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A road trip across Meghalaya is exhilarating, not to mention scenic and full of adventure. Be it on a bike or a car, the journey is enthralling. Of the many routes you can take to explore the state, the one leading from its capital Shillong to one of the wettest places on Earth, Cherrapunjee (Cherrapunji or Sohra, as the locals like to call it), stands out owing to the stunning sights and majestic waterfalls on the way.
Start with Ward’s Lake, a horseshoe-shaped artificial pool, lying near Raj Bhavan and the accountant general's office. The lake provides shelter to grass carps and gaggles of geese, and you can feed them standing on the bridge that passes over the lake. You can also take a stroll amidst flowerbeds and fairy-lights, and enjoy the greenery in the surrounding. The lake is supplemented by a cafeteria and has boating options for tourists.
Take pictures against the stained glass windows
Make your next stop at the ancient church. It stands as one of Shillong’s most beautiful buildings with its towering arches and stained glass.
Sight the plains of Bangladesh
Take a 30-minute detour (approximately) to Shillong Peak for a picturesque view of the Shillong’s greenery, the Himalayas and Bangladesh’s plains. Perched at an elevation of 1,966 mt, it is mostly covered in fog, lending a mystical appearance.
Alternatively, you can stop at Sri SriMahadevKholaDham (an approximate six-km drive from the church on the main route). A century-old cave temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, it is one of the oldest shrines in the state and is much revered by devotees, who believe that blessings sought with a pure heart here are fulfilled.
Enjoy a swim in the falls
Continue with the journey and reach Elephant Falls. This scenic two-tier fall is enveloped in lush greenery and is a popular picnic spot. It is locally called KaKshaid Lai PatengKhohsiew
A short drive will take you to the WahKaba Waterfalls. Cascading down a cliff into a deep gorge, the roar of this towering waterfall can be heard from a distance. Surrounded by green hills, it is a beautiful sight to behold.
Get a great caving experience
Hidden amidst green foliage, this limestone cave boasts stalagmites, stalactites and fossils, and is Meghalaya's best-kept secret. The caves are easily accessible by demarcated pathways.
On the way to Cherrapunjee and about six-minutes away from the caves lies the MawkdokDympep Valley View Point. Sloping hills carpeted in green from either side joining in an almost ‘v’ shape make for spectacular sightings and photographs.
Great photo-ops opportunity
Take another 16-minute (roughly) detour to visit the stunning Dainthlen falls . One of the unique features of this waterfall is that instead of viewing it from the bottom, its beauty can be experienced from the spot where the water takes the plunge. According to a local legend, the fall was named after an all-powerful and greedy python called Thlen who was defeated by locals here.
Swim in a green pool near the falls
You can make a slight detour to visit Nohkalikai Waterfalls . Said to be one of the tallest of its kind in the country (about 1,115 ft), it is fed by rainwater, which collects into a pool of green at the bottom.
October to February
Eateries along the way serve delicious vegetarian and non-vegetarian fares. From khasi daal (local lentils) and ja stem (a Khasi preparation of rice cooked with turmeric, green peas and onions) to nakhambichi (a soup made with fish, which is first dried and then fried) and tungrymbai (a soulfilling dish cooked with fermented soya beans, sesame seed, onions, spices and meat), you will be spoilt for choice. However, for an authentic meal, try dishes that are prepared with bamboo.
• There are numerous small waterfalls and scenic spots along the way. So, to make the most of this particular road trip, keep your eyes on either side of the road and stop at any place to admire the beauty. • The weather changes frequently. Carry an umbrella, raincoats, necessary medicines and mosquito repellents.