We’re still trying to figure out why the North-East is still so highly underrated? The evergreen forests of the ‘abode of clouds’ that is Meghalaya, with its abundance of waterfalls, lush mountains, and finger-licking good food, there are more than just 10 reasons why Meghalaya should be on your travel list this year. But, we feel 10 will be enough to convince you. By Shubhanjana Das
1. The Living Roots Bridge:
Te bridges made by man over ferocious rivers out of roots of living trees is perhaps the aptest example of how Meghalaya strikes a balance between man and nature as both co-exist peacefully. The Umshiang Double-Decker Root Bridge and Nohwet Living Root Bridge are alive and keep growing! Some of the locals are teaching this practice of making bridges out of roots to their children to carry the process on in the future because really, it is an unparalleled feat of man and nature!
2. The Caves:
If spelunking could be practiced as a proper sport anywhere, Meghalaya would be the place. The limestone caves here are not just one or two in number but can be found throughout the state. In fact, some of Asia’s darkest and deepest caves are here with 9 out of India’s 10 deepest caves. Sounds daunting already? Well, then you should try stepping into these cavernous formations to witness the captivating limestone formations, some of which require knowing swimming, a bit of rock climbing as well as trekking.
3. The Local Music Scene:
Meghalaya’s capital, Shillong, has been long referred to as the ‘Rock capital of India’ due to its cultural encouragement to rock music. Even local cafes, which have live music nights, like the one synonymous to Shillong, Cafe Shillong, give a stage to up and coming musicians. If you happen to be in Meghalaya, look out for music fests or concerts and you’ll know what we’re talking about.
4. Adventure Sports:
No matter in which direction you look, you will find something adventurous to do! Starting from canoeing and kayaking in Dawki river to waterfall hopping in the Elephant falls, drop a pin on what it is that you wish to achieve next on your adventures list and leave it to Meghalaya to cross it out.
5. Hiking Trails:
If you’re in and around Shillong, you can just pick a mountain and start climbing it. However, if you want an established trail to venture into, try the David Scott trail, which starts from the village of Ladmawphlang and ends at Mawphlang. You’ll be covering a total distance of about 16 km.
6. Native Tribal Culture:
Spread across Garo, Khasi and Jaintia hills are the populations which are predominantly tribal, meaning their past is steeped in history. Each region speaks its own language and each tribe has its own distinct culture.
7. Asia’s Cleanest Village:
If there’s one thing people associate Meghalaya with is the village of Mawlynnong, considered the cleanest in all of Asia. While the whole country is reeling under the burden of littered trash, you can practically lie down on the streets of Mawlynnong for it is squeaky clean!
8. The Sacred Groves:
The Mawphlang Sacred Forest is considered sacred by the Khasi tribe who consider this thick, dense grove to be sacred and revere the monoliths that are found inside. Legend has it that no visitor can ever get lost in these groves for the reigning deity is always guiding them. Also, no one is supposed to carry anything back from these groves for superstitious reasons.
9. Local Festivities:
If three distinct tribes inhabit one small state, it is bound to be celebrating some festivity or the other around the year. The Khasi community treats dance as a rite of passage and is celebrated during the Ka Shad Suk Mynsiem, Ka Pom-Blang Nongkrem, and Ka-Shad Shyngwiang-Thangiap festivals. These cultural festivals are an effort of the tribal communities to preserve their native traditional culture and rituals.
10. The Food:
The best is always kept for the last, right? Meghalayan cuisine is an absolute mouth-watering delight for the meat-loving kind. In fact, even their rice, Jadoh, is cooked in pork blood! Try their fermented fish chutneys, chicken and beef preparations with the Jadoh for a taste of what the traditionally Khasis eat in a day.