I woke in the morning as the train thundered through what seemed like a never ending bridge. That must have been the mighty river Bramhaputra. Though I had a confirmed birth, I was sleeping on 3/4th of the side upper berth. As I had expected my berth was occupied by others. This time, it was a small family travelling to the upper Assam with a lot of lugguage. It was after some hard negotiations that I got the 3/4th berth as I had to keep my backpack also on the berth. My ability to speak decent Hindi proved very useful through the trip so far. I felt pity of their plight and so I was ready to adjust. Most people in the train were carrying a lot of lugguage. Somehow, I managed to sleep in the space I had. I made a mistake in booking this leg of the journey in sleeper class as it was a short one.
I got down at the Guwahati station and headed out. The station looked as if it were on a seige with strong presence of the army and the assam rifles. I got to the shared taxi stand and got into a jeep that would take me to Shillong. Guwahati looked like a typical modern Indian city with good number of branded showrooms and malls. The city roads were good and well maintained. Half an hour’s drive from Guwahati got me into Meghalaya. There was an infiltration checkpost enroute but they never asked for my documents. Illegal migration from Bangladesh is an issue here. The roads were excellent and the view was breathtaking. True to its name, Meghalaya, it really felt like going right into the clouds. The slight drizzle made the ride all the more beautiful. Along the road, there were girls dressed in the traditional dress, ladies with their baby on the back looked really beautiful. Close to Shillong, was a beautiful lake named Barapani. Overall, it was indeed a wonderful road trip. It was a 3hr drive for 140rs. By around 10:30, I reached Shillong and found a small hotel where I got a tiny room for 150rs. Since it was Sunday, I just kept my backpack at the room and went out in search of a church. In Shillong, its quite easy to find a church and I found one close to my room. I went there and found that the service was in the local Khasi language. I hardly understood the sermon but somehow managed to make out the key message. There was also the dedication and naming of a child of a beautiful couple. I thanked god for the wonderful journey I had so far and prayed for the journey ahead.
After the service got over, I went back to my room to get fresh and have my lunch. I then got out to find a shared taxi or bus to get to Cherrapunjee, which was my destination for the day. Each person I asked on how to get there, looked back at me as if they were asking, ‘why are you going to Cherrapunji at this time?’. I think there are hardly any tourists here like me. Most of them were either on a package tour or on a taxi hired from Guwahati. The Meghalaya tourism department has a package tour to Cherrapunji, but that was once a day, in the morning. I enquired at the traffic police office and found that no buses are there to Cherrapunji now. They all asked me to hire a taxi to get there. But that would cost me over 1000rs. That would be quite an irony in my tight budgeted trip. I was taken aback. I had come so close, but now I cannot find a way to get to the wettest place on earth. After some deep thinking, I decided to go ahead. The money that I invest now is for a memory that will stay with me for this lifetime. After some negotiations, I got a taxi that would take me to most of the tourist destinations and view points near Cherrapunji for 1000rs.
I moved on. Trust me guys, the Shillong – Cherrapunji is the best hill road I have been on till now. There are no words to describe the beauty of this place. And for a rain enthusiast like me, this is the ultimate place to be. The Khasi hills looked absolutely fantastic. One distinct feature that I found in these hills was that they weren’t tapered. On the way, we stopped at many view points and took photos. We also stopped at the Cherrapunji falls. Soon we entered Cherrapunji. Cherrapunji is a tiny village with only a few people around. No wonder there weren’t any buses from Shillong, I thought. The weather here changes by the minute. One moment you will see the sunshine, the next, rain. The atmosphere is always laden with moisture. Cherrapunji still holds the world record for highest recorded rainfall in a single year and single month. But for the last few years, Mawsynram receives higher rainfall than Cherrapunji. However the highest recorded rainfall still lies with Cherrapunji. One thing I found there was that even without any signboards, it will still be possible to tell when you get to the actual point of Cherrapunji. You feel that in the air around. Further down the road, we got to a viewpoint where we can actually see Bangladesh. Still further, I could see the seven sisters waterfall. The seven different falls on the same rock face, gives it its name. I also went to the Mawsmai caves. It was a beautiful cave with drops of water falling from the rooftop. But the adventure in entering the cave was robbed by the artificial lights and wooden plank bridges kept over water logged floor. The only adventure for me was to keep myself, my camera and my mobile from slipping into the water. On the way back, I also took photos in front of the signboards of Cherrapunji. I was astonished to find network coverage even in here. Surely network penetration is going on quite fast in India. After the beautiful drive which turned out to be valued more than the money that I paid, I got back to my room to get a full stretched sleep which I didn’t get yesterday.
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