Shillong, the picturesque capital of Meghalaya, often steals the limelight for its lush green landscapes, cascading waterfalls, and charming colonial architecture. While these popular tourist attractions are undoubtedly worth a visit, there's much more to this beautiful hill station than meets the eye. Venture off the beaten path and discover a treasure trove of offbeat destinations that offer a unique and immersive experience. Here are 5 offbeat destinations in Shillong you should explore.
The Secret Paradise Tucked away in the West Khasi Hills, Mawphanlur, is a lesser-known haven for nature enthusiasts. This serene village boasts emerald-green terraced fields, pristine lakes, and a tranquil ambience that instantly transports you to a different world. Stroll around the serene Mawphanlur Lake or hike through the surrounding hills to enjoy the breathtaking vistas. For a truly immersive experience, consider staying in one of the quaint guesthouses owned by the local Khasi people.
Getting There: Mawphanlur is approximately 80 kilometres from Shillong. The most convenient way to reach this hidden gem is by hiring a taxi or driving your vehicle. The journey takes around 3-4 hours.
While the Dawki River is a popular destination, few travellers venture further downstream to discover the hidden gem that is the Umngot River. This river is located near the India-Bangladesh border and is renowned for its crystal-clear waters. The transparency of the riverbed is such that boats appear to float on air, creating surreal reflections that make for Instagram-worthy photos. The best time to visit the Umngot River is during winter when the water is at its clearest.
Getting There: To reach the Umngot River, drive or hire a taxi from Shillong to Dawki, about 80 kilometres away. From Dawki, hire a boat to explore the waters of the Umngot River.
Nongkhnum Island, situated on the Brahmaputra River, is Meghalaya's largest river island and a destination that promises solitude and natural beauty. The island is adorned with lush meadows, sandy riverbanks, and glistening streams. The trek to the island's highest point offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. Camping on Nongkhnum Island is an experience you won't forget, with the sounds of the river and the stars overhead creating a mesmerizing atmosphere.
Getting There: Nongkhnum Island is located in the West Khasi Hills, approximately 140 kilometres from Shillong. The journey involves a combination of road travel and a short trek. You can hire a taxi to reach the village of Mawshynrut, from where you'll need to trek to the island.
While many tourists flock to the more famous caves in the region, such as the Mawsmai and Arwah caves, the lesser-visited ones, like Krem Mawmluh and Krem Dam cave, offer an equally enchanting experience without the crowds. These caves are adorned with stunning limestone formations, underground rivers, and a unique ecosystem of bats and insects. Hire a local guide to navigate the intricate pathways and learn about the geological wonders within.
Getting There: Mawsmai Cave is situated near Cherrapunji, about 55 kilometers from Shillong. You can hire a taxi or drive to Cherrapunji and then reach the cave entrance easily.
For a tranquil riverside retreat, head to Shnongpdeng, a village on the banks of the Umngot River. This idyllic spot is perfect for those seeking relaxation and adventure. You can indulge in river tubing, kayaking, and even cliff jumping into the crystal-clear waters. The village also offers homestay options, allowing you to experience the local Khasi culture and savour traditional cuisine.
Getting There: Shnongpdeng is around 95 kilometers from Shillong. You can hire a taxi to reach this village on the banks of the Umngot River. The journey offers scenic views of the Meghalayan countryside and takes approximately 2-3 hours.