Landing in Meghalaya, we really didn’t know what to expect other than rain and rain is exactly what we got to begin with. We saw a board that proudly read ‘ Wettest place on earth ‘ and there it fell like clockwork. We really couldn’t see much through the gear and backpacks that filled the little car, but it sure felt like we had arrived.
“So what do you want to do in Meghalaya,” chuckled Bansan, our local point of contact. He certainly seemed bemused as we were all covered from head to toe in rain gear, only to realize later that the downpour that had greeted our car was all the rain that Cherrapunji received this year.
Midway through our conversation with Bansan, we realized that you could literally walk all across Meghalaya. There were trails that are hundreds of years old and are still used widely by the locals. We were about to follow their footsteps and use some of these trails to cycle and run on for the first ever time.
When we asked him for a good starting point to begin our expedition, he simply said, “Just follow the road and you will reach the village around 2000 feet below. Go past it and you will find the river, which is around another 2000 feet beneath that.” Excited, we packed our gear for the next day and passed out in our sleeping bags.
We started off early and walked away from the main plateau and towards the descent of the hills. There were many little trails leading off to different places, but we stuck to the one that looked like a Bungee jumping route and started hiking straight down an old path filled with loose rocks and root ladders.
We slipped and slid through the trail as we reached a little vantage point. We were a little concerned at the time as we began to hear sounds that were surely gunshots in the distance. We figured it could be a shooting range of the border patrols, but were still wary because the region can be prone to violence on an odd occasion.
We decided to continue down the trail, taking Bansan’s word on safety and distracting ourselves with lesser worries, like bees and broken knees.
After an hour of heading down, the gunshots were more pronounced and we surely didn’t seem to be anywhere near the village. We then, took a call to head back, make sure everything was ok and start afresh the next day. On reaching back, we checked with Bansan about the gunshots. He didn’t seem to have ever heard a gunshot in his life, and he was mighty impressed that we had gone so far down the trail so quickly. We were amused by the fact that a local looked at us as seasoned hiking professionals, though he soon realized that we had taken a completely different route, a route that even he had no clue of. He was kind enough not to delve into details of how off course we were, but offered to get us a car that would drop us off at a point where the road ends and the trail begins.
“I’ll tell last born son to come pick you guys up in the morning tomorrow,” he said
“What’s his name again?,” we asked in disbelief.
“Last born son. Some folks in Meghalaya just have to announce their future plans to the world,” he said with a wry smile.
After the laughter died down, we passed out in our sleeping bags and got ready for another day into the unknown of Meghalaya. With gunshots, funny names and unchartered trails, three weeks in Meghalaya seemed very promising.