Explore the world’s longest cave systems. Scuba dive in pristine rivers. Waft through the clouds in a hot air balloon over lush terrain. Glamp in a plush tented colony within the forest. A peek into the lifestyle of the indigenous communities, an example in sustainable living. From March 7 to March 15, the maiden edition of a unique tourism festival will showcase the adventurous, scenic and cultural attractions of Meghalaya in a series of curated experiences.
The Meghalayan Age, an initiative by Meghalayan Tourism and E-Factor, is gearing up for visitors to explore the destination, at varying paces, whether a thrilling excursion through the labyrinth of caves, or a relaxing evening amid the glow of tethered hot air balloons, enjoying some local cuisine and shopping.
Dense forests, dramatic cliffs, mountains cloaked in mist, and gushing streams and waterfalls make up Meghalaya’s magnificent natural heritage. The Meghalayan Age aims to promote and position the State as a sustainable tourism hub for conscious visitors from around the globe. “Travellers today want authentic experiences and we want to attract those who are sensitive about our fragile ecology. Unique tourist products like hot air ballooning, caving and glamping are part of new-age experiences designed to immerse the audience in the rare natural and heritage surroundings of this State,” says Dr D Vijay Kumar, IAS, Commissioner and Secretary to the Government of Meghalaya.
Hot air balloon rides, with experienced pilots from around the globe will take visitors to the skies in vehicles with quirky names like Happy Baby Bird and Mellow Yellow. As the sun rises, the balloons will ascend, offering a unique vantage point to admire the rugged and spectacular landscape — a mix of hills, dizzying valleys, plains, shallow dales and startling cliffs.
The extensive cave network that Meghalaya boasts of is still uncharted territory. Carved as water meets limestone and sandstone, the caves have an underground network of magnificent formations and eco-systems, with rare species and fossils from millions of years ago. With expert guides from the Meghalaya Adventurers’ Association, avid spelunkers and even virgin explorers, can delve into three of the cave networks as part of the event.
From one of the wettest places on Earth, Sohra, enveloped in mist; to quaint villages like Kudengrim with its old living-roots bridge; from Shnongpdeng, the secret water sports capital; to a cluster of, reportedly, some of the tallest monoliths on earth at Nartiang; and the café culture and shopping in Shillong, the Meghalayan Age includes sightseeing excursions to various parts of the State.
The vibrant music scene will be showcased through live performances by some of the region’s most well-known talent, Khasi rock bands, Colours and Strait Brothers; acclaimed blues band, Soulmate; and the ‘Bob Dylan of India’ — iconic Khasi guitarist, Lou Majaw.
Describing the diverse experiences on offer at the festival, Samit Garg, CEO and co-founder, E-Factor, says “Meghalaya is one of the most amazing undiscovered destinations that offers the perfect balance for travellers, with its young vibrant population, prolific music scene, and an untrodden natural and heritage capital.”