Blessed with varied biodiversity and beautiful topography, this state is home to the wettest place on Earth, one-of-its-kind ancient living root bridges, stupendous waterfalls, and many more unexplored wonders. Do you recognize the state we’re talking about? Yes, it is the north-eastern hilly state of Meghalaya!
With the name translating to ‘the abode of clouds’, the state is a member of the Seven Sister States of India. A visit to Meghalaya deserves to be on the bucket list of every traveler as it is brimming with opportunities to please all souls. You don’t have to take our word for it, just plan your next visit to the state and you’ll know why it’s worthy of all these praises. If you’re looking forward to getting a wholesome experience, make sure you’ve included these 9 fun things to do in Meghalaya in your itinerary.
A trip to Meghalaya will never feel complete without a visit to its capital city of Shillong. Whether you wish to seek relaxation from the chaos of city life or are looking forward to a romantic getaway with someone special, the serene and enigmatic vibes of Shillong offer the perfect welcome to all kinds of travelers. Popularly nicknamed as the ‘Scotland of the East’ or the ‘Gleneagles of East’, Shillong has an awe-inspiring scenic beauty beaming from the natural wonders spread across the capital city.
Mawphlang Sacred Forest, Umiam Lake, Elephant Falls, and the Shillong Peak are a few attractions you wouldn’t want to miss if you want to witness the best of nature. Situated at the air force base, the Shillong Peak is the highest point in the city and offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the entire city. The Mawphlang Sacred Forest is yet another well-preserved attraction of Meghalaya that is home to some special plants and trees considered to be over 1,000 years old.
As for Umiam Lake and Elephant Falls, these marvels offer a glimpse of paradise on Earth and are sure to charm you with their tranquility. Nature lovers and inquisitive travelers will have nothing less than a gala time exploring these wonders in Shillong.
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You probably won’t find a more perfect blend of nature’s aura and human’s creativity after you’ve visited the living root bridges of Meghalaya. Spread across the verdant valleys of Khasi Hills, these ancient bridges are extraordinary masterpieces that aren’t found everywhere. The people of the Khasi tribe credit themselves for the invention of these unique pieces that are grown from the roots of rubber trees.
Although trekking to these bridges is only for the brave-hearted, the experience you end up with is rewarding beyond words. While you might spot a number of these living root bridges spread across the entire state, the Double Decker Living Root Bridge at Cherrapunji is by far the most famous amongst them all. More commonly known as the Umshiang Double Decker Living Root Bridge, this spectacular masterpiece is almost 3 km long and is placed at a height of over 731 meters. It is considered to be over 180 years old and visiting it should be on your list of things to do in Meghalaya.
Do you wish to know more about these intriguing structures? Read our article on Experiencing The Living Root Bridges In Meghalaya.
Popularly known as God’s Own Garden, it was in 2003 that Discovery India declared Mawlynnong to be the cleanest village in Asia. It is now a community-based ecotourism initiative that leaves no stones unturned to hold on to its praiseworthy record. And it’s not just limited to that, the tribal locals of Mawlynnong are said to have a 100% literacy rate with exceptional efforts for women empowerment. From dense forest and scenic waterfalls to clean surroundings and warm hospitality, this tourist destination is definitely one of the best places to explore in Meghalaya.
You can choose to unwind in the serene vibes of the waterfalls or interact with the locals to know more about their cultural practices in Mawlynnong. Sky View, a vantage point, Dawki River, Bophill Falls, and Umkrem Falls are some of the best picturesque attractions to visit in and around this unique village. While the village experiences pleasant weather all throughout the year, visiting Mawlynnong during the monsoon is sure to leave you with an unearthly feeling. And if you wish to experience the best of the local culture in the village, the months from September to November are the best time to witness the celebrations of various festivals in the village as well.
Also Read: Meghalaya Travel Guide
Exploring offbeat destinations isn’t only a thrilling adventure but can also very well be a fun activity to indulge in. One such destination in Meghalaya which is still relatively untouched by tourists is Nongkhnum Island. Located in the West Khasi Hills of the state, this place almost looks like it’s been pulled out from a perfect painting. What’s even more exciting is the fact that Nongkhnum River Island is the largest river island in Meghalaya and the second largest in the whole of Asia.
