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A Journey through Clouds
As you journey through the Meghalaya's dramatic terrain, a companion will always be present – Clouds! Not surprising, given that Meghalaya, with an average rainfall of 1200mm every year, is the wettest place on earth.
The 'Abode of clouds' is a nature lover's dream, famed for its landscapes painted in incredible shades of green, and embossed with the blue and white sprays of waterfalls and crystal clear streams. Situated in the north-eastern corner of India, the state is bordered by the plains of Bangladesh at its southern and western ends and is capped by the floodplains of Assam to its north. Rising from the plateaus and hills that form Meghalaya is still largely unexplored, with hidden pockets of lush wilderness still thriving among the modern cities and beautiful villages, trails, and hiking routes peppering the state.
In the western Garo hills, ancient forests, humming with life, were created by these waters. Meghalaya boasts some of the most virgin forests in the country, covering over 43% of the state. These wildernesses are home to over 600 bird and mammal species, such as the Hoolock Gibbon and the Clouded Leopard.
Whatever your style and reasons for travel, this wild, beautiful and welcoming land will find in itself a place for you.

Travel Destinations in Meghalaya


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Cherry Blossom Festival
The festivals of Meghalaya are as diverse as their people and landscapes. Largely agrarian, the communities celebrate most of their indigenous festivals in the springtime to honour the harvest. These celebrations involve the entire community, and visitors will witness the cultural tapestry of the people of Meghalaya during these events – traditional attire, vast amounts of delicious food, and traditional dances that tell the stories of their tribe and customs. The Meghalaya tribes are monotheistic, and some like the Garo are considered animistic. The common belief is that every aspect of nature is sacred, and man is an integral part of it. These festivals represent their relationships with nature, represented through forms of traditional music and displays. The music shows the deep involvement of nature as it often mimics the sounds of the wild – birdsong, the sound of water flowing, and the humming of bees.
Cherry Blossom Festival. A riot of events takes place, including activities like mountain biking, football tournaments, dance, and choir performances, and of course, live music concerts. One can even take part in an amateur golf tournament. Food and drink are a major part of the festival, with stalls set up that showcase traditional food and wines from the Khasi hills region. In Shillong, the festivities are expansive and spread across many public venues in the city. Every November, the Himalayan Cherry tree sheds its leaves and explodes into blossom, painting the Khasi Hills and the city of Shillong in gorgeous shades of pink. This unique flowering event is celebrated each year by the Meghalaya Government, as the India International Cherry Blossom Festival. A riot of events takes place, including activities like mountain biking, football tournaments, dance, and choir performances, and of course, live music concerts. One can even take part in an amateur golf tournament. Food and drink are a major part of the festival, with stalls set up that showcase traditional food and wines from the Khasi hills region. In Shillong, the festivities are expansive and spread across many public venues in the city.
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Behdeinkhlam Festival
This is the largest celebration of the Pnar people of the Jaintia hills. Behdeinkhlam translates as beating evil away with a stick and is a harvest festival celebrated in July. The entire community is involved, thronging the streets and squares, a lively spectacle amidst the monsoon rains. Many events take place – bamboo is beaten against houses to ward off spirits, tree trunk structures called Khnongs are erected in the centre of the town, and a chariot made of bamboo is immersed in a sacred pond. In the end, a traditional game using a wooden ball is played between villages; similar to football, it is called Dat Lawakor. The festivities are enjoyed by all, though only the menfolk take part in the events, and locally brewed rice beer is ceremonially drunk at the end of the celebrations. Visitors are treated to the energy and pomp of the Pnar people, their history, folklore and traditions, and welcomed into the celebration of a good year's harvest.
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Nongkrem Festival
The festival is hosted at the beautiful village of Smit, 10 kilometres out of Shillong, the traditional seat and the cultural centre of the Khasi community. A harvest festival is celebrated to seek blessings from the goddess Ka Blei Synshar, so that she may bless them with a bountiful harvest and prosperity. Shad Nongkrem is a five-day festival celebrated with great pomp and splendour, a traditional dance is the highlight of the festival. There are separate events for men and unmarried women, all of whom dress in traditional clothing and perform hoping to make an impression on both the Goddess as well as the vast number of local and foreign spectators. The Khasi community from all over the state travels to Smit to take part in the festivities and as a result, many stalls and shops are set up, offering delicious local cuisine as well as handicrafts.
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Wangala Festival
November in Meghalaya signals the thunderous booming of drums in the Garo Hills. Wangala is celebrated with great fanfare in Tura, where the Garo tribe preserves its heritage by celebrating a good harvest and giving thanks to the Sun God Misi Saljong.
Although celebrated first in 1976, the festival is now very popular with tourists who travel to view the awesome spectacle of the Garo's traditional and rhythmic dance, set to the powerful booms of the drums. Performed in a large open field, food and traditional wines are plentiful and everybody is dressed in traditional apparel and jewellery. Shawls, wraps, headgear and beads are worn as symbols of their rich Garo heritage. The dancers are specially adorned, and the parallel lines of men and women moving in step with the drums are an extraordinary sight.


