Cycling to Shillong & Guwahati from Jowai

The trilogy finale of cycling in Meghalaya. This section saw us cycling to Shillong and Guwahati from Jowai, with some motorized wheels in between!

Read the first two parts of the trilogy: Part 1 & Part 2.

Day 7: Cycling from Jowai to Shillong

As the sun rose lazily over the tranquil lake, we savoured a leisurely breakfast, indulging in puris, sabji, toast, and boiled eggs, accompanied by remnants from the previous day’s bakery excursion. With spirits high and bellies full, we bid farewell to Jowai at a leisurely hour, embarking on our journey towards the bustling (in comparison!) city of Shillong.

Despite our late start, we made good progress, the serene road winding its way through pine-laden hills and charming villages. The pine trees reminded Chaitra of our cycle ride in Ranikhet. Cloudy skies provided respite from the sun’s glare, as we effortlessly climbed 1000 meters in 50 kilometres.

Passing through truck-laden highways, we eventually found ourselves on a quieter road, where the Khasi hills revealed their affluence through the prosperity of their inhabitants and the modernity of their infrastructure.

The roofs continued to be largely flat in a land which gets incredible amount of rainfall, while the roadside hoardings mostly advertised waterproof cement. Draw your own conclusions…

Friendly faces greeted us as we neared Shillong, a testament, perhaps, to the role of education and exposure in welcoming tourism.

cycling shillong guwahati
Easy Peasy Climbs for Breakfast!

Visual Cues

The visual landscape transformed as we approached the city, with meticulously maintained houses and commercial establishments lining the streets. From car washes to beauty salons, every detail seemed curated for maximum visual appeal, a reflection of the residents’ pride in their surroundings. This attention to aesthetics was most marked as we saw a house put together with tin sheets and wooden planks. Yet, even such a humble dwelling had bright coloured paint, lacy curtains and flourishing flowerpots.

The number of carwashes was matched by all the sparkling cars, new and old. These gorgeous automotive sightings culminated in seeing a shimmering royal blue tow van, built from an old Matador.

Farm Land


Navigating a narrow shortcut into Shillong, we found ourselves amidst a sea of schoolchildren and traffic, the energy palpable even from afar. Google Maps guided us to our homestay, tucked away amidst the labyrinthine streets, where we were greeted by warm hospitality.

A trip to the market for laptop repairs led us to a modern styled café for good coffee after long. By the roadside we enjoyed local snacks like corn and sohphie, a green sour fruit bursting with flavour and eaten with salt and red chilli powder.

fruit of meghalaya
The snacky fruit sold in the Khasi Hills of Meghalaya

With the laptop repaired and time to spare, we explored a vibrant part of town teeming with young crowds and trendy eateries, a stark contrast to the overflowing Police Bazar we encountered on our first day. It made sense considering the number of hostels and PGs we also saw in the vicinity.

Following the recommendation of the friendly homestay owner, we dined at a humble unnamed local eatery, savouring Jadoh and a variety of pork dishes. Later, we ventured to a fancier bar and bistro, where the juxtaposition of experiences was entertaining. Coffee in the latter costed the same as a meal in the former.

The Route

Day 8: Scooting Through Serenity: Exploring Sohra

Day 8 brought a change of pace as we traded our trusty cycles for a Yamaha RayZ scooter, courtesy of Larry in Shillong. After a week of pedalling, our legs needed rest. Rather than sitting still in Shillong, we opted for motorised mobility.

Eager for a break from the saddle and the promise of easier exploration, we set off from Shillong. Embarking on a new adventure through the picturesque landscapes of Sohra.

Our route meandered through quaint village roads, offering glimpses of rural life against a backdrop of rolling hills. We realized that our speed on descents was slower on the scooter than our bicycles, a humorous realization that added to the charm of our journey.

Caves and Falls

Our first stop was the Garden of Caves in Sohra, but the Eid holiday crowds, swollen with cars from Assam, deterred us from venturing further. Undeterred, we sought respite at Laloo’s, the first and only place in Meghalaya where I indulged in beef, though the pork in Meghalaya is far superior.

Next, we made our way to Mawsmai Cave, a labyrinthine wonder hidden amidst the hills. Despite the crowds, the cave’s awe-inspiring beauty left us spellbound, though the sign proclaiming “no refunds” at the ticket counter hinted at the challenges that awaited within.

From there, we journeyed to the viewpoint of the Seven Sisters Waterfall, only to find it lacking in its seasonal splendour. Disappointed but undeterred, we heeded Larry’s advice and sought out Kynrem Falls, a decision that proved to be nothing short of spectacular.

As we approached the falls, the road emptied of traffic, offering unobstructed views of the majestic cascade against the backdrop of Bangladesh’s flatlands. Kynrem Falls, with its sheer magnitude and solitary grandeur, captured our hearts, making the long ride more than worthwhile.

