Tura is the headquarter of the West Garo Hills in Meghalaya, the abode of clouds. 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 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 is 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.
Experiences at Tura:
- Take a visit to the Tura Peak, a beautiful and majestic hill stands on the eastern side of Tura. Standing at a height of 872 m, you can go for a day trek to Tura Peak.
- Nokrek Biosphere reserve: The Nokrek National Park is the highest peak in Garo Hills, about 2 km from the Tura peak. The place is teeming with wildlife, Nokrek hill is the home of a very rare species of citrus locally known as Memang Narang orange of the spirits.
- Visit the Pelga Falls. It is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Garo Hills and only 7 km from Tura. Also, ask the locals about the
- Take a visit to the cultural hub of Tura, Asanangre. The biggest annual festival of the Garos, the Wangala festival is held here every year during the month of November.
- Spot the rare Hoolock Gibbons at Tura. The Garo hills are one of the places that have a significant number of Hoolock Gibbons.
- Foodies can try out the traditional Garo dishes – dices pork or chicken char grilled in bamboo and many others. Assorted smoked meat and is highly recommended for the adventurous.
- Balpakram National Park: This place is about 167 km from Tura. There is a deep gorge in Balpakram that is popularly known as the Grand Canyon of the north-east. It is believed that the spirits of the dead dwell temporarily before embarking on the final journey.
- Rongbang Dare: These waterfalls in East Garo hills are simply spectacular and make a wonderful picnic spot with a great wade pool.
- Siju Caves: Siju caves is about 132 km from Tura and is famous for Dobakkol or the bat cave. The cave also has impressive stalactites and stalagmites. It is one of the longest caves in the Indian subcontinent and contains river passages that are really beautiful. The Siju Bird Sanctuary is also close by that is inhabited by protected birds and other rare wildlife.
- Imilchang Dare: This is a breathtaking waterfall is situated Tura-Chokpot Road in West Garo Hills district. It has a deep, wide pool at the bottom of the fall, full of fish of varied size and colour. The place is also a beautiful picnic spot.
- Williamnagar: The place is named after the 1st Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Capt. Williamson Sangma. A riverine town built on the curve of Simsang river, it is also the Headquarters of East Garo hills.
Best time to visit Tura:
The best time to visit is from October to April. The main festival of the Garos, the Wangala festival, however, is held in the month of November. The Wangala festival is a grand affair of the Garos. At this festival, 300 Garos dance at the rhythm of hundred drums being played.
How to reach Tura:
The nearest International airport is the Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport at Borjhar, Guwahati. The nearest railhead is Guwahati.
From Guwahati, there are overnight buses to Tura. Sumo (jeep) shared services are available twice a day (7 am and 2 pm) from Baralumukh in Guwahati.
You can also reach Tura from Shillong. There are overnight buses and Sumo services from Shillong as well.
The Pawan Hans helicopter service run by the state-owned Meghalaya Transport Corporation flies on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from Guwahati and Shillong.
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