The term “The Abode Of Clouds” truly justifies the state Meghalaya. It is one of the most beautiful states in India I have visited till date (as of Nov, 2014). The place so picturesque and the scenic beauty is so amazing that I have visited Meghalaya 3 times by now and I feel like visiting the place again and again. My favorite place in Meghalaya is Cherrapunjee which is considered as the wettest place on and is one of the prime attractions for tourists. Mawsynarm – another beautiful place closely located to Cherrapunjee receives heavy rainfall too and is another hot spot for tourists. Meghalaya tourism board/department and the state govt. is doing a great job by developing roads, creating Govt. lodges & resorts and making more efforts everyday to make the place more appropriate for tourists. Meghalaya tourism must be appreciated the way it has developed and encouraged eco tourism in a village like Mawlynlong which is considered to the cleanest village in Asia. I have visited the village 3 times and it is indeed so very clean. The landscape of Meghalaya is so enchanting that once you visit the place you will surely look forward to your second trip. The serenity and tranquility of the place along with the superb view all around makes it a perfect destination for all nature lovers. Shillong being the capital town of Meghalaya is a good place to spend a couple of nights and sightseeing the places of interest in the town.
How to get in Meghalaya
Meghalaya does not have railway connectivity. If one is planning to visit via train the nearest railway station is Guwahati in Assam. One can reach Guwahati and then set off to Meghalaya by road. Shillong is located 100-105 Km roughly from Guwahati. The state of Assam helps Meghalaya Tourism immensely by connecting to parts of Meghalaya with roadways.
If one tends to fly there are direct but limited flights to Umroi Airport (Shillong Airport) from Kolkata on certain days. One can also fly to Guwahati airport and then take the road to Meghlaya. The Shillong airport is serving the Meghalaya tourism to a great extent. If one flies to Shillong directly, he can skip the journey through Guwahati and spend more time in Meghalaya.
There are frequent bus services from Paltan Bazar near Guwahati rail station to Shillong. Volvo buses are the most comfortable one. I personally feel if you are a group, it is better to take a reserved vehicle which is much more comfortable and friendly. If you are landing at the Guwahati airport, you will only have the option of reserved vehicles because there is no bus service to any places in Meghalaya from the Guwahati airport. If you are landing at Shillong airport, there you can get taxis readily available to drop you anywhere in the city.
The best thing is if you can reserve a vehicle for the entire trip. The vehicle would pick you up from Guwahati/Shillong airport or Guwahati railway station and then drop you again when you return. The vehicle remains with you for the days you are in Meghalaya.
Best places to visit – Meghalaya Tourism
There are so many places to visit in Meghalaya but the best tourist circuit of Meghalaya tourism is Shillong-Cherrapunjee-Mawsynram-Mawlynlong-Dawki and there is another attractive place named as Tura which is located on a different circuit. Shillong being the capital is a bit chaotic and crowded but places like Cherrapunjee, Mawsynram, Mawlynlong are so calm, peaceful and serene. If you are visiting Meghalaya for the second time, you can skip Shillong and spend more time in countryside places. Let me now talk about most visited places and prime attractions of Meghalaya tourism.
It is the capital of Meghalaya. Being the capital it is chaotic but a beautiful hill town worth spending a couple of nights. The Police Bazar (Locally called PB) is the heart of the town and the main market place. All major hotels, restaurants, cafes, etc. are located within the periphery of Police Bazar. If you are staying in Shillong take your hotel close to this place so that you can go for a stroll in evening. If you are not planning to dine in the hotel you stay in or your hotel does not provide you the dish you are looking for, go out to the eating joints and multi cuisine restaurants there in Police Bazar. You can go for a shopping and buy something good for your loved ones if you want from the market place in Police Bazar. One full day will be spent in sightseeing tourists’ spots in Shillong. Shillong Peak, Elephanta Waterfall are the major attractions along with many other tourist spots.
Umiam Lake (Barapani)
“Barapani” is the name given to the huge beautiful Umiam Lake which is located around half an hour before you reach Shillong on the Guwahati-Shillong highway. The boating in the crystal clear water of the lake is a fantastic experience for tourists. There are several types of boats from paddling boats to speed & high speed boats with different rates. The lake is surrounded with dense greenery on the hills making it a perfect photogenic lake. The beautiful feeling can only be understood when you visit there and go for a speed boating. The best part is that there is a houseboat in an island in the middle of the Umiam Lake which provides accommodation to tourists. One night or a couple of nights stay in the Umiam Lake houseboat is a great experience for all nature lovers. Only one group/family is accommodated at a time in the houseboat, so there will be no other tourists. It is only you and your mates with nature all around. It is a perfect place for a night halt for honeymooners or small groups. Someone who wants to skip the chaos of the Shillong city can spend the night here in the Umiam Lake Houseboat. It is one of my all time favorite destination.
