Last Updated: September 9, 2019 Jatin
“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir
Sublime villages, gorgeous waterfalls, ancient root bridges, and enchanting caves, all in one place – sound fascinating, right? What if I tell you that there is no need to travel far and wide ( if you’re an Indian) to witness these as they are right here in Meghalaya in Northeast India! Having said that, if you want to explore some jaw-dropping and spell-binding nature’s wonders, nothing will match up to the exquisiteness of the top tourist attractions in Meghalaya which I am going to discuss with you in this blog. So, stay tuned till the end of this blog as we’re taking you on a short virtual tour of Meghalaya, a paradisiacal destination of Northeast India.
Let’s start our list with some top travel destinations in Meghalaya. Exploring these places would surely be an experience of a lifetime for anyone travelling to Northeast India.
Places to Visit:
Cherrapunji – A Fairytale Land Full of Surprises
Come and drench yourself in the rain in the misty and verdant valley of Cherrapunji! Some 53 km from another popular travel place in Meghalaya, Shillong, Cherrapunji is a prominent sightseeing place esteemed as one of the world’s wettest places. Despite the rainfall, one can visit the place anytime during the year. From mystical waterfalls to astonishing living root bridges, Cherrapunji welcomes tourists with some enticing sights to witness. Dain-Thlen, Kynrem, and Nohkalikai are some of the popular falls in Cherrapunji. The limestone caves of Mawsmai is another crowd-puller site in Cherrapunji. Because of the enthralling ambiance and pristine beauty, Cherrapunji is Meghalaya’s one of the best destinations to plan a honeymoon tour as well.
Major Attractions: Nohkalikai Waterfalls, Living Root Bridges, Nohkalikai Falls, Mawsmai Cave, Seven Sister Falls, and Dain-Thlen Falls, Arwah Cave, Kynrem Falls, Thangkharang Park, Eco Park, and Garden of Caves.
How to Reach: There are two airports close by – Cherrapunji Umroi Airport (79 km) and Guwahati Airport (166 km). However, Umroi is only connected with Kolkata and that too with fewer flights. Guwahati Railway Station (147 km) serves as the nearest railhead from Cherrapunji. Moreover, for those travelling by road, buses from Shillong’s Shora Bus Stand and Bara Bazar run on regular intervals to Cherrapunji.
Accommodation: There are a few resorts and hotels amidst nature where you can have a great stay with your family and friends. There aren’t many luxury options available, however, to fulfil your needs there are few hotels and resorts that are well-furnished with modern amenities.
Living Root Bridges – A Perfect Example of Nature and Man Relationship
Wherever you go in Meghalaya, one thing is pretty much sure that you’ll catch sight of some enthralling nature’s wonders that are worth visiting. But, at times, you’ll encounter some unique attractions that boast a perfect blend of nature’s beauty and man’s ingenuity. Yes, here I am talking about the much famous Living Root Bridges in Meghalaya that are spread across the dense valleys of Khasi Hills region in the state of Meghalaya. The people of Khasi tribe are proud inventors of this masterpiece. They trained these bridges to grow from the roots of rubber trees. Amongst all the bridges, the most stunning one is Umshiang Double-Decker Bridge which is more the 180-year old. This is the only one in the region that has two levels, as most of the bridges are single root. The second level was built by the locals of Khasi tribe when once the water in the monsoon season reached the first level.
In order to visit this unique attraction, one has to undergo a moderate to difficult trek that could take up to 7 hours. However, it is worth indulging as such extraordinary masterpieces cannot be seen everywhere.
Nohkalikai Waterfalls – India’s Tallest Plunge Waterfall
Some 5 km from Cherrapunji, there is located another exotic natural wonder, Nohkalikai Waterfalls. Plummeting down from the height of 1115 feet, Nohkalikai Falls is a site which one can’t afford to miss to witness while in Meghalaya. It is said to be the highest waterfall in India. With an emerald pool forming beneath, this waterfall in Meghalaya makes one of the best places for nature lovers to see. Besides the waterfall, the misty dense forest which engirdles the place is something hard to resist here.
