Places to Visit in Meghalaya, India

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Situated in the northeastern region of India, Meghalaya is a hidden gem for travelers and nature lovers. The state was relatively unknown to the majority of travel enthusiasts until the last two decades. Today not only is it one of the most visited states in northeastern India but also in all of India. Meghalaya is known for its diverse flora and fauna, and at the same time, the state is renowned for its hills, waterfalls, and caves.

Nohkalikai Falls In Meghalaya

Nohkalikai Falls In Meghalaya

Traversing Meghalaya was in my bucket list form a long time but, owing to the fact, it requires a substantial amount of time, I was never able to execute my plan. Eventually, when I explored the state, I was impressed by the beauty it offered. Moreover, the simplicity and the hospitality of the locals made a remarkable impression in my memories. My trip to Meghalaya served as an eye-opener. It gave me a glimpse of the beauty of North-East India and forced me to explore the entire region.

In this post, I will share a list of renowned places a tourist must visit when planning a trip to Meghalaya. Moreover, I will try to list the places as I explored them.

Meghalaya The Abode of Cloud

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A Quick Detail about Meghalaya

North-east India is comprised of seven states, collectively known as the “Seven Sisters States” and Meghalaya is one of them. The word Meghalaya is a Sanskrit word that translates to “The Abode of Clouds,” and anyone who has been to Meghalaya will understand how it got that name.

Meghalaya is a hilly state covered under a dense forest. About 70% of the area of  Meghalaya falls under forest cover. Three hill ranges are most prominent in Meghalaya, i.e., The Garo Hills (Western), The Khasi Hills (Central), and the Jaintia Hills (Eastern). A majority of travelers visit the Khasi and the Jaintia Hills as they are well known compared to other areas. The Garo Hills is a relatively unknown and unexplored region of the state.

Some amazing facts about Meghalaya are:

  • The state hosts the majority of the limestone caves in India. In fact, out of the 10 longest caves, nine are in Meghalaya.
  • The state also hosts the highest waterfall in India, i.e., the Noh-Ka-Likai Falls. During my journey, I encountered numerous waterfalls, and I was under the impression that the state should be called the waterfall capital of India.
  • Mawsynram, a village in East Khasi Hill District, holds the record of the wettest place in the world. Earlier, the record was held by Cherrapunjee, another town in Meghalaya.
Boating In Dawki

Boating In Dawki

Places to Visit in Meghalaya

My trip to Meghalaya included exploring the famous hotspots of the Khasi and the Jaintia hills. While the state has uncountable tourist-friendly sites, the majority of places to visit in Meghalaya can be grouped into three main categories:

Here I have listed the sites which one can explore in a week; otherwise, a month is insufficient for Meghalaya. For example, the Garo Hills is famous for the Balpakram National Park and the Nokrek National Park, but arriving at Garo Hills is a challenging task. Similarly, Saipung Reserved Forest is another place one can visit in the Jaintia Hills, but reaching there alone will consume two days, which is not advisable when you have limited time.

Places to Explore Near Shillong

The city of Shillong is the capital of Meghalaya. Shillong is also known by the sobriquet, “Scotland of the East.” Before India’s independence, it served as the capital of entire northeastern India. Situated at an elevation of 1600 meters above sea level, Shillong is famous for its hills and weather.

When Britishers arrived in India and particularly in north-east India, they were too amazed by the beauty and the climate of the city and decided to make it the capital of the entire northeastern province. Today Shillong is one of the fastest-growing cities in India, yet regardless of all the progress, the city is still widely known for the beauty it offers. Moreover, it acts as a gateway for the rest of the tourist destinations in the state. No journey to Meghalaya is complete without exploring Shillong and here are a few must-visit places in Shillong.