I consider Cherrapunjee also known as Sohra to be the best place for nature lovers in Meghalaya. The landscape of Cherrapunjee will give you an awesome feeling. Several waterfalls cascading over deep gorges, the green meadows and the unique and world famous double decked root bridge make the place a perfect holiday destination. The double decked root bridge should be skipped by elderly people and who have breathing or walking problem because it is a long 5 hour walk for 2 ways (up and down). The root bridge – only one of its kinds is a perfect destination for people who love to trek and are eager to experience the true raw beauty of nature. People who can’t visit this natural root bridge should not be upset because there are several other attractions in Cherrapunjee which will provide you the joy you want from nature. At least one night stay is required to enjoy the beauty of Cherrapunjee. Tourists can come on a day visit from Shillong but that is not worth of visiting the place. One should spend at least one night there to enjoy the feeling of being with nature. There are limited option for resorts and lodges and only 2 resorts I found to be best to stay. I will talk about accommodation on a separate post and if required you can contact me for details. I personally prefer to spend at least 2 nights in Cherrapunjee. One day I spend wandering around and doing the sightseeing and the other day I spend relaxing. Cherrapunjee is a must visit tourist destination in Meghalaya and so do not miss it.
It is a village and considered to be the cleanest village in Asia as I have already mentioned above. Being the cleanest village it is one of the prime hot spot for tourists. I have visited the place 2 times and found it to be one of best attractions of Meghalaya Tourism. The narrow road to the village from the main road through the dense greenery makes a perfect drive on a vacation. The journey to Mawlynlong village is an awesome experience. You can find the village to be the one as seen in a book or dream. It is just perfectly designed and the landscape makes it better. There village has a platform on the top of a tree, if climbed you can see the grassland and the plains of the Bangladesh. One can visit the Mawlynlong village on a day trip from Shillong but I would suggest one night stay there. There are limited home stays in the village which provide basic facilities. A nature lover will surely find it worth spending a night.
Dawki is the border place between India and Bangladesh. It is located a few kilometers away and approx. 40 min drive from the point where the diversion for Mawlynlong is there on the main road. If you have planned to visit Mawlynlong, you can visit Dawki on the way when you return from the Mawlynlong village. It takes additional 1.5 hour to visit Dawki (up and down) from the point which has the diversion from the main road for the Mawlynlong village. The drive towards the border along the fine road is very smooth but the border point is a “must not visit” place. Hundreds of trucks cross the border everyday and the way to the point where the border gate is very filthy and dirty. Avoid going towards the gate but enjoy the beauty around the Dawki River which is the main attraction. The aerial view of the river from the road is just superb. It looks like a glass and you can see Bangladesh plains at a very close distance on the other side of the river. Many people remain busy in fishing in the river which is a great view. You can go down to the river bank and go for a boat ride which is a great experience.
Camping and Adventure sports in Dawki
A private company operates several types of adventure sports and activities in Dawki. They are popular, very professional and do not compromise on security. They provide camping facilities too. So those who love adventure and nature can surely spend a night there in the island in tents by the Dawki River. It is done on a package system, i.e. camping with food or camping along with food and adventure activities. The best adventure activities there are:
- Scuba Diving in Dawki River
- Cliff Jumping
- Boating etc.
It is another major attraction in Meghalaya popular for the long drive with landscape of green meadows, valleys and scenic hills all around. This is the countryside of the state with a few options of accommodation for tourists in home stays. One can either visit the place or take this drive on a day trip from Shillong or opt to stay in one of those home stays with basic facilities. There are no such spots to see along the way or in Mawsynram except the Mawjymbuin Cave and a hill top from where the view of the surrounding hills looks great. Families can skip this trip but young couples or groups can certainly find this drive from Shillong to Mawsynram and back a good one. The journey to Mawsynram is an approx. 3 hour long drive from Shillong. On the way the hill and the road ahead will play hide & seek with you. A rain can come down any time as Mawsynram is one of the rainiest places on earth.
Best time to visit Meghalaya
One can visit Meghalaya in the months when it rains, i.e. in August-September to enjoy the raw beauty of the place. It is the time when the waterfalls will have heavy flow of water and there will be thick greenery all around. If one wants to avoid rainy season, then the best period of time to visit Meghalaya is from October to February. In the months from December to February the place will have chilling weather though it doesn’t snow there.