Mawlynnong Village – The Cleanest Village in Asia
For a moment let’s be honest and ask yourself were you aware of the fact which you just read in the caption? Probably not, right? Well, doesn’t matter even I was also not familiar with the fact until now. With that being said, Mawlynnong in the district of East Khasi Hills and is one of the most exotic tourist places in Meghalaya to spend a day. From waterfalls and root bridges to clean surroundings and panoramic viewpoints, this village welcomes you with everything that is essential to make your Meghalaya vacation momentous. Apart from this, there are many bamboo guest houses where you’ll surely want to have a stay to connect more with the place.
Major Attractions: Sacred Forest, Nohkalikai Falls, Mawkdok Valley View Point, Mawsmai Cave, Dain-Thlen Falls.
How to Reach: From Cherrapunji, you can book a taxi to Mawlynnong Village that will cost you in between 1200 and 1500. It is hardly 2-3 hours drive as the distance between the two destinations is just 80 km.
Accommodation: Mawlynnong Village offers several homestays as the accommodation options to tourists while being here. Few of these homestays are traditionally built huts while others are modern concrete built. Moreover, these homestays offer basic services and could cost you around 1500-2000. One can also return back to either Cherrapunji or Shillong for more options.
Dawki Town – Home of the Crystal Clear River
I appreciate the locals here who have treasured this place in such a way and kept it so intact and pristine. Probably an hour drive away from Mawlynnong, Dawki Town is truly nature’s paradise. Located on the international border of India and Bangladesh in West Jaintia Hills, this town boasts being completely unspoilt. There is a river that passes through the town and is renowned as Umngot. Of late, this river has gained much popularity as a must-visit tourist place in Meghalaya because of its crystal clear emerald water. Nature at this surreal place, as you would expect, is incredibly preserved. Believe it or not, the water of the river is so clear that on a sunny day you can actually see the river bed as well.
If you think that a stroll along this stunning river will alone make your day but wait till you take a boat ride here. Although, you can also prefer to do both. Fall in love with the virgin nature while sailing till the Bangladesh-India Border. The boat ride here would cost you anywhere between 400 and 600 bucks. While driving from Mawlynnong to Dawki, you can also stop by for some time at Bophill Falls for another amazing experience in Meghalaya. Apart from nature tours, Dawki Town in Meghalaya also makes for a perfect honeymoon destination.
Major Attractions: Mawlynnong Village, Krang Suri Falls, Dawki River, Elephant Fall, and Byrdaw Falls.
How to Reach: The distance between Mawlynnong and Dawki is just 34 km. You can hire a taxi from Mawlynnong to reach Dawki. Shared Sumo taxi service is another option to reach Mawlynnong that would cost you around 70 bucks.
Accommodation: The beaut town of Dawki has not many but enough accommodation options for travellers. These range from homestays to guesthouses to hotels. However, one can also prefer to stay at Shnongpdeng village (7 km away from Dawki). It has also quite better options for tourists to stay that include tents, bamboo cottages, camps, and homestays.
Mawphlang Sacred Forest – A Pristine Virgin Forest in India
Another delight in the East Khasi Hills, Mawphlang Sacred Forest is a well-preserved attraction of Meghalaya. One interesting thing about this place is the locals believe it to be protected by Gods, and thus, carrying anything out from the forest is strictly prohibited which is why this beautiful forest is intact till now. Nature lovers cannot get a gorgeous place than this to quench their thirst of exploring the unexplored. The incredible network of the forest includes plants and trees that are almost 1000-year old. Some of these plants also have medicinal properties. With different types of mock tribal huts, Khasi Heritage Village is located in the near vicinity of the forest. An old horse trail from British era, David Scott trail, is also a must do thing around the forest. This 16 km scenic trails start from Mawphlang and ends at Lad Mawphlang.
Major Attractions: David Scott Trail, Khasi Heritage Village, Laitlum Canyons, Elephant Falls, Mawkdok Valley.
How to Reach: One can hire a taxi from Dawki Town to reach Mawphlang Sacred Forest. The distance Dawki and Mawphlang is 74 km.
Accommodation: Since the sacred forest is located in the village of Mawphlang, you can find some accommodations here. There are many homestays available in the village that proffers basic services.
Nongkhnum Island – A Hidden Jewel of Meghalaya
‘Charming as a blue moon and ravishing as always’ best defines the offbeat destination of Nongkhnum island. The island might not be on every tourist’s itinerary but is definitely worth consideration because of its scenic settings. Despite being the second largest of its kind in Asia, Nongkhnum is a forgotten island.
