Sunday, 16 February 2020

Two Sisters State: Assam and Meghalaya: Part 1

Amongst the ups and lows of life, between all challenges, one gets a sweet peaceful space which reenergizes life. This North-East was one such. It was a customized package tour by our well-wisher where I and Renu chalked day-wise itinerary with the help of holiday partner Prena travels. Considering the wedding anniversary's occasion, They Booked a trip to Assam and Meghalaya. This trip helped us to bounce back from our tough time.
Travellers for this trip were Me and Wife Renuka.

Two State, Two Traveler... At Rainbow Waterfall
Two State, Two Traveller... At Rainbow Waterfall

               To avoid the length of my travel blog, I have divided it into 2 parts. In this part, will like to share my travel experience at Guwahati and Sohra.
To read my Next Blog, click on Two Sisters State: Assam and Meghalaya: Part 2

About Seven Sisters:
              7 States of India's North-east Part is known as Seven Sisters. Seven sister states are Assam (Dispur), Meghalaya (Shillong), Manipur (Imphal), Mizoram (Aizawl), Arunachal Pradesh (Itanagar), Nagaland (Kohima) and Tripura (Agartala). This name was used by journalist Jyoti Prasad Saikia in 1972. Seven States have similarity on Geographical, Economical and tribal culture. There are different views on the reason behind the name. But what I Feel is they are an integral part of India and blessed with lovely nature and rich culture.
Our trip was focused on Assam and Meghalaya. Assam shared the state border to rest north-east state and hence it is known as Gateway to North-East India. Dispur is the capital of the state but Guwahati is the primary entry point for Assam. Assam is situated just below the eastern Himalaya foothill. The state is famous for tea, Silk, one-horned rhinoceros, tourism and culture.
Meghalaya (Name meaning Home of Clouds) is a hilly state. Shillong is the capital of the state whereas Shillong is also known as Scotland of the East. Meghalaya is the wettest land of India with around 70% of the forest. The state offers you tourism throughout the year as per interest.

Our Day Wise plan:
Trip Plan
Day 1
09 February 2020
Pune to Guwahati via Kolkata.
Local Sightseen
Day 2
10 February 2020
Guwahati to Cherrapunji via Shillong.
Cherrapunji Sightseen
Sohra (Cherrapunji)
Day 3
11 February 2020
Double-decker Live root Bridge & Rainbow fall trek.
Day 4
12 February 2020
Dawki River and Mawlynnong Village
Day 5
13 February 2020
Local Sightseen
Day 6
14 February 2020
Shillong to Kaziranga and local Sightseen
Day 7
15 February 2020
Forest Safari and then Back to Guwahati
Day 8
16 February 2020
Local sightseen, Evening flight to Pune

Day 1: 09 Feb 2020: Pune to Guwahati:
             We boarded 06:15 AM indigo flight to Guwahati via Kolkata. We had breakfast at Kolkata airport and boarded next flight. We reached Guwahati airport by 11:45AM. Our driver welcomed us at the airport. The city is around 40-45 min (20-24 km) away. before we checked into the hotel, we took a small detour to meet the wife's colleague's family. We had a local cuisine lunch with them and spend a good time. kamakhya Temple was on the way to the hotel so we decided to visit the temple first rather than checking in the hotel first.

Kamakhya temple, Guwahati
Kamakhya temple, Guwahati

             Kamakhya temple is located on the Nilachal Hill and one of the oldest Shakti Peetha. The story behind Shakti Peetha is based on the death of Goddess Sati (Wife of Lord Shiva). When Lord Shiva got to know the death of Sati, he carried her body and roamed around it. Her Body parts fell on earth to become holy places known as Shakti Peetha. Kamakhya temple represents Goddess Sati's yoni fell after Shiva roamed with the corpse of Sati. The temple is an important pilgrimage for Hindus and especially for Tantric worshipers. It is always crowded with tourist and devotees.

