Detailed Meghalaya Travel Guide – A Walk through the Abode of Clouds

Root Bridge Meghalaya

We had been to Meghalaya in the North East of India way back in 2004.

We had not seen the famous Root Bridge of Meghalaya then and of course not the newly constructed (2017) Bamboo Bridge in Wah Khen.

Nohkalikai Waterfall Meghalaya India
Throwback Picture: This photo of Nohkalikai Waterfall (Cherrapunji) is from our ‘January 2004’ trip to Meghalaya. The force of water has carved a waterhole which remains blue in the winter and turns green in the summer months.

Having seen Meghalaya in winters we wanted to explore the state during the monsoons. More than that we wanted kids to explore this mesmerising place. 

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I wanted a family trip which was off beat and yet did not want to miss on few touristy places, kids friendly but yet exciting enough with few treks thrown in, exotic location with ‘Responsible Tourism’ for kids to be inspired with.

Children enjoying waterfall at Garden of Caves Meghalaya India
Exploring Meghalaya’s non-touristy “Garden Of Caves” near the touristy Cherrapunji

So needless to say I was super excited when my husband and I finally zeroed down on a doable itinerary to the Abode of Clouds, the awe-inspiring, pristine…drum rolls please… MEGHALAYA!

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Before the trip my conversation with my kids goes like this:-

Me (exuberantly) : “Yayyy! We are going to Meghalaya”.

I am met with Blank looks.

Me (trying harder) : “Meghalaya means ‘House of Clouds’ – how does that sound?”

One raises his eye brow while the other continues burrowing in her book.

Me (playing my Ace) : “It has ‘Living Bridges!’”

Younger One: “Living?”

Older Too: “Living like something that grows and breathes?”

Me (Slyly): Yesss!

Younger One: Cool!!

Older Too: Sounds like an ‘X-Men’ Movie!!

I love the way travel excites different people for different things. X-Men or not but I was thankful we were all onboard about this North-East India Escapade. The four of us were joined by my sister’s family of four.

Read: Nyokum Yullo Festival of Arunachal Pradesh

Our Itinerary

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Our 8 days – Off Beat Meghalaya – yet Touristy Meghalaya – Trekking in Meghalaya – Responsible Tourism Meghalaya itinerary looked something like this:-

Day 1 – Reach Guwahati. Leave for Shillong. Night stay at Shillong.

Day 2 – Shillong – Wahkhen – Bamboo Bridge Trek – Night stay in Pynursula (Adventurous Trek)

Day 3 – Pynursula – Dawki – Root Bridge at Nohwet – Mawlynnong (Cleanest Village in Asia) – Night stay in Mawlynnong (Responsible Tourism)

Day 4 – Mawlynnong – Sohra/Cherapunji (Touristy and not so touristy)

Day 5 – Sohra – Kongthong (Whistling Village of India) (Off Beat)

Day 6 – Kongthong – Shillong (Touristy)

Day 7 – Shillong to Pobitro Wildlife Sanctuary (Rhino Spotting)

Day 8 – Pobitro to Guwahati Airport and then back home.

Meghalaya Travel Guide Dawki river

A walk-through our journey in the 'Abode of Clouds' –Meghalaya'.​

SHILLONG

Also known as the Scotland of the East, Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya is cradled by the East Khasi Hills. Shillong is a laid back happening hill station divided into Lower Shillong, Upper Shillong and Shillong Peak.

Cathedral Catholic Church Shillong Meghalaya India

What to do:

Shillong is best explored on foot. It is not called the Rock Capital of India for no reason. You might chance upon a Jamming Session at the Don Bosco Square or an impromptu music session at a local cafe.

statue of educator Don Bosco Shillong
The statue of educator Don Bosco at Don Bosco Square, Shillong

For a quiet and peaceful experience visit the Cathedral Catholic Church, Ward’s Lake for boating and with kids there are many museums that you can visit like the Air Force Museum, the Rhino Heritage Museum to name a few.

Ward Lake Shillong Meghalaya India
Ward Lake near Police Bazar

The Elephant Falls and the tranquil Umiam Lake and are good escapades from the city.

