A 4 day trip to Meghalaya – the abode of clouds

Meghalaya is one of the north eastern states of India. Surrounded by the Indian state Assam, and the neighbouring country Bangladesh, it houses the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo hills. Pertaining to the structure of the hills and the climate of the region, clouds get trapped in Meghalaya and a lot of rainfall happens almost all through the year in certain areas. Thus the name “Meghalaya” which means “The abode of clouds” in Sanskrit. But there is so much more to Meghalaya than the clouds. Beautiful, dense and green meadows and forests, massive waterfalls, vast rivers and lakes with crystal clear water, mysterious caves, living root bridges and small beautiful villages that have well preserved their traditions and cultures, are a few to count on. In short, it’s like a hidden gem for those who love nature and it’s wonders.

4 day trip to Meghalaya

Our 4 day trip to Meghalaya

After having wonderful trips to the hills of both north and south India, we finally decided to head to Meghalaya. With memories of our trips to Shimla and Manali, Palampur, Coorg, Munnar, etc. still fresh in our memories, we found ourselves ready to explore north east India next.

As a result, we just had an amazing 4 day trip to Meghalaya. Friends were surprised to hear that we went to Meghalaya for just 4 days. And had a wonderful trip. On our 4 day trip to Meghalaya we had a taste of almost all the wonders that this place has got to offer. Apart from the specific sites, I must mention that on this 4 day trip to Meghalaya, our journey itself was nothing short of the destinations. As on every single day on this 4 day trip to Meghalaya, as we travelled through the winding mountain route, our eyes were transfixed on the beautiful green meadows, villages and forests that passed us one after the other. While the clouds played hide and seek with us. And we stopped randomly on the way to just let the waves of cottony clouds pass through us. Or just to soak in the beautiful surroundings.

Let us take you through the amazing 4 day trip to Meghalaya that we just finished.

Day 1 of 4 day trip to Meghalaya

Meghalaya has an excellent road network, however, it lacks a busy airport. Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, is well connected by a 4 lane highway to Guwahati, the capital of Assam. The most convenient way to reach Shillong is to take a flight or train to Guwahati from any other part of India. Take one which arrives in Guwahati in the morning hours, preferably before 10am. We ourselves took a 3 hours flight to Guwahati and reached here by 9:30am. It is best to book a round trip cab from Guwahati to Shillong and use it for the full duration of your trip. We had booked an Innova from Guwahati. And we were on our way to Shillong by 10:00am. There is one very good veg restaurant on way from Guwahati to Shillong, Jiva Veg, where we stopped for lunch around 12:30 pm . Afterwards, we stopped on the way at Umiam Lake.

Umiam Lake

4 day trip to Meghalaya

 

Umiam Lake is a vast and beautiful lake on the way to Shillong from Guwahati. Surrounded by the hills of Meghalaya, it produces a beautiful sight to behold, both from far and near. From the parking lot, there is a way to the lake through a landscaped garden, which has a small refreshment counter, restrooms and a small children’s play area as well. One can do a speed boating, a streamer boating or just take a stroll along the side of the lake, which is as refreshing as ever.

Dew Drop Inn homestay

After having spent some good 1.5 hr at Umiam Lake, we proceeded directly to our homestay, Dew Drop Inn. We reached here by 4:00pm. After checking in into our respective rooms, we soon ventured on the terrace cum balcony of the homestay. Where there is a simple seating amidst beautiful flowers. We ordered some snacks and coffee from the in-house restaurant and enjoyed them as the temperature slowly dropped and the clouds in the sky turned denser. This homestay is located at a height from the main city of Shillong, thus providing an uninterrupted and beautiful view of the city at night, and the mountain ranges beyond the city during the day time.

There is an in house restaurant adjacent to the house, and a small kitchen inside the house as well, both with their own menu. After having a hearty snacks, we chatted and roamed around, took some rest, and had a light dinner at night before retiring to bed.

Day 2 of 4 day trip to Meghalaya

Having slept off early the day before and enjoying a very peaceful sleep, my eyes opened at 4:30am. I was surprised to see that the daylight had already spread in the sky and it seemed to be a bright day ahead. Today, we planned to proceed to Cherrapunji after breakfast. We started around 8:00 am for Cherrapunji.

