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Meghalaya – 10 hidden gems of Northeast India – a destination to discover

Meghalaya, meaning ‘Abode of Clouds’, is a land of mesmerizing waterfalls and tranquil valleys.

Its lush rolling hills, swaying high pines, tailored streets, English cottages, and the lingering smell of rain and earth with blues music playing in the background are what make Meghalaya an absolute delight.

Meghalaya, a hidden gem of the east, has an overwhelming number of breathtaking destinations, with new places being discovered every now and then. If you are someone looking to unwind in nature and witness nature’s best-kept secrets, Meghalaya is the place to be.

Here are 10 great experiences that Meghalaya has to offer:

Exploring the capital city of Shillong

City of Shillong -
City of Shillong –
Meghalaya – hidden gem of Northeast India

Known by many names, such as the ‘Scotland of the East’ or the ‘Rock Capital of India’, Shillong is the gateway to this eastern wonderland. Shillong is a cosmopolitan city with a distinct mixture of small-town charm and a sophisticated metropolitan ambiance.

This bustling hill station is the main hub and is home to numerous tourist attractions, like the Shillong Peak, Elephant Falls, Mary Help for Christian Cathedral, Lady Hydari Park, Wards Lake, the Don Bosco Museum, and the Air Force Museum. Shillong also allows you to experience Golf in the hills in its stunning 18-hole Golf course, the Shillong Golf Club, also known as the ‘Gleneagle of the East’.

Apart from these, the serene Laitlum Canyons offering a panoramic vista of the majestic Khashi hills, and the picturesque Umiam Lake are a few of the must-visit places around Shillong.

Waterfalls in Cherapunjee (Shora)

Known to be the wettest place in India, Cherapunjee receives the highest amount of rainfall in the country, which attributes to the numerous waterfalls dotting the region. These waterfalls are splendid and some of the highest plunges fall in the country. Nohkalikai Falls (4th highest waterfall in the world with a height of 1115 ft), Nohsngithiang waterfall (or the Seven sisters falls), Kynrem Falls, and Dainthlen Falls are just a few Major waterfalls of the region.

Cherapunjee - Waterfalls 
Meghalaya
Cherapunjee – Waterfalls
Meghalaya – hidden gem of Northeast India

Caving in Cherapunjee (Shora)

Caving in Cherapunjee Meghalaya
Caving in Cherapunjee
Meghalaya – hidden gem of Northeast India

Another key attraction of the region is its cave systems like The Mawswami Caves and the Arwah Cave. These networks of caves were created by the continuous flow of water and the erosion of limestone and are known to house century-old fossils.

Visiting the cleanest village in Asia and camping by the Umgot River

Towards the southern border of Meghalaya, lies Asia’s cleanest village known by the name Mawlynnong. This pristine village is also home to the most iconic place in Meghalaya, the Nohwet Living Root Bridge. These living root bridges are a hallmark of Khasi tradition and were created over generations by weaving the roots of the Ficus Elastica tree around a structure to form the bridge.

Also, the nearby Umngot River’s crystal-clear waters, verdant scenery, rural lifestyles, and riverine beaches are ideal for some bonfires and camping in the wild.

Trekking to a Double-decker living root bridge in Nongriat

Nongriat is no place for the faint-hearted, as one needs to climb down 3500 steps to reach the village with the marvelous Double-decker living root bridge. This two-tier root bridge is an enigma and a short but intense trek from the bridge leads to the breath-taking Rainbow falls and a hidden natural pool with aqua blue waters.

Double-decker living root bridge in Nongriat 
Meghalaya - hidden gem of Northeast India
Double-decker living root bridge in Nongriat
Meghalaya – hidden gem of Northeast India

Exploring the forgotten world of Pynursla

Often overlooked by visitors, Pynursla falls en route to Dawki and Mawlynnong and has a stunning variety of landscapes. It is a forested region with stretches of grasslands and pine-clad countryside.

Dawki - Khnongpdeng - 
Meghalaya - hidden gem of Northeast India
Dawki – Khnongpdeng –
Meghalaya – hidden gem of Northeast India

Not widely known, but Pynursla has multiple living root bridges spread across the region with some gorgeous waterfalls like the Wah Rymben Falls. This place is also considered a getaway to the ‘War’ community and is heaven for nature photography.

Kayaking in Mawphanlur

With exceptional roads and surrounding vista, the ride to Mawphanlur is a treat in itself. A lesser-known paradise in Meghalaya, this place is known as the ‘land of seven lakes’. These seven lakes around the tiny village and the lush green meadow, away from the hustle-bustle of the mainland, make Mawphanlur a serene getaway.

Meghalaya’s Eden, the Nokrek Biosphere Reserve

 Nokrek Biosphere Reserve 
Meghalaya - hidden gem of Northeast India
Nokrek Biosphere Reserve
Meghalaya – hidden gem of Northeast India

Being one of the bio-diverse hotspots, a vast range of flora and fauna are found here, such as the most endangered ape in India and the Hoolock Gibbon. Nokrek captures the charm of the Garo Hills, and the Daribokgre Trek is one of the greatest opportunities to absorb this wild splendor.

Before entering the pristine forest, this 16-km path will take you through verdant farmland lined with dense forests, plantations, and tidy settlements. Chandigre Village, which has a small resort with traditional cottages, is a point of attraction on the reserve’s outskirts. The village is bordered by tea and coffee farms, making it a great place to experience the Garo lifestyle.

Thrift Shopping and Café hopping

When in Shillong, one must visit the iconic Police Bazar to experience Shillong in its most authentic form. It is the major shopping hub for both locals and tourists alike. Situated in the heart of the city, it has arrays of tiny shops and a flea market section selling exquisite traditional jewelry, Meghalayan artillery, handicrafts, and local delicacies. Another favorite among shoppers is the Shillong’s Bara Bazar, just a few kilometers away from Police Bazar.

Meghalaya - Local Cuisine
Meghalaya – Local Cuisine
Meghalaya – hidden gem of Northeast India

Shillong also has an amazing café culture influenced by its romance with Rock and Roll and Blues music. Some of these noteworthy cafes are Dylan’s café, Café Shillong, Swish Café, etc.

Meghalayan cuisine and its street food

Meghalaya’s cuisine is influenced by the customs and traditions of its tribes, namely Garo, Khasi, and Jaintia communities. The food here comprises mainly rice, vegetable curry, fish, and meat such as beef or pork. The street food here is another reason to visit the state.

 Meghalaya - Local Cuisine
Meghalaya – Local Cuisine
Meghalaya – hidden gem of Northeast India

Some must-try dishes are the Jadoh (red rice cooked with pork), Doh-Khlieh (salad), Pukhlein (fried rice balls with jaggery), and steamed momos. Another delicacy of the state is Kyat, a fermented rice beer that forms an integral part of any celebration in the state.

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