Carving at Kamakhya Temple

             We got to know that it will take 2 hours for Darshan with VIP pass (INR 500) and around 4 to 5 hours in the normal queue. We decided to take Mukh Darshan. We're always more interested in architecture and carving of it. This temple also has beautiful carving around the temple wall. On the temple wall, We saw something unique. Lord Ganesh was carved on the wall with lots of round shapes holes in it. People were placing coins in the flat holes. Local believes if your coin remaining in the hole and does fall down then your wish will be granted soon by Lord Ganesha. We also saw many people wearing Phul-haar (flower garland for god) which was available in shops just outside the temple. Devotees offer Phul-Haar to the goddess and in return, the priest gives them another hear which is kept inside as Prasad (as a form of blessings).

Ganesh at Kamakhya Temple

               Temple has a section to light the Diya and Agarbatti (Joss Stick). We spend around an hour in the temple area and capture beautiful moments. The place was a bit crowded but in a disciplined manner. Most of the shops offer you to keep your footwears free of cost but in return, you have to buy flowers/Haar etc. we found a shop near to the entrance gate of the temple to keep footwears at nominal charges. We stopped at one viewpoint while descending the ghat for city view. Its not complete city view but worth to take a pit stop.

              After a visit to Kamakhya temple, we reached our pre-booked hotel Landmark. Hotel is located beside Nehru Stadium (Old-time Cricket stadium which is now converted to Local football ground). Overall the hotel and rooms were good though the service was a bit slow. we took some rest and left the hotel to visit Assam State Museum. It closed by 5 PM hence we were unable to explore it more. you need 2 hours to explore the museum. It is a perfect collection of Assam history, old sculptures, art and culture. There is a man-made rectangular shape lake near to Musume known as Dighalipukhuri War Memorial. walkway path around the lake, garden and Boating is available along with small display collection of Tank and aircraft.

View from Hotel Room

We went to Fancy market but most of the shops were closed due to Sunday. We came back to the hotel for dinner after a quick market walk.

  • Pune to Guwahati return Flight: INR 6000-7000 per person (It was booked by friends don't know the exact amount)
  • Home to Airport by Uber: INR 250/-
  • One Coffee at Kolkata Airport: INR 100/-
  • Snacks as breakfast: INR 300-400/- for 2 people (As per order)
  • Stay at Hotel landmark: INR 3500-4200/- with Dinner & breakfast (Booked by Friends)
  • Hotel to Fancy Market by Uber: INR 75/-
  • Cycle Auto to hotel: INR 90/-

Day 2: 10 Feb 2020: Guwahati to Sohra (Cherapunji) via Shillong:
              We woke up early morning to witness Sunrise. View of Stadium with the sunrise was worth. After breakfast, we left Guwahati by 8:30 AM. Today's plan to reach Sohra (Commonly famous by name Cherapinji) and cover on route points. After 20-30 km of drive, Hilly region began. As we gain height, the weather became colder and colder. The road was curvy but smooth. Soon we entered in Meghalaya State. Meghalaya can be visited throughout the year. Those are more interested in Waterfalls then the best time to visit is from September to December. For trekking, exploring nature and to enjoy the winter, better to visit between December to Mid March. For tourism March to May is the ideal time. Those who want to witness monsoon cloud affairs over mountains and beautiful monsoon then June to September is the Time.
              We took a pit stop at Umain Lake viewpoint. This lake also offers you multiple boating options at their boating club. We were not interested in boating so we decided to move ahead. We stuck in a traffic jam which is quite common to enter Shillong or to bypass due to limited entry points for Shilong and small roads. We bypass Shillong to visit our first place, Elephant Waterfall. It is just outside Shillong and on the way to Sohra.

Umain Lake, Shillong
Umain Lake

              Elephant waterfall is a multi-stage (3 stages) waterfall whereas the last stage has a larger fall area. you need to climb down around 100 odd steps to reach the base of the waterfall. The area is very well maintained. The actual name of the waterfall is Ka Kshaid Lai Pateng Khohsiew (meaning Three-step waterfall) but it is commonly known as Elephant fall. As per local, There was a huge rock which looks like an Elephant. It was damaged and destroyed in an earthquake.

Elephant Waterfall, Shillong
Elephant Waterfall, Shillong

              The first stage is Narrow and hidden in trees, whereas the second stage is relatively small but with good water force. The last stage is a cascade waterfall flow from fallowing down on rocks. Water is clear and in milky colour tempt you to capture a moment in camera. It is one of the must-visit falls from Shillong as other famous falls are in Sohra/Cherapinji. we clicked our photos and came back to the parking area. The parking area has many shops which offer you Maggi/Tea/Coffee and some local item for shopping.

