Sunday, April 8, 2018

Meghalaya Trip: March 2018 - Part-2 : A Day's Outing to an Off-Beat Mawphanlur

 Part-1: Shillong-Mawjymbuin Cave-Mawsynram-Mawphlang

With a restriction of 8 days for our Meghalaya Trip,  I was finding it difficult to include two off-beat places - Mawlyngbna and Mawphanlur at the planning stage itself. Both were situated in the opposite direction from Mawphlang - first one to the south and the other one to the north-west. Though it was possible to include both these destination by curtailing some touristy places around Shillong, being the first time visit to Meghalaya, we did not wish to miss important touristy places. After much deliberations within myself, I decided to go in favour of Mawlyngbna. In any case, we were to cover Mawjymbuin Cave and Mawsynram from where the distance to Mawlyngbna was hardly around 15 kms.
But as it is said 'Man proposes and God disposes'. During the visit to Latium Canyon Ridge, my wife developed a pain in her left leg slowing down her movements. It was probably due to a pinched nerve. While she did cover all the places by taking pain-killers, it was not advisable for her to take a long walks which the visit to Mawlyngbna involved. So we decided to skip the visit to Mawlyngbna in favour of Mawphanlur where the walking was less strenuous and in small stretches.
Day-4 - Day Visit to Mawphanlur
The morning started with unusually cold weather. The digital temperature recorder at the entrance to the dinning room showed 4.9 degree Celsius at around 6.30 a.m. when we went there for having our morning tea. Due to cloudy weather in the previous day, solar panels did not seem to produce enough power to make the water in the shower room warm if not hot. Since James and his wife would be busy  with morning breakfast for the guests up to 8.30 a.m., they  would provide a bucket of hot water for each one of us only after they are free from breakfast time. So we decided to  have the breakfast  first and wait for the bucket of hot water to come. It took another  one hour to complete our bath. 
We left Maple Pine at around 10.00 a.m. taking Sohiong-Mawmaram-Mairang Bypass route. We took a right turn to Mawthadrashan road near Markasa. A further drive of about 5 kms took us to the gate of Travellers' Nest at Mawphanlur at 12 noon. Our driver Pradeep had already given an advance intimation in the previous evening  to the Caretaker to prepare vegetarian lunch for us. In such remote places, it is necessary to give them at least 24 hours notice for the lunch  to enable the Caretaker to make arrangements for the purchase of vegetables etc as nothing is available in around the Travellers' Nest.
Road from Mawphlang to Mawphanlur. In the background is Sohiong village.
First view from the road of two natural lakes (right) and the Travellers' Nest on the left of the lake, 
What a place! One can walk in the solitude around the lakes and on a series of  rolling meadows all-round without coming into contact with any one as far as our eyes could see. After exchanging pleasantries with the Caretaker of Travellers' Nest, we immediately moved out of the Travellers' Nest. The weather was pleasant for such a walk.
Our first walk was around the two lakes on the right side of the cottages. A boat was tied on the shore of the first lake which appears to be the largest of the 5 lakes (out of 7 we were told) we came across. We intended to complete the circle of these two lakes to reach the road. But the ground at the shore of second lake looked too soft to our comfort as at some point, we could get stuck. We walked back from the same route  to the road to go over to the third lake on which there was a bamboo bridge. A pedal boat was tied to one of the poles of the bamboo bridge but there were no one to offer that boat  for pedal boating.
 Lake No.1 - the biggest of the 5 lakes we saw in Mawphanlur.
Lake No.2 which is separated by a narrow causeway from Lake No.1.

After crossing the bamboo bridge over Lake No.3, we came to another rolling meadow from where a km gentle climb led us to the top of another rolling meadow. What prompted us to visit the top was our eagerness to know as to why only the top of the cross was visible. When we reached the top, it turned out to be a tomb. It was a grand stand view from the top of the meadow of the three lakes on the southern side. From the top, we came to know that there was the fourth lake which was next to Lake No.2 divided by a narrow causeway.
Lake No.3 on the left of the Lake No.2 with a bamboo bridge.

Climbing to reach the top of the rolling meadow (left top).

 On the top of the meadow.
View from the top of the meadow.
We walked on the top of the meadow towards the northern side and found one more lake. In fact, from here, it was almost 360 degree view of the entire Mawphanlur. We did notice that gradient on the northern side of the meadow was gradual. In other words, SUV, if not the car, could be slowly driven to reach the top of the meadow from the northern side after leaving the road. That was what Pradeep did when he saw us on the top of the meadow from the Travellers' Nest. He came with his car to pick up to take back us to the Travellers' Nest for lunch as it was already 2.00 p.m.

View from the top of the Northern side. There is one moe lake on the left. 

On a monolith rock on the northern side of the top of the meadow.
Pradeep drove his car to the top of the meadow to take us back to Travellers' Nest for lunch.
Lunch menu - Rice, Dal, two vegetables, chutney, fried potatoes, salads and papad.
Travellers' Nest, Mawphanlur. Two cottages are on the right and Caretaker's house on the left.
After the lunch, the Caretaker offered us the boat rides. But at this point, our women folks were not interested in boating. After spending about 15 minutes in the premises of Travellers' Nest, we decided to say good-bye to this mesmerising place unspoiled by the influx of tourists. Actually, there is so much to walk around in Mawphanlur and do water sports activities that one can spend the entire day. Even walking on the rolling meadows on each direction would itself take a good amount of the time.
I can visualise as to how Mawphanlur would look like during the monsoon and also in the immediate post-monsoon period. The rolling meadows all-round would be green. There would be numerous rain-fed waterfalls. The water levels in the lakes would be full to the brim. The cloud and mist would be hanging over the lakes and the  meadows. These would surely be a beautiful and mesmerising sceneries to cherish.
After about 90 minutes drive from Mawphanlur, we reached Maple Pine Home Stay around 4.00 p.m. After a cup of tea/coffee, we went for an evening walk on the narrow tracks through the farms around Maple Pine. There were two other foreign couples with their children staying in the Maple Pine who invited us to join them for barbeque which they had arranged in the late evening. We agreed to join them after the end of our evening walk.
Potato farms. In the background is Maple Pine Home Stay, Mawphlang.
Evening walk on a narrow track through dry paddy fields of Maple Pine.
While on an evening walk, a thought came to my mind about the differences in approach of enjoying holidays of two foreign couples and that of ours. We both families stayed at Maple Pine for two nights concurrently. We found them to spend most of their time in  Maple Pine relaxing,  reading books, playing with the kids, spending time in a stream and going on short excursions such as forest walk, hills around Mawphlang etc. On the other hand, we spent most of our time taking a long drive for sight-seeing and in the process spent very less time in around Maple Pine.  
This is the point to ponder for those who wish to be  in home stays with a picturesque setting like Maple Pine.


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