Last night could not have proper sleep as in the middle of the night there was a sudden storm, followed by rain and finally power cut off. We got up around 6 AM and moved out of the place before 7 AM so as to avoid school traffic. We headed towards Elephant caves which come on the way to Cherrapunji, before that we saw the sign for Shillong Peak. And the sun was perfect to see the entire Shillong from the peak but as we approached near the turning and asked one passer-by whether it will be open. He smiled and said not before 9 AM so we proceeded towards Elephant Caves. Before this comes one famous eatery ML-05 Cafe (ML 05 is Shillog’s Vehicle Registration Code). This café is located near the Eastern Air Command in Shillong which was highly recommended last night but unfortunately, it was closed when we were crossing it.
Anyways, early birds have to face some issues too and does not gets its worm ;) On reaching “V” junction, one road goes to Cherrapunji and Dawki while other to Mawphlang and Mawsynram. And at that junction is the Elephant Falls.
This fall is 3 layers fall accessible to all but the point is when we reached there it just opened. We were the first ones to enter there as tourists. The first of the three waterfalls are tucked between the dense trees and are very broad. The second waterfall reduces to thin strands of water while the third and the most visible waterfall is with clear water flowing like a sheet of milk on the dark rocks in the backdrop.
Out of the three, the third waterfall tends the most impressive. We did our photo session and then on our return to have something for breakfast. But hardly anything was available, they were just setting up their shop. So, Aarush had his cup noodle and Santanu his tea and we took some tetra pack juice for the road.
We headed towards Mawphlang sacred grove which is around 25 KMs from here. This was not there in our to-see list but got added last night on the commendation. It’s a small forest with meadows around. Khasi people believe it as God and anything was taken out of this forest will bring ill-luck to the person. Perhaps, with that thought, they are able to save this dense forest where one can trek for either 3 or 5 KM with a local guide. The time we reached it started to drizzle and we took one young guide who can speak fluent English.
They have been protected by communities for a variety of reasons, including religious practices, burial grounds, and sacrifices. There was no formal entry gate of the kind we usually have at sanctuaries and national parks. We just blindly followed our guide which was nothing more than a usual spacing between trees. Once you are inside its trees, trees, and trees all around- a visual treat to eyes for the people coming from the concrete jungle.
We walked on a multi-layered carpet of leaves, twigs, branches, fruits, and ferns. The older trunks had fallen gracefully after a full, long and prosperous life was providing a home to Lichens and mosses and ferns. We felt like walking through the rainforest. Seems like sun needs to seek permission to enter into their dense world. Our guide asked Aarush to try a Mowgli swing on low hanging branches.
Khasis believe that guardian spirit resides in the forest in two forms-tiger and snake who takes care of this forest. The good spirit appears in the form of a tiger and anything bad as a revengeful snake. Our guide showed us rudraksha fallen from the tree and various type of mushroom and ferns that have grown there. There was a stream flowing in one part of the forest. It’s something you see every hues and shade of green there. When we were inside we hardly got any raindrop on us because of dense forests that act as a natural umbrella but as we headed out of the forest we saw it was raining pretty heavily.
We got into our car and moved out of this place as we had to go Dawki - Which means we need to come to that V junction and now take the other route. In that way, we stopped for having brunch at a small place. This road is very scenic with mountains and hills, you can see white cotton-clouds looming in between.
Indeed, we were amazed by the quality of the roads, and the road to Dawki is the idyllic hill drive (till last 5 KMs before it starts showing wear and tear due to heavy vehicles). At first, I thought this was the result of tourism but later learned that this had more to do with the area’s economic importance of the limestone and coal mines.
Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without self driving or getting lost.
The cool, wet airbrushes over your face and lush greenery around refreshes and revitalizes you as it enters your body. Dawki is a small village and its main attraction is the Umngot River that marks the natural separation between the Khasi and the Jaintia Hills. The river can be crossed by a suspension bridge that connects India to Bangladesh and facilitates trade between the two nations.
This place is very famous for the emerald green transparent river which I was excitingly waiting for but due to rains, it was very disappointing. Many people did say that but I was adamant to see through my eyes :)….my bad-luck. People take boat rides there in season. We crossed the bridge and went to see Tamabil(Indo-Bangladesh border) where road condition was extremely bad. Big trucks were waiting for their turn in 2-3 lanes leaving only one lane to allow the vehicles to pass-by from either side. We reached near the border, parked our vehicle but on our return, it was almost 1-hour wait as no vehicles were able to move.
With great difficulty, we were able to come out of that area and zoomed towards Mawlynnong- the cleanest village in Asia. This part of the drive is again very scenic with the different terrain we first went to skywalk machan at Nohwett. It was altogether different experience climbing the bamboo ladder. From there we can see 6 waterfalls.
Then came towards Mawlynnong which is also said to be gods own garden. When we reached there it was almost getting dark, we went near the stream gushing down and climbed up to their village which is very neat; avoided their living root bridge as it would turn completely dark. There we had some noodles and hit the road back to Cherrapunji.
After some hour nature starts to hide and seek game with fog and it was dense enough that we could hardly see anything in 10 meters; very poor visibility which is difficult to explain people living in plains. We tried following the tail-light of other vehicles but in vain - could not match up with their speed. Then we decided to maintain our 10-20Km speed by keeping two tires in between the white midline demarcation.
Only when any vehicle used to come from the opposite side we use to go to side otherwise back again in the same way. At one point, it was so stressful, that I told Santanu to pull over and move the vehicle off the road; sleep inside the car only rather than taking risk of 3 lives. I really panicked and repented of my decision of going to Dawkii. But now Santanu was quite confident and continued driving at very low speed. At one point we got one cab whom we could follow for last 45 min. and was able to maintain pace with him.
“Driving car at that night was you never see beyond your headlight, but you finish your trip that way”.
From here Cherrapunji was not far, once entering the city we made a call to hotel people for their direction and requested them to keep dinner ready for 3 of us. (this part had poor connectivity with phones but somehow SMS worked). On reaching their one good thing was fog was not there and the second thing we realized that booking we made in the hotel is further 19 KMs from the city. Around 10 KMs of the road was pretty bad near the hotel. Finally, it was almost 10 PM when we reached the hotel.
Stay:- Cherrapunji Holiday Resort. (Breakfast and dinner includedwithin price)