In a country where violence against women is perpetual and has rapidly become a trend and foreign travelers return home with bitter stories of how dreadful and fearful it is traveling in this country. In fact, how can people from other countries even consider travelling to a country infamous for its treatment of women when the women who belong to the country themselves do not consider it safe?
Today, India has only a handful of female solo travelers compared to western countries where female travelers are present in abundance. In recent times, people like Sapna Bhavnani have commented that it is in fact true that Indian women do not travel alone and have determined to change this scenario.
Things are however are not altogether gloomy as days go by, as more and more brave Indian women are joining the club of fearless solo travelers. In such a scenario, it is an embracing change to be able to visit some of the last surviving matrilineal tribes of India – the Khasi tribe of Meghalaya. Like any other matrilineal tribes of North-East India, Garo, Jaintia, and the Khasi tribe, the property is passed from the mother to the youngest daughter. Women run the household as well work outdoors and the men are to move to the bride’s household post-marriage.
Even though the Khasis inhabit almost every part of Meghalaya, this article focuses mainly on the hill station of Cherrapunjee and there about. Cherrapunjee, known for being one of the wettest places on earth with stunning tropical rain forests, natural waterfalls and springs. But those are not the not the only things it is should be known for. If you are a solo woman traveler or having the idea of taking on your first solo trip, here’s why you should pick Cherrapunjee.
The first and the most obvious reason to visit Cherrapunjee is that it is as safe as it gets. The possibility of moving about here and there comfortably in an environment where women run the show instead of hiding behind veils is just liberating. Even miles away in a dark and deserted hilly road don’t sound scary when you know there will be a lady selling her potteries or any other things quietly in the next shop.
The people of Cherrapunjee are simple in lifestyle and are not indifferent towards tourist. Their livelihood is solely dependable on farming. And every Sunday the villagers would go to church and praise the Lord’s name, on weekdays they trudges on foot with heavy bags loading their products, for hours to reach the market. They always greet tourists with a smile, something which completely changes your entire experience.
The hill station is home to a number of living root bridges Umshiang Double Decker and Single Decker of Nongriat village being the most famous; Umkar Root Bridge of Seij and the Living Root Bridge of Umunoi. The 6 hour long trek to Double Decker Root Bridge besides being a unique adventure provides the perfect setting to get lost in a walk of self-discovery.
The Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort with its lovely and efficient all woman staff is the kind of service you will not forget any sooner. Owned by a Khasi lady, Carmela Shati and her husband Mr. Rayen, the resort has employed quite a number of woman as chefs, housekeeping and administrative staff.
All the year round, I hear people complaining that it simply doesn’t rain enough. Thankfully, Cherrapunjee being one of the wettest places on earth gets enough and more rainfall throughout the year. It is also one of the best places to enjoy a hot cup of tea watching the pitter patter on your window panes. Just remember to throw in an umbrella into your backpack.
If you like spicy food, you will become an ardent fan of the Khasi dishes in no time. Do not miss the mouth watering dry fish Tungtap Chutney at the Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort. You can also sample the Pork Jadoh, Chicken Neiong, and Fresh Local Fish Curry among other delicacies. For vegetarians there’s dal prepared with mustard greens, veg jadoh, khasi style salads and more at Orchid Roots, a pure veg restaurant.
Unless you have seen the Niagara falls, you cannot miss the Nohkalikai falls. It is simply spectacular during the rainy season. There are a number of other equally stunning waterfalls in and around Cherrapunji, leave alone the little nameless falls you keep bumping into every now and then in the villages. To name a few – the Seven Sisters, Wah Baka, Kynrem, Nohsngithiang Falls, Rainbow Waterfall, etc.
What can be more adventurous than exploring a cave? The 820 feet long, halogen lit, Mawsmai Caves with limestone rocks and dripping water drops provide a spine chilling setting. Not surprisingly, it is a huge crowd puller of adventure lovers.