In today’s fast-paced world of technology, it is quite unlikely that a few places of the globe remain untouched. The Garo Hills of the Meghalaya is one of the few places where life is still simple and mostly within the loving care of Mother Nature. Tucked away to the west of Northeast India’s abode of clouds, Meghalaya, the Garo hills are inhabited by a group of indigenous people who call themselves A•chik – more popularly known as Garos.
Just like other indigenous cultures, the Garos have their own traditions and customs. They mostly follow animistic rituals that include belief in spirits embellished by highly exaggerated narrative pulled from a veritable treasure chest of folklore passed down from generation to generation. Even after the arrival of Christian missionaries in these parts, the Garo Hills has managed to retain much of its pristine glory.
The A•chik are among the few societies that follow the matrilineal order. It simply means that the clan lineage derives from individuals take their clan titles from their mother to offspring. Here, the youngest daughter of the family or the ‘nokna’ carries forward the clan name and property. Traditionally, sons would leave home at adolescence and would be schooled in the art of warfare, protocol and such matters at the village bachelors’ dormitory – the nokpante. They would leave the nokpante only upon taking a wife and were then required to move into the bride’s home. Christianity has however played a significant part in influencing the culture with the nokpante now becoming almost extinct. Nevertheless, a few of the villages still follow the matrilineal norms.
The place is also blessed with natural beauty that is unparalleled. The Garo Hills are also one of the places on the earth that is the home to a significant number of Hoolock Gibbons. Tura is home to the photogenic wildlife, Nokrek National Park is a popular attraction, where you can spot leopard, golden cat and other animals in their natural habitat. Your itinerary must have Siju caves and Rongbang Dar Falls to end your trip with blissful memories. While at Tura, you can marvel at the natural wonders as well as experience the matrilineal society of the Garo tribes.
Day 1 | Welcome to the Garo Hills (Guwahati – Tura)
After arriving at Guwahati, drive to Tura, the headquarters of the Western Garo Hills. Welcome to the Garo hills!
Day 2 | Discovering Tura
After breakfast, visit the Tura Peak, a beautiful and majestic hill stands on the eastern side of Tura at a height of 872 m above sea level overlooking the town of Tura. Trek to the top of the Tura peak to get a spectacular view of the Brahmaputra valley and the golden plains of Bangladesh. After that, you will visit the Pelga waterfalls placed in the lap of luscious nature, thus increasing the beauty of the place. A typical traditional Garo bamboo bridge constructed over Ganol river is another added attraction. Also visit a traditional Garo village and get to know about their lifestyle and culture. You can even see them weaving and can also climb on a tree house.
Day 3 | Visit the Grand Canyon of Meghalaya (Tura – Balpakram – Tura )
The Balpakram National Park is situated towards the South of the Garo Hills in Meghalaya. Spread over an area of 50000 acres, this National Park is home to a variety of flora and fauna. It is home to the rare Lesser Panda, the Indian bison and the Stag like Serow. A variety of medicinal herbs locally called “dikge” grow abundantly in Balpakram. The National Park is also famous for elephants. There is a great precipice or deep gorge in Balpakram and is popularly compared to the Grand Canyon of U.S.A. It is believed that the spirits of the dead dwell temporarily before embarking on the final journey. In the evening come back to Tura and spend the rest of the day in leisure.
Day 4 | Call of the Wild (Tura – Nokrek National Park)
Today after breakfast, you will visit the Nokrek National Park. The park is rich in flora and fauna that includes the red-panda, Asian elephant, tiger, marbled cat, stump-tailed macaque, Hoolock Gibbons, Capped Langur, Clouded Leopard, Leopard Cat, Fishing-Cat, Golden Cat, Pangolin, Wild Buffalo, Python, pig-tailed macaque and seven species of primates. At Nokrek, you will also visit the beautiful Nokrek Peak and the Rongbang Dare Waterfalls. It is a tributary of the Simsang River that can be seen from this road but the real beauty and magnitude of it can be experienced when one goes down to the place at the bottom of the waterfalls. While returning, you will stop at Assanang, the cultural hub of the Garo Hills. Return to Tura for a well-deserved rest.
Day 5 | Bye-bye Garo Hills (Tura – Shillong)
After breakfast, start your journey towards Shillong. Reach Shillong by afternoon. You are free for the rest of the day to roam about the city at leisure.
Day 6 | Explore the beautiful hill station – Shillong
After an early breakfast, you will go for Shillong Sightseeing. Shillong is a beautiful town and you will visit the famed Barapani or Umiam Lake, the Elephant Falls, the Shillong Peak, Lady Hydari Park, Wards Lake, Cathedral Catholic Church and the Golf course among others.
Day 7 | Goodbye North-east (Shillong – Guwahati – departure)
After breakfast, leave for Guwahati with beautiful memories.