Being one of the remotest tourist spots in the state, it is one of the perfect destinations for travelers who detest large crowds or noisy places. The breathtaking scenic views and peaceful surroundings of the island present the perfect atmosphere for de-stressing as well as rejuvenating in the lap of nature. You can lounge around the cool sandy beaches or satiate your adrenaline rush with a thrilling hike up to the waterfalls. The months from November to March are the best time to enjoy the solitary ambience of Nongkhnum Island.
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A quaint town in the lap of the West Jaintia Hills, Dawki is nothing less than a nature lover’s paradise. It is located on the international border of India and Bangladesh and is a popular honeymoon destination as well. The enticing greenery all around the crystal clear rivers offers a serene and tranquil vibe to all visitors stepping foot in the town. The famed Umngot or Dawki River is the most popular attraction of the town. Considered to be amongst the cleanest rivers in India, you can easily spot the rocks lying below the clean and clear emerald waters.
Along with being a popular tourist hub, Dawki also serves as a major trading hub between India and Bangladesh. The Dawki Suspension Bridge, built by the British around 1932, is yet another picture-perfect attraction in this town. You can take a stroll along the surreal river or also experience the enchanting boat ride while admiring the pristine beauty of nature around you. The town is located close to Mawlynnong from where you can easily hire a cab to reach Dawki.
Also Read: Treks In Northeast India
Literally translating to the ‘End of Hills’, Laitlum Canyon is one of the most picturesque trekking locations in Meghalaya. It is perched atop the East Khasi Hills of Shillong and is lined with majestic hills and resplendent valleys. Although the trek route can be a little challenging because of the difficult terrain, the ravishing views from the hilltop are absolutely gratifying. The views you can witness from atop the hills especially during sunrise and sunset are sure to make you go weak in the knees.
The early summer and winter months are the best time to enjoy the trek amidst the blossoming natural beauty of the valleys. While there are a number of trekking trails leading to the Laitlum Canyon, the trek to Smit Village and Rasong Village are amongst the most popular ones. If you ever had doubts about how the state of Meghalaya does justice to the title ‘the abode of clouds’, just visit Laitlum Canyon and you’ll see for yourself how it stands true.
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Just as we mentioned before, Meghalaya is the perfect state to be explored by all kinds of travelers. Caving enthusiasts, you won't be disappointed either. As of March 2015, a whopping number of 1,580 caves and cave locations have been identified in the state of Meghalaya. Out of these, around 980 caves are said to have been explored at least partially (which means there are still a lot left for you to be the first ones to explore!). Amongst the known ones, Mawsmai Cave and Siju Caves in Tura are said to be the most popular among tourists from all over.
With only one entry and one exit point in difficult terrain, exploring the wondrous Mawsmai cave is going to be nothing less than a thrilling adventure. The exquisite stalactite and stalagmite formations in the cave make the exploration even more worth it. The Siju Caves at Tura are considered to be the third-largest caves in the Indian subcontinent. The layers of rocks, pillars, and sheets in this cave have formed a number of unexplored mazes and are among the oldest limestone caves in the country. They are also referred to as the cave of bats or Dobakkal Caves by the locals.
Also Read: Homestays In Shillong
If you thought Meghalaya was just a small state in the North East, your trip here is sure to leave you surprised with the number of amazing records this state boasts of. Along with being home to the wettest place on Earth and the cleanest village in Asia, Meghalaya is also known to be the home of Asia’s largest museum of indigenous cultures. It is the Don Bosco Museum located in Shillong that we’re talking about. Built in a hexagonal shape, this museum is often referred to as Shillong’s architectural pride.