Elephant falls

4 day trip to Meghalaya | Elephant Falls

Just outside the city of Shillong, we stopped for a look at the beautiful elephant falls, our first official site of the day on our 4 day trip to Meghalaya. The falls have a good current. And they cascade in 3 steps from mountain top to the bed of the valley. There are stairs to go all the way to the bottom of the falls. Here, one can witness some other smaller streams joining the main waterfall. From here, we started back on our journey to Cherrapunji.

As soon as we left the city of Shillong, we started our ascent through the winding hills of Meghalaya. And here waves of clouds passing right through us greeted us. And beautiful meadows stretched all around. Hence, we stopped several times en-route on official as well as unofficial view points to experience this exceptional natural beauty. On one of the view points, there is a zip-lining setup, right across to beautiful green hills on the other side. We did zip-lining here before proceeding.

Mawsmai Caves

4 day trip to Meghalaya | Mawsmai Caves

 

Our next stop was the Mawsmai Caves in Cherrapunji itself. Natural limestone rocks are the major attractions of these caves. And once inside, you will truly feel like an explorer. Although there are several other such caves in Meghalaya, these have been enhanced to make it easier for access to common people. Still it’s a good bit of adventure to trek inside the cave, crossing narrow stretches, steep rocks, and small streams of waterfalls inside the cave. It won’t be advisable to take very small kid along inside the cave as they might find it difficult to trek through it. Also, one should leave their shoes at the entry, where the tickets are checked, since it’s difficult to trek on the watery rocks with your shoes on. Rain sandals are fine though.

Seven Sister Waterfalls

After the adventure of zip-lining and cave trekking, we were all hungry. Thus from the caves, we decided to head to the nearest decent restaurant. On the way we stopped to have a glimpse of the seven sister waterfalls. And on the opposite side of the highway was another beautiful stream of gushing water where we went down the stairs, all the way to the water. It was a beautiful experience. From here, we went ahead to stop at a Jain Restaurant for lunch around 2:30pm. The restaurant had a pre-pay system and it was pretty crowded. It took us a little over an hour to finish lunch and start off from here. We reached our homestay back around 5:00pm after having stopped through the mist and cloud at several places on the way to enjoy the views.

PS: Cherrapunji is credited to host the double decker living root bridge. However, it takes a good 4 hours or more to visit it and return back. Since it was just a 4 day trip to Meghalaya, we avoided visiting this living root bridge. But, if you have more days at hand, we recommend you stay overnight in Cherrapunji and visit the double decker living root bridge on the next day before returning back to Shillong or continuing directly on the next day trip from Cherrapunji itself.

Day 3 of 4 day trip to Meghalaya

The next day, we aimed to start off even earlier as we intended to visit Mawlynnong – the cleanest village of Asia, the living root bridge nearby and then finally the Umngot river at Dawki.

Living Root Bridge

4 day trip to Meghalaya | Living Root Bridge

We stopped first at the living root bridge of Meghalaya. From the parking lot to the bridge there is a small trek of almost 10 minutes. And it passes through a small village. There are several small refreshment stalls on the way where you can buy drinking water, cut fruits or other packaged juices. The trek also helps build the thrill of stepping foot on the living root bridge. Nothing that one writes is going to do honesty to the feeling you will have once you set foot on this unique wonder of nature. It is not allowed to stand on the bridge, so keep walking. Cross the bridge to the other side, and then you can take the steps all the way to the beautiful clear stream of water that flows below the bridge. On the other side, you can trek further up to a beautiful view point which gives uninterrupted views of the plains of Bangladesh.

Mawlynnong Village

The village which is awarded the certificate of the cleanest village of Asia is definitely a must visit. It is just 2km from the living root bridge, so, next we visited here. Dotted with small houses, beautiful narrow streams of water flowing through lush greenery and beautiful bamboo tree houses setup as viewpoints, the village is nothing sort of a fairy tale place. Explore through it’s lane. And have your lunch here, as there is no place for lunch after this point unless you hit the highway back.

Dawki & the Umngot River

4 day trip to Meghalaya | Dawki | Umngot River

From here, we proceeded on the journey to Dawki. The roads at this stretch are not in good condition. But the scenery around more than makes up for it. You can see the plains of Bangladesh on one side. While the hill besides the road on the other side is dotted with numerous natural waterfalls. We counted well over 30 waterfalls big and small. And stopped on some of the massive ones to experience them better. Finally, we got to Umngot River in Dawki. The river is not transparent at this time of the year. But the boat ride on the river was an experience of a kind. Once on the river, you feel you are in a different landscape altogether. And it will closely remind you of sailing between the islands of Thailand. And once again, you will cross several waterfalls along the mountain that lines the river. A tropical paradise indeed!