Umiam Lake Meghalaya

Umiam Lake

Umiam Lake is a man-made lake formed by the damming of the Umiam River. The Umiam Lake lies on the Guwahati-Shillong Highway, 18 kilometers outside the Shillong City. Umiam Lake is probably the first tourist attraction a visitor sees on a journey to Meghalaya. Surrounded by dense forest, the lake is a popular weekend destination for the residents of Shillong and Guwahati.

Shillong Peak

The highest peak in Meghalaya lies in Shillong. With an elevation of 1900 meters above sea level, the Shillong peak is a must-visit site in Meghalaya. The height enables a panoramic view of the city, and one can see the nearby hills and forests of the state. Shillong also serves as the base of the Indian Air Force, and it is the headquarters of Eastern Air Command. There is a small museum built and managed by IAF, which is a must-visit place for kids and defense lovers.

Meghalaya State Museum

What could be a better place to understand Meghalaya other than the state museum? The Meghalaya State Museum, also known as Williamson Sangma State Museum, is a place where one can get detailed information about the state. Named after the first chief minister of Meghalaya, i.e., Williamson Sangma, the state museum is a must-visit place for all kinds of travelers. It has detailed information related to Meghalaya’s history, geography, and notable celebrities of the state. Moreover, it hosts fossils, sculptures, and artifacts associated with the daily life of the tribes of the state.

Elephant Waterfall

Situated 10 kilometers from Shillong, Elephant waterfall is a two-tiered cascading waterfall. Although the height of the waterfall is not that tall compared with the other waterfalls situated in the state, the Elephant waterfall is a major tourist attraction owing to its turbulent flow, especially during the monsoon season.

Laitlum Canyon Meghalaya

Laitlum Grand Canyon

While the Grand Canyon of the United States is the most famous in the world, the Laitlum Canyon of Meghalaya has its own charm. Situated 25 kilometers from Shillong, it is a must-visit place on a trip to Meghalaya. The Laitlum Canyon lies on the Jowai-Shillong route and is famous for the deep gorges and hills under a complete blanket of trees. Another distinctive feature is, unlike the Grand Canyon which is mostly barren, Laitlum Canyon is full of vegetation.

Places to Visit in Cherrapujee

Locally known as Sohra, Cherrapunjee is undoubtedly the most visited town in the state of Meghalaya. It is known for its waterfalls and caves, and until recently, it also held the record as the wettest place in the world. Cherrapunjee receives a massive amount of rainfall during the monsoon season in India. Heavy rain and hills pave the way for the formation of waterfalls, and Cherraunjee has many of them. Some important places to travel in Cherrapunjee include the following list.

Noh-Ka-Likai Waterfall

With a height of 340 meters, the Noh-Ka-Likai waterfall is the highest in India. The waterfall lies 5 kilometers from the main town, and the tourism department has built a watchtower to enjoy the waterfall. Noh-Ka-Likai Waterfall is also a great place for trek enthusiasts, as reaching the base of the waterfall requires a moderate to tough trek.

David Scott Trail

David Scott Trail is the most popular trekking route in Meghalaya, it is named after a British administrator David Scott. He lived in Cherrapunjee for thirty years (1802-1832) and discovered the course during his time in India. The David Scott Trail is a moderate trek of 16 kilometers connecting the Mawphlang to Ladmawphlang villages of Meghalaya. Earlier, the route was more than 100 kilometers, connecting the Indian state of Assam with Bangladesh.

Double Root Bridge Cherrapunjee

Double Root Bridge

The Double Root Bridge is the most famous tourist attraction of Cherrapunjee as well as of Meghalaya. It is not only visited by thousands of Indians every year but also by a large number of foreigners. There are many root bridges in Meghalaya, but the double root bridge at Nongriat Village is the most well-known. The root bridges of Meghalaya are the classic example of the skills of the Khasi Hills tribe, proving the deep connection of humans with nature. Visiting Root Bridge requires ascending 4000 stairs, and it is a challenging trek. There are two root bridges in Cherrapunjee, the double root bridge in the Nongriat and single root bridge in Tyrna Village.

