The Mesmerising hilly Meghalaya in the North East of India is Nature’s well-kept secret.
In this blog post, I have tried to cover 8 awesome places you must not miss to visit in Meghalaya including touristy destinations like Shillong and Cherrapunji and non-touristy places like Kongthong, this blog post has it all. So get your travel journals out to take notes and read on!
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.
Having seen Meghalaya in winters we wanted to explore the state during the monsoons. More than that we wanted kids to explore this mesmerizing place.
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I wanted a family trip which was offbeat 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.
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!
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 eyebrow 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.
Our Meghalaya Itinerary
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.
To download a FREE 6 Days / 5 Nights Guwahati + Shillong Itinerary CLICK HERE.
To download a FREE 5 Days/4 Nights Guwahati + Pobitora CLICK HERE.
To download a Free 5 Days, 4 Nights Shillong Cherrapunji Itinerary Click here.
A walk-through our journey in the ‘Abode of Clouds’ –Meghalaya’.
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.
What to do in Shillong:
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.
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.
The Elephant Falls and the tranquil Umiam Lake and are good escapades from the city.
For an “Offbeat experience’ consider witnessing (or even participating) in the archery Gambling called ‘Siat Khnam’. The last two digits of the number of arrows that reach the target during the first round are declared as the winning numbers for the bet shops.
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 km (Approximately 3 hours)
- Cabs are available for hire from Guwahati Airport, Kamakhya Railway Station and Paltan Bazaar (Guwahati Railway Station).
- 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.
- Cabs can be booked at the airport as well and after some haggling, you can get one for Rs. 2200/-
- Shared Cabs charge Rs. 200 to 250/- per head. The shared taxi drop off point in Shillong is at Police Bazaar, from where a local taxi can be hired.
- Zoom Cars are also available on rent and can be booked online.
A quick guide on how to get from Guwahati to Shillong and Cherrapunjee by public transport. All you need to know to travel the region cheaply: How to get from Guwahati to Shillong and Cherrapunji.
Where to stay in Shillong
If you are looking for budget accommodation at a convenient location then check out Shillong Dormitory in Shillong. The accommodation at Shillong Dormitory features a 24-hour front desk, a shuttle service, room service, and free WiFi. Check out the details, reviews, availability and latest price by clicking here.
If Rest and Relaxation are on your mind then check out Ri Kynjai Serenity by The Lake. Spread over 45 acres of lush greeneries, Ri Kynjai Serenity by The Lake overlooks azure waters of Umiam Lake situated just 2.5 km away. Guwahati Railway Station is 75 km away and Guwahati Airport is 105 km away. Check out the details, reviews, availability and latest price by clicking here.
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.
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.
Dolly the owner is a very warm person and though the homestay is very basic for a family, I would highly recommend it for solo female travelers who are traveling on a 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 in Shillong
No matter how old you are, Dylan’s Cafe ambiance will rub on you. Dylan’s Café is North East India’s first tribute café to the legendary Bob Dylan.
For Khasi and other North Eastern State specialties I would recommend the Laitumkhrah area.
U Mawryngkhang Bamboo Trek – Not for the faint-hearted!
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.
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 U Mawryngkhang mountain. ‘Mawryngkhang’ means the ‘King of Stones’!
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.
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.’
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.
Where to Stay in Shillong:
We stayed at a budget homestay in Pynursla. This homestay charges Rs.1200/- per room per night. It’s a very basic homestay.
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 roadside ‘Dhabha’. There are no restaurants around this area.
Does this trek in Wahkhen sound interesting? A quick itinerary and guide to the thrilling and chilling WahKhen trek in Meghalaya, India. This guide includes tips on how to get there and what to expect: Mawryngkhang Trek in Wahkhen, Meghalaya will Make Your Hair Stand on End.
U Mawryngkhang : The King of stones Video
“For any avid traveler, trekking the stony route, lined with broomsticks and other trees, to ‘U Mawryngkhang’ situated in a gorge at Wahkhen village will be a delight.” – Life Unearth
Dawki / Umngot river
Rustic boat, crystal clear emerald water and Cold breeze, this heavenly combination is what makes the Umngot river a magical paradise.
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 colors with border: Interestingly, the Umgnot river is green on the Indian side and light blue on the Bangladesh Side.
Kids enjoyed venturing out in the little island that we were taken to during the boat ride.
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 homestays 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.
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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.
This 30 meter long-living root bridges were cultivated from Ficus Elastica (Indian Rubber Tree) which was planted on both the sides of the river in 1840.
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 a little more tiring and can take up to 40 minutes.
Keep the area clean.
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. As the Nohwet root bridge is 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 km (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 artifacts and local fruits.
Interestingly, Nohwet village produces one of the best quality Areca nuts (kwai) in Khasi and Jaintia hills.
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Mawlynnong – the cleanest village in Asia
Mawlynnong means “God’s own Garden”.
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.
The stillness of the village with its 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.
Don’t miss the lovely Treehouses. There are two tree houses and they are private properties. One needs to pay Rs.20/- to climb up the treehouse.
Distance from Shillong: Mawlynnong village is around 80 kms from Shillong and it takes around 2 and a 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 homestay and so finding a place here will not be much of a problem.
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.
The Balancing Rock
On the outskirts of Mawlynnong village in Meghalaya is the Balancing Rock.
A Huge boulder sits on a small rock and has withstood heavy rains and other weather conditions.
The Rocks are enclosed by a fence of iron rods.
Surrounded by bamboo plantations it is locally known as Maw Ryngkew Sharatia.
Time Taken to see the place: 5 – 10 minutes
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Sohra, previously known as Cherrapunjee is a district in the East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya.
Sohra is famous for it’s cascading waterfalls over deep gorges.
Challenge your fear of heights by zipping it away with pioneeradventuretour.com at Mawkdok/ Dympep, Cherrapunji.
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!
Cost of Ziplining:
Small line:- Rs 400/head (length 1089 feet)
Big line:- Rs. 800/head (length 2600 feet)
I would highly recommend Garden of Caves in Laitmawsiang village which is on the outskirts of Sohra.
Don’t forget to catch the glimpse of monoliths around the town.
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.
and of course, before you step in:-
Ramakrishna Mission Museum
If Museums and Tribal artifacts interest you head to Cherrapunjee’s Ramakrishna Mission’s one-room museum.
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 a 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 a 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 are available everywhere.
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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.”
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.
If you want an offbeat, culture immersive experience then I would highly recommend you visit and stay at least one night in Kongthong.
A tradition which is carried on since time immemorial, each child at the time of birth is given a unique tune by his mother.
This ‘jingrwai lawbei’ (lullaby) becomes their name.
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 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 a fireplace 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.
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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- This is the official website of Meghalaya Tourism.
- 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 offbeat wah khen trek, a kind lady stayed back little longer at the small roadside 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 throughout 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. IF YOU WOULD LIKE US TO PLAN THIS TRIP FOR YOU EMAIL: email@example.com