Memoirs of North-East

Working late hours at office for days and staying alone away from family makes life monotonous, so, I choose travelling to refresh myself from the mundane life.

So last year 2019, before Durga Puja, my friend Aryanuj and me planned for a short trip to Assam and nearby attractions in the North East. Mountains are my weakness and I crave to go back to them again and again. I currently stay in Hyderabad as my profession demands and Aryanuj stays at Guwahati. As our plans of meeting were concerned, I had to start the trip earlier from Hyderabad and we were to meet at Guwahati.

On the start of our trip, I reached the airport early morning for my flight but to my misfortune came to know that it got cancelled. I was given a preference to avail another flight to which I agreed as there was no second choice, although it had multiple layovers. It was a scheduled 4 hours journey but unfortunately it took me around 7 hours to reach my destination.

Day 1: On reaching Guwahati airport, I was warmly greeted by Aryanuj who was waiting for me for a long time.

After this awful long journey, I was tremendously hungry so we went in search of some snacks. Having our appetite fulfilled, we started on our voyage. We had booked our stay at "Hill Top Lodge" and on reaching, to my surprise the 2-storey hotel was completely made out of bamboo, except for the washrooms!. That was a new experience for us and we enjoyed the stay. There was nothing much to do as it was almost dark and having a jetlag, I preferred to have my dinner early and doze off to sleep.

Day 2: Waking up to a fresh morning, we rented a scooty and according to our itinerary we visited Sanakaradeva Kalakshetra, the state museum and the Umananda Temple. This temple is located on the peacock island which is the smallest inhabited riverine island in the world. Twist to the trip started when Aryanuj misplaced his voter ID and driving license. We lodged a FIR in the local police station and returned to our hotel.

On our way back to our stay, we encountered the second twist to our trip. We were using Google maps to reach our hotel and mistakenly took the first right turn and reached a hill top. As per Google maps, it was only 50 meters to our destination, however, this 50 meters was only a narrow walking path and we realized that we were on the wrong track. So again driving downhill and speaking to the locales, we came to know that we should have taken the second right and not the first one. Then finally after much struggle we reached back to our hotel.

Umananda Island
View from the Umananda Island

Day 3: We woke up to a bright sunny morning and left for Shillong. As we were on our way, the beautiful weather started taking turns and it started drizzling when we reached Umiam Lake. The breathtaking view of the lake soothed our hearts and we took pit stops to endure the scenic beauty.

Enroute Shillong - 1
Enroute Shillong - 2
Umiam Lake

Baarish mein chai pakora to banta hai… and to our surprise, we found a tea stall and gulped some happiness, then continued our journey towards Shillong.

After a long 5 hours road trip, we reached our hotel at Shillong at around 4 p.m. We both were extremely hungry but the attendant at the hotel informed us that there is no food available at that time. So, we freshened up and went out in search of some restaurant. Luckily, we found Dylan's Café still open and serving. We ordered pork steaks and pasta satisfying our taste buds. Then, we went strolling for some local sightseeing.

Dylan's Cafe
All Saints' Cathedral

Later, in the late evening returning to our nests, we sat together to plan for the next day's itinerary, had dinner and slept off.

Day 4: Our day started with a warm cup of coffee and we got ourselves ready to carry on with our jaunt. After checking out of the hotel, we literally had to go around the whole city in search of an exit route as it was a one way road. We were heading towards Laitlum where we came across a T-junction. A shopkeeper at the spot instructed us to take the right but we trusted Google Maps more than the shopkeeper and went straight for 10 long kms almost. The road was foggy and we were unable to locate anything ahead of us and acknowledged that it was the wrong route...the shopkeeper was right!! Feeling dejected, we again drove back to the T-junction and finally reached Laitlum Grand Canyon. Amazed by the view, we stayed there for quite some time and started for Cherrapunji via Duwan Sing Syiem Viewpoint.

En-route Laitlum

The weather was too cloudy and it was getting riskier to drive, however, we managed and also had our lunch on the way. It started to drizzle again and we were completely drenched. Later, in the evening, reaching our hotel at Cherrapunji as we were exhausted, we did nothing but rest.