Rainbow Falls Cherrapunjee Meghalaya

Rainbow Falls

Although the town of Cherrapunjee has numerous waterfalls, I liked Rainbow Falls the most. The reason lies somewhere in its location as the waterfall remains hidden from the majority of the travelers. Visiting rainbow waterfall requires a challenging trek of one hour, and it lies en route the tour of the double root bridge. The Rainbow waterfall lies deep in the jungle and requires rock climbing skills to reach the base of the waterfall. If one is visiting the double root bridges of Meghalaya, I will strongly recommend visiting the Rainbow waterfall in Meghalaya.

Other Waterfalls In the town

Apart from Rainbow Falls and the Noh-Ka-Likai Waterfall, Cherrapunjee is known for many more waterfalls. These include the Seven Sisters fall, Wei-Saw-Dong Waterfall, Dainthlen falls, Khoh Ramhah, Kynrem Falls, Tyrshi Falls, and many more. Visiting all these waterfalls will consume more than one day, but they all are worth visiting.

Arwah Cave Meghalaya

Arwah Cave Meghalaya

Caves to Visit in Cherrapunjee

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, Meghalaya is famous for its waterfalls and caves. I have already mentioned a good number of waterfalls in Meghalaya. Yet the journey to Meghalaya is not complete without exploring some of the caves found in the state. Similar to the waterfalls, Cherrapunjee is also famous for caves and hosts numerous caves.

Arwah Cave Meghalaya

Out of all the caves, the Mawsmai cave and Arwah cave are the most famous. During my trip, I visited both caves, and it was an altogether different experience for me. From my experience, I will recommend visiting the Arwah caves as it is less commercialized, thus a lesser number of visitors. Mawsmai cave is the bigger of the two, but a large number of tourists make the visit miserable.

Apart from these two caves, there are a few more caves in the town like Krem Mawmluh, Krem Lymput, and Krem Dam.

Places to visit near Dawki

The town of Dawki is the third most visited place in Meghalaya after Cherrapunjee and Shillong. Situated on the India-Bangladesh International Border, it is famous for camping and boat rides. The town gets the name from the Dawki River, which originates in the Jaintia Hills and later flows into Bangladesh. The city is also renowned for peaks from where one can see the vast Bangladeshi Plains. A few significant sites to visit in Dawki include the following list.

India Bangladesh Friendship Gate

Dawki-Tamabil ICP

The Integrated Check Post (ICP) is a major tourist attraction of Dawki. Visiting the international border of a country is a remarkable feat, especially in India, where cross border tension is a daily affair. The Border Security Force of India guards the India-Bangladesh border. If you can strike a friendly conversation with the officer, they might allow you to visit the border for photography.

Adventure Sports and Activities in Dawki

Dawki is quickly becoming a major tourist destination of India. The Shnongpdeng village near Dawki is known for its camps and treks amid the dense jungle. A must to do a thing in Dawki is a boat ride in the crystal clear water of Dawki River. Dawki River is famous for its clean water, allowing tourists to see the river bed.

Krang Shuri Waterfall Meghalaya

Krang Suri Waterfall

The most spectacular waterfall in the Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya, the Karnag Shuri Waterfall, is bliss for nature lovers. It lies 30 kilometers from the Dawki town on the Jowai-Dawki Road and requires a moderate walk to reach the base of the waterfall. Its source is a water stream originating in the Jaintia Hills, and therefore, the best time to visit the waterfall is the post-monsoon season. The road connecting Dawki to Krang Suri is in good shape, thanks to the high trade that takes place at Dawki ICP.

Mawlynnong Village Meghalaya

Mawlynnong Village

Situated in the East Khasi Hill district, the Mawlynnong village holds the record of the Cleanest Village in Asia. The village is a major attraction for tourism as well as for study as cleanliness in such a remote place in India is a mammoth task. Every house in Mawlynnong village follows a strict cleanliness protocol with bamboo dustbins present in front of every home. Moreover, the village is also famous for the living root bridge, which lies in the Riwai Village close to Mawlynnong.

