlyngbna : +91-82589-63656
Transis Syiemlieh, Mawphanlur Traveller’s Nest : +91-89743-18450 / +91-96150-43847 / +91-87877-86081
Co-Operative Society for Traveller’s Nest’s : Village Gateaways
Bimal Modak (ML 05P 2532) : +91-96137-75855. Bimal Da drives white Enjoy. He’s actually Pradeep Modak’s brother. Pradeep Modak is very well known in Meghalaya specially for offbeat circuits, but as he drives a small vehicle himself, he handed over this tour of us to his brother and assured us his full assurance!! Bimal Da is a very jolly person and quickly can be a great friend of yours. He has great experience in cooking. On three instances he cooked himself for us and it was finger licking. I must say, without Bimal Da and Pradeep Da, our trip wouldn’t have been such enjoyable.
Pradeep Modak : +91-98630-87418 / +91-82599-64634. Pradeep Modak is the person you need if you are venturing out to Meghalaya, specially any offbeat circuits. He being an explorer himself, keeps exploring various destinations. He’s the one who keeps exploring places and guides his brothers. Above all, the person is very honest and speaks his heart out. Money is not the first thing that matters to him. On various instances we found his responsibility for his guests is something to salute for. Believe me, with him around, nothing can go wrong. They are in total 6 brothers, but 3 of them are in this driving line and without him his other brothers wouldn’t have been what they are now.
Day 1 :
Accommodation at Hotel Mawflower : Rs. 4752/-
Boat for Umananda Temple & Return : Rs. 1500/-. (One can also hire it on sharing for 150/- per person.)
Parking for Umananda Temple : Rs. 40/-
Day 2 :
Toll Tax (Guwahati – Shillong) : Rs. 60/-
Entry Fee for Elephant Falls : Rs. 160/-
Entry Fee for Sacred Forest : Rs. 100/-
Guide Charge for Sacred Forest : Rs. 300/- (For Half Trek)
Accommodation at MaplePine Farm, Mawphlang : Rs. 3400/-
Food Bill at MaplePine Farm, Mawphlang :Rs. 2500/-
Day 3 :
Entry Fee for Mawjymbuin Cave : Rs. 70/-
Accommodation at Mawlyngbna : Rs. 3000/-
Food Bill at Mawlyngbna : Rs. 6120/-
Day 4 :
Entry Fee at Jakrem : Rs. 120/-
Pickup From Markasa : Rs. 700/-
Accommodation at Mawphanlur : Rs. 3000/-
Food Bill at Mawphanlur : Rs. 2800/-
Kayaking at Mawphanlur : Rs. 100/-
Drop To Markasa : Rs. 500/-
NOTE : I have omitted costs of personal nature for easy information.
Special Thanks To :
- Karikor from TripAdvisor Forums and Indiamike Forums. Without him this trip would not have been possible.
- TripAdvisor Meghalaya Forums
- Indiamike Meghalaya Forums
This post is continued at Offbeat Meghalaya – David Scott – Cherrapunji – Double Decker – Rainbow Falls