An exhilarating bike trip into Scotland of East.
While riding alone and deep in the mountainous terrain racing my off-roader, I could think of only one thing
“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,
To gain all while you give,
To roam the roads of remote lands,
To travel is to live.”
(Quote by Christian Anderson)
I traveled more than 700 km in just 4 days and honestly, that wasn’t enough.
The entire circuit I have traveled starting from East Khasi hills to Jaintia hills and West Khasi hills
. Starting from east of the mountain range to west, then to south-west and finishing up east. I started as early as 5’o clock in the morning and called a day at 8’o clock in the night. My fingers lost senses, foot was sore and my back ached after such long drives. My backpack was too heavy and dragged me down. Was I tired? Did not know. Was I exhausted? Did not matter, many more questions filled my mind, but the answer was always the same: I knew I am alive doing this.
If you are still wondering which country I am talking about, be amazed, it’s our own country but very less explored and often ignored. Welcome to Scotland of the East, Meghalaya.
Adobe on the clouds
My journey started when I reached Guwahati. To reach Shillong, capital of Meghalaya the nearest airport is Guwahati. It is a 3-hour drive from the airport to Shillong, which is very well connected by road and cabs (private and shared) were available almost any hour of the day. By the time, I reached Shillong it was evening and I couldn’t contain my excitement and left for Cherrapunji immediately.
The locals of Cherrapunji are very amiable and treat guests with respect and great hospitality. They would offer very warm welcome to the city and offer accommodation as homestay, which ranges from 300-400 per night, yet no less in comfort than any multi star rated hotels. Most of the tourists prefer homestay to hotels.
I’ve stayed the night at Laaiker Sait Sohpen, one of the homestays in the city. The locals would help in planning your tour helping you include the less travelled and less known landscapes in the area.
Second day of my tour started as early as 5’o clock in the morning as I had to cover Cherrapunji, nongriat and reach Mawlynnlnog by the nightfall.
Cherrapunji is known to be the place that used to receive the highest amount rainfall on the earth. The heavy rainfall would form streams and rivulets and then join to form rivers with clear water. As the area is located high in the mountains, the rivers formed many waterfalls, few of the most beautiful waterfalls ever been known to man.
1)Seven sister waterfall :
It is also called as Nohsngithiang waterfall. It is located roughly a Kilometer away from south of Mawsmai village in East Khasi Hills. The water falls from a height of 315m with a width of over 70m.
As the Kynrem waterfall is located a little deep into the forest, off road lovers would find it much fun to explore. You can get a very closer look of the water falls at the end of the road. The waterfall is located not too far from the Bangladesh border.
3)Double decker living root bridge at Nongriat:
The next stop is at Nongriat, where you will find the famous double-decker Living Root Bridge. To reach Nongriat you have to travel through Mawlong village. The double decker bridge is located at an altitude and to reach it we have to scale more than 3000 steps, hence better not carry anything other than water and camera. You will find two rivers on the way to double decker bridge,
a) Umsaw river
b) Kynsan river
The bridge is made entirely of steel rope and an unappreciated engineering marvel that stands amidst the dense forest. It is a thrilling walk on the suspension bridge.
View in front of double decker bridge
From nongriat, I continued my journey towards onr of the best waterfall around Chrerrapunji, popularly known as Nohkalikai waterfall. It is not much of a difficulty to find the route to this waterfall. Being a popular tourist destination, the place is well equipped with food courts and other amenities.
From Nohkalikai waterfall, I began the last leg of my journey, to Dainthlen fall. I had to preclude my journey to save time to reach Mawlyynlong village, a 3 hr drive, before dusk to witness the Asia’s cleanest village.
Drive to Mawlyynlong:
I couldn’t imagine what was waiting for me along the drive. This 3 hr drive is the best bike ride in my entire trip. Cherrapunji to Mawlynlong road is completely in the mountainous terrain with sharp turns and hairpin bends all over. I started off around 4’o clock.
Night stay is quite popular in Mawlyynlong also. A quick chat with the locals can get us a night stay for as cheap as 400 bucks a night. And hence I preferred night stay to any other stay option.