From a wide range of galleries that showcase artifacts and paintings to figures and instruments significant to the North-Eastern culture, the seven stories of the Don Bosco Museum are a perfect place to learn in-depth about the culture and lifestyle of the North-Eastern people. Agriculture gallery, art gallery, food gallery, housing gallery, and language museum are some of the prominent sections to visit at the Don Bosco Museum. The Museum is usually closed on Sundays and is accessible between 9 am to 5:30 pm on all other days.
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While we already told you about this lake being a major attraction in Shillong, the reason why it deserves to be mentioned especially is the tranquility the lake serenades you with. Located at a distance of around 15 km north of Shillong, this mesmerizing man-made reservoir offers panoramic views of the nature around us. From fishing and boating to trekking and camping, Umiam Lake is a hotspot for a variety of activities.
Indulging in some water sports activities like water skiing, canoeing, and kayaking are some of the favorite activities for tourists who visit this lake. A beautiful garden named Lum Nehru Park is also located next to Umiam Lake and is a hotspot for picnics and fun gatherings. Whether you wish to admire the Gulmohar trees while boating along the shores or unwind in the serene atmosphere of the lake, this destination is sure to captivate your mind and freshen your soul.
Also Read: Cherrapunji Travel Guide
How Can I Go To Meghalaya?
By Air: Meghalaya’s only airport is in Umroi that’s located around 35 km from Shillong but the airport isn’t very well connected to other Indian cities. The Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati (Assam) is the closest major airport located at a distance of around 128 km from Shillong. This Airport is well connected to major Indian cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, and Kolkata as well as to the international cities of Tura and Bangkok. There aren’t any direct buses from the Guwahati Airport to Meghalaya, but you can hire a cab or a taxi to reach your destination.
By Train: Guwahati Junction is the nearest railway station located at a distance of around 180 km from Meghalaya. From there, you can either take buses or hire a cab to reach your destination in the state.
By Road: Meghalaya is well-connected by road to all the neighboring states. You can take the NH40 if you're traveling to Meghalaya from Guwahati.
What Are The Things Meghalaya Is Famous For?
Popularly nicknamed the Orchid State of India, Meghalaya is famous for its almost 325 varieties of colorful orchids. It is also home to a number of fruits, vegetables, spices, and medicinal plants, some of which are only found in the state. It goes without saying, the pristine beauty, fascinating waterfalls, lush green forests, and amazing living root bridges amidst the perpetual clouds only add to the charm and popularity of Meghalaya.
Which Village In Meghalaya Must Be Visited By Tourists?
We’ve already told you about Mawlynnong which is said to be Asia’s cleanest village and is definitely worth visiting at least once. Along with promoting eco-tourism, the village also has some of the best resorts that offer an enthralling experience of your visit to Meghalaya. You can also visit the village of Mawphanlur to witness the angelic natural beauty that the state has to offer. From shopping for the local art and handicraft to enjoying some wonderful adventure sports, this village is filled with colorful opportunities for one and all.
What Is The Famous Food Of Meghalaya?
The three main tribes of Meghalaya – Garo, Khasi, and Jaintia, each have their own distinctive styles of preparing food and that’s what makes Meghalaya cuisine stand out from the rest. Jadoh, dohkhlieh, ki kpu, and pumaloy are some of the most popular dishes of the Khasi and Jaintia communities while bamboo shoot and nakham bitchi are the special delicacies of the Garo tribe.
What Can I Buy In Meghalaya?
The Police Bazar and Bara Bazar in Shillong are the most popular places for all shopping enthusiasts. Traditional handicrafts, regional apparel, Scottish cloth, organic products, and junk jewelry are some of the exquisite Meghalaya merchandise that you can shop for in the state. Different bamboo handicrafts are also a specialty of the local artisans in Meghalaya. Not only can you buy quirky home décor products but you can also buy some interesting souvenirs from these bazaars.
Which Is The Best Time To Visit Meghalaya?
The winter months between November to February is the best time to visit Meghalaya. The climate is pleasant during that time, making sightseeing comfortble and enjoyable.
Is There Snowfall In Meghalaya?
Meghalaya does not receive any snowfall even though its location is on a high elevation.
What Is The Language Spoken In Meghalaya?
English is the official language of Meghalaya.