Meghalaya as the name suggests is the Abode of the Clouds in the eastern corner of India. One of the 7 sister states of the North East, Meghalaya is spread across undulating green Garo, Khasi and Jaintia Hills and is the home of spectacular caves and waterfalls. There is poetic charm in every corner that inspired Rabindranath Tagore to write some of his best works from here. The hill state was carved out of undivided Assam in 1972 retaining Shillong as its capital. Over a period of time Shillong is a melting pot of cultures including people from the neighboring 7 sister states as well as from other Eastern and Northern States. With IIM Shillong opening its doors a couple of years ago it has also found its place on the higher education map of India. During a recent Meghalaya Trip I realised that almost every one speaks Hindi and English and are extremely tourist friendly.
Popular Destinations in Meghalaya
- Shillong the hill capital with lakes, falls, peaks combined with rock music and great food
- Sohra or Cherrapunjee the land of caves, waterfalls and living root bridges
- Mawlynnong the cleanest village of India and the Swachh Bharat poster village
- Dawki the last frontier on the Bangladesh border where the crystal clear Umngot flows
- Mawphlang where nature is worshiped as a local tradition in the sacred forest
- Mawsynram the rainiest place in the world with deep caves and waterfalls
- Laitlum where the canyons run deep into the valley & location for movie Rock On 2
- Nartiang the summer capital of Jaintia Kings which is now home to monoliths & ancient temple
Best time to Visit
Meghalaya can be visited anytime of the year barring the monsoon months when it may be difficult to travel around. The ideal time is March to September when spring gives away to brief summer followed by cloudy monsoon when the hills turn green and the waterfalls find their rhythm.
Reaching Meghalaya from other parts of India
The best and fastest way is to travel to Guwahati (Capital of Assam) by air or rail from any part of India. Shillong the capital of Meghalaya located about 100 kms away can be reached by car or bus in about 2-3 hours.
- There are shared taxi services from from Paltan Bazaar near the Railway Station and from the Airport charging about Rs 150-Rs 500 based on the vehicle and passenger capacity.The rates are fixed and there is no need to haggle or bargain.
- Hire a Taxi at Rs 1500 to Rs 2000 for the journey from Guwahati to Shillong
- Alternatively hire a self drive car or bike from ZoomCar or Awe Rides. Roads are good in most parts except for a few stretches here and there.
Meghalaya Trip Itineraries
These are few of the suggested itineraries for a Meghalaya Trip that has something of interest for everyone; little bit of adventure, calm and beautiful nature and some history
Long Weekend in Meghalaya- 3 days
- Shillong 1 Day ; Cherrapunjee 2 days
- Umiam Lake; Sohra Water Falls, Sohra Double Decker Root Bridge, Shillong Peak, Elephant Falls
5 Days in the Abode of Clouds
- Shillong – 2 Days; Sohra 2 days – Mawlynnong-Dawki -1 day
- Umiam Lake, Shillong Peak, Elephant Falls, Sohra Waterfalls and Caves, Double Decker Root Bridge Trek, Mawlynnong, Dawki, Other Shillong Sightseeing, Cafe Trail in Laitumkhrah
- Alternately,visit Mawphlang and Mawsynram if not interested in Trekking
Exhaustive Trip across Meghalaya for 7 days
- Shillong 2 days; Sohra -2 days ; Mawlynnong-Dawki – 1 day; Mawphlang-Mawsynram-1 Day; Laitlum-Nartiang 1 day
- Umiam Lake, Shillong Peak, Elephant Falls, Sohra Waterfalls and Caves, Double Decker Root Bridge Trek, Mawlynnong, Dawki, Other Shillong Sightseeing, Mawphlang,Mawsynram, Laitlum Canyon Trek, Nartiang Monoliths, Cafe Trail in Laitumkhrah
Trip Extension to Assam
- All the trips can be extended to Assam ( Guwahati, Kaziranga, Majuli, Shibsagar) by adding 3 to 5 days to the trip itineraries for Meghalaya given above.
Queries on Every Traveler’s Mind
Every time we travel to a new place, some queries related to food, sightseeing, local travel and safety crop up. I have tried to compile the answers to all these probable questions from travelers.
What kind of hotels are available in Meghalaya; Where to Stay?
Shillong has hotels to suit every budget. Police Bazaar is the central area of Shillong. It my not be inconvenient to stay a little away from Police Bazaar since the shared taxis ply all through the day to late at night and Shillong is very safe. Mawlynnong and Sohra have homestays which have more or less similar facilities. Sohra has some resorts like the Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort, Coniferous Resort etc
Is Meghalaya suitable for young children and old travelers?
Meghalaya is very suitable for the young and the old. The older people may not be able to navigate through the caves if they have mobility or breathing issues. They can experience the Living Root Bridge in Mawlynnong instead of Sohra which has better accessibility. Children above 8 years will enjoy all the sights like adults and the younger ones will be happier breathing in fresh air, climbing machans in Mawlynnong, running in the parks in Sohra
How to commute locally in Meghalaya if a vehicle is not hired for the trip?
Within Shillong the Maruti 800 cabs run on a shared basis from point to point with charges between Rs 10 to Rs 30 based on the distance covered. There are shared taxis between Shillong and other sightseeing spots and destinations from Police Bazaar which turn out to be economical. The Meghalaya Tourism office in Shillong opposite Police Bazaar bus stand organizes sightseeing trips to most of the destinations. The rates per head are affordable for solo travelers.
How convenient is a Meghalaya trip for backpackers and budget travelers?
Yes it is. Use shared transport to reach and in and around Meghalaya. Shillong is expensive and the budget accommodation may not be very clean and amiable. Its okay to stay away from Central Shillong – Police Bazaar since the shared taxis and buses are economical or you could just walk. “By the Way” is a very good back packer accommodation in Sohra where rest of the home stays tend to be expensive. Mawlynnong is expensive so alternatively camping in Shnongpden in Dawki may work out better
What are the food options for vegetarians on a Meghalaya trip?
There are lots of options for vegetarians in Shillong like any other Indian city. The standard Chinese, Indian in the restaurants in Shillong, the lip smacking cakes and desserts in the cafes as well as the samosas, jalebis and chaats in Delhu Mishtann Bhandar will keep you happy. Just that the largely pork based cuisine will have to be avoided.
How safe is Meghalaya for Solo Women Travelers?
I traveled solo and found it very safe and convenient. I stayed in Police Bazar in Shillong for the sake of convenience though it was pretty expensive. I frequently availed shared cabs and found the cabbies and the co-passengers to be extremely courteous and polite.
I traveled with North East Explorers and found Rajiv the founder to be very methodical. Write to them at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @northeastexplrs I also spoke to the Meghalaya Tourism Office in Shillong who have sightseeing trips at affordable costs but they do not run until they get a certain number of sign ups. I was there during off season and most of the trips were not running due to lack of travelers.
When are you traveling to Meghalaya the Abode of Clouds?
🙂 🙂 🙂 The clouds, waterfalls and breathtaking beauty is awaiting your arrival.