FYI, this post is successive to my previous post Entering Meghalaya ()
Our forenoon agenda was sparse, we just hit the Ward’s Lake at Shillong. A calm water body and the active settlements around is just the identity of survival. Apart from being a tourist attraction, this lake serves as the shortest path to Police Bazaar — our next destination — on the other side. This leaves me puzzled on our intentions to visit this lake till date. Whenever I see waves on a freshwater body, I just see it as her being happy. Waves are just an artifact of wind and movement of freshwater organisms scientifically. Humans who tend to smile a lot develop many a wrinkles called laugh lines, as a result. Waves could just be synonymous to laugh lines, to me, liveliness of an ecosystem is it’s happiness quotient. Lost in thoughts we just walk around the path that leads to the other side of the lake. Few ducks quack to shatter our attention, one of them jumped into the water and the rest followed seamlessly, adding more to the wrinkles of happiness. A trot, a twerk and a dip in the water, the same goes in loop until these ducks were content.
A stairway leads out to the street adjacent to Police Bazaar. Few cherries, lacking niceties with their ripeness stained our taste buds. Police Bazaar was a toned down version of Ranganathan street, but the thumb rule still applies, headcount is half that of footfalls. The experience was vivid, some with umbrellas, some with sweaters but everyone trotting that street had a need. We were looking for some snacks, Jhalmuri and Pani Poori. Sometimes, humans tend to be unreasonable, people who travel on luxurious trips tend to bargain at shops that make meager livelihood, as a result prices of souvenirs are hiked up ridiculously, may be that’s how the law of economics operates. On our way to the dormitory in Cherrapunji, at the flash of a board “Zip-lining” our cab was halted to ingrain some adrenaline dosage.
Zip-lining is not just shuttling between two points on a displacement metal wire, its something more, a strand between life and death, a feed to your adrenaline rush. Our zip-line was suspended between the two mountains. The valley is covered with a bed of lush trees, their branches extended to save us, just in case. You get hooked to the metal wire on a movable hinge to shuttle between the mountains, no kidding, you are all by yourself. Instructors get your signatures, declaring that any mishap would be considered as an act of “GOD” ( It’s customary to blame the nonexistent ). On reaching the other zip-lining terminal, you take an ascent to gain some potential energy that will serve to travel back to your start point. You are a suspended mass that travels with the aid of gravity, that’s important. On my return, I had been too conscious of braking that I neglected the distance to be covered ahead, as a result I halted the zipper few meters short of the end point. Loud giggles coming my way, I was afloat and nudging my way slowly and steadily 😀 Everyone had enjoyed the adventure, the gratification from zip-lining, like another sport, served as a catalyst to future adventurous explorations, in our case the “Nongriat”.
After lunch, the exhausted cells were replenished with carbs and vitals; many of us were restless. We started to ascent the facade of a hill at our disposal. It was an easy trail, served as a warm up and reality check to the first time trekkers. The principles are very simple, watch your foot during the ascent, watch your foot during the descent, that’s it. Mountains are so real, they are like our day to day hurdles, a reminder that anything can be conquered with determination and effort. The base and the peak are just different point of views, similarly different problems need different perspectives to approach. The food was pathetic, but it doesn’t matter when your needs are so primitive, the only purpose is to fulfill. At dusk, we descended the hill after a rush of selfies and flashes.
In mother nature’s vocabulary, Cherrapunji must be synonymous to rainfall, it rains cats and dogs incessantly. Our dormitory was cozy, well bedded linens and quilts to keep us alive. The wind is substantial, you get smacked for standing right besides a door without an active stopper. Life here is tangential and feels surreal, since I am acclimatized to the urban concrete jungles. Having found a good restaurant, we were all stomach full and mouths grinning wide. We are all set to explore the caves and relish our eyes with sights of waterfalls.
We started our day at Mawsmai caves after a good breakfast. Caves are not my cup of tea, to be particular caves have some restraints on exploration. I tend to enjoy the degrees of freedom that the open spaces like mountains and oceans adhere to, again I am not claustrophobic. My prejudices were broken, caves have addictive tangents too. Cave exploration is demanding, the narrow passages and crouching ducts. We were just tailing the ray of light that was the only hope of exiting this cave. Caves require flexibility alongside fitness and shear determination. Our exit meant a visit to seven sister waterfalls. To our surprise, the waterfalls were not flashy, instead too shy !! They were hiding behind mother nature’s mighty curtains of mist and fog. You know what? the oglers consisted of a powerful member, the wind. He would sway those curtains, momentarily, the seven sisters were at our disposal. A splendid visual, that’s the token for your patience. A trail led us to a creek nearby. Folks went crazy like kids on seeing the candies. Everyone’s legs were watermarked knee deep. Hops and slips on those rocks are so memorable that my muscles yearn to go back in time.
Next, we were headed to Nohkalikai Falls, supposedly it is named in the reminiscence of a mother who mortified herself in grave anger at step-dad’s injustice to her daughter. May be she just hoped that the mother nature would have her daughter at guard. I hope they amended peace, atlast. Unfortunately, these curtains were ironclad and we never got to witness Nohkalikai’s spectacle.
Arwah caves is a duplex trail and consists of mild streams of water throughout. The flickering lights in the darkness added to the effects of adventure. These ravines would have been explored by someone for the first time, without the cognizance or certainty of what the cave would offer eventually, that’s fascinating. On our return, we explored a narrow trail which led to a wider capsule after strenuous crawling and crouching. Bats were suspended at every corner, I don’t mind breaching their privacy after knowing what these caves had to offer us.
Tremendous effort has been involved to make these inaccessible places a tourist friendly trek zones, my applause to the tourism society of India.
To be continued in my next articles …