Bangladesh Border

After visiting Dawki, we crossed the bridge and took a 10 mins drive to the India-Bangladesh border. Visiting borders always has a different kind of bearing on us, it somehow fills us with the emotions beyond descriptions. Similar was the experience of visiting the Bangladesh border. From here, we took to the main highway and returned back to our homestay in Shillong. On our way back, dense mist surrounded the highway, reducing the visibility severely. Hats off to our driver who drove patiently and safely through the testing and winding roads on the cloudy evening.

Day 4 of 4 day trip to Meghalaya

4 day trip to Meghalaya

 

Finally arrived day 4 of our 4 day trip to Meghalaya. And we were in no mood to say goodbye. However, even Meghalaya wanted to show us a little more before we left. The morning today was a bit different. I woke up to thunders and dark hovering clouds around 5:00am. And then it rained heavily till 8:00am. After that beautiful sunshine greeted us, shining on the wet roads and the mountains. We finished breakfast a little more leisurely today. And then started on our way back to Guwahati around 10:00am.

On the way, we stopped at cafe coffee day for some refreshment around 12:00pm. But the refreshment proved to be heavy enough for us, so, we didn’t stop further for lunch and headed directly to Guwahati airport. We reached here by 3:00pm to catch our 5:30pm flight on time. As the flight took off, we said goodbye to the views of the hills and the clouds hanging over them. Overall, it was one of the most memorable trips of the lifetime. And yes, it is very much possible to do a 4 day trip to Meghalaya. So don’t let lack of time deter your trip any further. And if you have more time, include some more attractions across Shillong on your way.

Tips for your 4 day trip to Meghalaya

  • Carry light rain jackets with you because it can rain anytime in the Abode of clouds. We carried these kind of rain jackets with us on our trip.
  • If you have a kid with you, better carry rain coat for the kid. We are glad we carried one for ours and it proved helpful not just with sudden rains but also when we went near waterfalls.
  • Wear comfortable waterproof walking shoes or sandals.
  • Meghalaya can be visited all through the year. If you want to experience the clouds and the lush green vegetation and volumes of water in the waterfalls then the monsoon months are best for you.
  • However, if you want to experience crystal clear waters of the Dawki river then you should visit in the winter months before the rains start.
  • Don’t stay in the city of Shillong if possible. The city is crowded and often faces massive traffic at the entry and exit of the city in morning and evening hours. The whole stretch of highway towards Cherrapunji is dotted with several homestays, so, stay in one of them, or in Cherrapunji.
  • Veg food is easily available at most of the places. Chinese food like noodles, momo, rolls etc. are available everywhere. Some high end restaurants offer north Indian and south Indian food as well. Non veg food is abundant all around.
  • If you want to take some souvenir with you back home, buy some small bamboo stuff like miniature furnitures, wooden stuff like miniature glass set, wooden kitchen items, and show pieces made out of wood.

4 day trip to Meghalaya

 

Summary of 4 day trip to Meghalaya

Day 1

9:30am

Arrival in Guwahati

10:00am

Start from Guwahati to Shillong

12:30pm – 1:30pm

Stop for lunch at Jiva Veg Restaurant

2:30pm – 4:00pm

Umiam Lake

4:30pm

Arrival at homestay

Day 2

8:00am

Start for Cherrapunji

8:45am

Elephant falls

10:00am

Ziplining on the way to Cherrapunji

12:00pm

Visit the limestone caves

2:00pm

Seven sister waterfalls

3:00pm

Lunch

5:00pm

Back to homestay

Day 3

8:00am

Start for Mawlynnong

10:30am – 12:30pm

Visit the living root bridge and view point

1:30pm

Lunch @ Mawlynnong village

2:30pm – 4:00pm

Umgot river, Dawki

4:30pm

Bangladesh border visit

5:00pm

Back to homestay

Day 4

After breakfast head back to Guwahati

 

Meghalaya | India | 4 day trip to Meghalaya | The adobe of clouds | Dawki | Mawlynnong | Living Root Bridge | Umngot | Umiam

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21 Responses

  1. Mayuri Patel

    I would love to visit it soon again as I could explore only Shillong.Beautiful captures and some useful guide for short planning.

