The Meghalaya Odyssey: Sa-I-Mika Resort at Sohra (Cherrapunjee)
Meghalaya has an exotic hold over the imagination, coalescing up a land of swanky rainforests, countless waterfalls, pristine rivers with fascinating culture and friendly people. Sohra, more popularly known as Cherrapunjee (also spelled Cherrapunji) in Meghalaya holds unique attractions because of its abundant natural beauty, package of valleys and evergreen misty landscapes. Though the status of rainiest place on Earth has changed from Cherrapunjee to Mawsynram, Cherrapunjee still dominates its supremacy in terms of tourist attractions and infrastructure compared to Mawsynram. We published ‘A complete travel guide to Cherrapunjee’ in our previous article in the series The Meghalaya Odyssey, where we detailed everything about Cherrapunjee with recommendations on how to reach, best time to visit and places to visit. We mentioned Sa-I-Mika Resort as our recommended option of stay at Cherrapunjee. In our search for an authentic local accommodation without sacrificing our comforts, opting to stay in Sa-I-Mika Resort turned out to be a wise decision and this review of the stunning property will make you believe the same.
'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:
6. Sa-I-Mika Resort @ Cherrapunjee - This article
Cherrapunjee is filled with beautiful valleys, undulating hills and stunning canyons. Our place of stay in Cherrapunjee, Sa-I-Mika resort, is located on one such very attractive hilly valley. The resort is set up in an offbeat location surrounded by valleys on all the sides and even a river stream at one end. The location of Sa-I-Mika is such that it is pretty much close to center of Cherrapunjee, and yet it is away from hustle and bustle of the town. The map here shows Cherrapunjee in brown surrounded by green valleys and as you can see Sa-I-Mika resort is close to centre of the town.
The story of how Sa-I-Mika came into existence is as interesting what we have known about Khasi culture. Mr. Ken and his wife Twill were involved in community service in Sohra district for decades. When Mr. Ken passed away, the Khasi tribe donated a 69 acre land to Ms. Twill as a token of gratitude with a hope that she will make good use of the land and will continue serving the community. Ms. Twill created a beautiful children’s park out of this barren land in 2005, with huge gardens and play areas ideal for a family picnic. The park was named after the initials of her 3 daughters, Sa-I-Mika. Sa-I-Mika Park was an instant success and was a top tourist spot for a long span of time. Slowly its charm started fading away and to pull through, a few cottages were constructed for tourist stay besides the park and since then there is no looking back.
Today, Sa-I-Mika Park has transformed into a full-fledged resort with 12 cottages in the older property overlooking the valley and 8 cottages in the newly constructed property overlooking the small river stream. Both the old and newly constructed property are about 400 meters apart with a bridge connecting both the sides. The 20 cottages in total are each different from the other in terms of design as well as name. Note that we visited Sa-I-Mika resort in February which is a dry season in Meghalaya. The lush green foliage had started turning yellow which has its own earthy feel. But if you go during or right after rains, the landscapes would have much greener vegetation.
We reached Sa-I-Mika resort at night after a tiring day of sightseeing in Cherrapunjee. We were warmly welcomed by the manager, Rabjit and some pet dogs of the caretakers – Oh yes! An added bonus; they are a pet friendly resort! We were assigned an Assamese style cottage towards the newly constructed side with a small back door that opened up to the top of a boulder overlooking the small river and the grasslands. Our cottage’s name was ‘Rymphang’ which means ‘Windy’ in Assamese and as the name goes, wind used to blow softly from the front door to the back door towards the river. Our cottage was right besides the reception cum restaurant which was very convenient.
We were flabbergasted by just the first look of our cottage. It was huge and completely wooden furnished; with two double beds, a low flat sofa bed, two comfortable seating sofas, a table, a dresser with 4 drawers and big mirror, a small shelf and an attached bath with geyser. The floor was wood too whereas the walls were made of rocks. The ceiling of our cottage was covered with a bamboo mat. A fireplace in one corner was covered with white curtains. The soft wind would leave the white curtains on the door dancing. White lights were used to give a touch of peacefulness. Absence of TVs was a welcome change. A small chandelier adorned the centre of the room. With wooden floor, thatched roofs, rough-hewn walls and plenty of space, the cottage’s communal areas had a pleasingly laid back ambience with an emphasis on understated elegance and luxury.
Soon someone was at our door to light up the fireplace and serve dinner that we had ordered in our room. We were surprised to get an insulated tiffin and plates. We were delighted to have the dinner served in hot Milton tiffin boxes so that we could take our own sweet time and still get hot food. Such small gestures made us feel extremely hospitable. The mind-blowingly delicious meals made us feel at home. We were instantly in love with our cottage and couldn't wait to explore the surroundings in the morning.
In the morning, we were happy to walk around and see different designs of cottages. Every streamview side cottage had front doors facing the open verandah and a back door balcony opening outside towards the stream. All cottages of Sa-I-Mika were built in a traditional manner and all of them have been made minimal and rustic to provide an experience of the local north eastern culture with all modern amenities one would expect. Yet each of these cottages are different from each other and unique in nature. One might wonder when all these cottages are different from each other, how do guests choose which cottage to stay in? A very interesting concept being followed by Sa-I-Mika caretakers – they are not listed on any of the hotel / resort booking websites such as booking.com or makemytrip, hence you cannot book a cottage directly. You have to drop them a mail or just give them a call specifying your requirements (like no. of people, purpose of visit, what view would you prefer, etc.) and based on your choice they assign a cottage to you – Isn’t that very interesting!! And believe us, if you exactly specify what you want beforehand, you will never be disappointed.
