A Visit To Caf Cherrapunjee Resort In Mawkdok, Meghalaya

The 125-year-old dak bungalow-turned-resort, Caf Cherrapunjee, can be your home away from home during your Meghalaya trip
The Khasi Hills near Sohra/Cherrapunjee, Meghalaya. Credit www.shutterstock.com / Daniel J. Rao
The Khasi Hills near Sohra/Cherrapunjee, Meghalaya. Credit www.shutterstock.com / Daniel J. Rao

&ldquoThis place will be your home for the next ten days,&rdquo said the tour operator, and given the loquaciousness of travel organisers, I put it down as the spiel trotted out to tourists. Yes, Cafe Cherrapunjee, nestled deep in the verdant and majestic East Khasi Hills in Mawkdok, Meghalaya, did look inviting. Its sloped roofs and lace curtains certainly made it a picturesque pit stop. Its quaint vintage charm enveloped us like a warm stole. 

As we settled to explore the bountiful riches of the region around Shillong, returning at dusk, around 4.30 pm in Meghalaya, to the 125-year-old former dak bungalow was as comforting as a thick, hot beverage on a cold day.&nbspDak&nbspmeans the post. During the British era in India, the postal service used well-furnished large cottages, also called circuit houses. There were set up on the postal routes for the use of officials. With each passing day, Cafe Cherrapunjee felt just a little more familiar, its novelty giving way to acquainted comfort and enabling us to shake off the feeling of being away from our actual home. 

Old And Sturdy

With its colonial architecture - think chimneys, fireplaces, and wood floors - Cafe Cherrapunjee is well-settled in the past. Serenaded by pine trees and a long driveway, it could easily be one of the houses mentioned in the novels of EM Forester and Ruskin Bond, where folk tales come true and mist-shrouded secrets come calling. To add to the lore and lure of the place, locals swear that this was where a UFO was sighted in 1960

Of The Land

In the ancient Khasi Hills, stone is both a sacred resource and a sensible material for the construction of buildings. Cafe Cherrapunjee has used this abundant local material aesthetically, enabling it to become a natural part of the surroundings. Alan West Kharkongor, the owner, has ensured that its heritage precincts are undiminished. While it is not luxurious, the resort is very comfortable and is equipped with all modern amenities. And, the manager Embhah Syngkon is polite, unintrusive, and makes life easy for the weary traveller.

The main building consists of the dining, living, and kitchen areas, while the cottages are a bit away from the main building. One look at the snug lodgings and the rolling hills in the misty mornings, and it is clear why the British East India Company occupiers called Shillong and its countryside the Scotland of the East. 

The dining area is where the guests congregate. Its walls are laden with quirky, colourful artefacts, such as black-and-white photographs and retro posters, which contrast with the woodsy interiors. The windows are all blessed with views of the spacious green grounds and are a balm for the soul. Every corner of the property could be an Instagram-worthy snapshot.

Relax And Recharge 

As Pico Iyer notes, &lsquoWe travel, initially, to lose ourselves and we travel, next, to find ourselves.&rsquo Places like Mawkdok and Cafe Cherrapunjee allow us to travel within ourselves. To watch the sun go down, to be content to soak in the scenery before us, and not on the phone, and to realise and relish that travel can be both visiting a century-old-root bridge and lounging in the grass and watching the patterns of the clouds. 

Cafe Cherrapunjee is a punctuation mark that allows us to pause between taking a break from our life in the city and embarking on a vacation, seeing sights without soaking them in. Like great love stories, great trips never end. The memories spill over, making our mundane lives magical. 

As we bid adieu to Meghalaya, the word &lsquohome&rsquo takes on a new meaning after ten days. A transient one, albeit the café, was indeed a home away from home. 

The Information

Best time to visit September to May.

How to get there 

Land distances&nbspShillong, the capital of Meghalaya, to Café Cherrapunjee, in Mawkdok, in Meghalaya, is 30.4 kilometres. Guwahati, in Assam, to Mawkdok, is 125 kilometres.

By air&nbspUmroi/Shillong Airport is 31 kilometres from Shillong City, and Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, or Guwahati airport, Assam, is 119 kilometres from Shillong.

By road&nbspMeghalaya Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) buses are available from MTC Bus Terminus, Police Bazar. These buses leave Shillong at 800 am. They ferry tourists to almost all tourist spots. Tickets can be booked in advance from MTDC ticketing counters opposite the MTC Complex, which are open from 7 am onwards. Tourist taxis are available for hire and are stationed outside the MTC Complex and at Polo Grounds.

By railway&nbspGuwahati railway station is 96 kilometres away from Shillong.

For more information, check the website, and this, and, also here. 

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