Elephant fall Shillong Meghalaya

For an “Off beat experience’ consider witnessing (or even participating) in the archery Gambling called ‘Siat Khnam‘. The last two digit of the number of arrows that reach the target during the first round are declared as the winning numbers for the bet shops.

Read: Exploring Guwahati – Gateway to North East India

Getting Here

Whether you decide to fly in or come by train, Guwahati  in Assam is the nearest transport hub to Meghalaya.

Distance from Guwahati Airport: 115 kms (Approximately 3 hours)

Cabs:

  1. Cabs are available for hire from Guwahati Airport, Kamakhya Railway Station and Paltan Bazaar (Guwahati Railway Station).
  2. Both Private and Shared Cabs are available at the airport. We had pre-booked Ola and it cost us Rs. 2500/- from Guwahati Airport to Shillong.
  3. Cabs can be booked at the airport as well and after some haggling you can get one for Rs. 2200/-
  4. Shared Cabs charge Rs. 200 to 250/- per head. The shared taxi drop off point in Shillong is at Police Bazaar, from where local taxi can be hired.
  5. Zoom Cars are also available on rent and can be booked online.

Where to stay:

We stayed at Aura Cottage – a budget Homestay for families. It cost us around 2000/- per night for one room for the 4 of us.

Homestay near Ward lake Shillong

The best part of this place is that it is centrally located and many places can be explored on foot from here.

Another Budget place that we stayed in was Mary Girls Hostel. Mary girls hostel as the name suggests has a Girl’s Hostel on one side and two rooms on the other side for tourists.

Mary Home Stay Laitumkhrah Shillong Meghalaya

Dolly the owner is a very warm person and though the home stay is very basic for a family, I would highly recommend it for solo female travelers who are traveling on budget.

It cost us Rs.450/- per person for bed and breakfast.

This place is in Laitumkhrah which is close to the college area and so very close to budget eateries.

Where to eat:

No matter how old you are, Dylan’s Cafe ambience will rub on you. Dylan’s Café is North East India’s first tribute café to the legendary Bob Dylan.

Dylan Cafe Shillong Meghalaya India
For some downtime head to Dylan’s Cafe!

For Khasi and other North Eastern State specialities I would recommend the Laitumkhrah area.

Read: Dharamkot with children

Wah Khen Bamboo Trek - Not for the faint hearted!

Wahkhen Trek Mawryngkhang

Having trekked Mount Kanamo at 19,600 feet, I would still say that the Wah Khen trek is one of the most outstanding treks I have ever done.

Wahkhen Trek Mawryngkhang
“SWEEP STAKES” : Kids on a bamboo bridge, Trekking through a HARVEST OF BROOMS

While this trek starts with a bamboo bridge over broomstick farm, it gradually takes you over beautiful blue water natural pools and eventually you find yourself on the bridge which is perched on  the side of huge solid rock with deep valley down below.

It was thrilling and chilling to do the Wah Khen trek which led to us climbing the Mawryngkhang mountain. ‘Mawryngkhang’ means the ‘King of Stones’ !

Wahkhen Trek Mawryngkhang

My kids and Nephew and Niece are in the age bracket of 10 to 13 and all of them could (with little huffing and puffing) complete the entire trek in 3 hours.

Natural pool Wahkhen Trek Mawryngkhang
Emerald colour of the Natural Pool

To end the weariness of the trek is the natural pool for you to plunge in.

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this trek for all those who love ADVENTURE and are ‘reasonably physically fit.’

Wahkhen Trek Mawryngkhang
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Time Taken for completing the Trek: 2 to 3 hours depending upon your physical fitness and the number of breaks you take en route.

Distance from Shillong:  Wahkhen village is located in the Pynursla Tehsil of East Khasi Hills district in Meghalaya, India. It is 42km away from Shillong.

Getting here: We had hired the services of a Travel Guide – Udit (+91 9508450527) who helped us with the offbeat destination explorations. The advantage of hiring Udit was that he knew many off beat destinations. On the downside, Udit does not know in detail about those particular places and one has to dig deeper and speak to locals to get more information. However, I would still recommend Udit for his knowledge of off beat places.

