Meghalaya and Dzouku Valley Blog

For Meghalaya GUIDE section, please click HERE.

My Itinerary

DAY 01: Kolkata to Guwahati by train, NS: Kanchanjunga Express
DAY 02: Arrival at Guwahati and transfer to Shillong, NS: Shillong
DAY 03 & 04: Shillong Sightseeing, NS: Shillong
DAY 05: Cherrapunji Sightseeing in MTDC tour bus and transfer to Nongriat, NS: Nongriat
DAY 06: Explore Nongriat and transfer to Shnongpdeng, NS: Shnongpdeng
DAY 07: Explore Shnongpdeng, visit Krang-Suri Falls and transfer to Shillong, NS: Shillong
DAY 08: Issue our permits at Nagaland House in Shillong and transfer to Guwahati and start for Dimapur, NS: Guwahati-Ledo Intercity Express
DAY 09: Arrive Dimapur and transfer to Kohima and trek towards Dzouku Valley, NS: Dzouku Valley Guest House
DAY 10: Transfer to Dimapur via Kohima and start for Guwahati, NS: Ledo-Guwahati Intercity Express
DAY 11: Arrive Guwahati and return towards Kolkata, NS: Saraighat Express
DAY 12: Reach Kolkata
*NS: Night Stay
My Total Expense: Rs. 10,000 (approx.)

I’m very impatient when it comes to travelling. It’s like a place struck me in my mind, plannings done, tickets booked and I’m gone. I was checking out some travel forums online when an attractive Meghalaya post by someone struck me and within minutes I decided it to be my next destination. I planned the tour, undertook a thorough research on public transportation, especially buses to save money on transportation, and I generally prefer booking accommodation on spot rather than prebook. However, I always have a list of good hostels or cheap hotels with me gathered from some travel forum. So, on a dark dawn I started off my home with my backpack.

DAY 01: Kolkata to Shillong: I chose Kanchanjunga Express which departs Sealdah Railway Station at 06:35 and arrives Guwahati at 04:10 next morning, so that I have ample amount of time to reach Shillong before sunset as I have to search for accommodation as well. It was a all day boring journey while next day the train arrived Guwahati on time.

DAY 02: It was dark and few taxi drivers gathered me with hopes to ferry me wherever I wanted at a much higher fare in a very early morning. However, my love for govt. buses made me ignore them and I entered the ASTC Paltan Bazar Bus Stand. There were three AC buses in the morning at 7:00, 08:00 and 08:30. It took 3 hrs to reach Shillong MTC Bus Stand. I was quiet sure of getting an accommodation at the Youth Hostel, but was turned down once I showed up. Ultimately I got a hostel to stay after wondering for an hour at a place 4 kms away from Police Bazar at Laithumkhrah named Ila’s Traveller’s Hub. The owner, Mr Niger loves to chat and was super friendly and the hostel was very clean. At evening, I went around PB(Police Bazar) to enjoy the marketing crowd there.

For Meghalaya GUIDE section, please click HERE.

DAY 03: My today’s destinations were Umiam Lake, Don Bosco Museum and Shillong Golf Course. I got up early in the morning to make the most out of that day. I got a local bus up to Iewduh bus stand, from where a few crowded stairs up took me to the bus stand near Bara Bazar. Upon asking the conductor of a mini bus that was standing whether it was going towards Barapani (local name for Umiam Lake) or not, he nodded yes. The bus wasn’t comfortable enough whether sitting or standing, but a cheap way to communicate.

I got down near the Ford showroom from where the sight of the lake from the Guwahati-Shillong Highway started walking along to not miss a single view that the road provided to the lake without just visiting the designated view points. While crossing over the Umiam Dam unaware of the Photography prohibited area and missing the sign board declaring “No Photography Zone” just before it, I got into trouble for clicking photos over the dam. The army personnel at the end of the checkpost seized my phone and called his mate at the other end of the checkpost. He warned me that if they took my phone to their office, it would be a difficult procedure and time-consuming way to get it back and may put me into more trouble if they followed the normal procedure and suggested me a way to end the matter right there. Yes, Rs.500 bribe. I didn’t see any way out then and didn’t want to get into lengthy procedure of getting it back and get delayed. I bribed them and moved on. I went walking upto Umsaw from where the lake moved away from the highway capturing some awesome snaps alongway.

I took a shared cab upto Mawlai for my next destination Don Bosco museum. The museum was a small walk from the Mawlai bus stop. It’s a museum focusing on local indigenous people & culture, with tools, clothing & artifacts on display of the seven sisters and their brother state, Sikkim. I, along with some other tourists were greeted by a friendly man to the inside of the museum and instructed us to start from the ground floor and continue upstairs and see the galleries that came along. At the top of the building, there’s a small canteen offering snacks and a sky-walk kind offering a 360 degree view of the city and the hills around.

