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Learn Photography & Knowledge base => Gear Reviews & Travel Reports => Topic started by: somnath goswami on June 17, 2014, 01:32:38 PM

Title: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: somnath goswami on June 17, 2014, 01:32:38 PM
My memories to be shared with all the friends here.
Participants : Sukanya (queen), Shouryya & Shritama ( double trouble ) & me (slave)
I am pathetic with proper nouns so feel free to suggest corrections there. I will post all necessary contacts & cost related information in the end hence please ....
The sun was oozing fire even at 7.30 am when we get out of our home to catch the flight. The Spicejet
flight was rescheduled from 8-15 to 9-30 in the morning, much to our chagrin, as such rescheduling cut
our holiday short by 1 hours and 15 minutes. Not a small time, especially when you are trying to escape
the red fiery heat of Kolkata.
This was going to be my 4th and my family?s 2nd time. We simply refuse to get bored by Shillong and
Sohra but this time we thought about some lesser known places.
?Pradipda? ( PRADIP MODAK ) is by profession , a driver. But his real identity only starts from there. His
early childhood was spent in Jaintia hills and he grew up in Shillong. He knows the state, the languages
and customs like the back of his palm. I have travelled a bit here and there but seldom I have come
across a person more suitable for travelling. He is willing to travel along with you as long as you would
like, with utter disregard to things like hours spent, fuel consumed, kilometers travelled etc. He will coax
you to go to less visited places, will smilingly carry your burdens, will share anecdotes and guide you like
a brother. I am in awe about him since the days when he used to drive a ?Maruti 800?. This time his
vehicle was a ?Chevy Sail? and in that car we started our journey from sizzling hot Guwahati at 10.45
Our first stop was at ?Nongpoh? as always, as usually from here onwards the fair wind starts blowing. At
?Green Land Dhaba? we helped ourselves with some egg noodles and black tea. Just after our ?lunch?
was over it started raining. It was blazing sunshine while we entered the eatery and in 45 minutes the
sky was absolutely overcast and a sweet little drizzle started pouring. It is exactly at that point we ?felt?
that we are again in Meghalaya. We didn?t wait for the rain to cease and ran to the car.
Our next stoppage was at ?UMDEN?. Initially we decided to stay there but Pradipda warned that the
place was quite hot and more importantly doesn?t offer much. So we simply settled for a day excursion.
The road to Umden is picturesque, rolling hillocks, wide expanse of cultivated fields, green foliage
freshened up by rains and red earth, it was a very charming journey. We knew that at Umden they are
working upon Sericulture. But even after we reached Umden proper( after about one and half hours
from Nongpoh, via a steep left turn just after Nongpoh off the road to Shillong), no one could really tell
about the sericulture farm. The village on that Sunday afternoon wore a very forlorn look, only a few
young boys horsing around here & there, a car or two whooshing past us going to some other unknown
destination. Anyway we started to come back and just after we left the main village, on the way back,
we saw a cemetery. It was just beside the road amidst high trees and at a slightly elevated position. We
ventured there and like most cemeteries the air was thick with untold stories of grief and loss. I relate to
such atmosphere in a strange way like many people. We four simply sat there observing the basic graves
and crosses and imagining things. The kids flagged off the journey again and after only a few minute?s
drive on left hand side we saw a signboard for the ?sericulture farm?.
The Sericulture farm was a couple of one storied buildings surrounded by a smallish garden in the front
and some more trees on the other sides, all nicely surrounded by a razor-wire fence. It was a warm day
by Meghalaya standard (By Kolkata standard the day was suitable for a nice little stroll outside, precisely
what we were doing, har har de har har) and a Government issue standard babu and his subordinate
was idling upon the verandah of the front building, may be they were spinning yearns or perhaps they
were deliberating about the process to make finer silks, who knows? We parked on the road outside and
our presence had a most bizarre effect on those two souls. They jumped with a start as if a UFO had
landed and some aliens from Mars were venturing upon their little cozy corner. The Babu ran towards us
with a wide plastic smile as well as a look of grave uncertainty in his eyes and the subordinate started
dusting off the verandah, with frantic zeal, with the help of a long handled broom. Anyway on closer
inspection they understood that we are from planet earth and both of them visibly relaxed and showed
us around. I have this dirty habit of cracking a joke at the expense of others but yes the situation was a
quite hilarious. The two men were in fact quite eager show us how the small silk worms change into silk
yearns. They showed us silk worm eggs, cocoons and all and it was quite a fine experience.
We again returned by that spectacular path and we felt quite hungry by the time we reached Shillong,
after having brief stopovers at the UMIAM lake at just the right time for a spectacular sunset.
Pradipda took us to a nondescript shack of a fast food stall (Joy Mata Di Fast food, 17th Jhalupara
Cantonment, Anju Lama : 09774003820/09862010568). Boy they cooked up a fabulous dish of vegetable
momo with complimentary chicken soup all for a princely sum of Rs.20/= per plate!!! Thus replenished
we stepped out of the shop to be enamored by chilly soothing wind. It was an unbelievably comfortable
feeling and I felt sleepy even standing on my legs. But we had to resume our journey.
Another hour of journey through some indifferent roads brought us to the picturesque village of
?LYNGKIEN?. Here a Canadian named James Perry is operating a bread and breakfast named ?MAPLE
PINE FARM? along with his wife, kids, cats, dogs and ponies. The property is situated in between two
flowing streams and we had to cross one such stream with the car to get there. It uses solar & wind
generated electricity & are not connected to any grid. Our cottage was a simple wooden affair with bunk
beds for kids and an attached commode & sink. The Bathing house is a bit far with two shower stalls &
hot water. The kitchen & dining room is also a few paces away from the cottage. The dining room has a
separate small living zone which has library, dart board, board of chess etc. My kids instantly took on the
dart board and library. By the way, that cat is a viciously territorial one, she protects one couch &
anyone who dares to sit on it is greeted with punches & nudges. Yes she does punch, she has adopted
the art of striking with paw without extracting her nails & believe me they hurt mighty.
Pradipda went back to his home at Shillong for the night as for next some 5/6 days he would be with us
, away from his family. After an early dinner of Vegetable fried rice, pork fried and chilly chicken ( tasty )
we hit the bed.

