This December first week I visited Meghalaya for 7 days, initially, it wasn’t supposed to be a road trip, but since this would be my first solo trip and I didn’t want my trip to be limited by public transports I took the chance of renting a bike for these seven days. And I am glad to report this was the best decision I made. Riding around in Meghalaya was pure joy, the roads were well maintained and surrounded by the beautiful grasslands, valleys, and villages. Anywhere you stop on the road would be an amazing viewpoint, and you would be left wondering as to how many pits stops you can make before you reach your destination.
If you want to travel to a peaceful, safe and scenic place, Meghalaya is a great option among the Seven Sisters. It is not yet commercialized and is less touristy, it is a really safe and welcoming state if you are planning to travel solo. The locals here are really helpful and warm-hearted. I planned my trip for 7 seven days intending to travel to Shillong, Cherrapunji, and Dawki. To make things easier and organized I planned everything in detail and wrote it down on the spreadsheet. So here is my seven-day adventure;
Day 1: Guwahati to Shillong
I took an early morning flight from Bengaluru (BLR) to Guwahati (GAU) and proceeded to pick my bike from Guwahati after landing. I had booked a Royal Enfield 350 Classic with Rentrip.in and was delighted to receive the newer model with just a thousand KM on its meter. From there, you have to follow NH6 to Shillong which is around 100KM. NH6 is less crowded and you can easily cruise your way to Shillong.
On the way just 15KM before Shillong lies the Umiam Lake on the river Umiam, a magnificent and huge water body offering some good water activities and a great place to capture a couple of sunset shots if you are willing to walk down the lake to pick the perfect spots. By the time I reached Shillong, it was already getting dark, in Meghalaya, it gets dark quite early so plan your trip accordingly. I booked an Airbnb called Sun Beam Cottage, to stay for 1 night in Shillong but you can easily find hotels and hostels cheaper than this in Police Bazar.
The rest of the evening I explored Police Bazar, this is a good place for you to pick things that you forgot to bring along for the rest of the trip. Especially for bikers, you can get almost anything related to vehicles on Keating Road in Police Bazar. You can find great restaurants around here serving the traditional Khasi food, I had a delicious pork thali at the Red Rice restaurant.
Day 2: Shillong to Sohra (Cherrapunji)
A tip for bikers to remember in Shillong is its traffic rules, there are lots of one way, restricted roads and the traffic police monitoring them, although the police are really helpful and even if you take a wrong one, just ask for help and they might even give you a pass. Bottom line is to follow the traffic rules here, it might seem a bit confusing the first time.
Cherrapunji is also known as Sohra locally and is written as such on a lot of street signs, it’s around 60KM from Shillong. You should start early morning from Shillong. On your way, your first visit would be:
I particularly enjoyed the road to Laitlum Canyons and was lucky enough to find clear weather on that day and was able to capture some great shots. You can relax here for a while and take in all the beauty this place has to offer. This was my first time operating a DSLR camera and I was fumbling with it but luckily I met another solo traveler here who had the same camera like mine and helped me out with my camera.
Mawkdok Viewpoint is right on the way to Sohra and offers a breathtaking view of the valley. It is also a good place to take a short coffee break and enjoy the beautiful view. If you are feeling a bit adventurous you can climb down the stairs into the valley and feel the vibe of the dense dark green valley, where a water stream flows down the valley. You can also climb down before the bridge at the viewpoint to perfect selfie point and further down a few stairs you can find a nice place to sit and even find a beautiful tiny waterfall. This where I first saw the blue water and was surprised as anyone.
Garden of Caves
The next destination on your way would be Garden of Caves, 5KM off the road on the left. I found it on a street sign on my way and decided to take the left and I am pleased to say that it was totally worth it. It is a unique place maintained by the locals with different natural wonders and stone formations. You even find a shower waterfall there. My first encounter with the bamboo bridges was here and it is a totally different experience of walking on these bamboo bridges a bit shaky, making creaking noises to disturb the silence of the place. There are actually three different falls here each possessing a unique beauty of its own. Highly recommended.
It was already getting dark by the time I reached Sohra, I stayed at a place called By The Way for Rs.500/- with a private room, study table and a bookshelf with an awesome book library. The host is a really warm person and he guided me with all the tourist locations around Sohra. You can easily find this place on Google Maps.
Day 3: Sohra
Get up early, it is always good to visit places early in the morning, that way there are fewer tourists at these places and you are able to get good pictures. There are lots of beautiful places to visit in Sohra, the city itself is small, less crowded and well maintained. You visit all the waterfalls on your first day in Sohra.