My next destination was Shillong Golf Course which was a walking distance from the museum. The quite huge exceptionally beautiful golf course seemed more like a park with cherry blossoms and people hanging all around. It was nearing dark and I started to walk towards PB through the beautiful cherry blossoms shedded roads. I had a meal from a local eatery and started walking through the crowded markets of PB enjoying the environment. After a while I took a bus back to my hostel in Laitumkhrah. The NH7 Weekender in Meghalaya was nearing and I got companies in my hostel room for that night who were heading for the venue next day.

Day 04: My destinations today were Elephant Falls and Wards Lake. So, I started early, boarded a bus to Bara Bazar bus stand, and enquired for buses. Two guys were found enqiuring with a taxi driver to go to Sanmer which was on way to Elephant Falls. The taxi driver didn’t agreed to go upto the falls but dropped me upto the Air Force Station after Sanmer. So, I got a chance to visit the unplanned visit to the Air Force Museum right there which was quiet nice and has a souvenir shop. With some knowledge acquired about the IAF, I started for the Elephant falls which was a walking distance.

The way from the museum to the falls was looking beautiful with cherry blossoms all around. I did my tickets and proceeded towards the falls. As the rainy season has passed away few months back, the water was less. After spending few minutes, I proceeded downstairs towards the second fall. The second and third part of the falls could be seen by climbing down steep stairs down. I mostly liked the third part of the falls. It was the most beautiful among the three. A board was seen depicting the history of the falls. The original Khasi name for the falls was ‘Ka kshaid lai pateng khohsiew’ (three steps water falls), because of the fact that the water falls in three steps. The British named it ‘Elephant Falls’ because of a stone that resembles an elephant near the falls. But the stone was destroyed by an earthquake in 1897. But the name hasn’t changed.

I took a shared cab upto Rilbong Point and a bus to PB, had my lunch and heavy downpour started. I took shelter in a nearby shopping mall from where the view of the surrounding hills looked amazing in the rain. After the rain stopped, my next stop was Wards’ Lake. It was a beautiful park with a lake,gardens and cherry blossoms around and quiet famous among young lovebirds. It’s a real bliss for the locals to come for morning walks or spend some leisure time in evening among nature. Since I visited there just after a fresh downpour and Sun rays just came out, the park was looking more fresh and natural for clicking perfect snaps and the feel the real joy of being among nature near the city centre. Be sure to check my snaps in my gallery. The Sun was setting and the guards whistled to sign that the time’s up for the day.

I returned to my hostel and found myself alone. Four of the other mates checked out to attend the NH7 Weekender. I was supposed to go to Cherrapunji next day and had thought to board the small baazar buses upto Cherrapunji. I was unsure of how to visit the places there that I had planned, since they’re far off and hiring a cab was the only option which wasn’t affordable for me alone. The solution came to me knocking at the door when the owner’s friendly son who came to fill the bottles of the room and we started chatting. We’re talking about various subjects when I came up with my plan to visit Cherrapunji the next day, and asked for cheap means of transport to go around the places and accomodations. He suggested me to book a ticket for the Meghalaya Tourism conducted tours to many tourist places in and around Shillong. He called his father who knew the agent and called her to book a seat for me which was not available to book online. I was told to tell his name the next morning at the booking counter and collect the ticket for the bus.

For Meghalaya GUIDE section, please click HERE.

Day 05: I reached the the Meghalaya Tourism office in the morning and collected my ticket. A beautiful guide accompanied us and briefed us about the whole day plan and places to visit as the very comfortable bus journey started at 08:30. She explained how the British weren’t able to pronounce the name Sohra, which is the place locally called due to their accent and pronounced ‘Cherra’ and ‘Punji’ means village in the local language.

Our first destination was Mawkdok Valley View Point. It offered a beautiful view of the valley between two parallel mountain ranges. I asked the guide that I wished to continue to Tyrna from Cherrapunji instead of coming back to Shillong and where can she drop me? She assured me to drop me in Cherrapunji fom where I can get a taxi to Tyrna.

Next was Wah Kaba Falls. The falls was almost dried out but still looked amazing with the clouds covering the top of the falls as if to keep the source of the falls a mystery. The place also offered a good view of the surrounding green hills. Next destination was Ramakrishna Mission which was a museum depicting the culture of North-East.

Next was Nohkalikai Falls, a thin string of water rushing down to a small deep blue lagoon formed at it’s landing point and a beautiful view of the surrounding hills. There’s a local story behind naming the falls.

Then to Mawsmai Caves, though the caves are long, only distance of 150 meters is open for tourists. The stalactites and stalagmites caves have innumerable forms, shapes and sizes inside. It is the handiwork of years of natural abrasion and underground water. I completed the cave visit and was waiting outside the bus for others to return when a young boy came up to me and asked me if I was supposed to continue to Tyrna. He had also planned to spend that night in Tyrna and next day continue to Nongriat, so the guide asked him to meet me. I was happy to get an IITan who had come to spend Diwali vacations.

