It's awfully cold here in Shillong. Temperature around 17 degree Celsius. We were warned about this, and we did bring adequate warm clothes. We are told only in Shillong it becomes this cold, mainly because it's in such high altitude of about 1,500 metres above sea level. To the credit of White Orchid Guesthouse, where we are staying, it has top-quality blankets. You wouldn't like to get out of it!
After breakfast, around 9 am, we set out for Cherrapunji, the name we are familiar with since school days, as one of the wettest places in the world. More of that later.
On the way to Cherrapunji, we went to Elephant Fall. The legend goes that the Khasi people here called the place 'Three Steps Fall' since the water falls in three steps. Later the British called it Elephant Fall since one of the rocks beside the waterfall resembles an elephant. But this rock was destroyed in an earthquake in 1897.
Here tourists were lining up to stand on a few small rocks for a photoshoot with the fall in the background. Never found such a rush to pose in front of a waterfall!
I have, of course, taken pics, lots of them. They all will be put up next week, when I am back in Bangalore.
After Elephant Fall, we stopped at a number of places, popularly called here as viewing points. They are nothing but vantage points that offer a tourist breathtaking views of waterfalls or of the lush green subtropical forests of Khasi hills thickly covered with diverse vegetation.
This area -- Cherrapunji and nearby Mawsynram -- is among the wettest places because it receives both southwest monsoon and northeast monsoon. And not surprisingly there are a number of waterfalls, big and small, bringing the Meghalaya Tourism Board lot of revenue.
But I only wish some part of that revenue is invested in tarring the roads and bettering other infrastructure. Roads are pathetic in many places. I simply don't understand why something as important as roads are so low on the priority list of our officials and politicians.
VIEW OF BANGLADESH
Immediately after Elephant Fall, we stopped at Duwan Sing Syiem View Point. Then we went to Nohkali Falls. Here at one point we could see the rainbow in the waterfall. Then we went to Mawsmai Eco-park. There were a few swings and see-saw; but couldn't quite understand what was eco about this place. From there we can see barren fields of Bangladesh.
CAVE AND RESTAURANT
Then we headed for the Mawsmai Cave. We can walk through it. Not quite recommended for people who are claustrophobic. A portion inside the cave is narrow. So fat people will also have to step aside.
After the cave visit, we got into one of the many restaurants there for lunch. It has a peculiar system of placing the order. We go upto the desk, tell the lady what we want. She writes that down in a book, along with our name. She copies that on a piece of paper and sends it to the kitchen. A few minutes later a boy or girl with the food comes out to the dining area calling our name. We raise hand to attract his or her attention. Never have I found the customer's name being noted down while ordering food!
We then went on to Thengkarang Park. It's just that, a park and a well mainained garden and fountain. And then to Khoh Ramhah, from where one has a better view of Bangladesh.
NEED FOR DIFFERENT TIME ZONE
One aspect about this region that's difficult to get used to is the shortness of daylight hours. Dusk sets in around 4 pm, and by 5 pm it's darkness. It's quite a task to convince hourselves that it's not 8 pm and only 6 pm! The region does indeed need a different time zone.
Retiring for the day early as we need to leave for Mawlynnong, some 100 km south of Shillong -- widely known as the cleanest village in Asia.