The Meghalaya Odyssey - A Complete Travel Guide to Jaintia Hills
Meghalaya, a north-eastern state in India consists of Garo Hills, Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills. The Hills are named such based on the ethnic tribes that resides in these regions. While most places to visit in Meghalaya – Shillong, Mawphlang, Cherrapunjee, Mawlynnong and Mawsynram lie in the Khasi Hills, Jaintia Hills too has some beautiful spots worth visiting. In our last blog we wrote about Dawki, Shnongpdeng and adventure sports on Umngot River. Both Dawki and Shnongpdeng are actually part of Jaintia hills and it is the beautiful Umngot river that divides Jaintia and Khasi Hills. After our visit to Dawki and overnight stay camping at Shnongpdeng, we headed to towards places to visit in Jaintia Hills.
In this ninth article of the series - The Meghalaya Odyssey we will detail out various places to visit in Jaintia Hills - the eastern part of Meghalaya and recommendations on stay options.
'The Meghalaya Odyssey' is a series of 10 travel blogs and 2 photo blogs. Check out other blogs in the series by clicking on the below mentioned links or photographs:
11. A Complete Travel Guide to Jaintia Hills - This article
The Jaintia Hills or the eastern section of Meghalaya is further divided into: Western Jaintia Hills having its headquarters in Jowai and Eastern Jaintia Hills having its headquarters in Khliehriat. Jowai is the biggest town in the Jaintia hills and hence is an administrative center of government offices, hospitals, banks and educational institutions. The Dawki-Jowai road is a National Highway (NH44) and is very scenic with beautiful wallpaper like landscapes and attractive countryside. The hills surrounding the road are of peculiar colors with brown, red and orange shades. Jaintia Hills is a land of limestone and coal mine owners and most of the minerals extracted is sold off to the neighboring country, Bangladesh via friendship gate at Tamabil. This part of the hills remain highly unexplored, hence the places to visit remain uncrowded. However, trekkers do explore the Jaintia Hills often owing to the many caves that this region possess.
Places to Visit in Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya:
KrangSuri Falls in Amlarem, Jaintia hills -
Located in the town named Amlarem, these hidden waterfalls are not visible from the road or the parking area. After having parked their vehicle, one has to descend down through a narrow but well maintained path for about 20 minutes to reach the KrangSuri Waterfalls. The sound of the water falling can be heard mid-way and as one approaches near, the noise becomes louder and louder. There is a viewpoint mid-way after descending some 50-70 steps from where one can have the bird’s eye view of the falls which seem just like Niagara Falls. For elderly, it is advisable to witness the majestic falls from here itself.
The final path to the main falls is through big boulders from where the color of water seems to be blue-green. The waterfalls in multiple streams breaking into tiny water droplets that form a rainbow. With the sun shine, the blue water glitters brightly. The best part is one can walk towards the backside of the falls and view the water fall right in front of them. On the top, bathing and boating facilities are available. KrangSuri waterfalls were one of the best waterfalls we witnessed in Meghalaya and made heading to Jaintia hills totally worth it.
Note: The entrance charges are INR 40 per person
Thlumuwi Falls and Stone Bridge in Jaintia hills -
The best thing about Thlumuwi Falls and the Stone Bridge is that they lie right on the NH44 road (that connects most of the places to visit in Jaintia Hills) opposite to each other. Thlumuwi Falls are at some distance on one side of the road. A path is made for the visitors to view these spectacular falls up close. The water from the Thlumuwi falls flows towards the Stone Bridge built right on the other side of NH44. The Stone Bridge was constructed for the Kings to pass through the Kingdom to Sylhet town which currently lies in the neighbouring country, Bangladesh. Though slightly broken today, the Stone Bridge still remains in its place. The water from the falls is crystal clear and together the waterfalls and bridge gives a breathtaking view of the valley beyond.
Thadlaskein Lake in Jaintia hills -
This 5-century old man-made lake was dug by thousands of warriors using their battle-bows as the only digging equipment. It also lies on the NH44 highway. The Lake was dug to commemorate the departure of a chieftain Sajar Nangli who had differences with the king of Jaintiapur and to avoid bloodshed by the Kings decided to leave the Kingdom. Before leaving, the Lake was built as a last memorable gift by the warriors to their motherland. The Lake is a popular picnic spot among locals and also includes boating facilities in the evening time. A boat house like restaurant near the lake adds to its charm. However as a tourist you might find not much to do here and can skip it if you do not have time.
Nartiang Monoliths in Jaintia hills -
Monoliths have a cultural significance in Meghalaya. The stone slabs placed are erected both vertically and horizontally to form a monolith. We had already come across some of these monoliths near the sacred forest in Mawphlang but Nartiang had something else to offer. Nartiang is one of the oldest towns of Jaintia Hills region. It was frequented by the Kings of the Jaintiapur Kingdom to escape summer heat. The biggest and highest monoliths at one place are found in the Nartiang. The erected stone slabs that form the monolith are known as menhirs or Moo Shynrang (Men) and the horizontally placed slabs are called dolmens or Moo Kynthai (Women). The women slab is supported by three or more stones at the bottom. The monoliths are believed to be erected to commemorate the events of the Jaintia Kings from 1500 – 1833 AD. A pathway is built in the monolith park where one can roam about and wonder what stories these century old stones have to tell.
