After a busy 6 days in Meghalaya, I was looking forward to spending a quiet day away from the tourist humdrum. I hired a vehicle for Nartiang where the monolithic rocks and an ancient temple had promises of Jaintia history but often fell off the regular tourist map. On our return journey we decided to take a detour for a brief stopover in Smit which has some remote connection to Khasi royalty. In conversation, Rajiv who plans tours for North East Explorers suggested Laitlum a little ahead of Smit which was the filming spot for a recent Bollywood movie -Rock On 2 with stunning natural vistas. I am glad he suggested and I chose to tread on a road less traveled since the detour to Laitlum was a perfect closure to my Meghalaya trip.
Kings Seat in Smit
This turned out to be a wooden house built without nails and polished to perfection. The stately disposition of the sloping roofed rich wooden structure was a little out of place between rows of run down houses. The house is the living quarters of the King of Khyrim and the compound used for the traditional Nongkrem dance performed during the Smit Festival in November.
Winding Roads lead to Laitlum
A little beyond Smit the bumpy road opened up into an expansive valley of different hues. The occasional biker whizzed past and local boys were returning after tending to the fields. It was a beautiful sight in the late afternoon where field of gold merged into the distant undulating green.
Expansive Meadows in Laitlum
This is the place where you would love to do nothing; roll on the meadow; take a long walk; meditate or just have that no holds barred heart to heart conversation with yourself or a companion. The golden meadow of January as I witnessed it will turn lush green during monsoons, the grass soft and inviting. it may be a little slushy on rainy days so it may be sensible to carry a mat along. This is the place where Bollywood movie Rock On 2 was filmed. If you have watched the movie you will be able to easily identify the location of the concert.
There are no eateries in the area except for an odd vendor selling boiled eggs, bottled water or juice. It is very much advisable to carry packed food, hampers if you are planning to spend quality time there.
Living on the Edge in Laitlum Canyon
Whether it was the young local boys or the bikers who rode in to spend some time with nature; all were obsessed with standing on the edge to look down into the valley; the infallible attraction of nature. There is something so soothing about just staring out at space; it has an amazing healing quality but we are so addicted to our gadgets that in our zest to capture the moment; we lose the opportunity to live in the moment.
The trek down to the village and the flowing stream promises gorgeous views and a breathtaking green path. From what I could notice the trail seems to be alternating between steep and gentle stretches. I could not do it due to paucity of time since it was getting late but would love to go back & walk down that route some day. It may just take about 4-5 hours for a round trip trek and it will be a journey to remember when the valley will be lush green and the clouds will float within arms length.
- Laitlum is about 25 kms away from Shillong along the Shillong -Jowai road, a little beyond Smit. The drive is beautiful except for a small stretch towards Laitlum where it is rocky and bumpy. There is hardly anything to see except soak up nature’s abundance and just be. A favorite picnic spot for the locals and bike travelers.
- Laitlum can be visited round the year. However the best time is from March to August when the rains turn the area into an oasis of varying shades of green. If you have 5 to 6 hours in hand, then trek down to the village and the gorgeous aerial views promises a great trail ahead deep into the valley.
- It may cost about Rs 1500-2500 for the day trip based on duration and type of vehicle
- Pack Food, Water and also carry a mat.
- Contact North East Explorers for planning this trip or write to them at email@example.com or tweet @northeastexplrs . They did a great job with mine and the young entrepreneur from north east will surely make you comfortable.
- Around Mawlynnong, Cleanest Village in India
- Boatride on Umngot in Dawki
- Glimpse of the Border Post in Dawki-Tamabil
- Worshiping Nature in Mawphlang Sacred Forest