We had hired two cabs from Mamin Da (+91 9613785430).

Where to Stay:

We stayed at a budget home stay in Pynursla. This home stay charges Rs.1200/- per room per night. It’s a very basic home stay.

Home Stay Wahkhen Trek Mawryngkhang

What to eat:

Wah Khen and Pynursla both being small villages, the eating options are very limited. If you are a pure vegetarian, I would advise you to carry some ‘khakhra’, ‘thepla’ as a vegetarian back up.

If you eat Pork then you are in luck as Pork is available at most of the local eateries.

Just a reminder when I say Eatery, I mean the road side ‘Dhabha’. There are no restaurants around this area.

Read: Ranakpur – an Architectural Marvel of India

Dawki / Umngot river

Rustic boat, crystal clear emerald water and Cold breeze, this heavenly combination is what makes the Umngot river a magical paradise.

Dawki river boating meghalaya

Add to it the fact that Dawki is the last village on the India- Bangladesh border and so it attracts a lot of tourists.

Changing colours with border: Interestingly, the Umgnot river is green on Indian side and light blue on the Bangladesh Side.

Dawki river boating meghalaya
Umgnot river crossing the Bangladesh Border

Kids enjoyed venturing out in the little island that we were taken to during the boat ride.

Dawki river boating meghalaya

Distance from Shillong: 

How to Reach:

It would be advisable to book a cab for 3-4 days and cover these places one after another.

If on a budget, shared cabs or public buses can be taken for Dawki from Shillong (Bada Bazaar).

Where to Stay:

We stayed at Mawlynnong which is around 35 kms (1 and half hours) from Dawki. Mawlynnong happens to be the cleanest village in Asia.

Alternatively, if you like water sports you can stay in one of the home stays in Shnongpdeng which is just 7 kms from Dawki.

Where to Eat:

On our way from Dawki to the Root Bridge of Nohwet we stopped en route for lunch at ‘Pari’s Food Centre’ . This place does not serve Khasi Food but the Chinese food served here is good. 

Dawki river boating meghalaya

Read: A perfect Family trek in the Kumaon hills of Munsiyari

The Living Root Bridge - Symbiosis of man and Nature

Built over the Thyllong river,  this 180 year old living root bridge connects Nohwet village to Lyngkhat Bazar and other agricultural lands owned by the villagers in the eastern part of the region. 

Nohwet Living Root Bridge Meghalaya

This 30 meter long living root bridges was cultivated from Ficus Elastica (Indian Rubber Tree) which was planted on both the sides of the river in 1840. 

Nohwet Living Root Bridge Meghalaya

This root bridge locally known as jing kieng jri, is easily approachable though one needs to climb down for around 30 minutes. The way up is little more tiring and can take up to 40 minutes. 

Nohwet Living Root Bridge Meghalaya
Tourist Rush

Keep the area clean.

Dust Bin Nohwet Living Root Bridge Meghalaya
Bamboo Dustbins are placed at intervals

Distance from Shillong: 

Nohwet village is around 75 km (2 and half hours) from Shillong. It is in fact one of the biggest villages in eastern Riwar, in the southern part of Pynursla. It takes around 1 hour to reach Nohwet from Dawki. Due to Nohwet root bridge being very popular amongst tourists expect traffic rush on road. 

How to Reach:

It is a good idea to hire a cab for the entire day for sightseeing. 

If on a budget, shared cabs or public buses can be taken for Nohwet from Shillong (Bada Bazaar).

Where to Stay:

We stayed at Mawlynnong which is around 18 kms (around 50 minutes) from Nohwet. 

Alternatively, if you would like to experience Nohwet village life there are homestays in Nohwet also. Click here for more information.

Where to Eat:

There are many shops on the way to the bridge which sell bamboo artefacts and local fruits.

Interestingly, Nohwet village produces one of the best quality Areca nuts (kwai) in khasi and jaintia hills. 

Read: The Great Wall of India – Kumbhalgarh Fort, Rajasthan

Mawlynnong - the cleanest village in Asia

Mawlynnong  means “God’s own Garden”.