    • Neha

      Yeah Mayuri, one time in Meghalaya is definitely not enough. We wanted to visit Dawki when the river is crystal clear. So, we also want to visit here again

  2. Sandy N Vyjay

    Meghalaya is indeed a gem of the North-East, a paradise still pristine and untouched. I can see it was a lovely trip in the lap of nature. We would love to head to those parts. The living root bridges and the river Umngot river beckon. Another place that sounds really fascinating are the Mawsmai caves.

    • Neha

      Definitely a must visit in India I would say. In fact, we feel we are not yet done with Meghalaya after this lovely trip. Since we visited in monsoon months we couldn’t see the transparent waters of Dawki river. We would very much want to return back in the winter months for that

  3. Marjorie G.

    You have clearly found a gem of a place. Everything looks beautiful, from the lake to the river. I have a little concern that they don’t allow shoes inside the cave and it’s slippery. Won’t that be dangerous? I experienced caving before in which I took out my shoes and immediately regretted it because it made walking all the more difficult. Did they tell you the reason for such rule?

    The root bridge is unlike anything I’ve seen before. It just looks fascinating.

    • Neha

      Hey, the cave is not slippery when trekked on foot, since you get a better grip compared to shoes which tend to get wet and heavy as you have to walk through water streams. I guess that is the reason for removing the shoes

  4. Valentini

    Great photos! I would like to visit Umiam Lake and the the living root bridge! Your itinerary sounds very doable unlikely other itineraries regarding India! Thanks for sharing!!

    • Neha

      Thank you! Definitely, we did this itinerary with our 4 years old. So, it should be doable for everyone.

  5. Lydia

    Wow! I am so happy to learn about this place as not many bloggers have visited it. Meghalaya seems like a real hidden gem and I would love to explore it for 4 days. I got all the necessary info from your post!

    • Neha

      Thanks Lydia. Yes, Meghalaya still is not too crowded. And that is what makes it all the more attractive a destination

  6. Chasing Potatoes

    Wow…Your photos are beautiful. First time to read about Meghalaya and everything you post here is just amazing. Magnificent waterfalls. Stunning scenery of landscapes and that living root bridge is indeed a unique work of nature. Such a great place. Thank you so much for sharing.

  7. sumit walia

    Meghalaya is a part of my bucket list and i am eager to read all articles related to it , how did u find dawki river … i did not see much visuals in your blog regarding it

    • Neha

      Meghalaya is a must visit destination. The visit to Dawki was one of the most memorable ones. The boat ride on the river is a must do and it was a god one. I am writing a full post on our experience at Dawki river … stay tuned 🙂

  8. shreyasaha1987

    Wow I love how you detailed each day of the itinerary and then summarized also at the end in a table form. That’s fantastic. I am confused whether to take parents to Kerala or Meghalaya this August end. I have some 4-5 days in hand. We would be flying from Kolkata. Would Meghalaya be experiencing heavy downpour then or would it be OKAY to visit then?

    • Neha

      Depends on which place you plan to visit in Kerala and how old/fit your parents are. I guess both Meghalaya and Kerala will be receiving heavy rains in the month of August. And most of the sites in Meghalaya require some trekking/steps climbing up and down. So, see if your parents can conveniently do that.

  9. Johna

    Wow! This place looks unrealllll. Like something from a fantasy world hehe. Especially with the huge tree with a lot of roots. I also love looking through caves, amazing things we find inside. Sounds like such an epic journey here though 😛

    • Neha

      Its totally an epic to visit Meghalaya. And those trees with lot of roots – when you read about how they form a bridge – the living root bridge, I am sure you will get all the more excited to visit here

  10. alison netzer

    Meghalaya sounds like a nature lovers dream come true. I can’t believe you are entering the cave barefoot!! Were you able to swim in the waterfalls or was the water too cold. Looks beautiful.

    • Neha

      Most of the waterfalls in Meghalaya are not fit for swimming as either the current below them is too strong. Or, they fall from mountain cliffs deep down while you get to stair at them from the highways..from a distance. But I like it this way, somehow, it helps keep them unspoilt

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