Bamboo Trek Of Meghalaya

Mawryngkhang Trek

Commonly known as the Bamboo Trek in Meghalaya, the Mawryngkhang trek is a must-do activity for trekkers. The entire trek route is created with the help of bamboo shafts tied together, giving the shape of the ramp. The endpoint of the trek is a hilltop, known as Mawryngkhang or U Mawryngkhang. According to the Khasi Hills Folklore, Mawryngkhang was the king of stones, and he established his supremacy over neighboring stone kingdoms. Later a usurper, U Mawpator, challenged the reign of Mawryngkhang, ensuring a battle in which Mawryngkhang was victorious.

From the top of a hilltop, one can see the two big rocks standing high amid the forest, one resembling Mawryngkhang and the second U Mawpator. The Mawryngkhang trek lies on the border of Khasi hill and Jaintia hills; therefore, I decided to mention it in the Jaintia Hills section.

Best Time to Visit Meghalaya

One can visit Meghalaya during any time of the year but the best time to visit the state is the post-monsoon season. The region receives some of the highest rainfall in the world, and once the season is over, it is green everywhere. Moreover, the state is famous for its waterfalls, and the majority of the waterfalls are non-perennial. After the rainy season, these waterfalls flow in their full might.

Roads In Meghalaya

How to Reach Meghalaya

As mentioned in the beginning, Meghalaya is one of the most visited states in North-East India; thus, it is well connected with other big cities of the region. Guwahati, the biggest city of Northeastern India, is only 100 kilometers from Shillong and requires a 2 hours’ drive. Although Shillong has an airport, the airport at Guwahati is a bigger one with more flight connectivity.

Regarding railways, as the majority of Meghalaya is under dense forest and hill cover, the construction of railways is a daunting task. Currently, the only railway station of the state is on the Assam-Meghalaya border. The best way to travel is via road, and Meghalaya has some of the best highways in all of North-East India. The National Highway connecting Guwahati to Shillong and Guwahati to Dawki were some of the best routes I encountered in my whole life.

Guwahati-Shillong Highway

Guwahati-Shillong Highway

Accommodations in Meghalaya

As the state is one of the most visited states in the region, there is plenty of accommodation available throughout the Meghalaya. Shillong and Cherrapunjee offer some of the best hotels and resorts one can find in the whole of India. For budget travelers, homestays, and small hotels are available, which can be booked by paying somewhere between INR 300 to 1000. Dawki, on the other hand, has limited accommodations, and when I visited Dawki, I noticed 2-3 good hotels in the town. In Dawki, it is advisable to stay in camps on the banks of the Dawki River. The majority of the small homestays and hotels also accept online reservations, thanks to the recent internet boom in India.

Conclusion

While India is one of the major travel destinations in the world, the majority of tourists arriving in India confine themselves to some prominent places in India. Although there is nothing wrong with exploring other parts of India, yet after my recent journey to northeastern India, I felt that the region is one of the most underrated places on the planet. North-East India has so much to offer, yet it remains absent from the world travel map. The region has so much to give, and what could be the best place to start other than Meghalaya? In the future, if you are planning to visit India, spare some time and visit Meghalaya, and I can assure Meghalaya won’t disappoint you.

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by Sushant Pandey

A History and Geography Lover and part-time biker and traveler. An IT professional by the job and I love to explore India on a Motorcycle. I blog at Knowledge of India whenever I have free time

One Response to “Places to Visit in Meghalaya, India”

Sekhar

Says:

Sudhant, I spent a 5 days in Meghalaya from March 20 to 24, 2021. I have a visited a few places you mentioned. I wish I had read your article before I went to Meghalaya. It is very well written and thanks for writing and sharing. Regards, sekhar

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