Mawlynnong Meghalaya Cleanest Village in Asia
Church of Mawlynnong

Mawlynnong Village is known as the cleanest village in Asia.

There is a fee of Rs.50 for entering this village. Many visitors come and drive through the village.  I would recommend you stay at least a night to soak in the beauty and tranquillity of this village. 

Mawlynnong Meghalaya Cleanest Village in Asia

The stillness of the village with it’s lush green plantations is very serene. 

There is a Micro Watershed in the village and we had hours of fun bathing in the cold water.

Mawlynnong Meghalaya Cleanest Village in Asia

Don’t miss the lovely Tree houses. There are two tree houses and they are private properties. One needs to pay Rs.20/- to climb up the tree house.

Mawlynnong Meghalaya Cleanest Village in Asia

Distance from Shillong: Mawlynnong village is around 80 kms from Shillong and it takes around 2 and half hours to reach.

How to Reach:

It is a good idea to hire a cab for the entire day or couple of days for sightseeing. 

If on a budget, shared cabs or public buses can be taken for Mawlylgnnong from Shillong (Bada Bazaar).

Where to Stay:

Almost every 3rd house in this village is a home stay and so finding a place here will not be much of a problem. 

Mawlynnong Meghalaya Cleanest Village in Asia

Where to Eat:

There are small Home run restaurants which serve Khasi and vegetarian food. You need to place the order in advance so that they can buy vegetables (or chicken) and prepare food as per your order. 

Read: Ziro Valley – the Ultimate Travel Guide

The Balancing Rock

On the outskirts of Mawlynnong village in Meghalaya is the Balancing Rock. 

Balancing Rock Mawlynnong meghalaya

 

A Huge boulder sits on a small rock and has withstood heavy rains and other weather conditions. 

 

Balancing Rock Mawlynnong meghalaya

The Rocks are enclosed by a fence of iron rods.

Balancing Rock Mawlynnong meghalaya

Surrounded by bamboo plantations it is locally known as Maw Ryngkew Sharatia.

Time Taken to see the place: 5 – 10 minutes

Sohra (Cherrapunjee)

Sohra, previously known as Cherrapunjee is a district in the East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya.

Can you spot us standing behind the waterfall?

Sohra is famous for it’s cascading waterfalls over deep gorges.

Duwan Sing Syiem View Point.
Duwan Sing Syiem View Point.
Nohkalikai Waterfall Meghalaya India
Nohkalai Waterfall

Challenge your fear of heights by zipping it away with pioneeradventuretour.com at Mawkdok/ Dympep, Cherrapunji.

children Zip lining Sohra

Our Young Brave hearts got their adrenaline rush by zipping at a height of 1200 feet! The deep gorge below would give anyone goosebumps but the boys were not deterred! 

children Zip lining Sohra

Cost of Zip lining:

Small line:- Rs 400/head (length 1089 feet) 

Big line:- Rs. 800/head (length 2600 feet) 

children Zip lining Sohra

I would highly recommend Garden of Caves in Laitmawsiang village which is on the outskirts of Sohra.

Sohra Garden of Caves

Don’t forget to catch the glimpse of monoliths around the town. 

Monoliths Sohra Meghalaya

Mawsmai Cave:

A stone’s throw away from Sohra is the dim-lit, narrow, rugged limestone cave called Mawsmai.

If you are not claustrophobic, these caves though very touristy make for an interesting visit. 

Mawsmai Caves Cherrapunji

and of course before you step in:-

Mawsmai Caves Cherrapunji

Ramakrishna Mission Museum 
If Museums and Tribal artefacts interest you head to Cherrapunjee’s Ramakrishna Mission’s one-room museum.

Cherrapunjee’s Ramakrishna Mission

Distance from Shillong: Sohra is around 55 km from Shillong and it takes around 2 hours to reach by road. It is around 150 km from Guwahati and it takes approximately 4 and half hours to cover this distance. 

How to Reach from Shillong:

It is a good idea to hire a cab for the entire day or couple of days for sightseeing. 

