60 hours in the Mystic Land of Meghalaya11:06:00 PM
As I have always believed whatever happens, happens for a greater good; so when I fell sick while travelling from Guwahati to Silchar last Saturday, I did not repent deboarding the bus at Shillong and staying over there for two days. This was not my first visit to Shillong, but what I loved was the road trip that followed across Meghalaya to reach home afterwards.
Day 2, 23rd May 2011, Monday: By the second day, I was totally fit thanks to my hunger to explore places and thus, convinced my father, who was accompanying me, to spend the day out. As we were staying at Police Bazaar, the closest place to visit would have been the Wards Lake. But I decided to skip that and rather visit the Golf Link this time. Shillong's golf course is one of the largest in Asia, the wettest one in the world and also, India's first 18 holes golf course. Dotted with pine trees all around, it looked just like paradise and offered a panoramic view of the Shillong City. I walked around for almost an hour but realized it would take me days to explore the entire area on foot.
|Golf Link, Shillong|
The next stop was the Shillong Peak - the highest point of Shillong and of the whole Meghalaya. As it is inside the IAF area, our vehicle was stopped and checked at the entrance and we were asked to declare our cameras. All these securities are due to the presence of an IAF radar station in the premises. Again from this point one can get a panoramic view of the hill city. There were pine trees all around and the view from the peak was breathtaking. We stayed there for sometime, enjoying the cool breeze and clicking off pictures. After sometime we went back to our hotel and ordered hot wonton soup and momos for lunch. One thing you should never miss if you come down to Shillong is their momos, dimsums or dumplings, whatever you call it, as they are undoubtedly one of the best of its kind that you can get in India.
Next we drove to Elephant Falls. The place got its name due to its 2-tier cascading falls that looks like an elephant's trunk. There is a stairway that leads to the first tier of the falls and then goes further down till the point where the falls forms a small basin. One needs to be careful on the stairs as they are quiet steep and slippery. After playing around for sometime in the chilling water, I sat on a fern covered rock for sometime to enjoy the beautiful afternoon. We left the place before sundown, as everything in Shillong closes down by 7 p.m.
|Image Courtesy : Google|
Day 3, 24th May 2011, Tuesday: We started from Shillong at 6.30 a.m. to avoid any city traffic and landed on NH44 which connects Shillong with Jowai. For 2 hours we drove on the highway passing villages like Sohryngkham, Mawryngkheng, Puriang, etc. and many picturesque views points of the East Khasi Hills. Both sides of the highway was dotted with virgin pine forests and green plateaus. I stopped the car at many places to click pictures of the landscape and standing at those points looking around, I had a feeling that I was in a mystical land full of breathtaking surprises.
At one point we left the Khasi Hills and entered the Jaintia Hills district. At 9 a.m., we stopped for breakfast at a dhaba in Ummulong. The place was clean and the food was delicious. I befriended an adorable dog there who took quite a liking to me after I fed him an entire packet of Britannia Marie biscuit.
On just the opposite side of the road was the Thadlaskein Lake. Viewed from a distance, it looked like a long crystal clear body of water. It was by this time when it started raining. We were not carrying any warm clothes as the trip was quiet unplanned and seeing the rain we felt a bit apprehensive about the increasing cold.
Enter Jowai - the district headquarters of the Jaintia Hills. We were delayed here for almost 2 hours in a road block due to some explained local reasons, which as a matter of fact is a common incident on this route. While we were waiting in the long line of vehicles, the rain increased to such an extent that I was scared even cats and dogs might start dropping off from the sky. And yes... It was shivering COLD! But we were lucky enough to see nature at its best on that day. Meghalaya, as the poetic name suggests, is truly an abode of clouds, with clouds coming down as close to the highway as possible. At one point we even had to pass through a thick foggy segment, while the visibility almost decreased to zero.
After trying to stay awake for a long time, I didn't know when I had fallen asleep. When I woke up we had reached Ladrymbai, more popularly known as Latumbai. It's a village where most of the buses stop for lunch. But beware! If you ever travel on this route, my advice would be to avoid those dhabas. The food is not good and they have never heard of the word 'hygiene'.
After passing Ladrymbai, we had made up our minds to stop at the next woolen garments shop on the way. We did so at Khleihriat. While doing so, I was drenched in the rain, thus adding more to the cold. We reached Sunapur via Myndihati by 1.30 p.m. and stopped there for lunch at a dhaba. The food was hundred times better than what I had once had in Ladrymbai.
From Sunapur, one can closely view the Lubha river and the Lubha bridge over it. The Lubha river is one of the most beautiful river I have ever seen with sparkling blue water. As beautiful it is, it is also a very dangerous river known for claiming many lives in the past. We crossed the bridge and stopped at a temple at the other end of the bridge, as it's tradition for all the vehicles passing through this route to stop here for few seconds. Sunapur is infamous for many deadly landslides and on the way we passed through a newly built tunnel, built in order to avoid any such disasters.
At Umkiang, we crossed the state borders and entered Assam. One can see and feel the distinct difference between the two states by the sudden change in the conditions of the road and the surroundings. By now we were on the Barail Range. After crossing Malidor, a famous picnic spot of the region, we crossed a bailey bridge and within few minute started descending from the hills and entered the plains.
We passed Kalain Cherra tea estate on the way and the Badarpur Ghat where we crossed the Barak bridge. From there, we travelled for another two hours on NH53 to reach home - Silchar. The best part of the trip was the true beauty of Meghalaya that I could enjoy. And thanks to the rain, I actually saw clouds so close that I could have almost touched them.
Signing off now as I have to catch a flight to Kolkata in another 3 hours....