Top 10 experiences in Assam Meghalaya
Woke up to this fantastic new video of North East India by Incredible India. It perfectly captures the qaint ness of the seven sister states. However these states are quite geographically set apart and traversing from one state to another is not an easy affair. One can broadly segregate the regions as: Sikkim | Assam-Meghalaya | Arunachal | Nagaland | Manipur Mizoram Tripura.
Let's go to Assam-Meghalaya. From the National Park of Kaziranga to the streets of Shillong to the winding roads leading to Cherrapunjee, we have quite an adventure to look forward to. A great trip for those who are looking to close the year with a bang! But overall, here are 10 top experiences that should soak in, in Assam-Meghalaya.
10: Limestone Caving:
One of the longest limestone caves in the Indian Subcontinent Krem Mawsmai, Krem Mawmluh and Krem Umshyrpi in Meghalaya are hidden inside the Khasi and Jantia hills. Some of these caves go as deep at 40feet underground. A temperature of 10-15 degrees inside the caves is ideal for limestone formations. Stalactites and Stalagmites make for great selfie moments. A labyrinth of tunnels, spaces, hollows and an expert team guiding you through this adventure is something that you will remember for a very long time.
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India is rarely associated with cleanliness, and sadly so. But when a tiny village in Meghalaya goes on to win the title of the cleanest village in Asia, it surely gets our notice. And when you will go there you will realize why. Picture perfect sloping roofs covered with vine and flowers will greet us, clear pools of water will provide a pleasant distraction, picture perfect windows with flowerpots. Its almost out of the pages of a magazine. And its like that every day of the year. Quite a stunner we’d say. Not to be missed on your travels to this enchanting land.
8. Kaziranga National Park
A world heritage site, this park hosts 2/3rd of the world’s one horned rhino. Spread over 430square kilometers, it is home to large breeding populations of elephants, wild water buffalo and swamp deer. One can explore the park in jeep safaris or elephant safaris, which are a beautiful experience at the break of day. Tall elephant grass fields will welcome you, while the sun breaks into a dance. Go for it. Experience both the jeep safari and the Elephant rides.
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7. Mawphlang sacred forests
Sounds spectacular no? Sacred forests of Meghalaya. Located 30 mins from Shillong , this forest offers a a beautiful display of flora and fauna. It has been maintained for centuries by the locals, the fruits, flowers, the vegetation is carefully treasured, thus giving the forest an almost impenetrable feel when you first encounter it. The protected status of the forest over centuries has thus made it very thick with vegetation, and you see the trunks of trees covered in vines and creepers and humus. It is one of the sites of the Khasi monoliths, thus its name “grassy -stone” Maw plang.
6. Majuli Island
An island located in the Brahmaputra, was originally formed due to a change in course of the Brahmaputra. The island is said to be swiftly eroding and it isn’t too many years that it will remain. Home to the Missing Tribe from the Arunachal, the chief occupation of its inhabitants is handloom, muga silk and cotton are widely curated. More than economy it serves to keep the inhabitants gainfully engaged. There are two villages, in the island accessible from the ferry wharf. An eclectic mix of island life, local culture and a world so different from ours. A great place to visit if you are looking for some close encounters with the Missing Tribe culture. Also a boat ride from Jhorhat and living in stilt houses are quite the adventure.
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5. Nightlife at Shillong
You may not know this but the Shillong is quite the capital of the indie music scene. Live bards with local bands performing is an exciting way to spend weekends. But wait, it's not only local bands, the crem de la creme of international artists who come to India, make it a point to be there at Shillong. Mr. Big, Scorpions, Sepultura, Aurora Jane, Michael learns to rock, firehouse are some of the bands who have performed here, and its is called the “Rock capital of India”. It is also the home of many great Indian bands, one of them Soulmate is the premier Blues bands of the country. So head out of your stay for an evening of rock and roll. Groove at one of the local tippler joints where live music is common. Cafe Shillong. Cloud 9, Tango are places to go for a live music night.
A local gamble “Thoh Kyntip” called Teer was illegal till a few years ago. A late afternoon daily congregation of khasi professional archers, who aim at a target which is nothing more than a haystack. Locals who gather to watch the sport can bet on a number, and at the end of the gamble the winner can take home more than 80 times of the initial bet. We tried our hand at our last trip and one of our travelers won a whopping Rs 800 on a Rs 10 bet. You’ve got to try your hand at it too. Maybe your next few dinners will be paid by your hand at teer.
3. Homestays of Shillong
Some world class B&B’s can be your home during your stay in this colonial town of Shillong. Clean beautiful rooms, with most of them having a theme of the stay. You should try them, for the wonderful room decors, for the great local breakfast. Its a much better choice to stay in than hotels. They are urban, they have a local touch to them and you get to interact with the warm families that run them. Try them out. Aerodene Cottage is a favourite with us.
2. Local life, local food, local culture
Walk through the streets of Mawlynnong, marvel at the principles of cleanliness that this village adhere to, walk through the chaos of the Burra bazaar of Shillong. Meat, dried fish, veggies, chillies jostle for your attention and over the din of the hawkers you can just about hear yourself think. Eat a hot plate of jadoh in a local eatery, shop for high fashion footwear on the streets of Shillong. Break into a bihu with the performers at your stay in Assam and soon enough realise that the dance takes quite an effort. This sure will you breathless. Immerse in the culture of this beautiful land and fall in love with the place.
1. Trek to the Living root bridge
Certainly not for the fainthearted, this whole day trek will take its toll on your knees if you are not used to long walks/runs. So brace up. But go! The calf pain will be well worth it. It starts of as a descent from Cherrapunjee, beautiful small hamlets will pass you by, as you take pictures and marvel at the quaint beauty of the place, soon the descent becomes more intensive. You cross two cable bridges along the way, but the real deal is the Jingkieng Nongriat. The roots of a Ficus elastica tree have grown over a period of at least 25 years along a small rope across the river, always put into the right direction, until is developed into a bridge that could be “paved” with stones and can now hold up to 20 people at once. Some of the ancient root bridges in the area are used daily by the people of the villages around Cherrapunjee for more than 500 years.
All in all a great destination for the adventure traveller. Food, safaris, dance, music, a helluva trek, limestone caving expeditions, live music bars: what more do you want?
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