About 10KM from Sohra lies the Dainthlen Falls, falling down into the deep valley. The stream bed here is really different, the flow of water has created different stone formations and it certainly is the novelty of this place according to me.
Wei Sawdong Falls
A 5KM short ride ahead of Dainthlen falls lies the Wei Sawdong falls, I missed it on the first time as the street sign from where you have to trek down is barely noticeable. A 10 mins trek down to the waterfalls reveals the real beauty of this place and is certainly one of the most underrated places in Sohra. This is a three step waterfall with each having a small basin/swimming pool of its own with clear blue water, it was truly a mesmerizing scene.
To reach Eco Park and the destinations following it, you have to ride back to Sohra. Eco Park a family and kids friendly park and you will often find schools trips arriving here.
Mawsmai Caves are limestones caves and only one of them is open to the public which is about 150 meters long and narrow. You will find a couple of sparkling limestones here. If you are on a tight schedule you can skip this and instead visit the Arwah Caves, you will find some prehistoric fossils there.
Seven Sister Falls
During the time of December you will only find one amongst the seven falls but during October season there are seven waterfalls here and it looks really beautiful. I would argue that the view from here is magnificent no matter when you visit.
Day 4: Nongriat village
The famous double-decker living root bridge is here in Nongriat village, you should start early morning if you wish to return to Sohra the same day. To reach Nongriat village you have to go to Tryna village which is 12KM from Sohra. From Tryna, you trek down to Nongriat village.
Double Decker Living Root Bridge
The trek down to Nongriat village shouldn’t be more than an hour and a half long. You can hire a local guide along with you but it’s not really necessary. The double-decker living root bridge is a couple minutes walk from the village. This bridge is constructed by the locals with roots of the trees supporting it and is really wonderful and feels quite serene to walk on these and it’s literally one on top of the other. Before reaching double-decker bridge there are also a couple of other root bridges that you can explore, one of them is called Lons Root Bridge. After the double-decker root bridge, you will have to trek another 30 mins to reach to a natural swimming pool with a waterfall. You can relax, sunbathe, swim in this natural pool, with its crystal clear blue water. Highly recommend you to take a dip in this pool.
After you are done swimming in the heavenly pool, a furthermore 20 mins trek will take you to the crown jewel of this place called the Rainbow fall. I was lucky enough to witness the rainbow at this waterfall and no matter how long you sit and stare at it, it never ceases to amaze you. You can relax and enjoy this beauty for as long as you want and maybe even take a dip into cold blue waters of the falls.
If you have the time consider staying at one of the homestays in Nongriat and explore this enchanting place as much as you want. This was one of the most beautiful treks and I meet lots of travelers on the trek, made lots of friends here. It can get a bit exhausting climbing up but when you reach to Tryna again have the delicious pineapples served there and you will forget all your pains!
Day 5: Sohra
On the 5th day, I decided to explore Sohra a bit more. The first thing you should visit is the Nohkalikai Falls View Point. This is one of the most attractive waterfalls in Sohra and will not disappoint you whenever you visit it. The view of the falls from the waterfalls is breathtaking but if you are feeling adventures you can actually either trek down to the waterfalls or trek to the top of the waterfalls. I choose to trek to the top of the waterfall.
Nohkalikai Falls Trek to the Top
The trek, all in all, takes about two to three hours and is moderately difficult and basic knowledge of bouldering is a plus. Initially, it might seem daunting to one but I promise the view at the end is way more rewarding and humbling. From the viewpoint, you trek down through the jungle for about 20 mins to the river bed and then for another 20 to 30 mins you walk along the river bed to reach to the top of the falls. The trek along the river bed is really fun and gives kind of an Anaconda movie vibe if you are trekking in the late afternoon (as it starts to get dark here). The river bed has huge boulders and big potholes where a human can easily fit and take a bath, be careful while stepping. The locals have provided marks and bamboo stairs to help you along the path. The river bed is full of clear turquoise colored water pools and gushing waterfalls.
Although nothing tops the view at the top of the waterfall from where the water falls 1115 ft down and it is truly a humbling experience.
Arwah Caves has some prehistoric marine fossils, even clusters of these can be found. Although this a huge network of caves only a portion of it is open to public yet it leaves a lot for you to explore. There are also stalagmites and stalactites structures here, that we all read about in Geography.
After exploring the plains, you can visit the Bangladesh Plains Viewpoint and easily see the terrain difference between the two nations, the hills and mountains being India and the large plains being Bangladesh.
