Nothing cures the soul like diving headlong into a ten-day trip across a landscape as rich as Meghalaya. And when you've got your trusty bike with you, the experience only becomes sweeter. This was true for Delhi-based photographer Saurabh Narang who drove through the state and caught on film, life as it was in this place. Here's what he found.
1. Mr Last Bone and his country cousins
Funny name, right? How about 'I Full dress' or 'All Comfort?' I was shocked to learn that this is business as usual and these are usually the names of people here. A friend killed the suspense to this plot - he told me that this happens because words are usually picked at random from the Bible and find owners who, at times, don't even know what they mean.
Life moves at its own pace here, and the joy of that only too evident on the faces of those who live here.
2. A front-row experience at Laitlum Canyons like no other
Besides, this is exactly where the concert scene in Rock On 2 was recorded. Not only that, this place hosts some really cool local music festivals throughout the year. With beautiful gorges and steep winding stairways connecting the local village, Laitlum is a must-visit for trekkers or those simply looking for breathtaking views to cure a city hangover!
3. Falls and the story behind its waters that only a local could tell you
Tired from the trek? On your way back down from Laitlum be sure to ask for directions to Lwai falls (also Sara Falls) so you can finally get to the place where you can wash away the fatigue. The Falls hold an interesting love story of a Khasi girl named Sara (hence the name), and only the few lucky ones who take the time out to sit down with a local shall learn of it.
4. One of the few places in India where women call the shots
Meghalaya is known for its matrilineal society. Imagine a society that's the polar opposite of what we experience elsewhere in the country. Here, the groom usually stays with bride’s family and the property and wealth pass from mother to daughter.
5. A different kind of café life at Café Dylans and ML05
Check in your taste buds at these two cafes in Shillong: I recommend the Naga sandwich at Cafe Dylans, and if you're biker I recommend at lleast one quick stopover at ML05. ML05 shuts down at 7.30pm since it's located near the cantonment area.
6. Insta-worthy landscapes near Mawthadraishan peak
Someone once said, 'Rough roads often lead to some breathtaking landscapes.’ This holds true for this place. As a photographer I recommend that you spend some time here with your camera. If kayaking is more your scene, head to the lake next to the government guesthouse where you can ride the waves for just 50 bucks.
7. The majestic Weinia Waterfalls
8. Asia's second biggest river island: the Nongkhnum Island
After Majuli Island in Assam, this one's said to be the second biggest river island in Asia. It holds true for this island that every corner of Meghalaya has something beautiful, something undiscovered and something serene. Located in a far-flung corner, the island is doesn't see many tourists and this makes it a great travel destination.
9. Trying not to take the plunge at Karshid Thum Falls
Don’t just hold back with the pristine beauty of Nongkhnum Island, take a boat ride to yet another scenic cascade to blow your mind. It is massive and ideal for kayaking.
10. Cave tripping at Mawjymbuin
A perfect destination for history lovers, Lord Shiva pilgrims and geologists, the Mawjymbuin Cave in Mawsynram has some magnificent stalagmites thanks to years of erosion.
11. Finally stepping on the famous double decker Living Root bridges (Cherrapunjee)
Ever since I had seen the BBC series on the living root bridges, I had wanted to see these bridges in real life. And, so, there I was, trekking down some 3000 stairs to enjoy this little natural abode.
12. Crystal clear waters at Shnongpdeng
Nestled among the sandy banks of the mighty Umngot River, Shnongpdeng makes a perfect destination for nature lovers. It's crystal clear waters are as if straight out of a dream. But it’s totally real! A lot of people go back from Dawki but this place, just 10 kms from there, is insane and must not be skipped! For people wanting to experience village life, home stays are also available here.
13. Spiritual bliss at Mary Help of Christians Cathedral, Shillong
Just one thing - if there ever was the prettiest church around, it’s the most prettiest Church I have ever seen!