ADVENTURE HONEYMOON: CHERRAPUNJI
Meghalaya has over 1500 documented caves in the state, out of which some 980 have been partially or fully explored. Meghalaya also has Krem Liat Prah, the longest cave in India at about 30,957m in length. So Meghalaya is indeed a wonderful caving destination for adventurers, explorers and people who consider caving to be a sport.
But did you know that Meghalaya, and indeed its city of Cherrapunji, are fantastic honeymoon destinations within India?
If you are a sporty couple or just a couple who would like to break away from the trend of romantic beaches and the highly-cliched hill stations of Europe, you should book an adventure-filled Cherrapunji honeymoon.
Trekking on untrodden pathways through thick, green forests, hiking up hills to catch the most gorgeous waterfalls cascading down, taking in a swim in the waterfall pools below and exploring the labyrinth of exciting caves are just a few couples’ activities you can do here. Of course, taking Instagram-worthy couple pics at surreal locations such as at the famous double-decker living root bridges are a honeymoon bonus!
So if you are keen on taking the most novel honeymoon, a honeymoon of your dreams, visit Cherrapunji. And more specifically, go explore the following 4 caves:
Mawsmai Cave in Khasi Hills is quite a popular tourist attraction in Cherrapunji. The narrow, limestone caves of Mawsmai are known for their low-hanging roofs, narrow passageways and uneven footing, which means that they are challenging and exciting to explore. The cave is long, about 150m in length and has good lighting inside for better viewing of the limestone formation, stalactites and stalagmites.
Wear proper clothing as you enter the cave. You need to walk a few stairs to get to the caves and even when inside, there is a fair bit of crouching, squeezing and climbing (over rocks) involved, all of which could be on a wet floor at any given time of the year. This is hardly a surprise when one knows that Cherrapunji gets the highest annual rainfall in the world.
To enter the caves, you need to purchase an entrance ticket for a nominal price of Rs. 15 per ticket. The ticket window also stocks on maps that contain information on the cave’s narrow pathways. The cave is open for visitors between 9:30AM and 5:30PM. There are ample shops and restaurants near the cave, and there is also a safe car park.
By the way, I thought you’d like to know. Mawsmai Caves are also known as the haunted caves or the scary caves. Find a villager to tell you the story once you’re there. I leave you with a video of Mawsmai Caves, a video I personally like. For footage of the actual caves, start at 3:00 (thank me later). If you like it too, follow Youtuber Mohit Bisht for travel and fitness related videos.
The Arwah caves are some of the newer caves that have been opened up the public here. These caves are an archaeologists delight for many perfectly preserved fossils have been found in these limestone formations, fossils that date back millions of years. The caves are cold and dark, not to mention that the floor is often wet. So wear proper clothes with non-skid footwear and be sure to carry a torch.
You have to take a brisk, 20-minute walk through Shynna forest to get to the caves. Arwah caves are neither as difficult to explore as the Mawsmai caves, nor are they usually as crowded. You can thus explore at your pace and enjoy the soothing south of flowing water that echoes through the cave’s labyrinths.
There is a restaurant in the parking area that serves local Meghalayan food. This is a great thing as you will likely be famished by the time you finish your cave exploration. You must purchase a ticket of Rs 20 per person before you enter the cave and the cave is open to the public between 9:30AM and 5:30PM.
Here’s a video that walks you through the Arwah Caves. If you like this video, follow Traveller Book for more exciting travel videos.
Garden of Caves
The Garden of Caves in Laitmawsiang, about 15kms from Cherrapunji town centre, is an absolute must-visit destination for honeymooning couples. Garden of Caves is an all-in-one opportunity to enjoy beautiful flora and fauna, a collection of caves and beautiful waterfalls that you can even get wet under. The Garden of Caves is open for tourists between 8AM and 5PM. You have to pay an entrance fee here (which varies because it is calculated per person as well as per camera) as well as a parking fee.
The Garden of Caves is a photographer’s paradise, especially so in the monsoons or just after the monsoons have passed. The attraction is made up of about 8 waterfalls and several small and large caves, each with lovely rock formations. The garden also has an attractive rope bridge that adds to the romance of the enthralling locations. As you walk through, another source of amusement here are the names given to the different attractions – King’s Cave, King’s Shower, Mother’s Womb, Healing Water and Heart Puddle are a few.
If you are so inclined, you get right under the waterfalls here. Even if you are not, be prepared to get wet and be sure to carry a spare set of clothes. Despite so many different attractions right at one place, you cannot get lost here as each entrant is provided with a local guide. Go early and take your time to see everything. Don’t hurry your photographs either as this is exactly where you can get those stunning wallpaper-like photos!
Check out this video that details out the trip to Mawkdok Valley in Sohra. The video also gives video footage of the Garden of Caves and waterfalls. Follow DJTheWayfarer for more exciting travel video.
Krem Mawmluh or Mawmluh Caves, the 8th longest caves in India, are not for the faint-hearted. Exploring these 7km long caves required proper gear, training and experience. For the relatively uninitiated, you can try the caving experience offered by the Meghalaya Caving Association to go explore these. If you take a local guide in with you, they will only take you in for about 4kms before they turn back.
This Cave is of immense archaeological importance as it was here that they discovered evidence of a major cataclysmic event about 4200 years ago, a discover of such import that the current age in archaeological terms is not called the Meghalaya age. Caving in this cave is tough due to treacherous footing and often pitch-black darkness in some areas. There is also a lot of climbing, crawling and crouching involved.
This cave is an exciting experience for explorers. There are multiple chambers, lots of stalactite- stalagmite formations, underground rivers, holes and even underground gardens! It is like an unreal world outside of what you know as the real world. As you go further in, you marvel at nature’s creations, especially so when you see the marble chamber sparkling with white marble stones.
As incredible experiences go, you experience another one as you tread through the water and shine your torches in. Your light is sure to catch a fish or two, completely blind – fish that have evolved to be completely sightless due to the darkness around them! Oh and before you let this scare you, don’t forget there are bats too!
You need at least 3 hours inside the cave to explore it properly, so plan your entry time accordingly. The caves are open 24hrs but preferred entry is between 8Am and 4PM.