Next and the last destination was the Seven Sisters Falls, locally called Nohsngithiang Falls was almost dry as it wasn’t monsoon season, but during monsoon the water falls from seven different ridges forming seven small falls. The name also reflects the seven sisters states of the North-East. Meanwhile the guide called a taxi that’d take both of us to Tyrna for Rs.400 for 15 kms. There weren’t any options then but to accept the proposal. We were now supposed to go to the Eco Park to have our lunch. Listening to this, the taxi driver demanded Rs. 100 more as he’d have to wait for us there. Eco Park was the source of the Seven Sisters Falls and offered a very beautiful view of the surrounding hills. We’d our lunch and transferred our backpacks from the bus to taxi.

The engineer guy who was sitting behind me in the bus and we’d short conversations observed the move and approached us to know our plans. We told about our plans and three of us were travelling towards Tyrna. It was 4 in the evening and the driver nodded a NO after we asked him whether we can trek down to Nongriat today itself. We decided to stay that night in Tyrna and continue to Nongriat next day. After we got off the car in Tyrna, a men gave a proposal to give him Rs.500 and he’d find accommodation for us. After denying the proposal, we failed to found an accomodation after enquiring the home stays within our sight which were all full. It’s 16:15 and about to go dark, so we decided to proceed towards Nongriat and stay in any of the homestays that were supposed to come on the way. There’s two bridges on way. Within 45 mins. after climbing down the stairways, we luckily found a homestay named Arnes Wooden Hut with one room empty where the guests supposed to arrive didn’t show up. It was a small cottage surrounded by forests. We wanted to stay for 2 nights but next day we have to leave the room as there were other bookings. After we freshened up, three of us went out to go further with torches in the dark and search for a place to stay the next night. Surprisingly, after merely few meters we encountered the Single Root Bridge and another few meters got us to Nongriat. We couldn’t find any accomodation here also. However we had some chat with the friendly locals and tourists, and decided to go further to find accommodation for the next night.

After few meters we saw the Double Decker Root Bridge. It just looked amazing as we threw some torch light on the bridge in dark, looking more of a thick cob web than a bridge. We crossed the bridge and found a homestay. Though we didn’t find any accommodation there too, we met with a Tamil group who became more comfortable with the engineer who’s also a Tamil. They’re supposed to visit Rainbow Falls next morning and had a guide with them. Also they showed us a place named Shnongpdeng we weren’t aware about they’d visited just before coming here. So we decided to join them next morning to Rainbow Falls, dropping the plan to stay here next night, instead head towards Shnongpdeng. While returning, we sat in the bank of the water beneath the bridge in total dark and silence, in the middle of the forest with only the sound of the water falling off from a rock. I can’t explain how wonderful I was feeling that moment.

DAY 06: We woke up at 04:00, got ready and went to the group ‘s homestay from where we’re supposed to start. We started still dark towards Rainbow falls with our torches. By the time we reached, the light had came out. We switched our swim suits and got into cold water. The engineer swam and went upto the falls while IITan and I stuck to the bank of the crystal clear blue lagoon formed as I couldn’t swim. I floated on the water sticking to the bank enjoying the silence and beautiful surrounding.

Rainbow Falls

We went back and saw the Double Root Bridge first in daytime and got into the water again. The Tamil group bid farewell to us as they started towards another destination. We came back to our homestay, packed our bags to depart, had our breakfasts, and started climbing towards Tyrna. The IITan who lives in Roorkee had experience climbing hills almost started running and disappeared from our sight while I had a tough time climbing up. It took long to climb up than going down, and as we reached, we found the IITan waiting there with a taxi he negotiated to take us to Shnongpdeng. En route was Dawki where we had a view of the clear lake with boats and adjoining plains of Bangladesh. While we were picking up some grocery from store, a guy from Goa wanting a hitchhike to Shillong, enquired us. He changed his plans to come to
Shnongpdeng instead, with us. Meanwhile a guy whom we met in Nongriat called us and expressed eagerness to join us. The taxi driver arranged for tents for five of us to stay on the banks of Umngot river. As it wasn’t still not dark, we decided to go Kayaking. The river was crystal clear, and the views of the surrounding mountains was very beautiful. Other options available ware shikara ride, zip landing etc. We chatted with some other tourists, had our dinner and dozzed off in our tents. The surrounding looked beautiful at night.