Laitlum
En-route Cherrapunji - 1
En-route Cherrapunji - 2

Day 5: This day went pretty simple with less adventure. We planned to visit Mawlynnong and Dawki Lake but there was a change of plan and we decided to stay back at Cherrapunji for that day and go sightseeing. As it was an unplanned stay and no booking was done prior, we had to pay double for that day. It's known that Cherrapunji experiences the highest amount of rainfall and this day was no exception. We had no option to drive and the hotel manager advised us to take a car. So, we booked a rental and visited Seven Sister Falls, Mawsmai Caves, Nohkalikai Falls, Garden of Caves. Garden of Caves is basically a beautiful ecopark with numerous waterfalls and caves.

Nohkalikai Falls

After we were done with the sightseeing, we had our lunch at a dhaba. All of a sudden, we realized that we were running out of cash and there were only 3 ATMs available in Cherrapunji so we had to hop about in search of cash. Finally getting the trouble sorted, we returned back to our hotel for the day.

Garden of Caves - 1
Garden of Caves - 2
Garden of Caves - 3
Garden of Caves - 4
Garden of Caves - 5
Garden of Caves - 6
Garden of Caves - 7

Day 6: This was the last day before our trip ended and we visited Mawlynnong, Asia's cleanest village and is about 80 to 85 kms away from Cherrapunji. To our knowledge, there are no petrol pumps on the route so we refueled our scooty and also took some extra petrol along with us. It rained the whole way we travelled, yet we enjoyed the ride. We visited the Living Root Bridge and the Church of Epiphany.

Living Root Bridge
One of the homestays at Mawlynnong

Later that afternoon, we went to a restaurant for lunch, kept our baggage and started touring the place.

On the very day, we travelled back to Shillong and on our way, as every time, we lost our way and trolled along the marketplace in order to get back. As iterated earlier, it was raining cats and dogs and we were in our raincoats. We sat at a tea stall where I started feeling cold from within and realized that I was completely drenched.

En-route Shillong
Shillong City

On reaching our hotel at Shillong, we discovered that our luggage was completely damp and we had nothing to wear. We somehow managed to dry our clothes till it was wearable. Meanwhile, we thought of taking a short nap, but we were so tired, we got up at around 8 p.m. We were ordering our dinner and were informed that the area was under curfew at night. So, we again had to go in search of a restaurant for dinner. Finally, it was the end of the hectic day.

Burabazar, Shillong

Day 7: It was about 10 in the morning. A subtle pain aching our hearts, we were preparing ourselves for departure when my mom called up to remind me that it was a MUST and I had to visit the Kamakhya Temple by hook or crook. The temple was almost 200kms away from where we were staying and it was supposed to be closed at 6 in the evening. Without any further delay, we set out for the temple, but unfortunately before we could reach, the temple doors were closed for the public. So, we had to request one of the priests to let us in for a while as a special permission to which luckily he granted. We took the blessings of the divine goddess and came back safely.

Kamakhya Temple

Later that evening, while we were on our way back, I received a call from a café we had visited earlier. The owner called up to inform us that he had found Aryanuj's voter ID and driving license at his place. With a sigh of relief and lots of gratefulness at heart we drove to the café to collect the documents.

After returning back, we went to submit the scooty back to the garage and gave a very satisfying review to the owner. We had travelled over 1000kms in the whole trip and when people hear about it, some are of the opinion that it is next to impossible to cover such a long distance this way.

Aryan had his train from Guwahati and I had to depart to the airport for my flight early morning.

Thus, we had to bid adieu to the beautiful place with a hope of exploring some more in the years to come.

It was indeed a great endeavor and we returned with lots of memories which will be etched in our hearts forever. The people were so helpful and friendly, we never felt that we had come to some unknown place. We came to know a lot about the location, the history, the food habits, the way of living and so on. It was interesting to know the importance of rain to the locales. They cannot imagine their lives without rain. It has become an intrinsic part of their lives and without rain, it gets difficult for them to survive.

Even now, when Aryanuj and I speak about the trip and go through the photographs, a feel of bliss and satiety fills our heart and I am left with a little smile at the corner of my lips. We wish to travel more and more and collect more memories making our lives happy and worth living without any regrets.