Kynrem Falls

Buoyed by our success, we ventured towards Tyrna, the starting point of the famed Double Decker Bridge trek. Though the road vanished beneath us, replaced by gravel and loose rock, we pressed on, retracing our cycling memories in a new form, until we reached Monica Homestay in Sohra, our haven for the night.

Dinner found us in the heart of Sohra village, where we sought out both veg thali and non-veg delights, only to be met with a humorous disclaimer on the restaurant door: “No ‘Pure-Veg’ Food available here.”

Day 9: Sohra to Shillong (by Scooter)

After a relaxed morning, where our departures were getting later by the day. We left from Sohra, but not after a long conversation with Rinku, the person who sees to the two homestays. He gave us suggestions to visit in the region. Along with a lot of insights to chew on, from the social, cultural and political landscape of the state. And of course the geographical landscape as well.

Falling for Sohra

Our first visit was to Nohkalikai Falls. We felt like proper tourists as we went waterfall hopping!

Nohkalikai was a magnificent fall where we could see a rainbow forming in the waterfall. It was also the fall we could see from the road to Tyrna. There is a staircase going down from the viewing point towards the falls. We walked halfway down that staircase before giving up and returning to the top, because there were just too many big insects biting our hands and legs.

We then walked farther down the path. A path which leads towards Nongariat Village, the home of the Double Decker Living Root bridge. From there we could see Lai Pateng Khowsiew waterfall from a distance. It would be a wonderful place to visit during the monsoons.

Returning from Nohkalikai to the main road, we turned towards the Mawkma Village. On this village road, there are a bunch of falls. The road was under construction and we had to pussyfoot our way around with the scooter. Once again in contrast to our bicycles, we actually had to ride slower!

Nohkalikai Falls

Wei Sawdong and Prut Falls

Our first visit was to Wei Sawdong Falls. Which was difficult to find in the first place. There was no signboard and only a parked cabbie was an indicator to the path. A path which had been cordoned off and closed.

A few hops and skips over barricades later, we were walking towards Wei Sawdong. And well worth the walk it was. A mind-blowing sight. And probably the best 5 minutes we had in this entire trip. Thick vegetation and a pristine fall to view, with not a human in sight. The path went farther over a broken wooden staircase, but I was not in the mood of risk and turned back towards the road; mind, heart and soul satiated.

Wei Sawdong Falls

From Wei Sawdong we rode to Prut Falls. It was again unique, as you could walk behind the fall curtain. There was a group of women travelling together. And eavesdropping on their Instagramy conversations was quite entertaining.

Not bothering with lunch or the remaining waterfalls in the vicinity we rode to Laitlum Canyon. But as we started our ride, the skies opened up.

We stopped at the same dhaba as we had earlier on our bicycles and had tea and lunch with the same auntie. She showed us her photographs of trekking all the way down to the Nohkalikai waterfalls and made us properly jealous! The food she served was delicious and once again it was a pleasure to see how clean and neat her kitchen was. Good hygiene and cleanliness are recurring themes in Meghalaya.

One of the rainiest places on earth, says the board, the blue sunny sky disagrees!

Laitlum Canyon

We finally reached Laitlum Canyon dry. But after the short and sudden downpour, temperatures plummeted. The weather was freezing at the top of Laitlum. And we were in clothes better suited for cycling in hot weather!

The air being pushed out of the valley like a funnel was even colder and we froze when we reached the canyon viewpoint. But canyon it wasn’t. It is more a view of a gorgeous valley. Well worth the ride there. But canyon it is not.

Frozen stiff and still trying to pose at the canyon!


We hightailed it back to Shillong ASAP to avoid the cold. We dumped our luggage in the B&B in Shillong and then returned the scooter to Larry.

From Larry’s place we indulged ourselves in a brisk walk back to the hotel and only then did we finally warm up enough to peel off the layers of warm clothing and roam around once again in shorts and tees.

Dinner was at a restaurant called ‘The Wok’, Shillong-Chinese food as it is called. We then went for a second dinner; this was a Naga Thali with pork cooked in bamboo shoots. The night ended with steaming hot cups of coffee at a nearby bistro. Most cafes and restaurants in Shillong close by 8, which makes finding food and drink quite difficult.

An adventurous couple of days on a scooter ended as we prepared ourselves for the last day of cycling to Guwahati.

Day 10: Shillong to Guwahati

The last day of cycling for us. We woke late, had breakfast in the B&B, which was not very substantial. Then went in search of second breakfast in the Shillong Market. There was nothing open at 10 AM. After marching up and down the street, we found a cart vendor, who was selling Pu Maloi. Steamed rice cakes with sugar and coconut filling. After enjoying that snack, we went to a Sha bad Ja stall to enjoy some Jadoh with pork curries. The last for this trip!

Post a hearty breakfast it was time to get back onto our cycles after giving them a quick inspection after storage in the B&B. After strapping our luggage on, the B&B manager says to us as a parting backhanded compliment, “NOW you guys look like cyclists”!