This prodigious land of Nongkhnum in West Khasi Hills is famed for its flourishing dense forests, verdant grasslands, luminous lakes, and charming waterfalls. The entire setting of this must-see tourist place in Meghalaya creates a whole new experience that cannot be described in word but only felt. You’ll find locals indulging in fishing which is a prominent activity of the place. If you’re an ardent nature lover then visiting Nongkhnum Island would surely be your one of the best experiences in Meghalaya.
Major Attractions: Kyllang Rock, Langshiang Falls, and Thum Falls.
How to Reach: The distance between Mawphlang Sacred Forest and Nongkhnum Island is just 89 km. You can hire a taxi to reach here.
Accommodation: There are just a few little cottages in Nongkhnum Island. However, for better accommodation, you can have a stay at Mawphanlur which is just 46 km away from the island. There are a number of cottages available in the town.
Balpakram National Park – A Perfect Site for a Perfect Wildlife Experience in Meghalaya
The Land of Spirits as the Balpakram National Park is famed as, is located on the off beaten track of densely forested Garo Hills. It is one of the few places in Meghalaya where you get to see rich biodiversity. Sprawled in a vast area of 352 sq km, the national park in Meghalaya boasts being a paradise for all the wildlife buffs seeking an opportunity to see various fascinating animals like – Red Panda, Wild Buffalo, Elephant, Tiger, Deer, Leopards, Wild Cows, Marbled Cat, and more. Apart from the wildlife, the mind-boggling scenic beauty of the place won’t fail to charm you.
A Thing to Remember: In between all the fun and pleasure, make sure you practice responsible tourism.
Major Attractions: Siju Bird Sanctuary, Tiru Peak, Siju Caves, and Pelga Falls.
How to Reach: Both private and shared taxis are available from Nongkhnum Island to Balpakram National Park.
Accommodation: There are several accommodation options available around the park that range from budget to deluxe to luxury.
Shillong- A Serene Destination to Fall in Love with Nature
Shillong is a peaceful spot to resuscitate love, romance, and seek relaxation, far from the chaos of city life. Its forested hills, awe-inspiring scenic beauty, pleasant climate conditions make it an important tourist attraction in Meghalaya. Considered as ‘Gleneagles of East’, Shillong is home to stunning tourist attractions like – Shillong Peak, Elephant Falls, Lady Hydari Park, Wards, Lake, Don Bosco Museum, and more. Obviously, I can’t name each and every tourist places in Shillong but especially for you, I have mentioned some of my favourites in this blog.
Major Attractions: Mawphlang Sacred Forest, Umiam Lake, Wards Lake, Shillong Peak, Ward’s Lake, and Lady Hydari Park.
How to Reach: Shillong is well-connected by road but has no rail connection. Like Cherrapunji, one can take a flight either for Guwahati Airport (166 km) or Umroi Airport (79 km). However, Umroi is just connected to Kolkata. From the airport, you can hire a cab to reach Shillong.
Accommodation: Shillong has good accommodation facilities spread in various parts of the city. These accommodations are available in every range whether budget, standard or luxury.
Important Attractions in Shillong:
Elephant Falls – An Attraction that Best Defines the Beauty of Meghalaya
In the land of cascades, one waterfall has to be extremely amazing to mention in the list of top places to visit in Meghalaya. Elephant Falls meets all the requirements to be on this list of must-see places. Located in the capital city of Meghalaya, Shillong, Elephant Falls is a refreshing retreat in the middle of a verdant forest. Here at Elephant Fall, the roaring sound of water plummeting can draw people from a great distance. Elephant falls is the name given by British. However, the locals call it Ka Kshaid Lai Pateng, which means ‘Three Steps Waterfalls’. Since it is a three steps waterfalls, one has to hike till a short distance in order to reach all the three falls. The first fall is broad concealed between trees. The second one is not that popular and is also trivial in winter. However, the third one is the tallest and the most popular amongst all.
