6 Must-See Meghalaya Tourist Places

What to See and Do in Meghalaya

Mawlynnong Cleanest Village
••• Timothy Allen/Getty Images
Meghalaya, in northeast India, used to be part of Assam. Known as the Abode of the Clouds, it's famous for being the wettest place on earth. This makes it a popular monsoon travel destination for those who love the rain. The state has an abundance of natural attractions, including these must-see Meghalaya tourist places. The majority of the population is made up of tribal people -- Khasis (the largest group), Garos, and Pnars -- who predominantly earn their living from cultivation.
  • 01 of 06
    Double-decker root bridge.
    ••• Double-decker root bridge. Amos Chapple/Getty Images

    Possibly Meghalaya's most famous attraction, deep in the dense tropical forest and shrouded in cloud and rain for much of the year, are some astonishing man-made natural wonders known as living root bridges. Inventive members of the Khasi tribe have trained them to grow from the roots of ancient rubber trees, native to the northeast region. There are two places that you can see the bridges: near Cherrapunji and Mawlynnong.

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    Mawlynnong Cleanest Village

    Mawlynnong Cleanest Village
    ••• Timothy Allen/Getty Images

    In addition to having an easily accessible living root bridge nearby, scenic Mawlynnong is worth visiting for the fact that it was named the "Cleanest Village in Asia" by a travel magazine. Also dubbed "God's Own Garden", the village is an outstanding example of community-based eco tourism. The locals have constructed a remarkable Sky View platform from bamboo atop the highest tree in the forest, nearly 80 feet up. It offers a bird's eye view of the village and panoramic view across to Bangladesh (the border is just a few kilometers away). Mawlynnong is a three hour drive from Shillong. It's possible to stay there in a basic village guesthouse or tree house on stilts, also created for tourists by the locals.

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    Mawphlang Sacred Forest
    ••• Mawphlang Sacred Forest. Sharell Cook
    Located approximately 45 minutes drive from Shillong in the East Khasi Hills, Mawphlang is home to a sacred plant grove of the Khasi tribe. It's full of medicinal plants. Tribe members also perform animal sacrifices and burn the bodies of their dead inside it. There's a Khasi Heritage Village next to the sacred forest, with different styles of mock tribal huts. If you're feeling energetic and want to spend a day out in nature, try the David Scott trail from Maphlang to Lad Mawphlang. This very picturesque 16 kilometer trail is part of an old horse trail dating back to the British era.
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    Caves

    Mawsmai Lighted Cave, Cherrapunji, Meghalaya
    ••• Mawsmai Lighted Cave, Cherrapunji, Meghalaya. Dinodia Photo/Getty Images

    Meghalaya is also known for its magnificent caves. There are more than 1,000 of them! The most frequently visited cave is Mawsmai, near Cherrapunji (two hours from Shillong). It's maintained as a show cave for tourists and is lit up all the way through. The other caves are more challenging to visit and are suited to caving expeditions with appropriate caving equipment. These include Siju, Mawmluh, Mawsynram, and Liat Prah (the longest cave in India). Meghalaya Tourism has a list of caves in the state. The Meghalaya Adventurers' Association (email: matours@rediffmail.com) conducts week-long caving expeditions from Shillong. Thrillophilia offers various caving tour packages. Kipepeo also arranges customizable caving trips.

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  • 05 of 06

    Garo Hills

    Garo people in traditional dress.
    ••• Garo people in traditional dress. Earl & Nazima Kowall/Getty Images

    If you're a nature lover who really wants to get off the beaten track, then head to the densely forested Garo Hills in the western part of Meghalaya. This vast area, which is home to the Nokrek Biosphere Reserve, Siju Wildlife Sanctuary and Balpakhram National Park, is pristine and full of biodiversity. Tura, the second largest town in the state after Shillong, has a helpful tourist office that can organize guides and trips. Non-profit organization Samrakshan, which works in conservation and community development, runs community-based eco tours in South Garo Hills. The butterfly tours are a highlight.

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    Shillong Iewduh Bara Bazaar

    Bara Bazaar, Shillong.
    ••• Bara Bazaar, Shillong. Sharell Cook

    Regarded as one of the largest traditional-style markets in northeast India, this hectic and congested market in the heart of Shillong is where local Khasi women come to sell their fresh produce and livestock. You'll get some tasty local street food there too. The market is a fascinating place to walk through, especially if you're into street photography. It's open daily from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. except Sunday. (Go early in the morning if you want to avoid the crowds, otherwise brace yourself!).