The Sacred Forest Of Meghalaya(mawphlang) Awaits You- 5 Things You Cannot Miss
The enchanting Meghalaya boasts of a diverse array of forests that capture the imagination of any and every adventurous soul who has set foot there. The lush green tropical rainforests are fueled by the heavy rainfall that they receive by virtue of their position. Meghalaya, dubbed the rainiest state of the country, gets ample rainfall annually to help the forests thrive in pristine condition.
The forests of Meghalaya are the source of some of the most important cultural traditions of this hilly state. The verdant forests whisper legends and lores which are so old that they have no written records, yet they are very much in the minds of the local tribes who are in constant touch with nature. The Mawphlang Forests of Meghalaya is one of the most sacred forests adored and feared alike by the local folks due to its mysterious properties and supernatural happenings over the years.
When and how to go
The forest is open throughout the year from 9 am to 4:30 pm. However, it is advisable to avoid the monsoon season while planning a trip because of the heavy rainfall which is a characteristic of this region. The best time to visit this place is autumn around the months of September and October. The mild and steady climate combined with reinvigorated forest cover makes it a magical time to visit Mawphlang, the sacred forest of Meghalaya.
From Shillong, the forest is located at a distance of 25 km and is about an hour’s drive away. Taxis and cabs are available from the city to go there and stay there for the return trip. However, the pocket pinch for such bookings is going to be no less than INR 1500/-
Legends surrounding the forest
The sacred forest of Mawphlang has generated quite a number of legends and stories over the years. It is one of the most sacred forests of the Khasi people. There is simple rule that the local folks follow about the forest, ‘Nothing goes out of this forest.’ Now you might be thinking, that’s incredulous to say the least. You might wonder what would happen if you sneaked out a dead log or dead leaf. Surely nothing is going to happen. The legends say that you couldn’t be more wrong. Anybody who dares take anything out of the forest mysteriously falls ill which at times may even turn fatal.
There is an amazing story regarding the forest and the Indian army. The lore states that in the year 1970, the Indian army tried to take out logs for construction ignoring the warnings of the local villagers. But in spite of several attempts, the truck which was supposed to carry out the logs refused to start. And after some futile attempts, the army had to give up. Since then the legend took on a very strong base as nobody even dared to ignore the same after seeing its effects firsthand.
5 spectacles which one just cannot miss
There are plenty of amazing things going on in the forest but to the untrained eye they all may seem, well, bland. Which is why it is crucial to take a guide who is going to unravel the mysteries one at a time as you take in the prosperous, lush green forest all around you.
The guide is going to point out every single detail relating to the religious and cultural beliefs of the Khasi tribes as most of the cultural traditions relating to the forest fall along the trail that you take to explore the forest.
5 Things you cannot miss here
- Picturesque forest trail
- Monoliths, mysticism and sacrifice
- Khasi Heritage Village
- Labasa, the deity of the forest
- David Scott Trail
1. Picturesque forest trail
The forest trail leads you through some of the most beautiful forest canopies you have ever seen. The thick tropical rainforest is filled with evergreen, semi-evergreen and deciduous trees which make for a great spectacle. The vibrant forest is going to keep your interest piqued. As you listen to your guide describing every nook and cranny of the forest you will get a profound glimpse into the life of the tribes inhabiting the place and the magnitude to which their lives are affected by the forest and its various legends. The residing deity is considered to be the savior of all the people of this region, which is why quite unsurprisingly their entire livelihood surrounds the forest. This is one of the sacred groves in Meghalaya which enthralls tourists with its mysticism.
2. Monoliths, mysticism and sacrifice
The forest abounds with monoliths in mysterious places and positions. Just when you would go on to investigate them a bit more, maybe touch them, you would hear your guide speak up from behind, saying that the monoliths are spots of worship of the Khasi people who use these stones to sacrifice animals. Much like we ring bells in temples to make our wishes come true, these people sacrifice animals to the same end. A monolith festival is organized here during which the forest seems to come alive as the tribal heritage and glory comes out in full display. You won’t find another eco-destination in Meghalaya like this one.
3. Khasi Heritage Village
This is a mock village complete with mock tribal huts which showcase the authentic arts and crafts of the villagers. The monolith festival is held here during March but has been recently discontinued and held sporadically due to the lack of funding.
4. Labasa, the deity of the forest
The local deity who resides over the forest is known as Labasa who is all powerful for the tribal community. In case of illness, ill luck or anything remotely related to illness, this deity is the prime pillar of belief. Legend has it that this deity can take the form of a tiger or leopard to protect the tribal people. The villagers sacrifice roosters or goats to please the deity. The villagers also burn their dead inside the forest.
5. David Scott Trail
Leading through the forest and the Mawphlang Village, this trail is a 15 km hike which takes you across and along a stream which provides a panoramic view of the two banks and the verdant forests. If you love adventure, this trail is definitely worth your time.
Aren’t jungles supposed to be dangerous? What if a leopard eats me?
They won’t, well unless you run away from the trail deep into the forest and create a ruckus and actively seek it out. So chill. Also, the guide will be a local Khasi guy who knows the forest better than he knows the back of his hand. So follow him and you will be safe. Honestly, the forest is so beautiful that you won’t for once think that you are in danger. So gear up and visit Mawphlang Forest for an adventure of a lifetime!
Hi! I am Paridhi. When not downing endless cups of coffee and binge-ing on Masala Fries, I can be found deeply engrossed in contemporary novels. Delhiite by birth and nomad by passion. I travel and I know things. I write travel blogs by day and binge watch thriller and rom-com by night.