Elephant Waterfall

At Elephant Waterfall

              We left fall after quick snacks and coffee. Our plan is to explore Sohra (Cherapunji) first. On the way to Sohra, we took a small break after Diwan Sing Syiem Bridge. It's is Valley viewpoint and cloudy rain was playing hide and seek with the sun. Now the weather turned cold and windy. we took a small break for Wah Kaba - Latara Fall. Due to lack of water flow, this fall was completely dry. We just saw the mountain landscape and move ahead.

Welcome to Sohra (Cherrapunji)

              We had a lunch break at Orange restaurant. The veg meal was very tasty, they also serve south Indian dishes. The restaurant run by female staff, in fact, we got to know which is similar to Leh-Ladhak. Most of the business in Cherapunji are run by females. Our Next destination was Nohkalikai waterfall. Nohkalikai means Jump of Ka Likai. As per locals, many years ago Likai named local female jump from the waterfall head. Her second husband killed her daughter when she was away for work. He cooked it and served it to her. when she realised it, she ran and jump to death as she was unable to bear thought of cannibalizing of her own daughter.

Nohkalikai Waterfall, Sohra

               Nohkalikai fall is the tallest plunge (waterfall's Verticle drop without cliff touch) waterfall. Its height is 340 meters. Due to its direct fall, Beautiful water pond created at the base. Watercolour of the pond is nature treat to watch. The view of the valley and waterfall is breathtaking to watch. The best time to visit the fall is monsoon to December when the view is most spectacular. Keep some spare time if you're visiting after monsoon as most of the time waterfall area is covered clouds or fog. Weather was cloudy when we visited but luckily the weather was cleared when we reach the spot. There were plenty of shops to buy souvenirs.

Nohkalikai Waterfall

             Our next destination was seven sister fall. Due to lack of water and off-season, the entire seven sister waterfall was dry. The actual name of the fall is Nohsngithiang. There are 7 waterfall streams hence popularly known as seven sister fall. The landscape of waterfall and valley is beautiful. With a quick visit, we went to our next destination Mawsmai cave.

7 Sister Waterfall

7 Sister Waterfall in Monsoon... PC: 7 Sister fall view Inn

              Meghalaya has more than 1000 caves. Mawsmai Cave is one of the most popular caves in Meghalaya for tourist. Amongst the most easily accessible of the many caves in Cherrapunji, Mawsmai Cave is an entryway to the world of underground adventure. It is simple enough to navigate, and you can manage without a guide. It is about 5-6 km away from the main town. The cave walls get narrow to walk alongside. Mind your head while taking a cave tour. There is another cave just besides Mawsmai but you're allowed to go inside with proper gear and guide.

Mawsmai Caves

Mawsmai Cave

               After a visit to the cave, we checked-in in the hotel La Kupar Inn. The hotel was simple with a beautifully decorated room. We had some local cuisine at the hotel for dinner and it was tasty. We meet the manager of the hotel to gather information on tomorrow's trek. Manager John explained to us about the route, what point to visit, do's and don'ts. He suggested, there is no requirement of the guide as the route is pretty straight forward. Still, we hired a local guide at the last minute as It was Renuka's first (hectic) trek after her medical recovery. Tomorrow, we decided to start our day by 6-6:30 AM.

Small Houses in Sohra... You will find many such small beautiful Homes in Sohra

Hotel La Kupar Inn, Sohra

Day 2 Expenses:
  • Toll: INR 75/-
  • Parking at Lake viewpoint: INR 20/-
  • Elephant Fall entry: INR 40 for 2 people
  • Elephant Fall Car Parking: INR 20/-
  • Elephant Fall Camera fee: INR 20/- (No fees for Mobile Camera)
  • Snacks at Elephant Fall: INR 100/- (Maggi 50, Coffee 40 and tea 10)
  • Car parking at Diwan Sing Syiem Bridge: INR 20/-
  • Wah Kaba - Latara Fall viewpoint entry: INR 20/- for 2 person
  • Lunch at Orange restaurant: INR 510/- for 3 people (170/- for Full Thali)
  • Nohkalikai Fall entry: INR 40 for 2 person
  • Nohkalikai Fall car parking: INR 20/-
  • Nohkalikai Fall Camera: INR 50/- (No fees for Mobile Camera)
  • Mawsmai Cave Car parking: INR 20/-
  • Mawsmai Entry: INR 40/- for 2 person
  • Mawsmai cave Camera/Mobile Camera: INR 40/- for 2 Camera.
  • La Kupar Inn Hotel Stay at Sohra: INR 2500/-