I woke up & my watch told me that it is 12.07 in the night!!! Actually someone in me was getting loco
about going out and to enjoy the outdoors. My city-weary heart was palpably beating in the anticipation
of a colorful dawn to break. Finally, after playing hide & seek with sleep I left the bed at 3.45 AM. Being
situated in so much to the eastern side of the country, the dark sky was already starting to get light. I
strolled outside and Sukanya followed me, as it has been a ritual of so many places over so many years.
We never fail to share the morning tea (she always makes it a point to carry an electric kettle & some
good Darjeeling with her, bless the lady) & the morning sunrise, whenever we go travelling.
The morning was turning yellow, orange & golden. The whole farm was drenched with overnight drizzle
& dew. Our shoes were getting soaked by this nectar of heaven. We did some photography & then in full
sunlight a very very fine drizzle, almost a mist by it?s gossamer quality, started falling. Sukanya went
inside but that was a brilliant time for me for some more photographs & by 7 we were through that
beautiful period.
We had a very sumptuous breakfast of bread, omlette, pan cakes & quite good black tea. By 8.30 we
were all ready to start but the rain also started. It was a deluge. The two rivulets on two opposite
perimeters of the property became swollen like angry snakes. It was unbelievable that only a couple of
hours back I was standing there, bang inside one of them, with my tripod & all & the water was barely
touching my knees. But now they were just furious & it was evident that Pradipda?s sedan stood no
chance to cross.
James started his jeep & we crossed the river along with our luggage. Pradipda was waiting on the
tarmac road & we started towards ?MAWLYNGBA?.
The road to Mawlyngba was full of potholes & the day was grey & rainy. Our car negotiated the road
with caution & on road we visited the cave of ?MAWJYMBUIN?. It was situated after a steep descent of
stairs & had some curious rock formations & the ?shiva linga? was generous in size & girth, commanding
instant respect unless you are not a kaffir like me. As are the norm throughout India, that place was
associated with a lot of tales & fables. One of them was about two brothers, who in their infinite folly
chose a place for their restaurant, which was directly overhead of the cave, albeit at a much higher point
of the hill. After opening of the small eatery one night, all their cutlery was reported to be flying and
hitting against the walls during the night, causing complete devastation of their utensils & instant flight
of staffs & cooks, thereby ruining the endeavor prematurely. Whether you would like to believe that is
up to you but I am an ardent believer of paranormals & an X-files fan, so the hair on my hand stood up
when I heard the story over steamy cups of ?chai? from Pradipda wink wink.
Now after stopping here & there for photography & refreshment we finally reached Mawlyngba at 2
PM. The ?Traveller?s nest (TN) ? was situated amidst thick vegetation . In spite of being there on a hilltop
, the atmosphere was quite hot & humid. As soon as we reached there we were greeted with great
enthusiasm by scores of mosquitoes & various other bugs. To top it all the TNs were under lock & key &
no one was there. The mobile phones were not working ( during most of the tour our postpaid mobiles
were out of bounds, BSNL & Aircel are the two to be most reliable it seems) & after having a helpless
wait we caught a couple of village boys. Pradipda, proficient as he is in all languages & dialects, passed
the necessary information & the boys went to notify someone about our reaching there.
In about half an hour two lithe boys with ever so smiling face materialized. Their presence was such that
we instantly forgot about the ?hassle? of waiting. One was named Franklin & another Michael. In matter
of minutes they opened the one TN (basic with beds, clean western attached bathroom with an
inconsistent hot water geyser), prepared some tea & some noodle soup. The entire fare was served on
the top of the hill common area & we were ready to take on the little excursion that we were planning
to take.
Mawlyngba has a waterfall ( UMDIENGKEIN) , some fossils & animal footprints. The general route is to
first take on the fossils & then go to waterfalls & then to animal footprints. But Franklin & Michael
insisted that we start with the waterfall & then have to climb a little bit to go to the other two.
Accordingly we started our journey to the waterfalls but after about 20 minutes of descent a huge
downpour started. We had to take shelter under our umbrellas & once the rain subsided we resumed
our journey through very slippery, mossy & rocky road. Once we reached the waterfall it was evident
that due to that rain we could not cross it as the water had submerged the rocks underneath & it was
too late to make a detour by car & resume the walk via the general route. Anyway we decided to enjoy
the waterfall in it?s great glory & had to sportingly accept that the fossils & animal footprints will be
missed. We came back through that ascending trail & we must say that the kids brought us out of our
gloomy mood by the antics that only they know how to.
The dusk was approaching & we started our car to ?UMKHAKOI?. It is a natural lake with curious rock
formations. The afternoon light was brilliant & we stayed there for a long time chatting with Pradipda
about our lives & times. The lake is remarkable for the rock formations, as the huge black rocks
surrounding the lake are pockmarked with holes which resemble the shape & size of giant?s bowls.
These numerous bowls were filled to the brim with rainwater & many frogs were resting in those waters
with their little ones. Our little ones immediately started catching frogs in spite of my warnings & with
the aid of Franklin they could catch one particularly old and haggard individual. The old frog was benign
as a dog & had an air of resignation about him. Finally after very close inspection that old fella was
again released to his watering hole, presumably unhurt.
When the sunset was imminent we hurried back to the TN wherefrom we rushed through uneven,
slippery road to the ?view point?. It is a wooden tower from where you may enjoy brilliant view of the
setting sun and the villages downhill (4 as I was told). The villages collectively do resemble a small town
and my kids were asking Franklin & Michael to point out their houses & they obliged so smilingly. These
two boys, like most others in Meghalaya are gem of persons. We city dwellers seem to purge & purify
ourselves in their company.
On our way back to the TN we saw that the boys of the villages were in the process of parking a lot of
mountain bikes. They smilingly offered us to have a ride for free and we had a small roundup of the flat
hilltop & then it was too dark to enjoy the outdoors anymore.
The inside of the rooms was a bit hot because in fear of insects & mosquitoes we couldn?t keep the
doors open. But we felt very comfortable once we took cold baths. Some mosquito repellant coils were
alight & the place became serene & cozy.
The dinner was ?dry chicken curry? spiced with a typical aroma which comes only with cooking on wood
fire & rice. It was heavenly, especially after a couple of scotch. In a matter of minutes afterwards we
dozed off. Throughout the night incessant rain drummed our tinned roof like a sweet piece of music.
to be continued ....
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: somnath goswami on June 17, 2014, 01:40:23 PM
The road to Umden
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Golden sunset at Barapani, Umiam
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Crossing the river to Maple Pine Farm
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Our stay & our neighbor
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Early morning ...
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I love the pancake
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Ms. Attitude
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Emery, my friend
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Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: somnath goswami on June 17, 2014, 01:46:29 PM
Our nest at Mwlyngba
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Hasty little lunch
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beautiful morning
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Beautiful UMKHAKOI
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Boat ...
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Guardian ...
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Two real steel guys ... Pradipda & sonny
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A soft sunset
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Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: Jasii on June 17, 2014, 05:10:34 PM
Loved the read and the pics too. You choose to travel the less travelled path and were suitably rewarded. You remind me of the mid seventies when I spent a couple of years in Shillong and a few places like " Bara Paani" did ring a bell. Most of the pics are embodiment of eternal bliss and have one thing in common: "The clouds" :)

Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: blue on June 17, 2014, 06:32:37 PM
Great.  8)
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: LightWave on June 17, 2014, 08:42:27 PM
Very good work there. The best of rural India on display here.
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: theqca on June 18, 2014, 08:45:44 AM
Wow.. This sure was one hell of an interesting trip...

Enjoyed reading the write up as well as viewing the photos :-)
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: somnath goswami on June 18, 2014, 09:46:11 AM
Thanks Jasiiji, Blue, Doctor and Ayaz. :). I will post the next part tonight, so please keep an eye for more unknown places, in one of which we were the first travelers to spend the night. O0
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: SharatKolke on June 18, 2014, 02:46:29 PM
Lovely description and pics to match. You took me to Meghalaya.
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: dashillol on June 18, 2014, 03:33:18 PM
 Wonderful travelogue and spectacular photos, Somnath!!!!  :like: Your son is adorable  :D
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: somnath goswami on June 18, 2014, 07:17:53 PM
Thanks Sharat & Hillol  :)

As has been the trend for last couple of days the night rain continued pouring well into the morning. I
had nothing to do hence bathed & waited for the rain to subside. Subside it did and I went outside to
find that there were absolute no bugs for me to shoot. It was really a mystery that to how & where all
those bugs vanished in the morning. Anyway the weather became extremely soothing and the breakfast
was served by the boys in the room. It was a simple fare of mixed bhaji of incomparable taste( potato,
carrot & onion julienned & stir fried) & quite hard , cold chapattis. All over Meghalaya I have noticed
that they are not top notch chapatti makers. But I must tell that the bhaji was heavenly.
After the breakfast I went out & discovered a very big moth sitting upon the wall of the other cottage (
they have only two cottages as of now) . I took a few photographs, it was almost as big as my palm.
Then we started our journey to ?MAWPHANLUR? amidst very sunny & bright weather. The morning was
exceptionally beautiful with some areas covered by black angry clouds & others being sunny & bright.
The temperature was comfortably cool.
From a place called ?WEILOI? we took a left turn & after a few kilometers the whole landscape changed.
It was cultivated fields dotted with great big, black boulders, rolling green hills and brilliant cloudscape.
The road was so beautiful that we stopped after every ten minutes to take some photographs. This is
one aspect of Pradipda which makes him so endearing. However many times you want to stop he
doesn?t mind at all, he simply smiles and tells that ?take the tripod, you will need it ? or something
similar. Our many stops left us high, dry & hungry and at 2.30 pm we reached a small hamlet by the
name of ?Pairong?. Just before the taxi-stand we discovered a very small place which offered very basic
fare. The lady owner was at Kalimpong at some point of time and she could talk in passable hindi. She
turned out to be a very kind person with an ever-smiling face. She served us hot noodles, omlettes & tea
very quickly & we also stocked up on water-bottles there. The lady smilingly gifted the kids a lot of
candies and I tell you that in Meghalaya you can expect this kind of hospitality as the norm & not as an
We resumed our journey and in an hour or so reached the market-place called ?Markasa?. From that
market itself one prominent banner pointed towards the 8 KM last stretch to Mawphanlur. But a few
minutes after progressing upon that unpaved road we understood that a sedan was not at all a suitable
vehicle for the journey. The road had steep incline with loose, rough boulders which were scrapping
against the undercarriage of the car. Pradipda called the person in charge of the TN, his name is Shemly
and Shemly told that he could pick us up by a four wheel drive jeep. But obstinate that he is sometimes,
Pradipda decided to climb the road with his sedan and at many points we had to get out of the car so
that it could climb. In this manner we were progressing but just before about 3 kilometers from the TN,
the road was so bad that the car was unable to proceed further, it was completely struck, It?s engine
unable to lug it up and the tires were not getting any purchase. We four got out of the car and started
walking uphill. We almost reached the village when we saw that a 4X4 jeep was descending. We hailed
the jeep and true to our anticipation it was Shemly who was driving down to rescue the car. What a
joyful little fella he is!!! His mere presence was enough to boost our spirits up, he always keeps on a
radiant smile and tries his best to make his guests comfortable. We boarded his jeep and came down to
the spot where the sedan was stuck. Here we transferred our luggage to the jeep and after creating
proper traction by putting stones in tactical places Pradipda also could climb that area with his sedan as
his tires got better purchase & the engine could drag the lighter car up. On the other hand Shemly
performed a hair raising three point reverse turn with his jeep with smiles and winks and we reached
the village in no time.
It was late afternoon and Mawphanlur looked like paradise. It is a rolling top of hills with many natural
lakes dotting the place. Due to monsoon all the hills were green and the lakes were crystal clear. We
came to know that we are the first travelers ever to spend a night at the TN there. I instantly decided
that this place deserved one extra night of stay and I proved so right on the next day. The village became
shrouded in mist and cold breeze started to blow. I had to wear a jacket & kids had woolens on them.
Two village dogs came to us waging their tails, one a Black & white lady, another her brown boy friend.
A few biscuits & they became our constant companion till the last minute we spent there. Both of them
were lying in front of our cottage only. The cottage is small but with great view and spanking new. We
were thrilled to stay there as the first ever guest. The attached bathroom was clean and basic. I was
absolutely engrossed in photography & a beautiful moon hung low in the sky. It was serene beyond
words. Pradipda fried some porks & made some finger chips and we had a great chat session with him
over rounds of whiskey. It was again some rice & pork curry, served in the rooms. We served our
leftovers to our canine friends & hit the bed ?.

