Solo Ride From Guwahati to Cherrapunjee: Day One of North-East India Ride

Welcome to the first day of my travelogue to North-East India and epically to the state known as “Adobe of Clouds.” One the first day of my journey I embarked on a solo ride from Guwahati to Cherrapunjee. Anyone traveling to North-East for the first time they prefer either Meghalaya or Arunachal Pradesh and I was no exception. The reason for choosing Meghalaya or Arunachal Pradesh is its vicinity to Guwahati, the easy availability of public and private transport and a lesser number of days required. Though covering complete Meghalaya or Arunachal Pradesh will require more than 20 days, but tourist tends to avoid Tura or Western Meghalaya (Garo hills) and often visit Eastern Meghalaya which comprises of Khasi and Jaintia hills. Similarly, in the case of Arunachal Pradesh tourist focus on the western part of the state where Tawang Monastery, Sela Pass and Nuranang Waterfall is situated. A complete trip to Meghalaya will require a minimum of 15 days when visiting major tourist spots in the state. Since I had allocated only five days to Meghalaya, I stick to my plan of visiting Cherrapunjee (also known as Sohra) and then heading towards Dawaki. Earlier I also thought of visiting the Mawsynram but then decide to skip that as I don’t want to rush in the initial phase of my journey. So keeping Mawsynram aside I made my itinerary for the eastern part of Meghalaya and decided to complete this. It was my first day of the ride, so I planned to reach Cherrapunjee by evening and stay there.

Start of Journey From Delhi To Guwahati

I had already booked a flight from Delhi to Guwahati a month back, and now it was time to board the flight and reach Guwahati. I booked a Motorcycle from one guy (Pawan), and he assured me that he would be at the Airport with Motorcycle by the time my flight will land. My flight departed from Delhi at around 7 AM, and I reached Guwahati by 10 AM. After exiting from the Airport, I called Pawan, and he was already waiting for me outside the Airport. After documentation and paying advance money I had Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350CC and I was ready to embark on a journey I was planning form a long time. I had booked the Motorcycle to avoid wastage of time, but when I started riding to my surprise, I found Guwahati Airport was too far from the city. My decision not only saved precious time but some valuable money which I would have wasted in reaching the city and then hiring a two-wheeler. After crossing the city traffic and I reached Khanapara and decided to stop for lunch.

Guwahati Airport
Guwahati Airport also known as Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport is main center for tourist reaching North-East India

Ride From Guwahati to Cherrapunjee

From Guwahati Airport the town of Cherrapunjee is approximately 170Km, and it will take five hours of ride to reach there. Since the highway from Guwahati to Cherrapunjee has few important places to visit in Meghalaya, it will take more than 5 hours for anyone to reach Cherrapunjee. One thing to keep in mind is that the sun sets early in the eastern part of India, and by 5:30, there will be darkness. It is better to make a booking in Cherrapunjee not only to avoid an unnecessary search for the hotel but also to ensure you have accommodation for the night stay. Cherrapunjee is the most commonly visited tourist place in Meghalaya. Though the town has a lot of tourist accommodation, anyone visiting for the first time will be skeptical about the accommodation. Around 12, I started for Cherrapunjee, and at the same time, I had to cover places that lie en route to the Guwahati- Cherrapunjee Highway (National Highway 6).

The Highway connecting Guwahati to Shillong is one of the best Highway in North-East India. The four-lane highway is surrounded by lush green hills on both sides.

The highway is one of the best highways you will find in North-East India. The road from Guwahati to Shillong is a boon for any rider. It is a four-lane highway with scenic hills running parallel on both sides of the way. By the time I reached Umiam Lake, I had to exit the road and head to a single lane road towards Umiam Lake. The Umiam Lake is a human-made lake created after damming the Umiam River which flows through the state. After a short photography session and tea break, I headed for Shillong and reached Shillong around 3 PM. From Shillong, I had to choose between two places. One was The Elephant Waterfalls which lies en-route to Cherrapunjee while for Laitlum Canyon I had to take the opposite route. Keeping time and darkness in mind, I decided to opt for Elephant Waterfall and chose to visit Laitlum Canyon while returning.

Umiam Lake is a man-made lake created by reservoir of Umiam Dam. Umiam Dam is one of the oldest hydroelectric projects in India.

The Elephant Waterfall is a cascading waterfall situated around 12km from the state capital, i.e., Shillong. The waterfall is within walking distance from the main road. The Eastern Air Command of Indian Air Force has its base in Shillong, and one can see the cantonment spread on both sides of the way. There is an Air Force Museum in Shillong and if you are interested in watching that you can visit the Museum. I have already seen many Defense Museum in my days of traveling and therefore decided to skip it. The Shillong-Cherrapunjee highway or NH206 is not a four-lane highway, but the condition of the road is good. The never-ending curves slowed me down, but at the same time, I witnessed the real meaning of Meghalaya or the “Adobe of Clouds.” From the highway, I can see the fog settling down in the valley and taking over the road. The fog made me slow down, and the blowing breeze forced me to wear an extra layer of the jacket. I reached Cherrapunjee around 6:30 PM and called the hotel owner. He sends me the location of his homestay, and by 7 PM, I was in the hotel. After check-in, I found an uncle in his 50’s traveling solo to Meghalaya, and I was surprised with his dedication to exploring India. We lit a fire and had a good long discussion on travel, life, and other aspects of human life. Around 10 PM we said goodnight to each other and headed to our rooms for rest.

Places Covered on Day One

My day one was more of the bike ride, and I covered places that were en route the highway. Like any person traveling solo and on a Motorcycle, on day one, I restricted myself to include the sites which were not for from the road.

Elephant Waterfall is a cascading waterfall in Shillong.

Guwahati-Shillong Highway

Probably one of the best highway in North-East India (I got a chance to ride on a few more later). A newly constructed four-lane road connecting to capitals of North-East India.

Umiam Lake

A man-made lake created by the damming of the Umiam River in Meghalaya. The lake is adjacent to the road, and many photography points are there to click photos and selfies.

Elephant Falls

A cascading waterfall en route Cherrapunjee from Shillong. The waterfall is nearby to the road, and it will give you a glimpse of the waterfalls you are going to see throughout Meghalaya.

Shillong Hill or Shillong View Point

It is one of the highest points in Shillong from where one can see the whole city of Shillong.

Accommodation in Shillong & Cherrapunjee

Shillong being the capital of the state there are plenty of places to stay at night, and even you don’t need an advance booking unless you are traveling in a group. If you are planning to stay in Shillong, try reaching the Police Bazar, which is the primary market of Shillong, and you will get plenty of Hotels and homestays. Depending on your requirements you can get a decent hotel in the capital city. In Cherrapunjee the cost of the hotel will be a bit high, but you can strike a fair deal after checking 3-4 hotels. If you reach the city by day time, then you can explore more options. When I arrived Cherrapunjee, it was already dark, and therefore I settled with what I had booked. The next day when I started exploring the city, I found that my hotel was at the entrance of the town and there were plenty of hotels after riding a kilometer or more. So try reaching the city early and seal a decent deal.

Thanks for reading, to know the second day of my ride please follow my Meghalaya Travelogue.

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