The manager, Mr. Rabjit, took immense care of us and was extremely hospitable. All the resort staff were always smiling and greeting. They all stood on one feet to make us feel at home. One morning, Mr. Rabjit took us on a small trek towards the back of the property near the river stream and waterfalls. The ponds and the small waterfalls created by the river water adds to the beauty of the nature besides the resort. The Sa-I-Mika resort-cum-park also offers various sports and games pitches like a basketball court, a volleyball court, a badminton court, a skating rink, a playground with swings and slides for young children and a huge swimming pool with slides as seen in water parks to cool off and have fun during the summer season. Sa-I-Mika resort also has a small all-purpose-shop at its entrance which serves cold-drinks and packaged snacks.
While on the tour of the resort, we were happily surprised to see such huge lawns full of freshly mowed green grass where a music festival organised annually. We learnt that ‘Shine-A-Light’ is an annual music festival organised and held by Sa-I-Mika in its premises, where local music talents from around the Seven Sisters’ states of North east India are invited to sing and play. Highly popular, this festival is attended by music lovers all over the world. We already knew about rock music culture in North east being popular, but we realized how passionate people are about rock music during our stay at Sa-I-Mika resort when we observed every other staff member even chefs in kitchen singing along the likes of Bob Marley being played on loudspeaker. Besides the music festival, these huge grounds on the valley side of the resort are used as camping grounds by group travellers and solo travellers, who are permitted to pitch their tents and use the common washrooms that are constructed especially for them in one corner. A dormitory adorned with 10 beds, a common bath and attached seating area is also popular as a cheap stay option by the backpackers. The resort also features a conference room for corporate meetings right in the middle of nature.
Sa-I-Mika restaurant is very popular in Cherrapunjee for meals, snacks and light drinks. Even locals from the town flock here to enjoy a cup of coffee and the lively music that plays non-stop. The restaurant is beautifully decorated with pictures of the famous music bands around the world. They also invite local artists to play and sing in the restaurant every weekend. We realised that music is a lifestyle that is embedded into the soul of each Meghalayan and is like a religion to them. The restaurant has a small fireplace too where one could just lie down and enjoy the rainy weather with a book and a blanket. A new restaurant has recently opened towards the new property with similar décor and ambience. The food that Sa-I-Mika serves is freshly made with locally grown vegetables and is to die-for. The menu is a mix of Indian, Chinese and local Khasi cuisine which is served in more than expected quantities. We loved every meal we ordered during our stay.
Another uniqueness of Sa-I-Mika resort is that they try to be as eco-friendly as possible. The electricity is generated from the solar panels and they discourage lighting fire in the fire places just for fun. They have even used locally made mats, waste wood barks, and stones in the room décor. Sa-I-Mika resort is against surplus usage of natural resources.
Sa-I-Mika resort is an ideal place of stay for travellers who seek peace and tranquillity. People who desire to be one with nature leaving behind the hustle bustle of the city life would love to stay there. Sa-I-Mika resort offers the guests much more than what a typical resort or a guest house could. Guests can embrace a laid-back life, rejuvenate at the green lawns, lounge on the resort’s private river stream, splash in the small waterfalls, or settle in for the sunset with an innovative custom-made juice or drink from the resort’s spectacular cafe. The green grassy landscape that surrounds the resort provides bouts of freshness that one craves for from the nature. No television and internet ensures that you spend time with nature, oneself and with your loved ones. The sky gazers could have an amazing time at Sa-I-Mika resort and if the nature is supportive and the sky isn’t cloudy, one can even spot the Milky Way. The amalgamation of the green grassy garden, the rocky hill, the starry sky and the stream of river is a gift that Sa-I-Mika provides its guests to introspect, rethink, rest, rejuvenate and open the gates to their minds.
We used to enjoy the cold mornings in the balcony/ verandah towards the back of our cottage, sun-bathing and having a cup of tea while watching the river flow by. Our evenings were spent in the grasslands watching the sun set and then chatting and relaxing at the little seating area next to the fireplace in our cottage. All in all, we had a wonderful time having stayed with Sa-I-Mika resort and honestly we have left a piece of our heart in the valleys there. We would love to return to Sa-I-Mika again and again and explore more about this paradise land.
Sa-I-Mika resort is a place for all – be it solo traveller, honeymoon couple, children, elderly or large groups. Sa-I-Mika has an open heart for everyone right from music lovers, peace lovers or pet lovers. It proudly serves and entertains people from different parts and from different lifestyles. However if you are one of those who cannot live without TV, wifi and extravagant luxuries, Sa-I-Mika resort is not for you. One needs to understand this is not the usual hotel. Sa-I-Mika resort has its own concept which needs to be respected.
We would like to thank Mr. Rabjit for his hospitality and time he spared for us having long chats with us. We would also like to thank Ms. Ainame for hosting us at Sa-I-Mika. Hope you liked Sa-I-Mika Resort as much as we did and plan to stay here during your trip to Cherrapunjee. You can book them through from their official website here. What do you think of our review of Sa-I-Mika Resort? Do let us know in comment section below.
Note: All opinions expressed in this blog are our own and not influenced by Sa-I-Mika resort in any manner.