DAY 07: We woke up in our tents on the banks of Dawki river to a beautiful Sunrise and great views of the river and surrounding mountains. We decided to explore the nearby places and went around. We crossed the bridge over the Dawki river and came back, and a bit further from the camping site was a junction of a small river and Dawki river where there was another small old bridge to cross connecting the three sides with those two bridges. We explored some nearby not-so-dense forests and had our bath at the river junction where the water was more clean than the camping site due to human activities. While I had plans to return Shillong and then home, my companions had no plans and had few days still left for their return tickets. After a long discussion, they decided on to Dzouku Valley in Nagaland. It seemed lucrative to me and I decided to join them too. They booked tickets to Dimapur while cancelled my CNF train tickets and booked another WL after two days to return home.

After having our breakfast, we started towards Krang Suri Falls in a cab arranged by our tent owner. On way we saw limestones being cut from the hills and exported to
cement factories in trucks to Bangladesh through Dawki. The place featured clear water falling into a blue lagoon formed under it, which is accessible to swim by compulsory wearing life jackets provided by them, which meant I’d swim even though I can’t. The water was clear and blue and one could even go behind the waterfalls. It felt amazing as we went behind the waterfalls. It was an amazing experience as I enjoyed my first swim of my life. We changed and went to the top of the falls which offered a beautiful view of the surrounding hills. We started towards Shillong again. It was quiet a long journey and it was dark when we reached Shillong back. We spent that night at Youth hostel.

Krang Suri Falls

For Meghalaya GUIDE section, please click HERE.

DAY 08: We went to Nagaland House to issue our permits. It didn’t take long, thanks to the co-operative and friendly staff, but it may take long to issue permits if you accompany a bike or a car. We started towards Shillong in the 13:00 ASTC bus to Guwahati. We had to wait for long at Guwahati before boarding the Guwahati Ledo Intercity Express to Dimapur.

DAY 09: The train was late and we reached Dimapur at around 02:45 in morning. We took a cab to Kohima and freshened up and kept our heavy backpacks at Eco Stay Hostel before starting towards Dzouku Valley. The hostel was very unique from others, clean and very friendly staffs. We met a guy in the hostel who came alone from Kerala with his Bullet parcelled to Guwahati had explored Meghalaya and had came here with no plans further. We suggested him to join us and he agreed but he’d come late separately. We took a local bus upto the Sumo Stand and a shared sumo to Dzouku Point from where the 3-4 hrs trek to Dzouku Valley starts. Reserved sumos can get you ahead to a point from Dzouku Point and save you an hour of walking but shall demand Rs. 1500. Some people came to us, took probably Rs. 10 each and noted down our names. They said they will send our information to their people in Dzouku Valley so that if we didn’t reach there in the time we’re supposed to, they can conduct a search for us.

We started our trek. After 2 hrs of leisure walk through not-so-steep roads capable to go in a car, the actual climb started through the forest. Cherry blossoms added to the beauty of the nature more. Next 1 hr, it was a bit steep climb than before and the last 1:30 hr was plain walking through a path created through the sides of a hill range, and offered some breathtaking views. We reached Dzukou Valley Guest House which is 2kms before Dzouku Valley lucky enough to see very beautiful sunset behind the hills. There’s another way to Dzouku Valley which is said to be short distance and more steep. The temperature went down extremely low after Sunset compared to the much warmer Kohima during day and I had to regret for not bringing warm clothes with me. It was almost freezing. The Dzukou Valley Guest House staff showed us an empty long hall which he said to be full during peak seasons and we had to pay separately for the hall, pillows, blankets, the one to lay on floor to sleep on it. The blankets were very thin and no electricity. The toilets were outside and only food available were rice, potato and maggi. Meanwhile, the hostel guy arrived in almost dark. It was a new moon night and the stars in the sky were looking beyond imagination. I had never seen the sky before like that. It was looking like a whole Galaxy with stars are displayed in the sky. I’d recommend to stay there on a new moon night. We had our rice and potato dinner in the kitchen which was warm due to burning of woods for cooking and lit by a solar powered lamp.

Panaroma View from the Dzouku Valley Trail

DAY 10: The first rays of Sun had appeared when five of us started down towards Kohima. The IITan as usual almost rushed down the hills vanishing from our sight within minutes. It was relatively easy to trek down enjoying the amazing views and within hours we’re back to Dzouku Point, where we’d started. We joined the IITan who had ordered for the breakfast in a eatery. We took a shared Sumo to Kohima, took our backpacks from the hostels and took a cab to Dimapur and boarded the Ledo-Guwahati Intercity Express in night to reach Guwahati by morning.

DAY 11: We reached Guwahati by 6 in morning and it was time to bid farewell to everyone. The IITan and lawyer went on to Airport to board flights back home, the engineer had his flight a day or two later, so he continued to Kaziranga National Park looking very excited to see the One Horn Rhino. I loitered around the the Brahmaputra Bank for hours before boarding the Saraighat Express at 12:35pm back to reach Kolkata by next morning.

For Meghalaya GUIDE section, please click HERE.

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