Don Bosco Museum – A Perfect Place for a Cultural Trip in Meghalaya
Meghalaya tourism boasts a remarkable place famed as Don Bosco Museum in Shillong for all those who wish to learn about the cultural history of the state. Located in the district of East Khasi Hills in Shillong, Don Bosco is a 7-floor museum having 17 galleries on displays that takes you through the culture of Northeast India. Moreover, these galleries exhibit a wide assortment of arts, artefacts, attires, weapons, and handicrafts that showcase the lifestyle and culture of various tribes and people of Meghalaya. Don Bosco Museum is also acclaimed as one of the finest and largest of its kind in Asia.
Perched atop the East Khasi Hills of Shillong, Laitlum Canyon which means the ‘The End of the World’ is a picturesque tourist destination in Meghalaya. Cosseted by the majestic hills and resplendent valleys, Laitlum is one such sightseeing spot in Shillong from where the vast vistas and mind-boggling panoramas of Meghalaya can be admired. Laitlum Canyon remains all-day open and tourists can visit this enthralling site without paying any fee. For all those who love photography, this place is surely going to be a paradise land of perfect shots.
From the best places to visit, now let’s jump quickly to the top things to do in Meghalaya. For tourists, the state proffers numerous activities one can indulge in.
Things to Do in Meghalaya:
Explore the Unexplored Caves of Meghalaya
Trivia: Nine out of the ten longest caves in India are in Meghalaya.
Amazing right? Like the waterfall, the picture-perfect state of Meghalaya is also known for its numerous enticing caves, some of them even featuring in the world caves list. The stunning waterfalls in Meghalaya are the ideal smokescreen for the treasure-loaded caves in the state. Though there are numerous caves in the state, some of them are just beyond comparison. Mawsmai, Siju, and Arwah are some popular caves in Meghalaya. Garo Hills, Jaintia Hills, and Khasi Hills are some of the prominent destinations where these caves are located. The trails of these caves are quite adventurous that get narrower as you go in.
Lunch at Trattoria
Your trip to Meghalaya is incomplete if you’ve not had a lunch at the famous Trattoria cafe restaurant. Amidst the frenetic Police Bazar, there is located a tiny cafe called Trattoria – one of the best places of tourist interest in Meghalaya. Well, if you are a hardcore food lover then you would surely love to explore the tendering and luscious local food served at Trattoria. The hot favourites of this cafe are the Khasi dishes, especially Ja Doh. However, Jakhaw Khasi, Dohnud, Dohjam, Doho Shain, Doh Khelia, Dohokjat, and Tungtap are some more heavenly food served at Trattoria.
Shopping at Police Bazar and Leh Duh Market
A Landmark in Shillong, Police Bazar is the major shopping area in Meghalaya. Even if you are not interested in shopping, you have to visit Police Bazar just to be a part of the hustle-bustle of this place. And for those who never miss a chance to shop, this place is a true paradise. While walking down the street, you’ll get to see almost everything from trinkets, blankets, and carpets to winter wear, footwear, and fruits. There is also a Tibetan Market in Police Bazar where you can buy shoes, clothes, bags for both men and women. Moreover, there are also a lot of stores in the Police Bazar which only sell cane and bamboo stuff from baskets to spoons and hats to pots. Shopping in Meghalaya is considered one of the best activities for a family holiday.
Try Hand at Golf in Shillong
Evidently, Shillong is the major tourism destination in Meghalaya that brags about numerous places to visit and activities to perform. Amongst those, golfing is a must and the best things to do in Meghalaya. Just a few of you must have aware of the fact that Shillong has one of the world’s largest natural golf courses. The surreal setting of this place is something that you can’t get to see easily. The verdant greenery and fresh cool breeze are enough to captivate and to hold you to this place. In order to make the most of this place, one doesn’t need to play golf, the picturesque landscapes are enough to proffer you what you’re expecting from this place.
Discover the Unique Churches of Shillong
Make sure, you have enough space in your camera’s memory card while you go on a hunt to discover the enthralling churches of Shillong. Small or big, the streets of Shillong are adorned with oodles of churches and cathedral and each one is different from other. The list of churches in Shillong is long but I personally recommend you to pay a visit to the Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians which is one of the popular of its kind. The architecture of this beauty will surely amaze you but what will take your breath away is the statue of Mother Mary holding Jesus Christ.
So with that, here comes the end of my handpick list of things to do and best places to visit in Meghalaya. Don’t forget to give your much-needed feedbacks, suggestions and queries in the comment section about this blog and Meghalaya travel guide.
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Published: 20 Jul, 2018