The state of Meghalaya (translated in English as ‘the abode of clouds’) in northeastern India is a region that receives the highest of rainfall compared to any other place in the world. The rain is a result of the yearly monsoons – dense clouds arising from the Bay of Bengal which head towards India and end up colliding with the high plateaus of Meghalaya to pour themselves out in an aggressive manner. As an obvious result, Meghalaya is filled with two different landscapes, one of lush green rain fed forests and the other of barren land caused by the heavy erosion from relentless rain. This unique climatic phenomenon has been much responsible for carving the landscape of Meghalaya, and turning the region into a paradise of sorts for those wanderlust souls seeking an escape.
A few things one can do in Meghalaya are –
1. Waterfall hopping – In Meghalaya, there is an ever presence of rain, rain and more rain. So much so, the state is filled with countless and infinite waterfalls, from ones which fall from a magnificent height, to ones which have a broad feature. In Buddhism, there is a saying that waterfalls are a doorway to other realms. In that case, Meghalaya is home to infinite realms, which can best be understood and found when you go hopping from one waterfall to the other. And then, there’s always a chance of stumbling upon a secret waterfall, camping the night out, catching fish and making merry.
2. Caving – Caves show us a glimpse of an another world; devoid of sunlight, secret passages where unique lifeforms exist. And as with waterfalls, the ever presence of rain has formed countless caves throughout Meghalaya. Most of them remain unexplored, and many are yet to be found. This makes caving in Meghalaya raw and untamed, where you may be deep in a jungle and end up finding a cave that leads you to Neverland.
3. Walk in the Living Root Bridges – Every summer when the rains are at their worst, the numerous streams and rivers of Meghalaya become alive with thunderous and deafening rapids, stopping the local tribes from crossing over. But human intelligence is always after solving problems, where sustainable solutions are the most charming of all. Such is the case in Meghalaya, where instead of building concrete bridges to cross over, the tribes have managed to architect one of the world’s man-made marvels, called the Living Root Bridges. At first, the tribes grow two fig trees on the opposite sides of a stream. As years pass, the entire community participates in joining and networking the roots of the two trees. It take more than fifty years for the fruits of their labor to eventually bloom, and when it does, the joined roots form a sort of super strong bridge over which the tribes can move to the other side. An example of utmost sustainable architecture, people from all over the world come to Meghalaya to see these bridges.
4. Stay in a tree house at Mawlynnong – Discovered a few years back, Mawlynnong is unofficially acclaimed as being the cleanest village of Asia. And if you happen to take a stroll in any of the cozy concrete footpaths of the village, you will not argue on the claim’s authenticity, rather fall in love with Mawlynnong. The village is home to the fascinating Khasi people who are not only enthusiasts and environmentalists, but charming too, having stories and folklore for almost everything and anything. Cute looking houses dot the village, with varieties of flowers growing everywhere which delight and enlighten the landscape of the village. Guests to the village get to stay in the village tree house, and the money generated from tourism is utilized in keeping the village clean and in conserving the nearby forests. There is a local waterfall cum natural pool which forms the perfect lagoon to go on a swim. You may also hike to nearby villages, visit a few waterfalls, explore the local living root bridges, or climb up the village Skyview and gaze at the breathtaking views of the Bangladesh plains.
5. Play with the clouds in Cherrapunji – If the entire state of Meghalaya receives relentless rainfall, the hill station of Cherrapunji along-with nearby Mawsyram receives maddening rainfall each year, and are officially recognized as the rainiest and wettest places on planet earth. A perfect place for offbeat travel, clouds hover midst the landscape of Cherrapunji, creating a misty and almost magical atmosphere. Many waterfalls exist here among which the Nohkalikai Falls is the third highest in all of India. Then there are numerous caves which can be explored, and not to mention the double-decker living root bridge which is the most magnificent of all living bridges found in the world and is a four hour hike away from Cherrapunji.