North-East India is still an unexplored treasure, perhaps, due to all the bias around being unsafe, underdeveloped and less accessible. As you can guess, I beg to differ. Cities have spoilt us for choices that are sub-par in quality or terribly expensive or both and yes, I know that ranting is not really blogging! So hopping over to the bright side, anything not commercially violated translates into pristine, untouched wonders and as we traversed some lands of Assam and Meghalaya they turned out to be nothing short of stunning.
As you enjoy some of this scenic view, let me introduce you to some pit-stops in these two states.
Umiam Lake: If there was one word that could envelop the meaning and sentiment of ‘Unbelievably gorgeous’ I would use that for this waterhole. I am a total sucker for lakes, rivers and all water bodies, but you should know that with this one I am not biased. Spread across 220 square km, this catchment area is surrounded by old coniferous trees and open skies that exaggerate the drama. Legend has it that two sisters were alighting from heaven when one got lost on the way. As the other sister reached Meghalaya, she cried so much with grief that it formed Umiam which means “Water of Tears.” It seems apt to have a story so heart-wrenching for a place this beautiful.
What would I do differently? We rented a motorboat that flew at the speed of lightning (reduce that by a few notches!) causing a scenic blur. Given we were late, we did not have a choice. Next time, I would try and find someone patient who would be willing to treat his boat like one rather than a sports car! A woman driver?!
Dawki River: In the movie ‘A walk to remember’, on a starry night, Landon fulfills Jamie’s wish to be at two places at once by taking her to the state border of North Carolina and Virginia. At the Dawki River, as the riverside was flocking with tourists, persistent vendors, and boatmen looking for a ride, granted that the setting was not romantic, but it was still special being in two countries at once at this India-Bangladesh border. The boat ride was perfect with the setting sun, colorful river bed, lone fishermen on rocks, and a small waterfall that greeted you at the end.
What would I do differently? Visit at a time when I am not reminded of how we need better population control measures!
Nohwet Living Root Bridge: Living root bridges are one of the coolest examples of how nature and (wo)man can co-exist. Ariel roots of ficus trees are guided and trained by people so that they grow and strengthen over a period of time to become a natural bridge that can hold the weight of humans. The bridge naturally self-renews and strengthens itself ideally over hundreds of years! As the uneven steps led us down, it felt like a gateway unfolding an old gorgeous rubber tree that lived to tell its immortal story. And this was how I made a strike in my bucket list!
What would I do differently? Visit the double decker living root-bridge in Cherapunjee. More twisted trunks, two bridges, bigger stream, a double miracle – what more could you ask for.
Have you encountered hidden gems that have been a show-stopper? Are there stories you want to listen to over and over again? Are there moments you want to go back to, so that time could stand still as you stare at the fading palette of the sun, or catch the last rays falling through the crack of trees? Are you willing to express yourself as that emotional fool, like I am right now?!