Life tends to get monotonous when you are going back and forth between school, college, job and the certain social responsibilities. In the journey that is life, it so happens that we often tend to lose ourselves among people or we lose the path that we walk. Sometimes we travel to get that much-required break in life. Some other times, we go to learn about a different sphere of life or to find a bonding. What may seem very basic yet challenging and yet one of the most eye-opening experience is a solo ride. You alone carry the ability to find yourself through the different pieces you collect, the people you meet and the road that you open for yourself.
Such is the story of Kritharth Pendyala who traversed through Meghalaya through a solo bike trip. A journey through Northeast, although underrated, is always a naturally enhanced trip which takes one past some breathtaking views of nature, gives an insight to different cultures and a landscape like no other. Through the journey, the young boy faced many challenges with his bike breaking down to his body aching through the night while riding his bike. However, what the trip gave him to return home with was something much more than just a journey. Let us take you through that bucket list journey that Kritharth has proudly accomplished.
Day 1: Guwahati to Shillong Road
The solo ride started with a rush in the morning flight from Mumbai to Calcutta and a sleepy fly to Guhawati from thereon. Having rented a Royal Enfield Classic 350 from Life On Wheels, Kritharth headed to Shillong which lies at a distance of 105 km from Guwahati. With the rear brakes ceasing and the engine jerking from time to time 50 km into the journey started the so-called adventure of the solo bike trip. Riding slowly and eventually, the lad reached Shillong as the night fell over around 9 pm. Having informed the owner of the bike’s condition, Kritharth called it a day.
Day 2: The Green Shillong
With a fresh start to the day, it was time to explore Shillong. Giving his newly repaired bike a rest through hitting the road, Kritharth hired a cab instead which took him around the important spots of the city. The first stop was the Shillong Viewpoint which gave a panoramic view of the city below with a hilly backdrop. The entrance to the viewpoint lies inside the Army Cantonment Area, so identification is a must to carry. Next stop was the Elephant Falls, divided into three different areas of water flow. A mesmerising yet tedious staircase climb to reach each one of them.
Further on, was the Ward’s Lake surrounding itself with clean grass and resting flora. Away from the hustle of the city, Kritharth reminisced how one could be left with just the sound of silence and swift breeze. Perks of a solo ride! With a disappointing stop at the Lady Hydari Park zoo, Kritharth headed to the holy Cathedral Church which was enough to liven him up with his silent positive spirits. With a roundabout of the Shillong Golf Links, his day ended with cafes around Police Bazaar and a walk through Barra Bazaar; the day came to a fruitful end.
Day 3: Enroute Asia’s Cleanest Village
90 km ahead of Shillong lies the village of Mawlynnong. Through the canopies of the trees and the dense fog covering the roads, the three hours bike ride itself was refreshing. Nestled in the Khasi Hills of Meghalaya is the quaint and clean village of Mawlynnong. Upon reaching, he checked into a homestay, made like a typical village hut made with bamboo logs for an authentic experience. Freshening up, first stop thereon was the Living root bridges made with the roots of the peculiar rubber tree and grown by the villagers to interlock with each other. With stones inlaid upon them, they provide easy access to the neighbouring villages by crossing the stream or river. The Riwai living root bridge was, however, the most accessible one while the others demanded a two hours trek.
Furthermore, the visit was then extended to the Nohwat Point in the Nohwat Village, which provided a view of an untouched valley surrounded by towering mountains and gurgling waterfalls. It would take anyone to take a minute to process the reality of this beauty. A trek along the forest took him to the Shilling Jhasjhar living root bridge. The water below the bridge was crystal clear! Not waiting for the sun to go down, he walked back to the village and called it a day by enjoying a cup of red tea with his host and her kids.
Day 4: India-Bangledesh Border at Dawki
A cloudy, wet morning greeted Kritharth the next morning. As soon as they had receded, hopping on his bike, he headed off to the border village of Dawki. A tough 1 hour and 15 minutes ride through the rocky terrain and BSF Jawan patrolled area brought him to Dawki. Hunting for a fuel pitstop with the help of the locals, he went on to cross the bridge over the Umgot River with its most transparent ever waters. Parking his bike at the boating station, he went on to ride a canoe across the river. He remembers his 45 minutes boat ride as a beautiful silence that he had ever asked for. Such is the beauty of a solo ride where you can take it all in by yourself. Shnongpdeng, the Bangladesh side of Dawki was equally stunning.
With that, he turned to head back to Mawlynnong. However, the route back could not get more scenic yet worse at the same time. There are several waterfalls along the road to the village which also fall over the portion of the road. However, the surreal beauty of the cascades could not be missed. By sunset, he was back at his homestay and continued his much-loved routine of having tea with his host lady. Moreover, the ultimate charm of travelling solo is when you let go of all societal restraints to meet strangers along the way. That was the highlight of the very trip when he dined with a couple that night.
Day 5: Ride Along The Wettest Place On Earth
Known as Sohra by the Khasi people of Meghalaya, Cherrapunji welcomed the rider with glistening wet roads and bright open blue skies. It was a well-paced three hours ride to the town. Checking into the homestay, Kritharth went around to explore the place. A gorgeous landscape to conceive was Nongthymmai eco-park from where the Seven Sisters falls originates. Mawsmai Cave was the next in the itinerary. It took him crawling his way through the tiny entrance covered with stalagmites to the actual fossil caves.
To add on to the solo bike trip was the Mawkdok viewpoint where one can see the valley upon which Cherrapunji stands. He recalls how unfathomable was the beauty of the view and somewhat a private affair. Thereon, he headed to see the Seven Sisters Fall from its viewpoint, and the legendary Nohkalikai falls. The view was blinded by the clouds that hovered over the falls, making it impossible to view it. However, he went on to discover the Arwah Caves instead. Returning home, he befriended another solo backpacker and called an end to the day.
Day 6: Trek To Nongriat and Rainbow Falls
The early morning started with a solo ride to the Tyrna Village, the base of the Nongriat Trek. 1.5 hours of walking takes one through the Rainbow Falls, where one can touch the rainbow. After a walk through the 3500 steps of the living root bridge and a tiresome hike, he reached the falls. A full bloom rainbow awaited at the falls.
Further on was a three-hour climb to the forest with vibrant butterflied fluttering and the chirping of bugs. Upon reaching atop to Tyrna, the determination to see the Nohkalikai Falls drove him back to these falls.
Day 7: Venturing into the silkworm rearing village of Umden
Driving for four hours along the Shillong-Guhawati road was the Umden Village. The bamboo homestay was as close as one could get to nature in the middle of a dense forest. After freshening up, he went ahead to the nearby silkworm rearing centre. The peculiarity of the local handloom factory was that the silk was taken out from the silkworms without killing the worms. It was then weaved later. That is the speciality of the village!
Day 8: A Saddening Goodbye
It was a difficult goodbye to Meghalaya and Kritharth head to Guhawati on his bullet. Handing over the keys of his riding friend, he headed back to Kolkata and eventually a flight back to Mumbai. However, the trip left him with some unanswered questions and memories that he carries with him till date.
An offbeat solo ride, travelling alone to a place far from home, it was a discovery of strangers that became friends along the way. Moreover, it was about the places that left an eternal imprint on his heart.
With heartwarming and bold experiences such as these, the trip certainly was inspiring. With one successful tick on his bucket list, Kritharth moves ahead to discover more unsung places.