In Sohra there are great places to have food, I especially tried the Halari restaurant and the Vibgyor restaurant and I have had the best Chicken masala and Pork dishes here.
Day 6: Wahkhen village
On day 6th I decided to leave for Dawki early morning, on the way to Dawki there is a great Bamboo trail in Wahkhen village that everybody recommended me.
Bamboo Bridge Trail
From Sohra, Wahkhen village is 50KM. This bamboo bridge trail is constructed by the locals and is not for the faint-hearted people. The trail beings quite easy, you trek down for 10 mins through the grassland to the river bed with waterfall. Then you climb up from the river and on the way, there are some bamboo bridges to cross over some boulders and steep rocks. But as you gain heigh these rocks become steeper and steeper to a point where they are almost vertical and you find yourself standing on a bamboo bridge made out of five bamboos, hanging almost 1500 feet from ground level. You are tested more and more as you go ahead, to the end where you are crossing on a bamboo bridge to very steep rock standing all alone at a great height in the middle of the valley surrounded by green mountains. It gets scarier going back down as its now sunny and all the moisture from the bamboos have been dried and they start making crackling noises…!
The view from the top of this rock mountain is just astonishing and totally work it. Although I would like to assure you that the locals are regularly replacing the bamboos on the trail. Highly recommended and do not miss this experience at all. A local villager carried this 3-year-old son on his back to the top and climbed back down in front of me like it was nothing.
Day 7: Shnongpdeng village
Dawki seemed a bit touristy to me hence by someone’s suggestion I decided to stay in Shnongpdeng village at Halatong Homestay for Rs 600/- in private room. The host is a cheerful and fun guy. From Wahkhen village, Shnongpdeng is 70KM and is a peaceful village on the banks of river Wah Umngot, the clearest river I have ever seen, in the morning and noon you can see 10 meters deep into the river and the boats seem like they are floating on it.
On the 7th day, you can leave for Mawlynnong village known as the cleanest village in Asia and rightfully so. You can park your bike in the village and stroll around the village, there are beautiful and colorful flowers at every house and many bamboo viewpoints. There is also a living root bridge close by which also a good place to visit. Another attraction here is the balancing rock. Also, don’t miss out on the local lunch in the village which really healthy and nutritious. Mawlynnong is 42KM from Shnongpdeng village.
MaKrang Shuri Falls
At this point, I thought no other waterfall was going to surprise me and MaKrang Shuri would be no different. But I was mistaken. The MaKrang Shuri falls is 30KM from Shnongpdeng village. You have to trek for about 15 mins down to the waterfalls and upon arrival you see this beautiful waterfall falling off of the turquoise river into the blue water pool. Also, you can swim in this pool if you want and you will also see a rainbow from the viewpoint of the waterfall.
Back to Shnongpdeng village, you can do a boat riding or kayaking on the river. I did the boating which was Rs.500 for about 45 mins. I went around 3 in the noon which feels like the start of the evening, everything was so calm on the river, with a natural ambiance, fish swimming down and around your boat. Fisherman catching fish in the river. I got to try paddling the boat for a while I was just going round and round on the same spot and then the guide showed me the technique to stir it straight. It was a fun experience.
On my way back to the village I meet the same traveler friends I meet in Sohra, they convinced me to put a tent on the river bank, so I packed my bags and shifted to the tents. We made a campfire, some campers were playing guitar somewhere on the banks of the river. Later that night we went on the hanging bridge of the river and slept on the bridge facing the sky. We had never seen a sky full of stars, stars shooting off the sky.
On Day 8, I left Shnongpdeng village to Guwahati, this can be a long ride, on the way you can take a pit stop in Shillong or at the famous ML05 Cafe.
At every, destination, Sohra, Nongriat, Shnongpdeng I meet amazing people and we became friends instantly, we shared tips, dinners, and our journeys. I got to learn a lot from this particular journey and I am eagerly waiting to embark on my next adventure.
Tips & Notes
- Carry your ID proof (Driving License), First Aid kit
- Download offline Google Maps
- Carry warm clothes, it gets cold here, Swimming Trunks
- Carry a Mobile holder for the bike, Gloves
- Carry a couple of pairs of Socks
- Most important, have an open mind and the will to explore…!
- Refer: How to Travel Solo in Meghalaya in a Budget
- Refer: Backpacking In Meghalaya | NorthEast India Trip | Sohra, Living Roots Bridge | Tanya Khanijow (YouTube)