Mawphlang Sacred Forest: Season Matters!

Mawphlang is a tiny hamlet of Meghalaya beside a Sacred Forest where nature and myths co-exist. People often ask which is the best season for Mawphlang Sacred Forest. We had been there both in winter and monsoon and were awestruck by varied experiences. I’ll recommend everyone to visit twice, because here in Mawphlang : Season Matters!

Mawphlang Sacred Forest in Winter

Initially we thought winter is the one and only one best season to visit Mawphlang Sacred Forest. Therefore on a chilly morning of December in 2013 we left Shillong for our morning-trail in Mawphlang Sacred Forest, which is just one hour drive from the capital city; but what to do? The first rays of sun upon the mist-covered hills made us stop several times on our way to Mawphlang and here, I cannot resist myself to share at least one photograph of the roadside before entering to my travelogue on Mawphlang.

Morning Mist on the Way to Mawphlang
The view that made us stop and click

Finally, after all those attractive distractions, we get in front of Mawphlang Sacred Forest! A scenic wonder where dense woods suddenly emerge from a rolling meadow! We got down from the car and saw Bon coming to us.

Mawphlang Sacred Forest in Winter
Where rolling meadow suddenly meets a dense wood

Bon was the guide for our forest-trail. Now it’s time to follow him. We started walking through the meadow. The sunshine! The morning breeze! The smell of dried grass! And we stopped by the woods on a sunny morning! Well, we will go inside, but before that let us listen what Bon is telling about the monoliths erected just outside the forest.

Monoliths of male and female deities in front of Mawphlang Sacred Forest
The horizontal monolith represents the female deity and the vertical one is regarded as male deity of the Khasi people.

The local Khasi people treat this forest as a sacred entity. It’s an age-old belief is that their local deities protect their forest and their community. Nobody is allowed to take anything out of the forest, not even a leaf or a pebble; it is considered as welcoming curse.

Picture of twelve stones representing twelve clans of local people. They gathered here to select leadership and discuss other important socio-administrative matters.
Twelve stones representing twelve clans of local people. They gathered here to select leadership and discuss other important socio-administrative matters.

Still today holy rituals are performed inside the forest for the welfare of the community. We saw a group of people at distance. Someone of them did something wrong and a ritual of atonement was going on.

A place encircled by stones to gather all stuffs before any ritual
Before any ritual, they gather all the stuffs in this place and there after proceed to the place of the ritual. If they forget something to take, they are not allowed to come back to this place.
A monolith in front of which the chief stands
The chief of the community stands in front of this monolith.

I was thinking about big civilizations, big cities, castles, forts, blood-shedding wars! Who knows about these Khasi clans or their kings? Who cares about their rituals, their age-old traditions, and their pride? Everything is and was hidden under the shadow of this dense groove, as unadulterated as possible.

Mawphlang Sacred Forest

The sun rays scattered through the branches, the branches and trunks covered with algae, the hanging orchids and moss, the mushrooms, the big foliage, the narrow streams flowing through the forest all together was a perfect bliss; a bliss for eye, mind and lungs.

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While we were photographing every new kind of mushrooms on our way, Bon said, “Come again during monsoon.” May be in wet season we will get to see more of them!

Mushrooms of Mawphlang Sacred Forest (Winter Trail)
“Wanna see more mushrooms? Come in time of rains.” – Bon

That night we stayed in MaplePine Farm (Bed & Breakfast) located on the meadow, beside a narrow stream, just 1km away from the Sacred Forest. It was just not a stay, rather an experience! The surrounding are so picturesque, so tranquil that we wished we could stay there couple of days more just doing nothing. The owners of the farm are James, a Canadian guy and his wife, who belongs to Khasi tribe. James has immense knowledge on nature and people of North-East India. We had good times with them.

After the chilled winter night, the dawn came with a jaw-dropping sight. At night the temperature went below zero degree centigrade and the dew drops on the surrounding grass, leaves, branches, fences were got frozen. See what we found that morning.

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With times, the frozen dew drops started melting. And it was the time to leave Mawphlang. But we’ll be back again.

Good bye Mawphlang. See you again.

Mawphlang Sacred Forest in Monsoon

And yes! We are back to Mawphlang! Four years later! Meanwhile Bon has started his own home-stay and this time we stayed at his place. This home-stay is far away from the Jame’s place; rather it is inside the village. Heavy and uninterrupted downpour all along the afternoon and evening kept us confined in the room.

No change in the morning! We put on our raincoats and proceeded towards the Sacred Forest. And to my surprise, I found that the dry yellow grass of the meadow had been replaced by bright green grass along with tiny wild flowers; the meadow, the Sacred Forest, everything being drenched by monsoon shower was looking much more vibrant & lively.

Cloud covering the meadow and the Mawphlang Sacred Forest : Monsoon, the best season for Mawphlang Sacred Forest

Unlike our winter visit, this time we chose a longer trail, as monsoon adds more charms to this forest. Now let me keep my mouth shut. Get yourself immersed in the Monsoon Magic of Mawphlang Sacred Forest.

Hope, you got my point now. Why monsoon is another best season for Mawphlang Sacred Forest.

How to Go

Mawphlang Sacred Forest is located 26 kms away from Shillong on the road leading to Mawsynram.

Looking for more travel destinations in Meghalaya? Click here.

How to Book

  • For MaplePine Farm, you can get all necessary information like room type, room tariff, meal options, location, guide, mail-id etc from their website:
  • For Bon’s Home-stay, call: Bon (+91 84150 61658). We paid Rs 2000 for each triple bed room on August 2017.

10 Things to Remember

  1. If you want to avoid the hustles & bustles of the capital city, you can stay in Mawphlang instead of Shillong. All the sight-seeing spots of Shillong can be covered from Mawphlang. You may visit Seven Sisters’ Waterfalls on your way from Shillong to Mawphlang.
  2. You may visit Mawsynram and Mawlyngbna on a day trip from Mawphlang.
  3. If you are party crowd, DON’T VISIT Mawphlang.
  4. Don’t visit the Sacred Forest without a local guide.
  5. Don’t litter the Sacred Forest.
  6. Make no harm to nature.
  7. Keep in mind that NOTHING is allowed to take out from the Sacred Forest.
  8. Be respectful to the local people and their culture.
  9. During winter carry heavy winter garments. In monsoon, raincoat and umbrella are must to pack.
  10. Wear hiking shoes during the forest trail. Remember that in monsoon, your shoes will get completely drenched.