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The people of Meghalaya are as diverse and distinct as the landscape itself. The state is regionally inhabited by many tribal communities, proudly holding to their traditions and customs to this day. Their traditions truly stand out – a deep connection with nature and social practices that are uniquely matrilineal. These traditional practices have been proudly keeping alive and vibrant and a visit to the state is incomplete without some experiences of this tapestry of identities.
The Khasi people
The largest community and ethnic group in Meghalaya. Their rich mythology traces Khasi origins from one of the 16 heavenly families that existed. They could freely ascend into heaven by a ladder that touched the ground, but the cutting down of a sacred tree took away this right and grounded them on earth. Nature is viewed as divine by the tribe and demonstrated by the Living Root Bridges that are carefully grown and constructed by the community. Their language is unique and part of the Austroasiatic family. Although many have converted to Christianity, the community takes pride in celebrating their culture, heritage, and traditional festivals. The Khasi are known for their traditional dances and attire, often richly decorated with gold and precious stones. Traditionally matrilineal, most of their businesses are run by the womenfolk. Their cuisine is now widely celebrated across the world for its unique flavours and has made its way into international kitchens.
The Garo people
Known as the A'chik-Mande people, meaning 'Hill people". They are the second-largest ethnic group in Meghalaya and have also migrated to neighbouring states. Their distinct Tibeto-Burmanic language has survived orally, as it was believed that the written text was lost in the past. Many Garo people still follow their animist religion Songsarek. Thus, their vibrant traditions and customs have been preserved and displayed during large festivals, such as Wangala. Music and traditional musical instruments made from natural materials play a large part in their culture. Chief among these is the famous Dama drums, a powerful instrument that can almost shake the mountains. Food and drink are very dear to the Garo people, and they ferment a special type of rice to create a drink known as Minil bichi.
The Pnar (Jaintia) people
Known as a sub-tribe of the Khasi, the Pnar people of the Jaintia hills were a kingdom unto themselves until they were annexed by the British. Also known as the Synteng, they were a proud hill kingdom, considered to be the oldest in the region. Their belief system, Niamtre, traditionally considers the Pnar people to be directly created by their God. The Behdeinkhlam Festival is the largest event for the community and is best experienced in the town of Jowai. The people of the Jaintias are skilled craftsmen, known for their artistic carpet weaving, and wood and bamboo carving. Matrilineal like the other prominent tribes, the youngest daughter of a family is the one who inherits the family property.


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Meghalaya is truly a meat-lovers paradise. The flavours and cuisines that exist within Meghalaya are extremely varied and remarkably different from the rest of the northeast. The different tribes have their indigenous styles and flavours but common to all of them is the love for spice and meat. Pork is a prominent protein, and a unique feature is the use of fermented bamboo shoots. Each culture has its unique ingredient – fermented soya beans for the Khasi, indigenous soda ash for the Garo, and the Pnar people use black sesame seeds. Dried meat and fish, traditionally done for long-term storage, are used to add intense flavours. No ceremony or festival is complete without a hearty feast, and marriages cannot take place without a lavish fare offered to the bride's family by the groom.
Jadoh, Dohkhlieh and Tungrymbai
Possibly the most famous trio in Khasi cuisine and popular during Khasi festivals, the most authentic versions of these dishes are found in small-town eateries or near villages. Jadoh is a rice dish made of slow-cooking smoked pork with a short red rice variety called joha rice. Sometimes, a bit of pig's blood is added.
Nakham Bitchi
The traditional comfort food of the Garo hills. Nakham Bitchi is a rich, thick soup made with dried fish and traditionally served as an appetizer to the meal. The fish is fire and sun-dried to preserve it and build flavour. They are boiled in water till soft and then cooked with vegetables, chillies and aromatics. A delicious dish, excellent for the cold weather and often eaten with rice to complete a meal.
Do'o Kapa
Another traditional Garo dish. Do'o Kapa is a delicious chicken stew made with the unique Garo ingredient – cooking soda. Traditionally, this soda was made by burning wood into ash and is called Kalchi, nowadays commercial soda is also used, resulting in a unique flavour and extremely tender chicken. The dish is further enhanced with generous amounts of chillies and herbs. Eaten with rice, as is a staple with the Garo people, it is a hearty and delicious meal. Not to forget a deep glass of locally brewed rice beer.
One of the most well-known and colourful Khasi dishes, Dohneiiong is made by cooking pork meat in black sesame and chilli paste. This gives the dish a unique earthy, nutty flavour and the sesame renders it a dark, blackish colour with pops of green from the chillies. The pork is slow-cooked till extremely tender and the dish is eaten with rice. It is a pork lover's dream, as the sesame doesn't overpower the flavour of the meat. Served with a side of pickled mushrooms, it is Khasi culinary tradition at its finest.


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Few places in India are blessed with a climate so distinct in its seasons as Meghalaya. The vast diversity in terrain and altitude, combined with bountiful monsoons creates intense seasonal variation. One can experience all the seasons in a single day while travelling and keeping a light jacket on hand at all times is a good idea.
During March and April, especially in the highlands of the Khasi Hills, extremely pleasant spring weather encourages locals and tourists to start picnicking.
Between May and September is when the true Meghalaya Monsoons are seen and felt, rivers and waterfalls become raging torrents and people flock to Cherrapunjee to experience the awesome spectacle of Nohkalikai Falls.
October and November are the harvest seasons with the golden afternoons of autumn. The cherry trees around the Khasi hills burst into blossom and many festivals and events are held.
Wintertime is the true season of the traveller, and Meghalaya's sunniest days and best weather for exploration, hiking and adventure sports, are felt between December and February. The central highlands may even see sub-zero temperatures and frost.

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