Third day of my travel started in the Asia’s cleanest village. I had to limit my travel to the living root bridge and the Khasi house- last khasi house of entire Khasi tribe, for the day, as I wanted to learn more about the Khasi tribe and get closer to the culture they follow.
5)Living root bridge:
Living root is bridge are made from the pliable roots, which go through betel tree until the figs get attached to the roots on the other side. The known history of such living root bridges date to as late as 1844 and beyond. The living root bridge was declared a UNESCO world heritage. The living root bridges are a pride of the local tribe, the Khasi.
From there I reached the land of crystal clear water- Dawki.
I had to travel 20 Km from Mawlynnonng along the Bangladesh border to reach Jaintia hills to reach the river Umngot. The river Umngot is very famous as the river of clear water. One can see the deepest point in the river and the fish swimming in it. The best time to visit this river is December as the river will be beaming with water.
On way to Dawki, you will find Borhill waterfall. From Bohril I left for Jowai. The famous Thadlaskein lake of Jaintia hills. The beautiful wallpaper like sceneries will present themselves again along the way.
I planned my night stay at Shillong for the day. I look back see that I have covered half circuit starting from east khasi hills to jaintia hills and on my fourth day I had to cover west khasi hills.
Night stay: Shanti Sojourn (One of the cheapest hotel in Shillong. 700/night)
From Shillong I started my journey into west Khasi hills. My first stop was Mairang.
1)Mairang Kyllong rock:
One of the largest rock you can find in India. It is a medium difficulty trek and would not take much of time. You can easily find the route to the rock in google maps.
The path to the lake is again an off-road experience. From there I left for Nonghnum river island. You have to go via Nongstein to reach Nonghnum.
3)Nonghnum river island:
2nd largest river island of Asia. The path to the river island is again an off-road experience.
As this is in west khasi hills, and it is better to get back to east hills, I had to travel all the way to Mawsynram (east khasi hills) for night stay.
The route is completely hilly as we travels through hills and forests to reach east. The snake like curved path is visible from the top.
Somewhere in Southwest Khasi hills
This is the main route to reach Mawsynram. The route isn’t tricky and can be found using google maps. The Mobile network is fully active, and hence no issue in finding the route.
Night stay at: Ritmawksir lodge cum restaurant at Mawsynram.
Its in PWD area of Mawsynram. The locals helped me get to the place. I selected this place for stay as it is cost effective as well (500/per night).
Final Day:Beginning of the end
The place that receives the highest rainfall on earth. It is cloudy most of the day. There are many caves around here, but here is the cave very less known and very less explored.
Krem dam um:
Until you step into the unknown, you don’t know what you are made of
The path to the cave wasn’t a well laid one, as the cave not known much to the locals or the tourists. To reach the cave, one has to get down and start walking on the bank of nearby river. Halfway through the path, you will find yourself in the middle of the dense forest as shown in the wild explorations of national geographic.
Syntein view point:
This is one of world’s most dangerous roads. You have to drive through a waterfall on the way. The water falls directly on that road from the streams above and you have to zoom past it. 1000 feet of fall on one side and water falling directly on the road on the other makes it one of the most dangerous and adventurous road of world.
Its 12 km from Mawsynram.
What to see: Umkhakhoi dam where you can go kayaking.
As I concluded my trip to the Scotland of the East/ God’s own country, I already started missing the treks, waterfalls, rivers and many more natural wonders, I wasn’t satisfied to go back. I wanted more and more of this life. With a heavy heart I bid adieu to Meghalaya and returned to my routine. The much needed summer break has given me so many wonderful memories.
And finally the one without whom this trip would not have been possible, my guide Sukher Mawshun.
You can contact him as he knows all the off-road places of Meghalaya.
Content editing: Bhargav Arya
Guide: Sukher Mawshun, Contact no:08258948794
Shanti Sojourn: budget hotel in Shillong, contact no: 09862094088
Bike rent: Barry, contact no:08974777195
For any query drop me a mail at dineshsahoo330.@gmail.com or ping me on 9439979674.