We woke up at the wee hours in the morning and the whole area was shrouded with cold mist. The
chance of early morning light seemed doomed and then the first sun cut the misty veil in pieces. I &
Sukanya decided to take a stroll after having our morning cuppa.
The weather outside was comfortably chilly and we decided to follow the ascending path towards the
west. The lakes looked beautifully serene and not a single other human being was present. Our two
canine friends, who did spend the last night upon the verandah of our cottage started escorting us with
such happiness!!! Once we went to the other side of the lake the road became steeper & we saw a few
village folks doing their morning chores. Everyone of them presented us with sunny smiles and we
returned the courtesy, wondering mutely about the sort of reception we usually dole out in standard
city scenario!!! After about having a leisurely walk of 25 minutes we reached the top of that hill. On that
top, certain shrubs & vegetations had grown, some boulders were here & there, the hill itself rolled
gently down with a little walking trail prominently marked thereupon created by the villagers walking on
it regularly. The vista was breathtaking. We could see miles of hills dotted with some scattered houses
and fields of cultivation. We selected a flat huge rock where we 4 settled nicely and the sunlight was
warming us up. Our two canine friends started snoring and we were simply lost into watching a beautiful
morning unfolding in front of us. All of a sudden our two canine friends jumped upon their collective
eight feet and their ears stood up in taut tension. We understood the reason minutes afterwards, two
little girls with their house dog showed up through the winding path, at least 500 meters afar! It is a
custom over there to have house dogs and whenever a family member goes somewhere like shop,
school etc. the house dog escorts it?s masters and show the way. The simple life we want to live but fail
miserably as our innocence is lost. On our way back our two canine friends had a dispute, regarding their
LOC ( Line of control ) , which they marked in a most cavalier fashion, with some other canine foes and
after great show of fangs & threats our friends conceded the territory, the foe remarked their area in
most unspeakable fashion again. We hurried down to the TN without getting into the crossfire (what do
you expect from two human beings? huh ? )
After having sumptuous breakfast of chapatti , potato bhaji & boiled eggs, washed down with tea which
was served at the second floor of the house standing just beside the TN, the ground floor of which is
used as kitchen & staff quarter. The dining area is open to elements on three sides with low tables and
chairs made of cane, laid out. You can enjoy the nature beautifully while having your fill from that dining
After the breakfast I indulged myself into some insect photography as the place is full of butterflies &
other bugs, the kids & their mother were basking in the glorious morning sun, by one of the lakes.
My next plan was to accompany Shemley to the Markasa market. It was the market day & he was
supposed to shop. So I & Pradipda jumped on his 4X4 Marshall to go down all the way to Markasa. The
Markasa weekly market seemed more like a social occasion than a market. The main market is a
conglomeration of some tin-roofed shanties amidst a rolling field sloping downward. Around the market
you could see many friends catching up , chilling about with drinks, young boys & girls taking advantage
of the day & dating, mothers & kids idling under the trees and a general mood of festivity in the air. It is
not difficult to feel that the apparent hardships of life could not rob them of happiness, at least for some
times on some days. I entered into the market and was surprised by the number of shoe-shops there.
More than 5 adjacent shops were selling cheap shoes. A lot many shops were selling dried fish & fresh
pork. Pradipda went to a cobbler to mend his shoe. I wandered around and then managed to lose
Pradipda & Shemley who were busy bargaining and shopping for rice, chicken etc., a task which I find
infinitely boring. I climbed back and by now the sun was harsh. Markasa being situated much lower, the
heat started to build up. I discovered a nice little wall which was had a tin-roof and managed to perch
myself. The hour passed easy and joyous as I was greeted by many of the villagers and worked up little
chats, they were curious about my presence there and when they knew that I was staying at
Mawphanlur they became genuinely happy. It seemed that they needed just an excuse to smile and we
shared a few cups of bad tea. In the meantime Pradipda & Shemley came back after completing the
procurement and we started our way up. On the way up Shemley didn?t take the final left to the village
and carried on going straight up. In few minutes we came to unbelievably rough terrain and the 4X4
made mincemeat out of the road, or lack of it! We climbed to the top of the hill from where many many
miles were clearly visible all around. This is the thing that amazes me , I had no knowledge of even the
existence of the place , Shemley simply brought us there at considerable cost of fuel & time, entirely
unasked and he was joyful like a child when our jaw dropped by simply looking around. Perhaps we in
our guilt-torn, polluted, city self, have for long lost such emotions and simple pleasures of life, most
probably never to regain them again.
Upon return I just started to read a book and somehow managed to fall asleep. Perfect bliss does that to
you!!! I got up when Sukanya shouted me out of my slumber. The lunch was ready. I had a quick shower
and went to the dining area where the lunch of rice, plain daal and chicken curry was waiting for us. The
chicken curry was cooked under Pradipda?s supervision and was cooked unconventionally by using
generous parts of Rye (a leafy vegetable of slightly pungent taste) and it was delicious. It was 3 pm when
our lunch was over and it was decided that Shemley (again he volunteered unasked) will drive us up to
the ?view point?. A plate of local strawberry was presented to us and they made our wait for the
journey quite tasty.
Shemley picked us up into his 4X4 and it was a fabulously scary drive over small streams, boulders and
steep gradients. Only a four wheel drive jeep could traverse the terrain. On the way Shemley passed
through his humble house. It is a basic affair on a hilltop but it seemed that he possesses quite a fine
piece of land and number of goats. Finally after about 15/20 minutes of hair-raising journey we reached
the top of the hill. The top is flat and full of small shrubs. We were greeted with a breathtaking vista and
chilly wind. Just a bit far from the top a number of cattles were grazing and barring that no signs of
human habitat were visible. We sat there and drank the vista to our heart?s content. Then a dark angry
cloud hung too low , wind speed did pick up and before we could run to the jeep we were almost
drenched by big, fat drops of rain. But we Bengalis have a unique way of running in a zigzag pattern
which always beats the rain so we jumped aboard the jeep almost dry and Shemley almost passed out
laughing. The return journey was equally scary and from a vantage point we could see the Mawphanlur
village, the lakes, the winding paths, the dogs and the Tourist nest, Pradipda cleaning his car, so near yet
miles far. A blanket of grey mist tinged with the last sunrays, invisible in the sky but somehow caught
and refracted into the mist, colored the atmosphere. It was an unbelievable sight, ephemeral, we lost it
even before we could properly see & rejoice. With a certain sense of awe and heaviness of heart we
came back to the nest. Last night we had the moon. Tonight we had the fog, dense to the point of being
almost touchable. Me and Pradipda sat beside one of the lakes, braving the fog and we drank and
chatted with the someone whispering through our ears that it was coming to an end. We chatted about
our lives, regrets and loves and the evening was night, the night midnight. Had a dinner of rice, daal and
a concoction of dried fish (the last is not recommended unless your forefathers roamed through the East
Bengal now Bangladesh, like me and used to savour these delicacies with great relish). The sleep came
like the mist outside, silent, embracing ?.

Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: somnath goswami on June 18, 2014, 07:18:50 PM
The beautiful road after Weiloi

The jeep that saved the day

Evening approaching ... peacefully

The blue hour .... Dining hall by the lake
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Moonlit night
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Me with friends , photo courtsey Sukanya
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Nature lover
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morning glory
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Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: saiki on June 19, 2014, 12:44:07 AM
Excellent writeup and images Dada.....  :like:
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: Madhav Bhakta on June 19, 2014, 07:16:39 AM
Excellent series. Liked all of them.
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: somnath goswami on June 19, 2014, 09:23:02 AM
Thanks Ritu, thanks Madhav :-)
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: MayaV on June 19, 2014, 04:44:23 PM
Bravo! Amazing series with excellent write up!  :like:

You have made me thinking of visiting Meghalaya  ;)

Loved the soft sunset and Blue hour the most!


Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: Jasii on June 19, 2014, 05:01:20 PM
The read almost transported me to "The Land of clouds". The pics were a wonderful supplement.

Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: kaushik_s on June 19, 2014, 05:44:19 PM
Nice report Somnath, thanks for sharing. Mawphanlur looks like a pretty little place. Thanks a lot for sharing..

Although I would've liked to see some more pics :) Actually, can you edit the writing to have accompanying pictures along with the writing? That would be more inviting and engrossing to the readers.
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: PixelHunter on June 19, 2014, 11:48:21 PM
What do I say? I am awestruck. Never could imagine that Meghalaya is so beautiful despite being born and brought up in Assam. You have opened my eyes and I am definitely going to the off beat places of Meghalaya sometime soon. Need to plan it with some guys and I am going to bug you for advice and guidance.

I would go with the suggestion of Kaushik da. Embed the pictures with the article as it will be easier to comprehend. But I am waiting with baited breath for the third part.

OT- Did you visit the Laitlum  Canyons and Nohkalikai falls too? For the unknown people, I am embedding two pictures here of each. Hope you won't mind (these are not my photos)


Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: Hot Shoe on June 20, 2014, 12:06:08 AM
Very interesting to read. The pics were simply a visual treat. Well done Somnath !  :like:
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: somnath goswami on June 20, 2014, 12:07:10 AM
Vivek, Jasiiji, Kaushik, Binoy you all are welcome. I'm ready to answer your queries and please go there to enjoy such fantastic spectacles.
Binoy yes I have been to both the places more than once . Wait for my third and last issue.
Somnath :)
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: somnath goswami on June 20, 2014, 12:08:12 AM
Thanks Hotshoe... :-). More coming
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: somnath goswami on June 20, 2014, 12:18:12 AM
What Kaushik has suggested is very valid. I thought of doing that primarily. But couldn't do it that way due to paucity of time. :-\
I may edit it that way afterwards
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: somnath goswami on June 21, 2014, 01:58:10 PM
The morning, misty as the last night, grey and shrouded in fog told me that our days in this little paradise is over. I lugged my camera out but the outdoors was also seemed to be in pains. No flutter of winds, no flight of butterflies, no sunshine anywhere, only a solid wall of grey fog greeted me. All I got is my wet boots.
We finished our breakfast of delicious toast & egg poach in silence. Everyone was asking for one more day here. Even Shritama started crying at the prospect of leaving our doggy friends behind. But someone inside me urged to hit the road. So bye Mawphanlur. Would I return there? I don?t know. My heart wants to go there in all seasons in all lights but I know that slowly but surely the innocence of the place will keep losing itself. The roads will keep getting better, more accommodations will come up, more travelers will walk through the winding roads. Let the image of these two days be etched in my mind forever. No Mawphanlur, I will keep you in a special room of my memory palace, I will never return to you physically.
Shemley and his Marshall carried us down to Markasa along with Pradipda?s car, now light & in alliance with the pull of gravity, rather easily ate the road.
Today our stop will be at Sohra. A place where I have been as many times as I have been here in Meghalaya. Initially my plan was to do the Double root bridge trek (We did it on 2012) & to stay at Nongriat ( we didn?t stay there then). But it seemed that we have to drop that idea in favor of ?IALONG?.
The entire road from Markasa upto until we hit the Shillong-Sohra road was under construction, broken & dusty as a result of that. So we travelled non-stop and finally stopped a few kilometers ahead of Sohra to have a late lunch of Pork noodles and tea.
I thought about visiting one of the many waterfalls around after the lunch but Pradipda started telling me that he will show me something which I have ignored to visit in all these years and visits to Sohra. Once the car started he took a left and the car started gaining altitude. Once we went high up some artificial lakes were visible as well as some beautiful meadows, but nothing exceptional which would catch our attention after the visual feast that we have had so far in last four days. Then he parked his car and told us to carry on foot. On the other side of the road a rough stony stair case of irregular steps went down and we followed it down with anticipation as we could also hear the song of some hilly stream. The staircase gave way to some paved road going down, occasionally giving way to more steps or simply unpaved, stony path. We first saw a stream to our left hand side and some small caves. Then we went gradually down through mazes of various caves and waterfalls of different shapes & sizes. The final waterfall was having a big final drop of around 40 feet approximately. The spray of water was so intense that it was almost impossible to take a photograph but I could get behind, yes behind the waterfall, such is the shape of the rock structure and take some photographs. That place is called ?Latimawsiang? ,?Garden of Caves? and we had our jaw again securely fixed to the floors. Meghalaya never ceases to surprise you and thanks again to Pradipda who never ceases to show you around and take pure joy out of it, bless the man.
It was almost 3 and we decided to drop our things somewhere and catch the late evening light at my favorite ?DAINTHLEN? waterfalls. I have seen that whenever in Cherrapunji, I never get to stay at ?Cherra resort?. This time I called them three months in advance only to know that all their rooms were booked only during those 2/3 days that mattered to me and on other dates they had rooms. In such situations I always depend on Pradipda and he took me to ? SAI-MI-KA resort? which is near the Cherrapunji Ramkrishna Mission. The property stands on a very large piece of land where they grow various flowers and orchids. We got a room which was very big and the fittings were classy and well maintained including fireplace etc. The whole resort is very tastefully decorated though I don?t care much for all such things, but at Rs.2400/= for a night I will definitely recommend the place. I had a chat with the elderly lady who is the owner of the property and found her to be very sophisticated, warm and cheerful.
After a quick wash and our own brewed tea we went out in half an hour to reach Dainthlen. It started drizzling lightly but we come prepared don?t we? So out came the umbies and we were all good. The waterfall was in great form due to the rains & we stayed, savoring the sight, the beautiful gloomy play of light there, until dusk made it impossible to stay any longer. Some local youth were strumming their guitar and drinking their beer, I had a chat with them and really had a great time. Those kids are really cool and offered my free swigs at their beer and do I ever decline such offers? wink wink.
On our return we rushed to the dining area where we ordered for few pancakes and French fries with black tea. The order did take more than half an hour to be served and in the meantime I was chitchatting with a young Brit of about mid twenties and yes he is an INDIAMIKER. Though he uses the site only as a guest but I have requested him to register himself here and share his experiences. The evening flew and we hit the bed early by 9 after having some chapattis and chicken curry. At an adjacent room someone was playing a beautiful slow tune on his guitar and it worked like a lullaby. Tomorrow we will have a very long journey so we retired into the night, a night which will have torrential rainfall.
I woke up at around 4.30 and had a stroll of the area. The rain had stopped but surely it was looking to return, as the angry clouds suggested. Sukanya also did wake up around half an hour later and we had that heavenly first cup of the day. Immediately afterwards it started raining heavily and continued till about 10.30 AM, by which time we were fully ready to hit the road, after stuffing delicious puri bhaji and alu paratha washed down with more tea. We had to wait, seemingly endlessly & with growing restlessness and as soon as the rain subsided a bit we jumped into the car. Pradipda declared immediately that instead of going to ?IALONG? by the short route, he would take a longer circuitous route which will feature some more waterfalls for us as he anticipated that due to the overnight and morning deluge the waterfalls will be in their full glory. That is the spirit of the man, I can never thank him enough though it seems that in our beautiful country his spirit would go waste unrecognized and unrewarded.
The first of the lot was my beloved ?KYNREM? which I lovingly called the ?Skyfall?. On the way to Kynrem we saw hundreds of smaller falls and streams all around the hills which had come to existence only due to the rain. Pradipda was driving scarily fast and I had to temper him down some times. The wayside attractions were ignored in favor of the mighty Kynrem. I have had the luck to experience and photograph the Kynrem before too but this time my dear Skyfall was at her unforeseen glory. The volume of water, the spray it created, the thundering sound, the many hues at many areas we were awestruck. It was almost impossible to photograph because the spray was all encompassing. I like to photograph waterfalls up close but this time Skyfall did not allow me to go down to the bottom rocks. I was completely wet and so was my camera and lens. It was awe inspiring and we resumed our journey full of great Joy and top of our spirit.
It was a long and hard drive through roads known to me where earlier I stopped to shoot dense Pine forest, now that area was absolutely decimated for the greedy lime stone and coal mining. I know that in few years time entire Meghalaya will be ruined because of such greed. So my friend, go there fast if you want to enjoy the fast vanishing charm.
Anyway let us again come back to the road. While driving, Pradipda suggested that we have Khichdi that night and he quickly settled everything with the caretaker named ?Mithun Das? at Ialong. We were moving absolutely nonstop to beat the time and at ?PYNURSLA? we had a pit stop to pick up some cakes, water, candies, some aromatic limes ( Gandhoraj lebu ) & a dozen of local duck egg. Thus replenished we motored on.
Next at one point before we reached ?Dawki? Pradipda took a sharp right turn and the road became unpaved and tall green grass tried to engulf us on that narrow path. He stopped the car at some time and we started. Pradipda has this itchy habit of not disclosing anything before you end up being at the actual place. Later we knew that the village was ?Pomshutia?. The road started narrowing down and the whole place was slowly getting engulfed with vegetation. The path below was grassy, mossy, very wet & slippery. But little did we know what was waiting for us. The clay path gave way to some steep up & down stairs we continued carefully. The path was full of fallen, decomposed leaves and was extremely slippery. That walk took us down to a hanging bridge of extremely rickety constitution. It was hanging upon iron wires and the base was some loose bamboos. Under the bridge an angry stream was flowing. Here I callously dropped the lens-cap and luckily it got caught in some tangle of stones and bushes downstream. Pradipda & I doubled back there somehow and rescued the cap. On the other side of the bridge a nightmarish path full of loose boulders, slippery with moss and shrubs were waiting us. The gradient was also quite steep. At one point of time the kids stepped upon some angry red ants and were rewarded suitably. I would like to thank them for not nagging even once, quite courageous for two kids of 12 & 10 years. I would recommend only fit people to go there as any slip and you may end up with a broken limb or more. Somehow we carried on through the path and at some point of time we were looking up at ?BYRDAW? waterfall. Byrdaw is not extremely high but the whole rush of water was amazing and it was jumping into the pool underneath like an alive beast. But as nothing too much is any good, the volume of water was so much that it generated a tremendous spray & not even a single passable picture could be taken from any angle. Sigh sigh ?. The return road was also quite risky and Shritama had a fall and his buttock was hurt but nothing major happened. On hindsight, we should have cut some branches and used them as walking sticks & the journey would definitely have been smoother. We completed the trek in one hour flat and now I think that had we have the opportunity to do it with more time then the experience could have been even better and less taxing. Once we reached the hanging joke of a bridge and the stream we washed ourselves with the cool water and it was heaven. With drenched dress we resumed our journey and our next stop was Dawki. The market in all it?s ugliness allowed us only five minutes of pit-stop where we bought some litchis ( unbelievably sour , never buy litchi at Dawki , stop) and had a cuppa.
We rushed onto our next destination ?KRANG SURI? waterfalls. One side of the road just after Dawki was full of trucks carrying limestone (cut out of hills which will eventually destroy the place). The line of the trucks was unbelievably long, running mile after mile , thousands of trucks , all carrying part of mountains to Bangladesh. It seemed like a scene out of holocaust. The trucks eat up half of the road and naturally on such winding hilly road, many a times our car almost collided  with the vehicles coming from the other side. I understood that the chance of watching ?Krang Suri? in decent light was getting thinner and thinner. Just before the sunrise we could manage to come a picturesque waterfall called ?THLUMUWI? just ahead of a place called ?AMLAREM?. It was a beautiful cascading waterfall and we managed to get some photographs and then suddenly it was dusk. We understood that we had missed the ?Krang-Suri? but I hope to experience the same, through the eyes of some IMIKER and that will give me immense satisfaction.
Tired we drove upto Amlarem and had nice hot tea at a tea shop owned by a beautiful Jaintia lady. The Jaintia ladies are very beautiful in general. Then again we started towards IALONG. It was very dark outside. Just before ?JOWAI? the air was full of a beautiful, unknown smell coming out of the jungles. Even Pradipda couldn?t tell us about the source convincingly. Slowly we entered Jowai, the birthplace of Pradipda, a town seemed to be suspended in a time warp, full of small shops, narrow lanes, monotony of shacks broken by beautiful wooden villas, many of them reportedly owned by illegal mining barons. Pradipda showed the shops earlier owned by his late father and other Bengali gents, dispossessed later by political events much bigger than their ability to fight them but I could make out from Pradipda?s voice that the hurt is still there, unhealed. Tired, somber we drove on the highway which connects Shillong to Agartala and at 7.30 we turned sharp right to reach Ialong. The kids were lamenting that only one more hour and we would have been on the road for straight 10 hours !!! Kids !!!
Ialong has three nice cottages which also boasts of television with Tata Sky connection ( a first during the tour) . We were resting and every 15 minutes there was power outage for 15 minutes ( another first). The kids were watching their channels and we chilled outside. The outside was moonlit and quite cold. Superbly comfortable except too many insects. Anyway we never care much about them, do we? I and Pradipda again had our small party and heard some distant calls of some spotted deers!!!
Mithun, his wife and a small kid of theirs, live there and Mithun is an exceptionally caring boy. His wife cooked heavenly khichdi, with omlette , aromatic lime and burnt red dry chilly. It was a delicious dinner served at the room and we hit the bed with the knowledge that only a single day separates us from the end of this tour.

