Is it Mauritius? ..... Seychelles? Or is it Oahu?
A big no! to all your guesses.
The year 2016 was almost empty, with no rides, no backpacks and not travel due to some personal priorities. So this is my first travelogue for 2017. I was counting down the days for official year end shut down. A year full of boring work and the hustle and bustle of monotonous IT field. I always prefer to be in a place where I find peace and tranquility. And what best way?
This time I planned for some refreshing trip by taking the family along. And what best place? Travels and vacation does not always mean going abroad to a different country that catch up our eyes with beautiful landscapes as in pictures. Not far from my place, a couple of hours may be, is the picturesque neighboring state of Meghalaya. “The Scotland of the east”, true to the words it offers many a wonderful things. You should know how to find them. It hosts the world’s cleanest village. It is home to one of the wettest place on earth, Cherrapunji and many other such wonderful places.
The journey to Shillong is laden with the newly constructed highway that cuts and curves through the Khashi hills. Fantastic weather along warms you up for the much needed refreshment. We started a little late in the morning around 9 am and surprisingly the weather was less cold than expected. Usually, it will be too cold and foggy this time of the year. May be the effect of global warming.
The pic explains the beauty of it all. So put rest to your all guesses. This is “Lumpingden Island” famous for camping and boat house stay. This beautiful island is a private enterprise in collaboration with Meghalaya tourism. Yes, this alluring place is nowhere else but our very own beautiful country.
This appealing island is situated in Umiam lake also known as Barapani lake. Remember Airtel 4G ad? Yes it is this same island and not as remote as shown in the Airtel ad. Just 30 minutes from Shillong you can find Umiam lake on the road side. You see, it is well connected by road and any cellular network for that matter. Lumpongdeng Island is on the west bank of this Lake. To reach the island, you need to take speed boat, normal tourist boat or a canoe. We preferred a canoe unfortunately the “Mama” was not available so we settled for a tourist boat.
Again the picture explains it all. With soothing waves of wind over the blue waters of calm and steady lake. Silent hills around and the blue sky where flock of few dove white clouds float carelessly. A heavenly fairly land of sort. The boathouse is well kept to match up surrounding spirits of greenery and scenery. The interior arrangements are in fact so comforting that one can easily do not hesitate spending on it. The boat house is taken care by a 60-year old caretaker generally known as “mama” who stays hundred meters from the boathouse. Himangshu, Aparjita and Rana accompanied us but they put up only for a day and returned in the evening. Meanwhile, we walked around for some time and framing ourselves in beautiful wallpapers. In the evening only two of us, me and my wife, were left in the lonely island. Of course there was our mama the caretaker. We sat on the desk of boathouse verandah and spent the entire evening facing the lake. Music of the waves touching the deck; watching birds fly as they returned to their nests; flies in the wood thickets making chattering noise and the serene water of the lake.
We walked for some time after dark in the cold breeze under the starlit sky. An unforgettable experience and moments to cherish. And not to miss the homemade snacks supplemented with evening high tea. An amazing evening spent with family. We asked mama to put some camp fire. He sat along with us and we talked. He was 60 plus years, simple and humble man. We found a singer in him and he sang for us (video below. He spent some time with us and shared his experiences in life. He took leave from us but did not forget to wish us for a better life. We spent couple of hours more and started for dinner. Again simple and delicious homemade food. An evening well spent.
We were so overwhelmed to be under the starlit sky above and serenity around. We just tossed and turned as if not to miss any moment that special night. I was so regretting under the teeth for selling my camera and lens just days before this escapade. I missed to capture the Star Trail and many beautiful night landscape moments. Although I still had Himangshu's camera but without lenses. So we retired to spend quality rather than busy clicking pictures.
At the break of dawn, another surprise was awaiting which brought an amazing start to the second day. There was no fog and sun rose clearly out of the east. Normally, there will be unimaginable cold from November to January in North eastern states. We decided to take leisurely walk in the cool breeze. We just walked and talked. Walked all around the island. It was rejuvenating experience with only two of us in whole of the island; a dream walk in a fairy land of sort, disconnected from Maya of the real world.
You may be wondering "When did you take these pictures then? and Who clicked?"
After that refreshing morning walk, we posed for our post-wedding shoot. And yes, All pictures were taken by me with a remote controlled Tripod. Around 9 AM people started pouring in and water sports began as scheduled. November to January is a picnic season in north eastern states. People often flock at this for picnic which is not as outlandish as depicted in the Airtel advertisement. In fact, Lumpingden is a well known tourist destination in Meghalaya. However, we were not disturbed by the increasing crowd and undesirable noise. We leisurely had breakfast and set for a hike on the other side of the island. Mama took us on the hike and showed us the camping sites and facilities. And of course you can bring your own camp for the stay if you wish to. There is one small cemetery on top of the hill and a recreation area for visitors.
One can get a beautiful view of the lake from the hilltop. It is a perfect place for birds and butterflies during the season. This time I was less interested in taking pictures so just clicked few landscapes. We returned and had a stomach filling lunch. We soon packed and prepared to bid adieu to "Lumpingden". I some where thought "see you soon again".
We are grateful to Mama, the care taker of the Boat House. He made our stay pleasant, comfortable, enjoying and safe every possible way. And we can never forget the simple and yummy food prepared by Mami.
We took Mama's canoe for a worthy and unforgettable experience. Since childhood, I've visited Shillong and Umiam lake multiple times but this one was very special for many reasons. And for once, I primarily attribute this trip as a year end gift to my lovely wife.