Day 3: 11 Feb 2020: Double-decker bridge and rainbow fall Trek:
             We somehow manage to wake up by 5:30-6AM. As Requested, Hotel manager arranged a packed breakfast for us. we checked out and left for Full day trek. There are 2 routes for the trek, one starts from Nohkalikai and another one from Tyrna Village. We started our trek from Tyrns Village. Route from Sohra to the village was in bad condition. We reached by 7:30AM at Tyrna Village. We were the first travellers for that day to start the trek. The idea was to reach Double decker Living root bridge early so we can capture photos of the bridge without any tourist on it. Cement steps are laid till the Double Decker bridge with few flat walking trails or pathways. The entire trek route goes through the dense forest and offers you a scenic view. You can see a variety of butterflies on the route after double-decker bridge till Rainbow waterfall.

Rainbow fall Trek map, Sohra
Trek Route Map gave by Hotel La Kupar Inn

               There are more than 3500 Steps to reach Double decker Living root bridge followed by a forest trail route till rainbow waterfall. We started our trek before 8AM. We saw a couple of tourists returning to Tyrna village. Mostly tourist prefers to visit Rainbow fall first and then stays near to Double-decker Living root bridge on the same day. Our plan was to trek till Rainbow Fall and return to Shillong on the same day. Guides are available at Tyrna Village with their fix rate card. Actually, there is no need at all to take guide till Double-decker Living root bridge whereas hiring a guide for rainbow fall is up to you. The route is very well marked. We were confused but then we hired a guide as it was my wife Renu's 1st trek post her medical recovery (She is really good trekker with strong stamina) whereas moto of hiring guide to seek help from him if required.

Tyrna Village and Starting point for Trek

Step on Trek route (Note: Steps are till Double decker root bridge and then trail till Rainbow Fall)

             The onward journey was mainly downhill. There were well-laid steps from the start point to the single root and to the double root bridges. So the knees got a little wobbly after a while. The steps are quite steep at some points too. Just before you reach the Nongthymmai village after the downhill, there is a path on your right for Single living root bridge. Don't worry if you miss this shortcut as there is another route from Village as well. There is an entry fee to visit the Single living root bridge. You have to take around 15 min de-tour for single live root bridge but it is worth to visit. It is believed to be the longest root bridge and 2-3 person can cross at the same time. these live root bridges are formed by rubber fig trees and they are partially man-made. Trible people use man-made material to increase the strength of the bridge. Live root bridges from Meghalaya are old and nature's blessing to Trible people. We cross the bridge and took some photo before we headed towards Double decker root bridge.

Single Live Root Bridge
Single Live Root Bridge, Nongthymmai (Populer nearby Village Tyrna)

Single Live Root Bridge, Nongthymmai
Single Live Root Bridge, Nongthymmai (Populer nearby Village Tyrna)

               We crossed 2 suspension metal bridge. Trek route goes through the forest with a lot of uphill and downhill. There are small food stalls near small villages where you can buy basic snacks like biscuits, chips, Water, Cold drink, Red Bull etc. do not expect product at MRP and paying extra for these products are worth considering the geographical challenges. Few stalls have Tea, Eggs and Maggi. After an hour trek, we reached the Double-decker Living root bridge which is located at the village Nongriat. It is one of its most admired wonders. Snuggled in the dense green forests of Meghalaya, the root Bridge remains blessed with rain for a major part of the year. It is one of the most stunning partly man-made structures of Meghalaya, created partly by the Khasi tribe.

