The summer capital of Jaintia Kings, this region gets its name from its rules. It lies further east of the Khasi Hills, and is a treasure trove of legends.
History – Why are Jaintia Hills, the land of Giants?
This place was a summer retreat for the Jaintia Kings. In winters, they travelled down to the plains of Bangladesh. The monolith rocks are scattered all over the Jaintia Hills and even beyond. We even saw some in Sohra. They are believed to be erected as a mark of respect or loyalty to the Kings.
One look at the monoliths and you will agree that this can not be the handiwork of an “average” human. There are several theories about their origins and almost all of them agree on one thing. The people in these parts could have been Giants, and thus, were able to move and erect such huge stones so easily in such a short time. The largest gathering of these monoliths is near the village of Nartiang. Attributed to a strong lieutenant of the Jaintia Kings – Mar Phalangki, the highest of these monoliths is almost 8 meters or 2 stories high! It even has a story of human sacrifice associated with it.
WATCH: VIDEO LOG FROM JAINTIA HILLS
Also, less than a km away from this place, is a centuries old Durga temple. Story goes that human sacrifice was practised here till the British came and banned it. Even now, the practice continues, but, instead of a human head, it’s a goat that faces the axe.
If you are interested in details, check out the article HERE
Jaintia Hills – How to reach
From Shillong, the Jaintia Hills district is about 50 kms away. National Highway 6 joins Shillong and Jaintia Hills, and then continues further ahead towards Silchar. The road surface is good, it is mostly a single lane undivided road. Thanks to the road manners of the local people, driving here is rather stress free. The views along the way are really picturesque. So take it easy, and take a break whenever you feel like. 🙂
Since our stay was at Umiam, we skipped Shillong completely and instead, took the beautifully laid bypass road, which meets the highway NH6, coming through Shillong, near Mawryngkneng.
Jaintia Hills – Points of Interest
As I mentioned earlier, the Nartiang Monoliths and the Durga Temple are the 2 things you should not miss, if visiting Jaintia Hills.
From the monoliths, we travel back to NH6 and continue towards Jowai. And soon come upon this beautiful lake – Thadlaskein. Meghalaya tourism has a nice property called Highwinds just opposite to it. And true to the name, it is quite a windy place. A great place to break your journey.
Travelling on the NH-6, before Jowai, you would come upon Tyrshi falls. The road or trail, whatever you wanna call it, may look like you have lost your way, but fret not. Persist on it for some time and you will reach a clearing where you can park the car. You need to walk for the rest of the trail.
Since it was not the monsoon season, the fall itself was pretty dry with not much water, but, the view from this place was simply spectacular. The sunset was probably the best we saw on the entire trip.
Jowai is an important town in this district and a beautiful one too. Surrounded by the river Myntdu, you can spend sometime here in peace and solitude. National Highway 206 from here, will take you to Dawki
Jaintia Hills – Places to stay
You can find decent Government and Private hotels in Jowai.
Summing it up
This short visit has piqued my curiosity enough to make a longer trip here. Hopefully soon. As I mentioned earlier,Shillong – Jowai – Dawki can be done over 2 days with a night halt at Jowai. This can be an alternate, longer, and more rewarding route to reach Dawki, Next time, maybe, I’ll do this circuit instead of the direct Shillong – Dawki – Shillong run.
Keep Rocking, keep Roaming!
Have you been to Jaintia Hills? Any stories to share? We would love to hear from you!