Perched in the Khasi hills, Shillong is every bit of a jewel of a hill-station, with dreamy locales and floating clouds, the Scotland of the east, one of the Seven Sisters and only just a couple hundred kilometres from the wettest place on earth! It is literally where the clouds finally give way to intense rain. And delightful as it could ever be Shillong is a merry confluence of erstwhile British influence with rose gardens, tea parties and an ever local presence of the vernacular Khasi traditions.
My first impressions of a trip across Meghalaya about 9 years ago was the passage of a lone cloud(!) through the windows of our car on the drive up from Guwahati to Shillong. Absolutely exhilarating, it is something that has stayed with me ever since. Nine years later Meghalaya remains much the same. The gorgeous living roots bridges, sparkling waterfalls, pitcher-plants, India’s cleanest village in Mawlynong, an expansive golf course, the pretty Ward’s lake, music-loving, piano-playing people, narrow-winding lanes and an indelible colonial influence.
On a beautiful wedding trip we began the festivities truly Khasi-style by partying it up in the clouds! True-blue chilling as I may rightly say, happens within the precincts of the clouds. A moonlit night and the gurgling creek punctuated by Izzy Azelea is rightly where the heavens descend. Partying in the jungle, by a watering hole, a flowing creek, on a moonlight sky and surrounded by clouds, lets just say it had all the inklings of a wild party! And then after a day of chilling with our lovely bride and groom at the Umiam lake we braved the trip to Nongriat Village with a hike up 3300 steps to the double-decker living roots bridge where roots entwined to form a two-level bridge across a gorgeous water-fall. The serious hike up and down is made totally worth the effort by the gorgeous views along the way, mostly flora and a bit of faunas in terms of butterflies and then a short trip to the Seven Sisters waterfall at Cherrapunji. Fortunately for us, we were treated to a relative dry though misty day. Even the wettest place on earth has it’s bouts of glorious sunny days!
Stringing carnations and roses at the bride’s house kicked off the start of the wedding festivities. The reds, pinks and whites a pleasant change from the usual marigolds of Indian Weddings! With a piano in the house, the notes of Fur Elise made a beeline into the crisp monsoon air as did the ‘here comes the bride’ tune at the church the very next day. A church wedding is synonymous with a beautiful wedding, almost always, with pretty bridesmaids, a beautiful bride and a bouquet of flowers, with a befitting ending!
With a dear friend happily married off, it was safe enough with the adventurous bunch of us to make our way into the country with a measured gross national happiness.