My day started as usual at daybreak which in these easternmost areas happen at about 4.00 AM. I went out for a stroll. Last night I didn?t have the opportunity to wander around the whole area and this morning I just did that. It is quite a sizable compound and walled from the road. Just across the road the Ialong eco-park is situated, which I would go to visit later. Inside the compound they are building a ?Kala-Kendra? (Cultural Centre) which looked like a basic open auditorium of quite impressive size. The back portion of the property was not enclosed with wall and Mithun told me later that deers often come wandering into the property. Last night I heard some distinctive deer calls but this morning my wish of having a glimpse was not rewarded.
At about 6 in the morning I, Sukanya & Pradipda went to the banks of the Ialong river. The setting is serenely beautiful. The river is not very wide but the banks are wide and green and go a long way to meet the Jaintia hills. There are some old fashioned tin-roofed huts/houses in that catchment area but they simply mingle with the landscape. Alarmingly I found that someone has already built an ugly concrete house bang on the river bank and I foresee the gradual ruin of the pristine beauty of the area. I had to work very hard to keep out that eyesore of a house from my photo-frames.
It was fascinating to see that even at that early morning several anglers were present. They take their fishing extremely seriously. Some came individually and waddled through the thigh-deep water to go to their preferred spots. Some, specially young brigades came in groups, had makeshift tents pegged and were busy cooking their meals and concocting the fish baits. I asked for their permission to take a few photographs and they agreed with a bit of reluctance. I didn?t mind the reluctance a bit because being a hobbyist myself I know while you are immersed in it, everything else seems trivial.  At that point of time I realized that mere 1 night for Ialong is not enough. A day spent in that river bank, with the anglers, sharing some beer and tasting the electric tension of fly-fishing would have been amazing. Unfortunately next day we had a plane to catch from Guwahati and for that night we had a prior booking at Shillong to cut down associated risk factors (some bad past experiences have taught me that in a very hard way). We walked through the river bank upto the point where it narrowed down into the water and then returned back to the Traveller?s Nest.
Mithun was ready with breakfast , Luchi & Tarkari which was delicious. Then I went out to explore the ?Ialong Eco-park? which was just across the road. I was amazed by the beauty of the place which is full of trees, shrubs, flowers and insects. It had taken me more than one & half hour to cover some 500 meters and the whole area is 12.80 hectares, so you get the idea. At every nook & corner you can have something to see & enjoy. The park itself deserves a full day in my opinion. But what to do!
Now the weary travelers start for the long return journey to home. On the way they will visit the amazing Monolith garden at Nartiang, the old Durga temple, the market at Smit, the amazing ropeway system of Lait-Lyum, but they knew that the travel is over. It is back to another city which we love we hate and we live in. The city of joy ?
Will keep on posting images and necessary details.
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: somnath goswami on June 21, 2014, 01:58:49 PM
Some waterscapes :