Durga Temple in Nartiang, Jaintia hills -
The Durga Temple is located in the interiors of the Nartiang village. A verandah surround the temple that is painted red. The ceiling is supported by wooden logs. The temple is believed to be constructed by the Kings of Jaintia on their conversion to Hinduism. This Durga temple is infamous for human sacrifices to Goddess Durga done as a custom long ago. Even in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple there is a tunnel through which the heads of sacrificed human were rolled down. Unfortunately, the visit to temple made us feel uncomfortable with the mental picture of so many weird superstitions embedded in Indian society. But the presence of a Hindu temple in a small town of majorly Christian state was fascinating. Also interesting was the priest here who told us his family has been working and managing the temple for nearly 17 generations.
Syntu Ksiar in Jaintia hills -
Syntu Ksiar means ‘The Flower of Gold’ and it has earned such a name by the picturesque surroundings and the attractive landscapes amidst the place in which it is located. The beautiful valley lies on the banks of the River Myntdu. A memorial has been erected in memory of freedom fighter Kiang Nongbah, who led an uprising against the British and was hanged by the Britishers later. Today, this valley is a famous picnic spot in Jaintia Hills.
Ialong Park in Jowai, Jaintia hills -
Ialong Park is situated in a small village called Ialong in Jowai, Jaintia Hills. Apart from being a park it also harbours a sacred groove inside. The park provides the tourists ample space for family picnics and soothing walks. Situated atop a hill, it offers a panoramic view of the Pynthorwah Valley with Myndtu River meandering through. The vast valley is full of paddy fields and a lot of greenery.
Syndai Caves and Rupasor Bathing Ghat near Amlarem in Jaintia hills -
Syndai Caves are a group of 11 natural caves near Amlarem that draw a lot of tourist attraction. These caves were used as hideouts during the war between Jaintia Kings and foreign intruders. The 1000 meter long cave has several stalagmites and stalactites. Rupasor Bathing Ghat is a royal pool located near the Syndai Caves. It has sculptures of elephants very intricately carved out. The Ghat was used by the royal clan as a bathing zone while travelling. A bridge before the Ghat is very beautiful.
Tyrshi Falls in Jaintia hills -
This is yet another waterfall located 5 kilometers off the NH44 highway (that connects most of the places to visit in Jaintia Hills). It is a mighty and huge waterfall that involves a small trek descending down a pathway to the falls. The view of the falls and the paddy fields from the height is mesmerizing.
Umlawan Caves near Jowai in Jaintia hills -
Located near Jowai, Umlawan Caves are titled as the longest (21000 feet) and deepest cave (350 feet) in the Indian subcontinent. The Umlawan cave is further joined by two other caves, the Umskor and the Kot-Sati, which gives it its great length of 21 km. During monsoon, the caves’ entrance is flooded by water and hence used as a washing place by the locals. Umlawan Caves, in Jaintia Hills, are limestone caves and has 24 entrances. The caves are so deep that it becomes pitch dark inside and one has to move with headlamps. This cave is a trekker’s and an adventurer’s paradise.
Restaurant and Stay Options in Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya:
Jaintia Hills is very less frequented by tourists; hence it has comparatively lesser stay options than the Khasi Hills. However, one can check out the following options for a night stay:
Traveller’s Nest, Ialong Park – Located right inside the Ialong Park, the Traveller’s Nest has 3 quaint cottages to cater to the tourists. Though basic, the cottages are extremely clean and well maintained.
HighWinds, Jowai – Located right next to Thadlaskein Lake, HighWinds hotel in Jowai is a semi-luxury stay option in Jaintia Hills. It houses 3 types of rooms – Deluxe, Executive and Standard. The multi-cuisine restaurant of HighWinds hotel serves excellent food. We had our lunch here and it was mouth-watering. Located right on the NH44 highway, this hotel is a great fit for all types of travellers and offers beautiful views of hills and the lake.
MRK3 Tyrchi Inn, Jowai – Located near the Tyrshi Falls in Jowai, Tyrchi Inn is again a semi-luxurious stay option in Jaintia Hills. It is also right on the NH44 highway and offers delicious meals as well.
As you read above, Jaintia Hills has a variety of places to see right from spellbinding waterfalls, century-old monoliths to beautiful valleys and lakes. The caving experiences add to the glamour of this land. Apart from these, less travellers frequenting these areas make Jaintia Hills a must visit during your trip to Meghalaya.
Hope this in-depth article to Jaintia Hills would help you chart a detailed itinerary and make your bookings for stay. While you plan your trip to this offbeat destination, we would be happy to answer any of your questions and would also love to know what you think of this article. Do let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.