Shillong & Guwahati 

This was the day to explore the capital. While walking the streets I wondered how humans themselves spoil the surroundings they live in. Buildings, shops and markets have destroyed the climate and the beauty of the town. The exteriors/ countryside are marvelous, rich in greenery but the centre of the town is crowded and conjusted. Since the lanes are narrow, it’s better to walk, else one would be stuck in long traffic jams.

Today I would be be meeting my freind and where should we meet?? I had heard a lot about Dylan’s cafe, well it lived up to its reputation. Cozy seating, warm sitout, lovely view and a book shelf. I could have spend the whole day reading and sipping coffee.

Soon Gaby joined me, we ordered breakfast platter and creamy shakes.

I was so full, and needed to walk to digest. On the ground floor of Dylan’s cafe is an outlet showcasing the agricultural production of Meghalaya. I bought black rice, bamboo pickle and tea.

It was now shopping time!! She took me to the plaza where there were imports from Bangkok and I got more stuff to fill my wardrobe. In the evening we went to Living roof-it’s a pub with board games and a pool table. Looked like ‘the’ hangout place for shillong’s youth. This was my last evening in shillong and had to travel to Guwhati the next day. Had dinner with my relatives that evening in nice Chinese restaurant.

Cars were arranged to drop us to Guwahati. We stopped at th Umgot lake.

There are couple of restaurants in the middle on the shillong- guwahati road. That’s why it’s important to plan your meals accordingly.

There was only one thing on my agenda in Guwahati and that was the “Bhramaputra cruise”. It was very warm and I was missing shillong. The cruise costs Rs 300 per person for the upper deck. It is for about 45 min, with live music and menu to order. It was amusing to be sailing on the river about which we studied in our General knowledge classes.

I had booked Ginger hotel for the night, which was the nearest hotel to the ai protection and fit my budget. I had an early morning flight to catch, thanks to Uber, that riding to the airport wasn’t a task.

At the airport before the security check they have economically priced eateries.

Post my breakfast I was ready to fly back to Delhi and join office.

Meghalaya-Land of clouds

While I was searching for some information for my trip, I rarely found any descriptive blogs about it.

Since I have explored it now , sharing my experience with everyone.

Days needed= 5 days (long weekend+2days leave). This was one of my short trips.

One can reach shillong from Delhi by taking a flight to Guwahati and then a 2.5hr drive by cab. If you book a cab it costs Rs 2000 and if taking a shared cab it costs 500 each for 4 people sharing one vehicle.

The drive is smooth, it was warm in Guwahati and I was just waiting for the ascend to get some pleasant breeze.

I was a privileged as this time I had somebody known at the destination. And fortunate to have two, my aunt and a college freind. I just had to book my flights and the rest was taken care of. This trip was the most convenient and the safest. The iternerary was pre-arranged by my uncle and home cooked food was an added perk.

Let me show you where was I staying,  it is a holiday retreat in itself.

Day 1 was at leisure enjoying the surroundings of the “Assam rifles” cantonemnt area. The weather is beautiful, as the name suggests ‘Meghalaya’ it is bright and sunny in the morning and starts raining by 3pm. It gets cold at night that a sweater in necessary to go out, may be because this area was 7 km from the main city.
Day 2 was a trip to Cherapunji. About which I read in my Geography or General knowledge classes. “Which place in India recieves the maximum rainfall”. However it is no more topping the list.

The attractions were:

Seven sisters– A place where 7 waterfalls, signifying the 7 states of North East. (A sight to be visited in monsoon, else a waste, since they are dependent on rain water)

Mawsmai caves – Calcium caves, USP of meghalaya. They are only found in the North East. (These can’t be visited as they are flooded)

So one needs to make a choice between the two or visit twice😉

It’s important to note that there are not many public transport in Meghalaya and it’s always better to hire a cab. 

In the evening I went to visit my freind, we met at the ‘5th mile’ cafe, located in Upper shillong. From there we walked to her place.  I stayed overnight, met her family, got to know the traditions and ate Khasi food.

Day 3- it was Easter, my freinds family was all dressed to ho to church but I had to go back to my aunts place, to push off to Mawlynnong.

It was a 3hr drive, also because the roads were busy with celebrations. But it was a sight, I was getting familiar with a new culture.

Living root  bridge one needs to climb down about 150 steps to reach the bridge. There is a double decker bridge in Cherapunji which is 300 steps. These were created by the natives by entangling the roots of the trees and later settling mud over to make a pathway. 

The cleanest village of AsiaIt deserves the title, nobody can say that these people are not horticulture and landscaping experts. The food is available in  one or two restaurants. It is bit expensive as the resources are limited and it is one of the means for the locals to earn.

The cold dessert of Lahaul & Spiti (CHANDRATAL)

The extra day at Kaza went in lazing around, chilling at the cafe and strolling on the streets. Very next morning we were headed to Chandratal. We did an advance booking for the tent at Chandratal. 
(It goes till 2 degree in the night there, this gave me shiver and I made sure I bought the hand woven socks and gloves. Yes even in the month of August).

