8 o’clock in the morning and I was still snuggled up in my bed when she knocked on the door. “Do you want some tea, sir?” her soothing voice worked better than any alarm. I opened the door and I saw her, a 20 something old girl holding a kettle in one hand and balancing a stack of cups in another. There was something about her. Bewitched by her beauty, I had lost my words. With a smile I thanked her and she poured a cup for me. A few awkward moments passed by while she waited for me to finish the tea. I was finally going to introduce myself hoping she’ll tell her name when Neer got up and yelled, “Shut the door, Akash! I’m sleeping.” I looked at Neer with fire in my eyes and he was clueless as always. When I turned back, she was gone. It was definitely a GOOD morning for me.
It was our fourth day in Meghalaya and everyone was tired because of yesterday’s trek to the living double decker root bridge. It was 9 o’clock in the morning and we were still not ready. Today’s itinerary was simple. We were going to visit the Mawsmai caves and then go to the village Mawlynnong where we would stay for next 3 nights. We packed our bags, bid farewell to our generous host, Yai and sat in the car. Before this, I took a minute or two to find out who that mysterious girl was and as it turns out, she was Yai’s daughter! When we left from the cottage, I could see her waving at us.
Now, let’s end this sweet story and talk some business, shall we? To start with, let’s see how to reach Mawsmai caves.
Mawsmai limestone caves are at a distance of 4.5km from Sohra. The best time to visit the caves is early in the morning. In the noon this place gets crowded with tourist. You will want to avoid weekends if you want to enjoy these serene caves in peace.
Once you arrive at the caves, small shops selling momos and bamboo baskets greet you at the gate. You can park your car in the parking lot. After buying the tickets and climbing a few stairs, the grand entrance to this marvellous cave reveals itself. Removing your footwear is an option but I would suggest you to keep them on. The cave is rich with flora and fauna along with a tiny stream of water which still flows in the cave. The presence of bats in the cave is the reason for the unbearable icky smell of bat shit (I would suggest wearing a mask if you are a little to sensitive to bad odour). However, the beautiful natural limestone pillars distract you from this smell in no time. Watch your feet while you observe the beauty of this cave as the rocks on the floor are quite slippery.
Credits : @yashchavan
We were a little unfortunate because we had arrived at the cave late in the morning and the place was already flooded with the tourist. With tourist coming from every corner of the country, this cave premise turns into a temple queue where the people behind you want to push you ahead. Keep calm in situations like these. The cave gets a little narrow in some places. If you are claustrophobic, I will suggest you to avoid this cave. It just takes 10 min to cover the whole cave. Just follow the directions and try not to get lost. Even with a tag of “conditions applied” this cave is a one of a kind experience. After drinking some tea and having momos in a nearby shop, we left for our destination, Mawlynnong.
Okay, it’s time for some fun facts. Mawlynnong has been crowned as the ‘Cleanest Village in Asia’ in 2003 by Discover India Magazine. This village with a population of around 500 people and around 40 households is an ecotourism paradise! With its very own root bridge in a neighbouring village named “Riwai” and a strange balancing rock, this place keeps the tourists drooling over it for a long time.
I bet you wanna know, How to reach Mawlynnong?
Mawlynnong is 81 km and from cherrapunjee. It’s a 3 hour ride offering the best views of valleys and mountains of East Khasi Hills. You will come across many view points on your way to the village.
You can check-in in the homestays here. I will suggest staying here at least for 2 days to get a feel of a traditional Khasi lifestyle. Once you reach the village, you can park your car in the parking lot there.
Credits : @yashchavan
I usually use my phone for three things, facebook, instagram and snapchat. But for this trip I went a little beyond my mundane limits and used my cellphone to book a cottage in mawlyngyong. Airbnb has made it an unbelievably simple task. You can sit at your home and book beautiful cottages and forget the pains of finding an accommodation when you reach your destination.
After parking our car, we dropped our bags in the cottage we had pre-booked..While Neer jumped into the bed and Yash took a bath, I struck a conversation with our host, Mr Lamphrang. Upon his suggestion, we hurried to the root bridge in nearby village, Riwai.
Riwai is at a 10 min distance from Mawlynnong. After climbing down the stairs for 20 min. you will see the root bridge. This elegant bridge is situated over a river. This whole sight gives one a feeling of being in a Hollywood fantasy! After spending a quality time in this place we headed back to our village.
It was already 7 in the evening and we were hungry. The parking lot of Mawlynnong is surrounded with small eateries run by local people. We had our meal and ran to our rooms. Neer was quite tired because of all the driving. So he slept off while Yash and I sat on the porch listening to 80’s classics.
The chirping of crickets broke the silence of night. We could see fireflies at a distance. This feeling was altogether different and at that moment I knew this is place is worth staying for three nights. So with a content heart and a content tummy, we called it a night.
More stories of this Khasi village coming in next blog! Stay tuned!