Meghalaya: Day 1- A journey to the abode of clouds!
Life in the metros demands an escape once in a while. Escape from the noise, escape from the routine and escape from the people. An escape into the nature. This whole escapade was Yash’s brainchild. It was YES from both Neer and I when we heard the name Meghalaya. I mean, how can one even say NO to such a proposal? Watching those north-east tourism ads on the TV, I always wanted to visit the lands of bamboo and momos. Believe me, if you too are craving for the nature, Meghalaya is the place.
The next question popped was, How to reach Meghalaya?
You can either travel by a train or reach there by fight. Trains will follow this route;
Mumbai -> Delhi -> Guwahati and from Guwahati junction in Assam, you can opt for either a private or state transport.
We preferred flying as it saves time. Flights to Guwahati from Mumbai are quite frequent.
The travel time is approximately 6 hours including the lay over for the connecting flight from Kolkata to Guwahati. After getting down at Guwahati, we had an option of the state transport but we choose to pre-book a self-driven car from zoomcars for a proper road trip through Meghalaya. It’s a 2 and a half hour ride to Shillong from Guwahati with numerous tourist spots on the way.
After a long and detailed planning, we pre-booked the flights, hotels and the car. Finally the date was fixed to be 23rd June, 2017. The days flew by quickly, the plans of packing the bags early failed miserably and as always we ended up finishing packing 4 hours before the flight.
When you are packing for a trip to a place like Meghalaya, you should always pack light. The beauty of this paradise will compel you to clime the mountains, explore the hidden and get drenched in the cold waters of the breathtaking waterfalls!
The essentials always remain the same:
- A few pairs of comfortable clothing,
- A sturdy raincoat or a jacket,
- A pair of outdoor footwear (preferably hiking shoes),
- some cash,
- A medical kit,
- And power bank for your beloved cell-phone.
That’s it, you are ready to go!
We reached the Mumbai Airport around 12 and we still had around 2 hours before the flight at 2:30 AM. We wasted the first hour window shopping in the overpriced airport shops.
Then, Neer got hungry. It is a well-established fact that hunger is contagious. As a result Yash and I got hungry too. That day, for the first time in my life, I spent 300 rupees on something as simple as a dosa. I believe now, hunger makes you do all sorts of crazy shit. While we were indulging in the “gourmet” dosa, we lost the track of time and only when Neer got the last warning call for the boarding, we came to our senses. It was past two and we were still finding gate number 45. When we finally found the gate, all three of us were on the verge of having a minor heart attack. The rest of the things happened quite quickly. We boarded the plane, the plane took off and we ate “breakfast” at 3:15 in the morning.
It was dark outside but I could still see the moonlit clouds. Around 5 AM when my eyelids were giving up and I was going to surrender myself to a much needed nap, something extraordinary happened. The first sunrays hit the clouds turning those dull gray lumps into fiery-gold wonders. Believe me; it is like witnessing the birth of everything. My eyes were wide open now and my mind was clear. Thoughtless, I was gazing at the ever changing colors of the clouds. Meanwhile, Yash was busy clicking pictures and Neer was dreaming.
The beautiful city of Kolkata was still yawing when we landed. Unfortunately, we were going to say goodbye to Kolkata without a proper introduction as our connecting flight was waiting for us. A bus took us to the plane we were going to board and to our surprise that plane was an ATR 72-500. Okay, let me explain, it’s like those smaller planes you see in the animated movies. More 1 hour 30 mins and we were in Guwahati, Assam.
We got down, booked an uber that was to take us to the zoomcar we had pre-booked. So we were in the car, and living up to my name, the chatterbox, I struck a conversation with the cabbie. It was mostly unilateral. I asked him questions and he never answered. When I was about to jump to the conclusion that he might be speech-impaired, he opened the car-door and spat what it looked like a gallon of guthka Yash and Neer were laughing their lungs out. We had arrived at our destination.
We took the keys to the car, completed the formalities and the real road trip began! We had crossed Assam-Meghalaya border in no time. 30 minutes into the journey and I was already convinced that this is the best place on earth. To our fortune, we were there at the exact right time. It had rained a few times and the green mountains were covered in clouds. Indeed this was the abode of clouds, Meghalaya!
A few more miles and we were near the Umiam Lake when we saw these tiny huts by the roadside where people were selling local fruits and veggies. I had not seen such huge pineapples before. They were full of flavor, juicy and not to forget, big. We bought 2 of them and hogged on the flavorful delight. Believe me, it’s natural, chemical-free and raw taste revives the taste buds. After that, we started heading towards the Umiam Lake.
At the entrance of the lake, there’s one Jawaharlal Nehru Park. If you
are a person who finds solace among trees, this is the place for you. This garden resembles to the Japanese botanical gardens with its bright-colored flowers and stone benches. After spending a few minutes in the garden, we started walking towards the view point on the banks of the lake. It is a five minutes’ walk before the humongous waterbody reveals itself. The lake is a result of a reservoir dam which serves the energy need of whole Meghalaya. These serene waters calm your body and your soul. We spent a few minutes on the banks of the lake and left for Shillong.
It was around 12:30 when we entered the city. Neer used best of his driving skills on those crooked and crowded roads. It took us 15 minuts to reach the guest house. The house was even more beautiful than the pictures we saw online. With its bamboo furniture and wooden flooring, it resembled a proper north-eastern stately house.
We were tired and hungry so we ordered local chicken curry and rice which turned out to be the best decision. The aroma and fresh taste of the curry satisfied all the sense and filled our bottomless tummies. After the lunch we dived into the beds to nap a little.
4 hours later when one of us woke up and realized that it was quite a long nap, we cancelled our plans to visit the nearby elephant falls as the sun had already set. Instead, we decided to visit the biggest bazar of shilong, the Police Bazar. By the time we were up and ready, it was 8 in the night and the host told us that the bazar will get closed soon. We hurried to the bazar but all our efforts went in vein when the GPS stopped working and we were driving in circles. After the help from locals and 30 minutes later we finally reached the market.
The shops were already closing but it was something else that caught our attention. The mouth-watering delicious fragrance of steaming hot momos had filled the street. We dropped our planes of shopping and hogged on the local cuisine. With full tummies and fuller hearts we headed back to the guest house. We had replanted the itinerary and made a new, improvised bucket list. Remembering the soulful journey of the day, and with excitement for the next day, we surrendered to sleep…
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