Planning a trip to Meghalaya and wondering about the best places to visit in Meghalaya? This post talks about 5 of the most stunning tourist attractions that you have to visit in Meghalaya (including one offbeat spot) that will take your breath away. Read on for some future travel inspiration.
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So, let’s begin!
The North east of India remains fairly unexplored away from the popular tourist routes. That is such a shame as the region boasts of breathtaking beauty. Meghalaya is one of the seven states there, one of the most beautiful and most importantly one with the best accessibility. I have visited Meghalaya twice but still have so much left to see. Meghalaya literally means ‘abode of the clouds’ and is perfect for both adventure travelers, nature lovers and those looking to relax. Surrounded by the Garo, Khasi and Jaintia hill ranges, it boasts of beautiful lakes, stunning waterfalls, clean villages and friendly people.
In the course of two visits the one lesson i have learnt from here is to forgo any itinerary and just go with the flow. During my second trip here, we (my husband and i) took long road trips through desolate landscapes, came across hidden waterfalls, enjoyed the network free zones and relaxed as never before. Before talking about the most stunning places to visit in Meghalaya, here is all the travel information you need to know for planning a trip there.
THE BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN MEGHALAYA
BEST TIME TO VISIT MEGHALAYA
The best time to visit is from October to March. The weather is good with very less risk of landslides (something you have to keep in mind before visiting any hilly area). However, if you want to witness the waterfalls in their full glory, August to early October is the time. If you want to boat in the beautiful waters of Dawki lake, avoid March to May when the lake is brown and muddy and unsuitable for boating.
First of all, you need to know where is Meghalaya. It lies in North East India (one of the seven sisters), a region with breath taking beauty which is still untouched by commercial tourism. The capital of Meghalaya is Shillong, a charming little town modelled on quaint British towns and called as ‘the Sotland of the East’.
Shillong does have an airport but with limited flights and high fares. The better option is to catch a flight or train to Guwahati (Assam). All major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore have flights to Guwahati. From the airport catch a cab to Shillong. Private as well as shared cabs are also available from Guwahati’s Paltan Bazaar to Shillong. Expect to pay between Rs 300-500 per person for a shared taxi. You can add extra days in Guwahati if you want to visit Kaziranga national park and see the famous one horned Rhino.
TIP: The road trip from Guwahati to Shillong is extremely scenic and takes around three hours. Add a stop at the beautiful Umiam lake (Barapani lake, pictured below) just before entering Shillong.
Except for some local Shillong sites like the view point or Elephant falls, Shillong does not have much sightseeing. All the best places to visit are at least two or three hours away and are accessed via road trips. You have to hire a driver and negotiate a price for all the days of your trip. Prices vary from Rs 1500-3000 per cab depending on the location. You can also easily join up with other travellers and split the fare.
POPULAR PLACES TO VISIT IN MEGHALAYA
- SHILLONG: The capital city and your landing point in Meghalaya. Plus the base point for many day trips to nearby areas.
- CHERRAPUNJEE: Also known as Sohra, this is one of the wettest places on earth. Its 60 kms from Shillong and a great day trip option to check out some beautiful waterfalls. Also a base for a trip to Nongriat village.
- NONGRIAT: This village is home to the famous Double decker root bridge trek. Its best to stay for a night to take in the hospitality and have some rest.
- MAWLYNNONG: Asia’s cleanest village and the home to the single decker living root bridge.
- DAWKI: One of the most beautiful lakes in India with crystal clear waters and camping options.
Ideally you need at least 5 days to see all the sights mentioned here. This is because some of the best places to visit in Meghalaya are located away from Shillong and the journey by car takes time. I have mentioned a rough itinerary here so you get an idea about how to plan the trip. get our FREE TRIP PLANNING CHECKLIST that has all the points you need to plan a hassle free vacation.
DAY 1: Reach Shillong and do all the local sightseeing including the Shillong view point and Elephant falls.
DAY 2: Set off for Sohra (Cherrapunjee) to see the Nohkalikai Falls, Sweet falls and some caves like Mawsmai or Arwah cave. You can stay in Cherrapunjee overnight as its nearer to Nongriat village.
DAY 3: From Cherrapunjee, head to Tyrna as this is the base point of doing the Nongriat downward trek. Check out the Double decker root bridge, rainbow falls and some other single root bridges. Its best to stay overnight at Nongriat to rest your feet.
DAY 4: Make the trek back up from Nongriat village. It will be strenous (3000+ steps) and head back to either Sohra or Shillong for some much needed rest and relaxation.