If on a budget, shared cabs (Rs. 70 to 100/-) or public buses (Rs. 50/-)  can be taken for Sohra from Shillong (Bada Bazaar). 

Where to Stay:

Sohra/Cherrapunjee has many Home Stay options and you can practically drive in and look for one which suits your needs. 

Where to Eat:

There are small Home run restaurants around the town which serve Khasi, vegetarian food and non-vegetarian food. Pork is the easily available option. For vegetarians most of the time it is either jackfruit or potato vegetable. Rice and Daal is available everywhere. 

Read: Travel quotes to fuel your wanderlust

Kongthong - the Whistling Village of India

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.”Meghalaya Kongthong Whistling Village

I couldn’t agree more when I heard the sweet sound of whistles by which people address each other in the village of Kongthong in Meghalaya.

Meghalaya Kongthong Whistling Village

If you want an offbeat, culture immersive experience then I would highly recommend you visit and stay at least one night in Kongthong.

Meghalaya Kongthong Whistling Village
People of the village are extremely shy

A tradition which is carried on since time immemorial, each child at the time of birth is given a unique tune by his mother.

Meghalaya Kongthong Whistling Village
Betel Nut causes stimulant effects similar to caffeine and tobacco

This ‘jingrwai lawbei’ (lullaby)  becomes their name.

Meghalaya Kongthong Whistling Village
Kongthong Village

The long tune is for calling out a person in the jungle while the shorter version of the same tune is used in the village.

Distance from Shillong: Kongthong is 55 km from Shillong and it takes around 3 hours to reach as the roads  are not in a good condition.

Where to Stay & Eat:

Nestled between the Sohra and Pynursla ridges is the Kongthong Travellers Nest which is promoted by the Indigenous Agro Tourism Cooperative Society.

There are 2 mud houses with fire place inside. If you place the order on time (say at least 6 hours early) the cook will buy resources and make food preparations (Indian cuisine) accordingly.

Read: Tips for trekking with children

Activities/Attractions for Guest

Trekking, Fishing & Angling, Camping, etc.

Local Contact: Shri. Rothell Khongsit, Chairman
Contact Number: +91- 9856 060 347
Address: Indigenous Agro Tourism Cooperative Society Ltd, Khatarshnong, Sohra

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Traveling Tips

  • This is the  official website of Meghalaya Tourism.
  • For our off beat destinations we had hired Udit as our travel guide. You can reach Udit at +91 9508450527
  • Our cabs were arranged my Mamin Da. He can be reached at +91 9613785430
  • Hindi and English are both widely spoken in Meghalaya except in remote villages where sign language will work well.
  • People are very helpful. I remember when we were heading for the off beat wah khen trek, a kind lady stayed back little longer at the small road side eatery so that she could explain our order to the restaurant owner and then calculate the total bill and communicate it to us in English. The Owner of the eatery served us vegetables that she had cooked for her personal consumption when she heard that we did not consume Pork. 
  •  Most Important Tip – Shops and Museums remain closed through out Meghalaya on Sunday. Unless you have a dedicated cab for yourself it is advisable to pre book a cab for your sunday escapades. 
Hope Lighttravelaction’s extensive Meghalaya Guide helps you plan better.  If you have any questions or suggestions for us (or not) we would like to hear from you in the comments.

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8 thoughts on “Detailed Meghalaya Travel Guide – A Walk through the Abode of Clouds

  1. Wow! This is a wonderful guide, Richa 🙂 I’m gonna bookmark it for my Meghalaya trip planning. The pictures are cool too. I’m tempted to travel to this beautiful abode of clouds right now. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Superb
    I m so glad you have given every thing in detail
    I was just finalising my itinerary for meghalaya and I was searching for guide for bamboo trekk; that is how I landed up to your blog. I read both the pages of trek n this one.
    Thank you for such detailed information
    Thanks for sharing it as well

    • I am so glad you found this helpful Shraddha – that was the very reason I started to blog as many a times travelers don’t know the most important details like whom to contact and how to reach 🙂 have a lovely time in Meghalaya!!

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