Meghalaya Of Beauty And Mysticism

Discover India's Northeast|January - February 2020

Meghalaya Of Beauty And Mysticism
Besides the breathtaking landscape, it’s the fascinating tales, taboos, and traditional practices of the indigenous people that are memorable takeaways.
Neelima Mishra

An urge to visit all the eight states of the Northeast led us to Meghalaya in October 2018. Having visited Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Sikkim over the past few years, our plans were made in Bhubaneswar, about three months ahead of the trip. There were three of us: my husband Janmejay, our friend Tarun, and I. We wanted our trip to be as naturally intoxicating as possible, to give Tarun a different experience from the usual city life that he inhabits. And to that end, we contacted the team from Discover North East Travel Company, based out of Guwahati, Assam, who happily met our requirements.

We took a flight from Bhubaneswar, Odisha, and landed in Guwahati where Himanshu Pandey, the operations head from Discover North East Travel Company and Rahul dada, our driver, received us. They accompanied us throughout our trip. A graduate from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Mizoram, Himanshu’s knowledge of the region was comprehensive and his collection of songs was all the more amazing. The way to Shillong was busy and we made our first halt to take a few pictures of Umiam Lake. We were told that it wasn’t a natural lake but a dam reservoir. Later when I Googled it, I found that it was indeed an artificial lake, created by damming the Umiam River and covered about 220 square km. This was first hydro-power project in this part of the country.

Unfortunately, our first night in Shillong wasn’t quite memorable as we stayed in the crowded Police Bazaar area. It wasn’t the Shillong of my imagination—clouds, ferns, mist, hills, etc., and Dusshera, being around the corner didn’t help either. However, after munching some piping hot jalebis from the highly recommended Delhi Mistan Bhandar, Tarun found his way to the urban hub at Cloud 9, situated on the 5th floor of the Centre Point Hotel, where we drank, dined and chatted while lapping up all information on the Northeast that Himanshu had to tell us.

DAY 1

We started early the next day and headed to Laitlum Canyon, an hour’s drive from Shillong (along the Shillong-Jowai road). Meghalaya is called the ‘abode of the clouds‘, and at Laitlum one can experience why—with clouds swirling all around enveloping us. Laitlum translates to ‘end of hills’ and this sublimely beautiful hilltop was true to its name. Having gained popularity over recent years following the shooting of the Bollywood film Rock On 2, the track ‘Hoi Kiw (Chalo Chalo)’ featuring Usha Uthup and the band ‘Summersault’, has been on our playlist ever since. We also leant that there is a steep trail from the canyon to the beautiful Rosong village, which has hardly 300 villagers. The villagers use an age old pulley system to transport essentials like crops, fruits, and vegetables.

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January - February 2020