DAY 5:Head over to Mawlynnong village (Asia’s cleanest village) to check out the single decker root bridge and Nohwet view point and set off for afternoon/sunset boating at Dawki lake.
DAY 6: Make a morning trip to Krang Suri falls and return back to Guwahati by evening/night.
5 BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN MEGHALAYA
1. CHASING WATERFALLS IN NOHKALIKAI FALLS
Meghalaya has hundreds of waterfalls but Nohkalikai is the King! This stunning waterfall is one of the best waterfalls in India and also the tallest plunge falls. It is located near Cherrapuji (one of the wettest places on Earth). The best time to visit is the monsoons when the falls are in full flow. This waterfall has an interesting legend behind it. Read about it Here.
FLASHPACKER TIP: To catch the falls in int’s full glory, monsoons are the best time to visit. December to February is the dry season so avoid for this particular spot.
2. BOATING IN DAWKI LAKE
This was my absolute favourite experience in Meghalaya and is one of my top romantic places to visit in India. It is definitely one of the most beautiful places to visit in Meghalaya. Dawki lake (aka Umngot river) bordering Bangladesh, is one of the most beautiful lakes in the country with crystal clear emerald green waters and panaromic vistas all around.
It is a three hour ride from Shillong, along a partly bumpy track. Boating costs are around 700-1000 rupees. The boatmen take you for a spin around the lake as well as to the small island near it. The rocky island can also be used for overnight camping. Honestly, words cannot do justice to the beauty of the place.
FLASHPACKER TIP: Visit during winter, preferably December-February , when the water is at its best. The first time i visited during the month of April when it was raining, the water was muddy and there was no boating whatsoever. Plus try to time your visit during the afternoon , so that you can enjoy boating during sunset..it is a surreal experience!
3. MARVEL AT THE LIVING ROOT BRIDGES
The Living root bridges are one of the most unique phenomena in the country. Basically the giant roots of the trees have been used to make natural bridges to help in crossing water bodies in these mountainous states. They are of two types: Single decker and Double Decker.
We visited the Single decker root bridge and while it is certainly stunning, the ambience is somewhat ruined by the presence of hordes of tourists jostling for pictures.
If you have the time and the energy, do the Double Decker living root bridge hike which requires a whole day and going down three thousand steps.
FLASHPACKER TIP: The only way to beat the crowds is to start early preferably 7 AM and leave by the time the crowds start arriving after 10.
4. TAKE A VIEW FROM ANY OF THE VIEW POINTS
The amazing landscapes and scenery in Meghalaya are some of the most picturesque in the country. So go up one of the many view points to take a look.
One of the best is the Nohwet view point near Mawlyonnong village (well known as Asia’s cleanest village). Do not waste much time there as it is nothing but a tourist trap. Use the village as a meal stop only and take the time to go to Nohwet or any other view point nearby. The Nohwet view point has bamboo ladders and a tree house like viewing deck. Climb up and gaze at the hills and valleys of Bangladesh all around.
FLASHPACKER TIP: Don’t forget to bring your cameras to capture the stunning views all around.
5. VISIT THE KRANG SURI FALLS
A spontaneous decision to visit this little known gem, on the day we had meant to leave, turned out to be one of our best travel decisions. The Krang suri falls are not well known at all but definitely a must visit.
Getting up to there takes some dedication: It is a three hour drive from Shillong, located amongst the less visited Jaintia Hills. The journey through some of the most isolated villages of Meghalaya is very scenic.
And the reward for this effort is well worth it. A short 10 minute trek down the hill reveals this stunning waterfall with gorgeous blue waters, hidden amidst hills and trees. Don’t forget to visit the waterbody above the falls where boating facilities are available. The best part was the complete absence of tourists, except for some locals, which made the experience extra special. Go there, before the place becomes TOO well known and inundated with crowds.
FLASHPACKER TIP: Bring your swimsuits and splash around in the waterfall- Its safe and fun ! Changing rooms are available , along with a restaurant.
We took aimless road trips that took us past swathes of absolutely barren land with only hills, fields, small falls and streams to give us company! And therein lies the true beauty of this state, where every wrong turn can lead you to some beautiful spot! The only thing you need is a sense of adventure ! So Set aside plans and become a child once again
So these were our choices for five of the most beautiful places to visit in Meghalaya. We hope this Meghalaya travel guide inspired you to plan your own trip soon. Have you ever been to any of the North east states? Share your stories and comments with us!
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