Double Decker Live Root Bridge, Nongriat
Double Decker Live Root Bridge, Nongriat

Double Decker Live Root Bridge, Nongriat
Double Decker Live Root Bridge, Nongriat

               Double-decker bridge means the bridge has 2 decks or layers, which are created due to the entanglement of the roots. The lower bridge was original but occasionally became submerged in floodwater, so they formed a new one above it, using the same rubber tree. Both bridges were quite old and totally rigid. We were the only tourist to reach the bridge. We spend around an hour enjoying the natural beauty. There is a small water pond where you can get natural fish pedicure But you will have to wait patiently for the fish to come to you. Water was freezing chilled but worth to experience it. We had some Maggi and coffee (The only shop where we got the coffee). There are few homestays are available in the village with very bare minimum facilities but Best place spend a night in the peaceful forest. We wish we could stay here so we added stay at Double decker bridge in our to-do list. After an hour break, we started with our final leg of the journey.

Double Decker Live Root Bridge, Nongriat
Double Decker Live Root Bridge, Nongriat

Cold weather, Lovely Forest, Peaceful Village, Double Decker Live Root Bridge, No one around and Maggi with Wife!!!

               From this point onwards, things get excited. The walkable path vanished by now, mostly we were walking on uneven soils or climbing rocks. Another wire bridge came en route. I stepped in and realize that this was different than the previous two. As we walked in, the bridge started shaking with the minimum wind blow which was there. It was due to its length and height. View from Bridge was beautiful. By the time, the route was tough with the tiring steep hill climb with a narrow path. After 30-40 min trek, we reached Small, beautiful Blue lagoon. View and colour of the lagoon tempt us to take a small break to enjoy nature's beauty. Water was so clear that we skipped our plan to enter in the chilled water. After all why to spoil nature's beauty?

Blue Lagoon Near Rainbow Waterfall
Blue Lagoon Near Rainbow Waterfall

Blue Lagoon Near Rainbow Waterfall
Blue Lagoon Near Rainbow Waterfall

Blue Lagoon Near Rainbow Waterfall
Blue Lagoon Near Rainbow Waterfall

              After around 30 min trek, finally, we reach the Rainbow waterfall. View from height was lovely. Climbing down to reach the falls was challenging. You have to climb down the steep hill and then huge size rock boulders with the bamboo ladder. You forgot all the pain you had during the trek to reach the beautiful waterfall. After all the efforts, you arrive at this really stunning, breathtakingly falls, which produces rainbows when the sun shines on it. As it named Rainbow fall, you can view rainbows on the fall. If you are lucky then you can view multiple rainbows. We saw 2 small rainbow arch at a time at different levels.

Rainbow Waterfall
Rainbow Waterfall

Rainbow Waterfall, Meghalaya
Rainbow at Rainbow Waterfall

               We spend around 30 to 40 min. We wished that the time would stop. We climbed up and had our lunch as Maggi at the food stall. This was one of the best meal-time as we were having hot served Maggi watching rainbow fall and Blue clear water pond. It took us little more than 5 hours to reach the rainbow fall including our long break at Double decker bridge. The return journey started with beautiful memories.

Rainbow Fall

              I was super happy for her strong comeback in trekking. No one from our family and friend expected her such kind of comeback. Within an hour we reach near Double decker bridge. Few children from the village were playing Football on the ground (I surprised with the village's football ground even at such remote location) that I couldn't resist myself to join them for a few mins. We were unable to understand each other's language but we played like we know each other. We Took a small coffee break at Double-decker live root bridge and started with our remaining journey.

Photo clicked from one of the suspension Bridge
From Nongriat Village
From Nongriat Village

               Soon we reached the Nongthymmai village. We took a break at one of the food stalls for energy drink so we can start the final climb strongly. Our strategy was to climb continuously but at a slow steady speed. It was very tiring climb but managed to climb completely without a single break. We reached Tyrna village by 5 PM. Our driver was waiting for us. We started our journey for Shillong which was our next destination for a couple of days.

Small Live root Bridge near Rainbow Waterfall

               After 3 hours of journey, we reached Shillong. Our hotel was pre-booked at aerodene cottage. we were the only guest in the beautiful aerodene cottage resort. The moment we step in the room, we started getting peace and positive vibes. Excellent colour combination, tasteful d├ęcor, immaculate presentation and spotlessly clean beds & bathroom makes you feel really good while you are inside. The dining hall was nicely decorated and the breakfast served was quite good and filling. Dinner was also served with advance intimation. The greenery of the place will also perk up your spirits. We had dinner in the hotel and took a rest. It was a long tiring but one of the memorable day from Trip.

