Meghalaya – A Week in the Abode of Clouds

Dear Readers,

I’m back with a travel post and this time it’s one of the seven sisters of North East India. Meghalaya – the Abode of Clouds.

Day 1: Umiam Lake and Police Bazaar

On Day 1 we began our journey to Shillong by road from Guwahati Airport. It’s a drive of 120 Km that takes 3.5 hours usually. Our first stop was Umium Lake view point known for its beautiful sunset. The lake is in real a reservoir created by damming the Umiam River in the early 1960s. If you reach here before sunset, you can participate in water activities like boating and kayaking.

On reaching Shillong city, we spent the evening in Police Bazaar – shopping, snacking and listening to live music. Ward’s lake – a century old beautiful man-made lake, is at a walkable distance from Police Bazaar. Look out for any special events happening here at the time of your travel. More about it at the end.

Day 2: Laitlum Canyons and Krang Suri Waterfalls

About 45 kms from the capital city of Shillong lies Laitlum Canyon also known as Meghalaya’s Grand Canyon. Perched atop the East Khasi Hills, the Laitlum Canyons offer panoramic views that extend over deep valleys, steep cliffs, and rolling hills, making it a popular destination for day trips, picnics and lot of nature photography.

The word Laitlum translates to end of hills in the local Khasi language. Apart from the greenery and unique landscape, the Laitlum Canyons also have cultural significance as they are located within the Khasi tribal territory. 

That’s me!

From here, we started our journey towards the Jaintia hills to visit the famous Krang Suri Waterfalls. After a journey of approximately 3 hrs and then a short trek of 20 mins along a stone path, we reached the most scenic waterfall of Meghalaya – Krang Suri.

On reaching the place, we were given life jackets and directed towards the changing rooms that were maintained well despite the crowd. The chilly water, measuring around 6 degrees in December, added a refreshing thrill to our adventure. Immersing ourselves in a swim that led us to the very heart of the waterfall became an adrenaline-pumping, truly memorable event.

From here, we drove to Shnongpdeng where we camped on the banks of the Umgnot river for the night. The bonfire and food were great at this place.

Day 3: Cliff Jumping at Dawki and Mawlynnong Visit

The next morning, we took a boat in the Umgnot river and then cliff jumped into the glassy waters. For a non-swimmer like me it was both a nerve wrecking and exhilarating experience. There were other water activities here as well – Zip lining, Scuba diving and Kayaking.

Photo Courtesy: Aswin Kumar (
Photo Courtesy: Aswin kumar

We spent the rest of the morning under the warm sun before heading to Mawlynnong village, notable for its cleanliness. It was chosen by Discover India magazine as Asia’s cleanest village. This small village looks like a well constructed/ maintained park where people have just moved in.

Here, we came across two bridges built across the streets, completely made from bamboo by the villagers. The bamboo bridges are maintained and rebuilt every year by the seniors of the village, and the knowledge is passed down through generations. On reaching the top of the bridge, one can witness the sunset and also get a glimpse of the plains on the other side, which is Bangladesh. Outside the village there are little shops from where you can buy souvenirs.

A street in Mawlynnong village

After a scenic 3-hour drive, we reached the misty town of Cheerapunji where we spent the night.

Day 4: Cheerapunji – Nongriat Trek

Day 4 commenced with a delightful breakfast after which we left for Tyrna – the starting point for our trek to the mesmerizing Rainbow Waterfalls. The descent of 3500 steps into the valley was both scenic and invigorating. Our trek led us first to the bustling Double Decker Root Bridge, crowded with tourists by noon. Undeterred, we continued our journey to Rainbow Waterfalls, reaching just in time to witness the enchanting rainbow formation around 2 PM.

Rainbow Waterfall at 2 PM

The Blue Lagoon

As we began our ascent, we reached the Blue Lagoon, where a dip in the chilly, serene waters refreshed our spirits. Calling it a day, we stayed at Serene Homestay, conveniently located just 100m away from the Double Decker Bridge.

Day 5: Double Decker Living Root Bridge

The following morning, we embarked on an early visit to the Double Decker Living Root Bridge, catching the breathtaking sunrise. With no other tourists around at this early hour, we had the bridge to ourselves for several magical hours. Listening to the waterfall’s soothing sounds and observing fishes gracefully swim in the clear, glistening waters illuminated by the first rays of sunlight was a truly tranquil experience. We also learnt that the Khasi and Jaintia people of Meghalaya construct these bridges using an Indian rubber tree’s roots which are woven into suspension bridges across two rivers. There is also a single root bridge along the way.

Sunrise Meditation at Double Decker Living Root Bridge

After a hearty breakfast and expressing gratitude to our hospitable host Byron at Serene Homestay, we commenced the 3500-step ascent back to the base. It took us 3 hours to reach the base.

In the evening we visited the Mawsmai caves – A 250 meter long magnificent limestone wonder that is the handiwork of years of natural erosion, heavy rains and underground water. Though the caves are quite long, only a small part of open for tourists. Watch out for the uneven floors, low hanging fossils along the roof and cramped path.

Mawsmai Cave, Meghalaya – Soul Travelogue
Formations in Mawsmai Cave

Day 6: Nohkalikai Waterfalls and Don Bosco Museum

The next morning, we began our return journey to Shillong. On the way we first stopped at Lyngksiar falls. Here we came across a medicinal pool and took a sip of the herbal cool water.

Nohkalikai Falls - Wikipedia
Nohkalikai waterfalls
Lyngksiar Falls

Later, we visited Nohkalikai waterfalls the tallest plunge waterfall in India. Monsoons are considered to be the best time to visit this falls. But during the dry season, you can opt to trek to the top of the waterfall. After this we had a pit stop at a shop where we dressed up in Jainsem  – the traditional Khasi Tribe wear.

We spent the afternoon at Don Bosco Museum – Shillong’s major tourists spot that provides a glimpse of the rich and multi-cultural lifestyles of the indigenous peoples of North East India. It took us about 4 hours to see and learn everything the seven storeys of fascinating visuals, colours, and treasures the museum had to provide. We found some of the best, pocket friendly souvenirs here.

This is where most arranged backpacking tours to Meghalaya end and people are dropped back to Guwahati from where they can fly back home. We decided to spend two more days here and visit a less known sunrise spot that our friend recommended.

Day 7: Sunrise at Nongjrong

In the quietude of 1 AM, our pre-booked cab spirited us away to Nongjrong, a three-hour drive from Shillong. Following a brisk twenty-minute walk through the village, we ascended to the hilltop, eagerly anticipating the first rays of sunlight.

Perched on the hill, we patiently waited for an hour in the windy, chilly morning. As time unfolded, the sky transformed into a captivating palette of purple, inky blue, and hints of red. Gradually, we became aware that we were enveloped by clouds on all sides, creating a truly mesmerizing panorama. The ethereal beauty of the scene was beyond words, marking the dawn with a touch of magic.

In the evening, we visited Ward’s lake once again as we learned that the Annual Wine Festival was being held there. We tried a variety of local fruit wine and cuisines while listening to live music by the local choir and a rock band. Ward’s lake hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year. Look out for what’s scheduled during your visit.

It was Christmas week during our visit and the entire city, especially Police Bazaar was decorated like a bride. A stroll through the streets of Shillong at night made it the perfect ending for our memorable week in Meghalaya.

We booked our trip through Muddie Trails and had a wonderful experience. You can reach out to them here.

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