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Author Topic: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic  (Read 8478 times)

Offline MayaV

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Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
« Reply #15 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!

Cheers

Vivek

Offline Jasii

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Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2014, 05:01:20 PM »
The read almost transported me to "The Land of clouds". The pics were a wonderful supplement.

Cheers!
A Year young with my DSLR and loving it.........
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Offline kaushik_s

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Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
« Reply #17 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.
Regards,
Painting with Light and Shadow..
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Offline PixelHunter

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Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
« Reply #18 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)



"The best camera is the one that's with you" Chase Jarvis

Offline Hot Shoe

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Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
« Reply #19 on: June 20, 2014, 12:06:08 AM »
Very interesting to read. The pics were simply a visual treat. Well done Somnath !  :like:
Nikon D7000   /// Nikkor 35mm 1.8G  50mm 1.8D   55-300mm  // Tamron 17-50 f2.8  90mm f2.8 Macro  // Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6  /// Yongnuo 460 II  560 III  /// Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT // Rollei Pro BH611

Offline somnath goswami

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Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
« Reply #20 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.
Cheers
Somnath :)

Offline somnath goswami

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Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
« Reply #21 on: June 20, 2014, 12:08:12 AM »
Thanks Hotshoe... :-). More coming
Regards
Somnath

Offline somnath goswami

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Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
« Reply #22 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
Cheers
Somnath

Offline somnath goswami

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Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
« Reply #23 on: June 21, 2014, 01:58:10 PM »
05.06.2014
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.
 
06.06.2014
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.

07.06.2014
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.

Offline somnath goswami

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Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
« Reply #24 on: June 21, 2014, 01:58:49 PM »
Some waterscapes :

Thlumuwi



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



Danthlen




From behind a waterfalls at Garden of caves


Offline somnath goswami

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Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
« Reply #25 on: June 21, 2014, 01:59:27 PM »
waiting for the rain to cease

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Preparation for angling , Ialong

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Beautiful Jaintia ladies avoiding me [cry]


Offline saiki

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Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
« Reply #26 on: June 22, 2014, 04:30:08 PM »
 :'(   don't you have some more.......
Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I?m going to take tomorrow. ? Imogen Cunningham

Offline PixelHunter

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Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
« Reply #27 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.  :-[
"The best camera is the one that's with you" Chase Jarvis

Offline Subhadip

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Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
« Reply #28 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:
Mad about Nikon... :)

Offline somnath goswami

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Re: Meghalaya .... the call of the rustic
« Reply #29 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 :)
Cheers
Somnath