It was a very smooth drive , crossed “Losar”, another village of interest for travelers, with a beautiful background. We halted in between to have Maggie. 
The deroute from the highway is where the difficult ride began. Most of the year this area is covered in heavy snow, thus there is no way the roads can stay intact. There were steep uphill where all the passengers except the driver ofcourse had to get off . 

And after  4hr of drive we reached the camp site, which are setup 2km before the lake.

There are options or Swiss tents but as we were on budget trip we went for basic ones. 7 tents and only one WC to share with no water supply. I avoided drinkint water so I don’t have to use the loo.

Wrapping myself in woollens and my walking shoes, I was ready to take the 2km trek from the campsite to the lake. There is also a partial motorable way but I chose the difficult but the adventurous path.

The initial climb was steep and I had to stop after every 10 min to catch a breath (also because the altitude made the oxygen level low). Not that I was in a very good shape.

We met two Shepherds with their herd , they were the only source of direction to us. Both of them said the same thing “go right don’t take the left”. 

After 2 hrs of trek I could see the calm blue water stretched amongst the red/brown dry mountains. It was a serene sight, I could have sat there the whole evening introspecting. 

But soon the Serenity changed to a tourist spot coz a herd of tourist flocked there clicking selfies. Such a spoiler. Human is the one who destroys nature and the day will come when nature will destroy human. 

And we headed back. I was sweating but still freezing, my body was confused. The gushing wind made it worse. We took the motorable way back. I was so exhausted, that’s when I heard some bikers going the same direction. It was offroading. But we took the risk and climbed on the bikes. My  co-rider was a girl riding a Royal Enfield. There came a turn with a descent and she got disbalanced and we were on the road with the bike on my left leg. But I managed to escape serious wounds and planned to walk down. 

On the camp the caretaker had cooked rice, dal and some vegetables. The wind was very strong and it was freezing outside. We sat in his kitchen tent near the cooking gas and ate our food.

In the night the temperature dropped and the wind stopped. I had one quilt below and 3 quilts over me. I was unable to decide is breathing important or staying warm.

Morning sky was clear blue and it snowed at one of the peaks. I had realised that these experiences are rare but camping at this height is not my cup of tea.

Soon we started towards Manali. The road was terrible because of the rains that  it took us 8hrs to cover a 120km distance.

But I was so relaxed to be back to Manali.

The cold dessert of Lahaul & Spiti (KAZA)

Kaza the main town of Spiti valley. Long journey trucks, halt here. It has a petrol pump, bunch of cafes, grocery and personal care stores  (which is a luxury).

But for me opulence was in “Zostel”. They have a combination of dormitories,  private rooms, tents, Swiss tents, colourful common room and open area with cannopes. They also allow travelers to pitch there own tents for a minimal cost. Staying there is in itself an experience.

This was the hub where all lost reunited.

It was already afternoon by the time I reached. I decided to take a stroll in the town on foot. A local fair was going on at that time. Traders from downhill came and exhibited various goods. Going further deep, I saw multiple cafes serving Israeli food, pasta but I was drooling at the sight of German bakery 😊.

The Sun had set, the moon was gleaming in the sky and I was back to Zostel where I ordered Rajma and rice for dinner. That’s when I realised that I need not hunt for food in the town. They had some excellent cook. The dishes were also priced reasonably.

SLEEP TIME….

I woke up to the view below.

I asked for ginger tea, cherishing the moments and sipping the epic beverage. Breaking the calmness of the dry valley I chatted with fellow backpackers and travelers.

The lady who was managing the place was very courteous. I asked her if I could get a car that could drive me to the “Key Gompa, langza, Hikkim and Khibber” and she arranged that for me in INR 2200 (which wasn’t a bad a deal at all)”. It was a full day tour ending at 5pm.

  • Langza- famous for its huge statue of Lord Buddha and you can find little kids selling fossils. It has scarce population, I could count the number of built houses.
  • Komik- till some time back there were no motor-able roads to this place and hence Khibber was the 3rd highest motorable village in the world, 1st being “La Rinconada, Peru”. But after roads have been built, Komik has grabbed this tittle.

  • Hikkim- known for the world’s highest post office. It’s located in a house. All the visitors send a postcard to there dear ones from here. Even I did but sadly it never reached.

  • Khibber-  is a well inhabited village. Has some restaurants and homestays. If one stays there, they can closely be connected to the lifestyle of local people.

    The high altitude definitely makes you breathless. But it is worth the view.
    I was back in the evening to the Zostel. As I entered the place I was delighted to see ‘the saviours’ our very own Mumbain freinds. We Ordered for tea and enjoyed the evening sitting in the cabana in the front yard of the place and discussing the experiences.

    The next day I was supposed to go to “Chandratal”  but decided to tag along with my freinds, so stayed one more night.