A Trip to the Scotland of the East

While growing up, I haven’t had the opportunity to travel to a lot of places. It was hilariously limited to the intra-city travel i.e. to the many coaching shops in Kakadeo in Kanpur. Even during the college times, it was barely one trip to Manali. In retrospect, it was due to mental laziness specifically for travel. My mind was caught up in different areas, and didn’t wander off to travelling. It is needless to mention that I had little monies to spend as well.

When I left my first job to start my own business two years back, I realized that I had lot of time earlier outside of my workdays. I mentally chalked out a list of things/activities I could have done in those times. I immediately regretted that. While there were many line items, travelling to places was the biggest bullet point. Regret gradually seeped inside my head, but I took the conscious call of fixing it going forward.

Fast forward to now. I have some money in the account and enough to start ticking some of those line items. I have planned three trips in the financial year 15–16. I don’t necessarily think that way — it’s just how I planned my year around Apr’15-Mar’16

I planned a 4 day trip to Meghalaya, a north-eastern state in India. I could convince most of college wing-mates staying in India for it. The plan was to stay in Shillong and cover most of the areas from there.

Day 1

Our flight timings were synchronized so that we all arrive in the afternoon together. We were travelling from Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. Day 1 was travelling to Shillong from Guwahati. We encountered numerous landscapes during the trip, and finally went to the famous Umiam Lake. It was huge but the place was serene. There weren’t many tourists around which was a good thing. Unfortunately, we couldn’t travel down the lake because it was getting late in the night. The other half of the day was consumed in strolling through the main streets of Shillong and having the delicious native dumplings that they serve there.

Umiam Lake

Day 2

We had a rough idea of the places to visit in Meghalaya, but we didn’t really have a concrete itinerary. The night before, somewhere in the smoke, I decided to chalk out the day for Laitlum canyons and Elephant falls.

We were practically the only living beings who were there in the canyons. There was nobody else. There were 2–3 villagers trying to pass stuff to a village deep down the valley but that was it. We travelled down the hills and took a seat on the rocks somewhere. The view from the place was indeed mesmerizing. The startling difference from any other place that I have visited so far is the greenery that exists in the valley. As far as human sight goes, green is the only colour which reflects on your eyes.

A view from Laitlum Canyons

Elephant falls is not worth putting words into. While it is #2 travel spot on TripAdvisor, I wouldn’t really recommend it. It is a 3-step waterfall, and there would be many other places which would do justice to your time.

Day 3

We fired up our engines, packed our bags to visit the wettest place on earth. By the way, did I mention that we forgot to buy even one raincoat or an umbrella? Cherrapunji is home to most of the picturesque landscapes and waterfalls. We visited Nohkalikai Falls, Seven Sisters Falls and towards the end, Mawsmai Cave. A worth remembering incident in the future was the lightening burst 50m away from where we were standing. It scared the bejesus out of us.

Overall, it was an exhaustive day to cover the place but the visit including the road trip was well worth it.

Nohkalikai Falls and Seven Sisters Falls

Day 4

The last day was allocated to Mawlynnong and going to Indo-Bangladesh border. Mawlynnong was named the “cleanest village in Asia” by one of the famous travel magazines. Road trip to this place was one of the best I have had. It finally dawned on me as to why people recommend north-east to nature-lovers.

We visited the living root bridge and the village. The cleanliness of the village stood the pedantic test of our eyes. There was no speck of dust. It was that clean. You have to go there to believe it.

Living Root Bridge
Mawlynnong Village

Indo-Bangladesh border was good to visit to. There isn’t anything special going on there, but it’s worth going to the place once — simply because of the numerous waterfalls you encounter on the road trip.

India post at the border

Miscellaneous Observations and Thoughts

  • North-east is largely untouched by humans. Needless to say, the beauty is inversely proportional with the number of “us”. The is a startling observation because I was brought up in the heavily populated parts of the world.
  • On the same point above, it is more greener than other places that I have visited. It is quite clean, even in the hustle bustle of Shillong.
  • Good music on a picturesque road trip is trippy. While I haven’t experienced highs from alcohol and related stuff, I would imagine if those felt the same.
  • The government has largely neglected the development of the place. People are probably not that gelled in with the idea of “India” especially in the deeper parts of Meghalaya. However, the population has well utilized the limited resources that they have been provided.
  • One can notice women leading many things in the place for example women are predominantly selling stuff in the shops. As I understand from many interactions, women are highly respected in the region. This is a delight to see — would have been great if we had equality in our places as well.
  • I got hands on a DSLR Manglam had gotten. I discovered that I really liked photography. I have always been clicking snaps with the limited capacities of mobile cameras. However, shelling out such amount of money for a DLSR is scary.
  • Lastly, while the place was great, what made it even better was the people I went on this trip with. College wing mates are some of the best buds I have made, and I am proud to have met each one of them. I don’t know if many of us will be able to plan trips together in the future but I am sure hoping that’s not the case.
Few Good Men…

So that was the log of one of the many amazing trips with wing mates. Now, it’s time to freeze this ink and google the next destination…

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