When I landed in Guwahati, the city animal in me was all but enthusiastic about the cooler climate. I was taking my first trip in the northeastern states of India and was keeping tabs on the climatic conditions like a fanatic for the last few days.
To my surprise, I found Guwahati humid and not that cold. However, once my cab left the airport and cruised into Meghalaya, the heat was all but gone and a cool drizzle had taken its place. Even though the journey through the hairpin bends and the winding roads climbing up the hill was thrilling, it was nothing but pale compared to the adventure awaited me in the land of the clouds.
Most travelers think of the double-decker root bridges or the bustling markets of Shillong when they plan a trip to Meghalaya. While I visited all the touristy places and saw the wonders that the people and the nature of Meghalaya have created, the adrenaline-inducing activities are the ones that got me revving. Here, I will only talk about the unforgettable experiences of my Meghalaya Journey. The rest of the stories would have to wait for yet another article as they would not consort well with this adventure laden one.
Exploring the Caves
Most travelers fail to explore the exciting caves of Meghalaya. You might not know, but the state is home to thousands of limestone caves that have been formed over centuries as the rainwater dripped down the rocks and cut through them. During my journey, I visited one such unexplored caves.
Kre Amkrung is a limestone cave that has never seen any tourist ever. I and a couple of other travelers were the first ones to step inside the cave. Before entering the cave, our guide has given us proper instructions about the necessary precautions during the exploration. Apparently, after a quick spell of shower or two, the cave can become waterlogged. Fortunately, the day we visited the cave was agreeable.
Dressed in shin-high boots, thick caving suits and helmet, we marched on a road that got narrower until we reached the forest. Every rock, tree trunk and boulder of the forest was covered with emerald green moss that kept things moist and sometimes slippery. It was a long trek through a deep forest which is impossible to explore without a knowledgeable guide.
The inside of the cave was pitch dark. I can hear the water flowing in my left side but I see nothing. The light streaming from the headlamp of the helmet was not enough for me or any one of our party to comfortably move around the labyrinth of the cave. Every corner, including the walls and the ceiling of the cave, was wet and water was dripping all over us.
Even though we did not have to move on all four, I did stumble quite a few times due to the slippery cave floors. The stalagmite chunks got bigger as we moved deeper in the cave. Walking becomes trickier once the stalactite joins the journey. We had to carefully navigate around the formations to make sure not to damage anything or get injured.
I discovered cave pearls, a formation of calcium salts that concentrates around a grain of sand. All in all, this journey was exciting enough that it gives me goosebumps whenever I think about it and pleasant enough that I would not forget it till my last breath.
Scuba Diving in Dawki
People love to go kayaking on the Dawki river, but I chose to check the river bed. The crystal clear water gave the onlookers an impression of shallowness. However, at the deepest point, the divers can venture forty feet underwater. I saw massive catfishes and large tiger mahseers playing in the water.
Being an amateur scuba diver, I was allowed to dive till only 25 feet under the water. However, it was easy to sense the temperature drop as we descended. Time flew and in what seemed like seconds, I had to come to the banks of the river.
Watching the Landscape from a Hot Air Balloon
With the water and cave exploration ticked off, now was the time for seeing the beautiful landscape from up above the sky. Just with the first rays of the sun, we rose above the clouds that hung to the hills like a sheet. The red and neon blue huts helped me to find the little villages nestled in the bosom of the forests. The balloon soared above the forest and saw the waterfalls gushing from the high hilltops.
Even though all of us were excited about a crash landing on the top of the forest, our balloon landed quite safely on the highway.
On the day I left dreamy Meghalaya, I sat in my car with my nose pressed to the glass and looked at the lush green hills that offer us adventure and solace. I was already dreaming about coming back to the green arms of Meghalaya, picturing a small home by the side of the forest, with the clouds and the trees as my neighbours. I was telling myself that I can stay here forever and cherish the calming touch of nature. It’s a hypothesis that I would like to test someday. For now, I have promised myself that I will return to this green bliss as soon as I can, and I am eager to test the theory as well.