Visiting Meghalaya: the abode of clouds
“Meghalaya is truly the abode of clouds. I toured this north eastern state recently,” said Prerna, a Class XI student from Bhubaneswar. She was the youngest member of the team of photographers who visited the state.
Pradeep Sutar from Bhubaneswar was also a part of the tour. He was accompanied by his wife Renubala and daughters Priyani and Prerna. Sharing his experience of the trip Pradeep said, “We visited Meghalaya for a week starting May 15, 2018. We flew to Kolkata from Bhubaneswar and then to Guwahati. In Guwahati, we visited Goddess Kamakhya temple, which is famous as a Shakti Pitha. We then went to Cherrapunji.”
“In Meghalaya, the only way to travel is by road. About 90 per cent area of the state is covered by mountains, and there is no railway yet. We set out at about 9 am from Guwahati. On the way we took a diversion and went to the Dawki River, which is famous for its crystal clear water. Any object lying even in the depths of the water is clearly visible. The river is on the Bangladesh border. In fact, the river flows in both the countries. Only manual boats are allowed on this river to keep the water clean and the environment intact. Like in some other states, in Meghalaya too the use of polythene bags is banned. The inhabitants take care to keep their environment free from pollution. We visited the Dawki Bridge, a suspension bridge over the Umngot River. Constructed in 1932 by the British, the place is truly beautiful,” he added.
“Our next destination was Mawlynnong village declared the cleanest in Asia by the travel magazine ‘Discover India’ in 2003. It is a well-developed village. There are no hotels there, but tourists can avail the home stay facilities offered by many families. A special feature of this village is that every day one member from a family cleans up their locality. They don’t wait for the government to do things. They remove garbage and clean the roads. The waste is collected in dustbins made of bamboo, directed to a pit and then used as manure. The community has mandated that all residents should participate in cleaning up the village. Rainwater harvesting is encouraged. We also went to see the ‘living root’ bridge, woven from roots. It is a purely natural bridge. We stayed in Mawlynnong overnight,” said Pradeep.
“The next day, we set out for Cherrapunji and reached at about 4 pm. We have all heard about this place as the wettest place on Earth due to frequent rainfall. The place has an average elevation of 4,869 feet and is situated in the southern part of the Khasi Hills, facing the plains of Bangladesh. The temperature is between 18 to 22 degrees Celsius and there is no humidity. We also visited the Seven Sisters waterfalls near Cherrapunji. These are seven different falls, side-by-side, cascading down the cliff. The falls are at their best during the monsoon season. We also visited the Nohkalikai Falls, the tallest plunge waterfall in India with a height of 1,115 feet near Cherrapunji. On our way back, we stayed in Shillong and returned to Odisha the next day,” Pradeep said.
Asked to share her experience Prerna said, “We went to some of the prominent tourist attractions of Meghalaya such as Nohkalikai falls, Dawki River, Cherrapunji, the Seven Sisters falls and Mawlynnong, the cleanest village of Asia. Being the youngest in the group, I was a little anxious about the tour. However, I was able to overcome that and indulge in my passion for photography. Although all the spots that we visited were worth capturing on camera, the best place, according to me, was the Nohkalikai falls. We also saw several bridges like the Dawki Bridge and the ‘living root’ bridge. The weather was quite pleasant, though it did rain off and on. This photography tour was a life-changing experience for me.”
“Three months ago, I would have said that photography is simply the process of taking pictures using handy devices like Smartphones or cams. However, now I know that photography is not just about capturing landscapes, but it is the ability to feel your surroundings and convey that through photos,” she also said.
Saroj Kumar Dora, the regional technical in-charge (East) of Sony India Pvt. Ltd., was also a part of the photography tour. A native of Ganjam district, he is now based in Kolkata. He said, “The entire north east is unspoilt and very scenic. Meghalaya is a paradise for nature lovers. Being a part of the photography tour, I wanted to explore the beautiful landscape and my expectations were more than fulfilled.”