The dreamy hills & the lyrical falls of Meghalaya

The dreamy Meghalaya hills, the misty musical falls, the soft rains…I was there just a week ago, but it already seems so far away. Such is our busy city lives, takes over the moment we step in. The memories of such little breaks that we manage to steal once in a while keeps us going…we trudge along till we can take the next break.

The morning after the Cherrapunji trip we set out to Dawki, a town in West Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya, bordering Bangladesh. The Umngot River or Dawki River flows through the little town demarking the two countries. The white portion of the river, caused by a rise in the current, marks the unofficial boundary between the two countries, popularly called the Zero Point. The town that serves as the trade route between India and Bangladesh naturally has a big presence of Border Patrol Units.

We set out early as Dawki was a long drive from our hotel in Shillong. We stopped for breakfast in a small roadside café by the hills. It was a cute little café, immaculately  clean with two friendly girls attending to the customers. That’s another good thing about Meghalaya, it’s spic & span, friendly and hospitable. The warm people that I interacted with during my stay made the trip even more memorable.

Beautiful rocks peeping out of lush green hills

The drive to Dawki, sometimes clear, sometimes misty or enveloped in fog was one of the most stunning road trips that I have undertaken. I won’t compare it to Scotland for its rolling hills because I feel Meghalaya has a distinct identity and beauty of its own. The east Himalayan hill station is probably one of the greenest with silver waterfalls surprising you at every turn owing to the bountiful rains. The road was broken at stretches, but nonetheless picturesque.

Our first stop was Bophill Fall 1 at the outskirts of Dawki. Our driver stopped the car after crossing a small bridge for us to experience the wide, gorgeous fall tumbling and gurling down the rocky mountain making its way to frame a waterway in the Sylhet Borders of Bangladesh. The setting was tranquil. Except for one small roadside shop there was no one else around. Reluctantly I pulled my eyes away from the fall as our car drove off slowly. Bophill Fall 2 was next, as gorgeous as Bophill 1. The falls are abbreviations border outpost patrol, our driver informed us.

We reached the banks of Umngot river soon after. A friendly boat man, rather a boy, helped my mom and me down the steep stairs to the river below where the boats are anchored. Thankfully there were no noisy motorboats. They only had rowing boats that sailed with us the gently through the clear water. Umngot is one of the cleanest rivers in India. The water was slightly muddied at the banks because of the rains, our boat man told us. It was clear green as we sailed deeper.

The day was cloudy and was for but the chirruping birds and musical springs flowing down the rocky mountains. The greyish clouds floating past the mountains, the old dark green or grey rocks shaping the banks added to the enigma. Some rocks would take different shapes depending on how you look at them. There were local people sitting on the rocks with their fishing lines in the water. Colourful boats were strewn across the bank. Our first stop was Rock Island in midst of the river. We could see the suspended Dawki bridge overhead. Beautiful pebbles of different natural shades formed a small uneven island. We stopped there for a while before sailing to the Zero Point. We could see Bangladeshi nationals in boats not very far away. I was keen to sail up to them and say hello. “Can’t go any further ma’am,” our boatman smiled as we turned towards the bank.We went to the Living Root Bridge at the outskirts Mawlynnong village next. Though not a double storey bridge unlike the one in Cherrapunji, it took much less effort to reach – climbing up and down about five hundred stairs vis a vis 2,500. A sturdy bridge made out of the living roots of rubber plants is a wonder indeed. Maybe we would have achieved more had we stayed closer to nature.

Mawlynnong village, Asia’s cleanest village, is where we stopped for a simple lunch – rice, dal and fish curry. Enjoying the local flavours before driving off to Shillong late afternoon. I sat quietly trying to take in the serene beauty of the lush green hills and the dreamy mist, before the busy city life takes over.

On our last day we decided to go around Shillong – Shillong Peak, Cathedral of Mary and the Shillong Lake. Shillong also has Don Bosco Museum which we couldn’t visit. We had lunch in a Chinese restaurant in the busy Police Bazaar. Drove around crowded Shillong with its lingering hilly charm.

It was a short vacation, that I hoped could have lasted longer. We left Shillong next morning with the hilly melodies trickling down my mind. These are memories that I will cherish till someday, I visit again!

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