Skyfall Kynrem ( look at all the different colors !!! I was drenched after this image )



( (

From behind a waterfalls at Garden of caves

( (
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: somnath goswami on June 21, 2014, 01:59:27 PM
waiting for the rain to cease


Preparation for angling , Ialong


Beautiful Jaintia ladies avoiding me [cry]

Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: saiki on June 22, 2014, 04:30:08 PM
 :'(   don't you have some more.......
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: PixelHunter on June 22, 2014, 04:55:43 PM
Classic stuff Somnath da.. too good.

Ritu, lets plan a North East trip for say 10-15 days. Since both of our home is at Assam, we should not have much problems. I am ashamed to say this but despite being born and brought up in Assam, I have never explored North East.  :-[
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: Subhadip on June 22, 2014, 05:09:15 PM
And now i dont need to go to Meghalaya... i have seen it all through this post...  :)

 :like: :like: :like: :like: :like:
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: somnath goswami on June 22, 2014, 06:32:23 PM
Thanks Ritu, Subha and Binoy. Yes i will post some  more :)
I'm thinking about an Arunachal trip next year. If the Ladakh trip happens well, then  why don't we do it through PCI?  After all the charm of traveling with fellow photographers is of different level :)
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: PixelHunter on June 22, 2014, 09:06:37 PM
Make it happen Somnath da. If its Arunachal trip, I will try my best to join (hope office doesn't play a spoilsport this time) As an added bonus, we may even get to visit Ritus home  at Tezpur ;D
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: saiki on June 23, 2014, 12:08:18 AM
Classic stuff Somnath da.. too good.

Ritu, lets plan a North East trip for say 10-15 days. Since both of our home is at Assam, we should not have much problems. I am ashamed to say this but despite being born and brought up in Assam, I have never explored North East.  :-[
Thanks Ritu, Subha and Binoy. Yes i will post some  more :)
I'm thinking about an Arunachal trip next year. If the Ladakh trip happens well, then  why don't we do it through PCI?  After all the charm of traveling with fellow photographers is of different level :)
Great idea binoy & somnathda ... Though sparing 15 days from a home visit is tough but one week is manageable...
And yup to travel with fellow photographers would be a gr8 experience in itself.....
Hmmm yes binoy same case here too... I've visited only Shillong and cherapunjee and no other place in NE ..not even tawang :( ...... I think its like " ghad ki murgii ...." sort of .......

Yeah sure binoy all are always welcome in my home :) .......

Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: somnath goswami on June 23, 2014, 11:48:32 AM
I think a lot will depend upon how our Leh trip goes which I expect to be a great blast :D. If that happens, be assured, a lot many trips will start rolling.
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: Sandeep on July 24, 2014, 01:30:05 PM
Lovely Somnath..awesome place..the pic with horse and neighbouir stands out for me..
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: nmanikoth on July 24, 2014, 06:51:53 PM
Lovely pics, Somnath! Reminds me of my postings there - twice in my service. Nostalgia....
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: somnath goswami on July 24, 2014, 07:27:44 PM
Lovely Somnath..awesome place..the pic with horse and neighbouir stands out for me..

Lovely pics, Somnath! Reminds me of my postings there - twice in my service. Nostalgia....

Thanks friends for your kind words. Indeed the place is a paradise.
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: Fake ID on July 25, 2014, 12:43:35 PM
Somnath Da, excellent takes and reports :)  :like:  :like:  :like:
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: somnath goswami on July 25, 2014, 08:38:41 PM
Somnath Da, excellent takes and reports :)  :like:  :like:  :like:
Thanks Anil
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: vijaythakur27 on July 25, 2014, 09:47:46 PM
Beautiful series somnath ji.. i like all. We see new places through ur eyes.. TFS
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: somnath goswami on July 26, 2014, 12:24:22 PM
Beautiful series somnath ji.. i like all. We see new places through ur eyes.. TFS

Thanks Vijay but please omit the "ji"

regards :)
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: Krishnendu on October 16, 2014, 02:29:25 PM
Beautiful images. Couldn't read up the write-up completely, shall finish soon and update this comment. :)
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: Sairam Thiagarajan on January 02, 2015, 01:28:23 PM
Great pics and a nice write up  :like:
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: somnath goswami on February 14, 2015, 07:50:15 PM
 Thanks to all for viewing and sharing your thoughts. I am appending some photographs which I processed later ...
some tiny weeny things that I saw there :)[/U][/B]

The flower with wings
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I love whites
( ( (  (

The hard life
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( ( ( by  (

( ( (  (

( ( (   (

( ( (   (
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: PixelHunter on February 14, 2015, 09:32:35 PM
Lovely and vibrant.. Beautiful photos..
Title: Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
Post by: somnath goswami on February 15, 2015, 01:03:38 PM
Lovely and vibrant.. Beautiful photos..

Thanks Binay  :)