Aerodene Cottage, Shillong
Aerodene Cottage, Shillong

Aerodene Cottage, Shillong
Room in erodene Cottage, Shillong

Day 3 Expenses:
  • Car Parking at Tyrna Village: INR 50/-
  • Bamboo Stick for trekking: INR 20/-
  • Single Living Root Bridge entry: INR 40/- for 2 people
  • Single living root Bridge camera: INR 20/-
  • Double-decker bridge entry: INR 60/- for 2 people
  • Double-decker bridge camera: INR 50/-
  • Maggi at Double decker bridge: INR 50/-
  • Coffee at Double decker bridge: INR 40/-
  • Red Bull drink: INR 280/- for 2 can(Due to Remote Jungle area, the rates are high and justified)
  • Maggi at Rainbow Fall: INR 120/- for 3 plate
  • Water bottle in overall Trek: INR 75/- for 3 Bottles
  • Small Cold Drink Can: INR 50/-
  • Fruits plate: INR 60/-
  • Guide Fee: INR 1000/- till Rainbow fall trek whereas INR 700 till Double-decker bridge. (No need to hire Guide as Route is well marked and No miss leading paths in route)
  • Tip to Guide: 100/-
  • Aerodene Cottage Stay at Shillong: INR 3000 to 4000/- per night (Booked by Friends)

Contact Number for Reference:
  • Hotel Landmark, Guwahati: 0361 2455248
  • Hotel La kupar Inn, Sohra (Cherapinji): (John +919856680199 / Bansan +919615093898)
  • Hotel Aerodene Cottage, Shillong: (Ronan: +9181198 07072 / Sharlene: +9197740 65366)
  • Hotel mandu the escape, Kohora, Kaziranga: (+919435150277 / +917002510432 / +919711801387)
  • Car Driver Bubhul: +919577746711
  • Khasi emporium, Shillong: +919612659653/+919612609891
  • Ka Bri war Restaurant, Dawki Road: +919366321258 / +917002035078.
  • City Hut Family Dhaba, Shillong: 03642220386.
  • Bamboo Hut Restaurant, Shillong: 03642501542 / 03642503430.
  • Restaurant Paradise, Guwahati: +919435548812, 03612666628.
  • Anuraag Dhaba, Nagaon (Guwahati-Kariranga highway): +919954506051 / +919101719674.

Places which we missed due to lack of time:
1. Umananda Temple
2. Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary
3. Purva Tirupati Shri Balaji temple
4. Navagraha Temple

1. Arwah Cave
2. Dain-Thlen Falls
3. Wei Sawdong Falls
4. Wah Kaba Falls
5. Trek from Nohkalikai to explore few waterfall (2-3 Hours) (Trek start just 1km before Nohkalikai Fall Parking)

Small Video from our Assam and Meghalaya Trip:

Please click on Next blog to read about our further journey: Two Sisters State: Assam and Meghalaya: Part 2

I will try to upload more and more travel blogs. Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.

Pritesh Kulkarni



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  2. The description of the places are clear. Do post more travel blogs!

    Dora and Boots

  3. Hey, You wrote a great blog on Assam and Meghalaya. I read your blog regularly. After reading this blog, I went to Assam and Meghalaya with friends. You give the right information and pictures of there.
    I use many travel apps to visiting Assam and Meghalaya Travel to make a comfortable journey, and please follow my Travel App in india blog.

  4. Wow! Such a nice places you have covered in this blog. I love exploring such places. Thanks for this blog

  5. I really loved reading your blog. I am also fond of traveling. One of the best places I have been to is Uttarakhand and just loved its vibe.
    Especially Bird Watching at Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary and Wildlife at Makkumath, Garhwal.

  6. It's a lot of unique information and we just need it. Thank you for such blog, keep doing great job.

  7. Thank You for So Much Detailed Information

    Amit lamba

  8. Hi ,
    Needes suggestion on room selection in Aerodene cottage . We are 3 ( 2 adult & 1 14 year old).

    1. Rooms are clean and well decorated. They have nice Garden and quite peaceful place.
      Food is pretty average so I will suggest u to go ahead with only Room booking and u can explore food options in Market area.