“Bas Saans Lete Raho”
When actor Hrithik Roshan, in “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara”, suggested how he would want to live his life, little did he know that people would make it the motto of their life! For Raghunandan Gupta, this mantra has been an elixir as he takes more than 15 road trips every year, only to live life a new way every day.
Raghunandan Gupta, or RG—as he is called by his fellow travellers, is a vivid voyager who is always on the lookout for places with stories. An engineer-entrepreneur by profession, Raghunandan classifies himself as a traveller of all kinds, ranging from a backpacker to an organised vacationer. Also a storyteller, this Bengaluru-based traveller collects tales to narrate from the frequent treks he embraces.
In the last week of March, Raghunandan decided to set off on a solo trip to Meghalaya, the virgin land in the Northeast. It was the place’s proximity to nature that attracted him to the exotic state.
Raghunandan is an enthusiastic explorer. A place like Meghalaya, which has everything to offer to a traveller—caves, waterfalls, landscapes, forests and beaches—was just the right recipe Raghunandan was looking for. It was the diversity of the rich land that made him pull off a solo trip to the state. “People in Meghalaya are nature enthusiasts—they want to preserve nature in its purest form at all costs, which is beautiful,” he says, explaining his decision of exploring Meghalaya.
Although he was on a solo trip, Raghunandan was confident of finding good travel partners on his excursion. “I was all by myself, but at various stages of my trip, I met people who became my travel partners for a transient phase. That’s the beauty of solo travelling,” he said, explaining how people who travel with him are ever-changing.
Deciding to travel solo has its perks—you meet people of different kinds and they become a part of your journey. When people share their own experiences and vice versa, it makes the journey enjoyable and memorable; not to forget, sometimes you make lifelong friends in the most unexpected manner. Raghunandan’s decision to travel alone was a quest of solace. In the process, he first met a cab driver who took him to the most authentic eateries in Meghalaya, followed by a group of youngsters who helped him camp near the river.
Exploring the Mystery Land
During his six-day trip to Meghalaya, Raghunandan saw it all—be it the beaches, the caves, the rivers, the waterfalls or the forests. Upon arriving in Shillong, he took a cab and drove through the hills to enjoy the mesmerising views. Travelling on the smooth roads, he enjoyed a gist of Meghalayan houses which looked spacious and positive.
The cave exploration was the most exciting part of the day! The mysterious Mawsmai Caves, located at a distance of 60 km from Shillong in the Mawsnyram village, were full of fossils and stories—a buffet for a nature enthusiast as well as historians. Raghunandan’s first encounter with the cave exploration was enthralling, and it set the tone for the trip right! By the time Raghunandan exited the limestone caves, he had interesting stories to tell to everyone back home.
However, the day had more in store for Raghunandan as he drove downhill to reach Cherrapunji, which happens to be one of the wettest places on Earth. The place is famous for its magnificent Nohkalikai waterfalls which can put any other waterfall in India to shame for its splendid view. “Of all the enjoyable moments in Cherrapunji, the magnanimity of the waterfalls is a sight to behold,” says Raghunandan. The Motor Rock near the waterfalls is a sunset spot to enjoy the views of the setting Sun amidst the curtain-like waterfall. After relishing the majestically calming Sun, Raghunandan checked in to his homestay as all the excitement of the next day awaited him.
Check out: The places to visit in Meghalaya
Raghunandan’s morning started with quite an exercise as he moved 3000 steps downhill, which is an equivalent of a trek, to reach the Double Decker Living Root Bridge. These tree root bridges are specifically found in northeast India, spanning over minor creeks. The Double Decker Living Root Bridge is every photography enthusiast’s delight as the dense forests penetrated by a stream is a frame no less than a painting. Raghunandan spent an hour here, exploring the place and having Maggi, and reveals that the one hour spent here was worth all the wait and effort.
Raghunandan then reached the Dawki River, which holds the reputation of being one of the cleanest rivers in India. Camping at this river is an experience to savour as the crystal-clear waters send the message of nature’s purity, opines Raghunandan as he camped overnight near this beautiful river.
The next morning was as refreshing as it could have gotten as Raghunandan took a dive in the freezing waters of the Dawki River. “I could easily see up to 10 feet beneath the surface!” he exclaimed, describing how clean the water was.
With pristine memories of the Dawki River, Raghunandan proceeded towards Mawlynnong, which was announced as the cleanest village in Asia (2003). Located in the East Khasi Hills, the village is popularly known as “God’s Own Garden” for its cleanliness and being a model for the rest of the country. For Raghunandan, the memorable parts about Mawlynnong were its people and the air in the village, which is as pure as it can get.
Raghunandan was not done exploring Meghalaya yet! He visited the Elephant Waterfall near Shillong, which is a multi-tiered waterfall with a dramatic view. Located at a distance of just 12 km from Shillong, this place is must-visit for its picturesqueness and soothing melody of the flowing water. Raghunandan also visited the Natural Golf Course in Shillong, which he describes as the most peaceful place in the region.
Icing on the Cake
The last day had the most exciting place—Laitlum Canyons—awaiting him. Perched atop the East Khasi Hills, this place gives a splendid bird’s eye view of Shillong and its magnificent valleys, which is an unparalleled sight in the entire state. “The Laitlum Canyons is not just a photographer’s delight but also a trekker’s paradise,” Raghunandan recalls.
Ending this trip with the most beautiful place he’s ever visited in India was like a cherry on top of the cake for Raghunandan. Inspired by this trip, he now plans to do an All India Coast trip to explore the marine beauty of our magnificent land.