What can an elder sister do for you? Probably anything and everything to make you happy. The North-eastern part of India, also known as ‘Seven Sister states’ seems greatly fitting to the definition. These parts carry a distinct identity in India and their food, cultural and traditional habits differs greatly from the rest of India. Meghalaya is one of the ‘Seven Sister States’, and to be honest, if anything comes closest to being the substitute for heaven, it is without doubt ‘Meghalaya’. Known as the ‘Wettest place on Earth’ and holds a ‘Guiness World Record’ for that because many of its cities receive the most rainfall in India, Meghalaya literally translates to Megh (Clouds) + Alaya (Home) = ‘Home of Clouds’. Hence, the reason why it is also termed as one of the Greenest places on earth is also apparent.
So, if you’re a Nature lover, this place has more love than you can handle.
In case of Meghalaya, the best time to travel varies with the kind of atmosphere you want to enjoy because Meghalaya has it all. It is recommended to visit Meghalaya from: -April to June in summer -December to February in winters -July to August in Monsoon
The culture of Meghalaya is very conservative. In fact, that’s the story of all the North-eastern states (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura). But the society is welcoming enough for tourists. Even though the people of North-east look entirely different in comparison to people from rest of India, they are no different when it comes to being nice.
There is no spirit of superiority among people and simplicity is their way of life. Almost everyone here is Christian, because it was greatly touched by the British in the servile era of India. The society is casteless and very much open-minded.
The state is predominantly inhabited by three tribes: Garo, Khasi and Jaintia. Each tribe has its own ways, without interfering each other’s. The most interesting feature about the Khasi tribe is that unlike rest of India, there is ‘Dominance of women’; That means – a female baby is more desired, inheritance goes to the women, the husband lives with the woman’s family post-marriage, the children bear the surname of their mother. (We hope at least all the Feminists reading this article are booking a trip with us 😉
As we’re talking about a state here, Meghalaya is huge. You can take months to enjoy it gradually like a Good whiskey in sips or experience it in a week like a quick Vodka shot. Assuming you don’t have months to spend, here’s a Vodka shot for you:
Take the flight to Shillong (capital of Meghalaya) which has pleasant weather, the most scenic landscapes and waterfalls. It is also known as ‘Scotland of East’ because the rolling hills around the town reminded Europeans settlers (in the British era) of Scotland.
Barapani lake in Shillong is a vast, 221 square kilometers lake perfect for spending a day at. It is a popular picnic spot for people. The legend behind the lake’s formation is that it was formed by the tears of a girl who lost her sister while they were descending from heaven on earth.
Elephant falls is a must visit here. It is a step waterfall which feels almost surreal with its aesthetical setting. It is known as ‘Elephant falls’ as a stone here looked like Elephant which was, unfortunately, destroyed in Earthquake in 1987.
The Laitlum Canyon, obscurely known as ‘Grand Canyons of India’ has horizonless, breathtaking landscapes. It simply reminds you how small you are amongst the Mother Nature. One simply can’t afford to not take a selfie here. They just can’t. From Shillong you can head to Cherapunji, which is the second wettest city on Earth; neighboring city ‘Mawsynram’ holding the first place.
Although Living tree-root bridges are common in southern part of Meghalaya, the most captivating ‘Double-decker living root bridge’ is here at Nongriat village, Cherapunji. At first you find it hard to believe it’s made of tree roots, but it is like a regular bridge. You can walk on it, run on it, jump on it (not off it). One can camp at Nongriat village which is a Khasi tribe. You can get Food and snacks and spend a night comfortably here.
A 1.5 hours trek from Nongriat village leads to Rainbow falls, which has incredible clear blue water. It is called Rainbow falls because a rainbow can always be seen here at the daytime. One can also take a quick swim here for refreshment.
Also, do not forget to visit ‘Nohkalikai Falls’, which is the highest plunge waterfall in India. It is 340 metres high, so it would be naive to explain why you shouldn’t stand under it; especially if you’re bald.
The Mawsmai limestone cave in the Mawsmai village is a work of art by the God itself. It has amazing patterns that, pretty sure, mean something. It’s just that we can’t read them yet.
For adventure seekers, Cherapunji has trek from Ladmawphlang village to Mawphlang village, where the dumbfounding, scenic reward at the top awaits them.
Alcohol is widely accepted in Meghalayan society unlike other Indian states. All kinds of alcoholic beverages are available here,
Kyat is a popular rice beer in Meghalaya. It has a hint of sweetness with a pungent flavor. It is low on alcohol levels and takes a couple glasses to hit. The flavors of Meghalaya are distinct and sharp to taste. It primarily features rice and meat and thus, it wouldn’t be wrong to say it is akin to that of West Bengal and Assam. People here are mostly hardcore non-vegetarians.
It is also one of the rare places in India where Pork is widely consumed. There are ‘Ja Cha’ eateries serving Khasi food which literally mean ‘Fish & Tea’ for those who don’t seek local food due to unsuitability. Some of the best food venues are at Shillong’s Police Bazaar
Eee Cee bakery here is famous for its Mutton Keema Samosa which is one of the rare snacks in India. Tungtan is another non vegetarian dish made of dry fish paste and chutney mixed with chopped onion.
Jadoh is a popular cuisine in Meghalaya which is basically rice & meat cooked together. It is often served with egg to enhance the taste for outsiders. And just so that you don’t miss the other flavors of India, there’s Delhi Misthan Bhandar which serves the pan India popular, Poori and Sabji. .
Dohneiihong is one of the favorites of Meghalayan people which is basically Pork served with Black sesame. This dish is loved by most foreign tourists that visit Meghalaya often.
In the spicy category, Eromba is most popular. It is prepared by cooking vegetables with chilies and then mixed with Smoked or Roasted fish.
But most popular of all, a side dish which can be found in almost every eatery is love.Yes, they serve it with so much love, you won’t need a dessert. But in case you’re already full of that, Pukhlein is a sweet dessert which is available pretty much everywhere. It is made of Rice and Jaggery (sugar syrup with lots of calories). The dough is prepared and balls of it are deep fried in oil.
Meghalaya is a place that holds more than its boundary covers. It is a part of India but feels like Home for most of the foreigners because of its broad, warm and welcoming ambience. From lush green landscapes to surreal waterfalls, Meghalaya lags at none. For photographers, it’s not a mere destination, rather a picture opportunity. Its obscurity is a boon for the moxie travellers who seek a peculiar experience. And they keep coming back for more because each time, they find more than they hoped to discover.