With such a compliment in hand, we left Shillong… or attempted to do so! With Bihu the very next day in Assam, the roads were clogged with vehicles climbing into the Khasi hills. Cars were lined up for kilometres as we filtered through traffic easily on our bicycles.

Descend to Feel the Heat… From the Sun and Automobiles

As we descended beyond Umiam Lake, the heat made its presence felt. Losing altitude was gaining centigrade.

At Nongpoh we stopped for lunch at a ‘pure veg’ restaurant for Chaitra to enjoy some real veg food!

The traffic kept increasing as we crossed the border from Meghalaya into Assam. And then our sensibilities and senses were blasted to the moon with the incessant honking of Guwahati vehicles. We were reminded of what ‘civilised developed cities’ are like!

After checking into our hotel, it was time to take a nice cold shower. Something I had missed in the last few days of travelling!

Friends and Food

We then went and picked up our cycle bags from Dipankar’s house, before meeting up with Ripunjay Gogoi. It was great meeting and chatting with him over a cup of tea, before heading for traditional Assamese thalis.

Meeting up with Ripunjay in Guwahati

An excellent dinner later it was time to walk back to our hotel through the darkened bylanes of Guwahati. It was quite surprising to see that the streets of residential colonies were not lit. The only saving grace was that the dogs were pretty decent and don’t go nuts at the sight of a stranger.

Many days of good cycling came to an end as we tucked in for the night in Guwahati on the eve of Bihu.

The Route: Cycling Guwahati to Shillong

Day 11: Guwahati and home!

Since we had a late-night flight home, we decided to make full use of the day in Guwahati. On the recommendation of a few friends, we went to Pobitora National Park some 40 km away. The distance felt too much to pedal after our accumulated fatigue. So, we rented another scooter in Guwahati. Another Yamaha RayZ in the same red colour as the one we had in Shillong.

But not before we put on our mechanic overalls and dismantled and packed our cycles. It was not a job to leave for the last minute, especially as removing pedals involves a lot of cursing and swearing and sweating. And being bitten by the million mosquitoes in Guwahati.

Pobitora National Park

The scooter ride along the Brahmaputra to the national park was nice, except the Assamese traffic which is horrendous. The state had a decidedly UPequse vibe to it. People spitting red blots all over. A big historical river. Terrible traffic and incessant honking. And an aggressive gunda type mentality by many of the road users. Felt like I was back in Uttar Pradesh!

At the Pobitora National Park, it was a dream drive through the park. With excellent sightings of rhinos, wild buffaloes and wild boar, along with a plethora of pretty birds we recognized and some we didn’t.

Among the amazing memories we had at the NP, the worst was having to use the public toilet. It was filthy and the contrast was even more stark coming from Meghalaya which is super clean, including the public toilets by the roadside. The two states might be neighbours, but the culture of hygiene is chalk and cheese.

The best experience was watching a mother rhino and her calf trotting along the forest. And seeing a black and white bird hovering over the water before diving in as fast as a bullet (not those slow motorcycles, but real bullets!) to catch fish.

Buh Bye Guwahati

An amazing day in the National Park ended with a ride back to Guwahati and an attempted visit to the Ma Kamakhya Temple. A bad idea, since it was Bihu, and the road leading up to the temple was chock a block. We turned back, realising our timing was terrible.

Riding around semi-urban and rural Assam, on the biggest festival was quite enjoyable. Seeing the locals, adults and kids, dressed up in their traditional regalia was fascinating. Even more so, was the sober celebrations. Walking past a temple with loud speakers was also a pleasant surprise. The volume was loud enough for anybody in the vicinity to enjoy the chanting, without being loud as to disturb others. It was a joy to watch Bihu being celebrated in Assam.

Dinner was in an uptown restaurant in the heart of Guwahati. It was surprising (at least for me) at the number of big brands in the city. It is just like any other metro city… and I don’t say that as if it is a good thing!

Finally, it was time to leave Guwahati. The city has zero SUV Ubers/ Olas. So, we couldn’t book a vehicle in which we could keep both bike bags. As such we ended up having to book two different cabs for carrying our bikes.

The Last Supper… in Assam


Flying Air India Express back was a good experience with our bicycles. And we recommend the airline to any other cyclist looking to fly with their bicycles.

We landed in Goa and were trying to get a cab back home, when we spotted a Kadamba bus about to leave the airport. So instead of taking a cab, we took the bus from the airport to Calangute at a fraction of the cost. It also felt better than burning fuel, when a better and cleaner alternative is available…

Also read, Cycling in Uttarakhand, Nilgiris, Himalayas, Goa-Mumbai and more

2 Replies to “Cycling to Shillong & Guwahati from Jowai”

  1. This part was so much more exhilarating than the previous one. I have long admired the hygiene of the Khasis. Even roadside shacks had sparkling pots and pans.

    1. Indeed. It is so clean, especially when compared to travelling in other parts of rural India.

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