Meghalaya Tourism : An Eco-tourist’s paradise, Meghalaya has largely avoided the urban squalor ubiquitous to so much of India. It is home to some of the most pristine forests in India and most of the state is indeed covered by them. With its many national parks, deep valleys, arching waterfalls and charming villages, it is a great getaway destination for those tiring of modern life. It is wettest place on earth.
Shillong is the state capital of Meghalaya, a quiet city in the Khasi hills. The city was founded by the British, who set up an administrative center in a small village. Nowadays, it is a center of tourism in the eastern part of the state. There are many undisturbed forests ringing the city to explore.
Just outside Shillong is the idyllic peak of the same name, popular among locals for its scenic views of the city and surrounding countryside. It is also the highest peak in the state, and has a religious significanceonce a year when it is the site of a springtime festival to a local deity.
Also nearby Shillong is Sohpetbneng Peak, another sacred hill.But surrounded by more of the lush vegetation and wild forest ubiquitous to Meghalaya. It is a popular meditation spot.
It may sound like an odd thing to mention in a travel itinerary, but Shillong’s golf course is one of the most respectable in all of India. Golf course has natural greens, a consequence of the very humid weather of the area, and is one of the biggest in the world as well. It was built by the British in 1898. Any golf enthusiast that visits the state should make this a stop, as it is a highly reputable and difficult course.
The wettest place on earth, ranking in the Guinness World Records as such. Cherrapunjee gets over 450 inches of rain every year, inundating virtually the entire area for months at a time. Coming out her during Monsoon season can be a Herculean task. But it is a very unique experience to do so.
Among the tallest waterfalls in India, Nohkalikai Falls. It is reachable by hiking and is set in some of the most gorgeous scenery in the world among the Khasi hills. An excellent day trip from Shillong, many tourists, domestic and foreign, make the trip out here to breath in the fresh air and see some pristine wildlife.
In the heart of Meghalaya and a short drive away from Shillong is the holy grove of Mawphlang. The forest has been tended to for hundreds of year. And it is home to many species of plant life not found anywhere else .
One of the largest riverine islands in the world, Nongkhnum is home to a unique culture and some fabulous wildlife. The island is surrounded by beautiful waterfalls. This is also one of the best fishing spots in India, as the Namiliang river is largely unpolluted and isolated.
Mawsmai Falls are perhaps the most spectacular waterfalls in Meghalaya. A set of some dozen of waterfalls tumbling down the face of a verdant cliff. Reachable from either Charrapunjee or Shillong, they are a popular tourist attraction and frequently trekked to.
The scenic town of Jowal is in the Jaintian Hills and is renowned for its quaint scenery. It’s also a great departure point for the surrounding hills, full of ancient relics and caves.
Nartiang was the capital of the Sutnga kindom hundreds of years ago, and it is now a charming forest area. The many monoliths in the ancient city remind one of prehistoric temples. And their commingling with the surrounding woods is a piquant reminder of man’s mortality.
Syntu Ksiar, the golden flower of Meghalaya, is a valley lake renowned for its crystal reflections. It is a wonderful place to spend the day in peaceful contemplation or relaxation. Enjoy taking in the sounds of birds chirping and the gentle winds that bounce off the lake.
The Garo Hills are centered around the town of Tura. A quaint village in the midst of some of the best wildlife in the world. The area is a reserve forest and a biodiversity hotspot, and it overlooks the beautiful valley of the Brahmaputra. Many hiking trails can be easily accessed from the town, including to the top of Tura Peak.
Nokrek National Park
Nokrek is one of the most isolated parts of India. It is home to what many botanists consider the ancestor of all citrus fruits. Leading to its protection by the national government as a National Biosphere. Nokrek national park offers great hiking and other peaceful nature excursions. It is a very nice national park.
Nearby Tura is the beautiful waterfall Imilchang Dare, tucked in a narrow canyon and seemingly bubbling out of the earth. Isolated and beautiful, the waterfall is a great hiking destination. It has a pond surrounding the base of the fall, perfect for swimming.
Balpakram National Park
Balpakram National Park is a vast forest reserve on top of a scenic and remote plateau in the Garo Hills. Elephants, leopards, buffalo, and many other large mammals live here, including the Hullock Gibbon, the only ape living in India. The park is justly famous for its bird watching. Where hundreds of birds, many of them endemic, live and prosper peacefully. Addtionally, there are hundreds of flower species to dazzle the eyes and senses.
History and Culture
What is now Meghalaya was isolated for thousands of years. With the Khasi, Garo, and Jaintia tribes living their own existences separate from the rest of the world. The area became part of India when the British moved into the area. And was variously administered as part of Bengal or Assam.
It became its own state in 1969, giving a high degree of autonomy to the area. And allowing the tribal peoples to live life at their own choosing. Today, many live much the same as they always have. Although in the past century most Meghalayans have converted to Christianity. It is one of only three states to have a Christian majority, the others being Nagaland and Mizoram. Hindus, Animists, and Muslims make up large minorities. Most Meghalayans are tribal; the Khasi, Garo and Jaintia have given their names to some of the most important geographic features in the state.
The state is famous for its rolling, forested hills. Far apart from the hustle bustle of the Gangetic plain and delta and massive cities of other parts of India. Meghalaya has some of the wettest weather on the planet. The town of Cherrapunjee is indeed the wettest place on earth. With many hundred inches coming down on it every monsoon season.
For the tourist visiting the area, it is an excellent place to see India as it once was. Before industrialization came and changed the area forever. Its forests and ancient ruins are a trip into the past. And ought to be experienced by everyone at some point in their life.