The Shillong Autumn Cherry Blossom Festival – A Fortune Teller’s Land

 

Last month I was at the foothills of the East Khasi hills. A sudden chance trip to “the abode of clouds”- Meghalaya came my way. Trapped in the busy schedule of work and entrance exams, I hadn’t planned a vacation for a long time. Then, suddenly I had a chance acquaintance with the Indian Cherry Blossom Festival. Before this, I had little idea that this Japanese festival happened in India. Apparently, it did happen and that too in autumn.

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Jiva Veg, Ideal stopover at the NH6 highway if you are famished on the way from Guwahati-Shillong
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Jiva Veg tucked in between hills. Picture from Tripadvisor

[Note: This was my first stop way to Shillong from Guwahati. The restaurant has a handicraft store downstairs. A hearty breakfast at Jiva Veg empowers you for the journey. I shared a masala dosa and a plate of aloo parantha with my mother here.]

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The beginning of the journey at Wards Lake

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While the world prepares for departure Shillong prepares to welcome the blossoming of life. So, I couldn’t afford to miss this opportunity and immediately headed to the land of clouds. Much like any other natural event, the blooming was unpredictable.

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The Autumn Leaves
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And the blossoming spring

By the time, I landed in Shillong on 8th November, the honking, and bustling Himalayan city had prepared itself for the festival – a 3-day long affair celebrating life by the soothing cherry trees. While the blossoming trees were hardly seen, the festival was bustling with life – traditional music, rock concerts, food and wine festival, handicrafts –all were there. Even, the Meghalaya Chief Minister, Purna Sangma gave a surprise performance, a scene which I hadn’t encountered in any other Indian city.

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People enjoying at the festival.   Picture: The official page of India International Cherry Blossom Festival
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People at the festival. Image from the  official event page

The Rock Band Performance at the Festival

The Fountain of Love and the children surrounding it, at the Lady Hydari Park,  Shillong

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The Cherry Blossom Festival Themed Menu at the Bamboo Hut Cafe in Wards Lake. A good place for a tasty meal
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Chilli Pork From the Bamboo Hut Cafe. An absolute delicious dish
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Schewan Chicken Fried Rice and Chilli Garlic Fish at the Lake View Inn. The perfect place to stay in Shillong.
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A View of the Wards Lake from the Lake View Inn
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Wards lake lit up for the night walk

 

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People enjoying local cuisines at the Food and Wine Festival.

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The Archery Competiton

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The Bike Stunt Rally
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A marathon runner at the Cherry Blossom Run.  Image Credits: The official event page
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The Fashion Show.  Image from the official event page
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The Storytelling session
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The Chief Minister of Meghalaya
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Purna Sangma, the Chief Minister performing at the event. Image from the official event page.

 

The handicrafts and local produce for sale at the polo grounds.

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The East Khasi Hills

As I made way through the East Khasi Hills, the hills came to life.

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the blossoming at the Wards lake

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An orchid in full bloom
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A blossoming tree adding colors to the azure November sky at the Polo Ground
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A bud full of blossoms
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on the road of colors
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loveliest of all the cherry blossom now
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a bunch of fresh blossoms
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the blooming state
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in full bloom

By this time, the cherry blossom had begun and the Scotland of the East, transferred into a pink city.

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hanging from the bow
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the clouds at the Shillong peak
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A view from the Shillong peak
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parched on the way to the Shillong peak

 

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The passenger of life, resting at the Shillong peak
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the abode of clouds, Meghalaya

Parched at the top of Shillong peak one gets an ethereal view of the pink city.

It’s as if autumn and spring kiss and goes their separate ways here.

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The pink city Shillong. Image courtesy the official event page

2 worlds exist in the same place – the blossoming cherry flowers fall on heaps of autumn leaves and as you move towards Dawki, Cherapunji and Mawsingram you come across small huts and villages tucked in the hills.

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The Golf Course
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The sprawling Golf Course
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The Don Bosco Church – 2nd oldest church in India
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My mother in front of the church
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Inside the church
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Christ, the savior
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A view from the church
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On the doorways of the church

The Elephanta Falls in Shillong

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The Umngot River at Dawki, Indo-Bangladesh Border in Meghalaya
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The Water is crystal clear

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People at Dawki
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The glistening waters of Dawki
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The simmering sunlight falling on the crystal clear water

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Along the way, you find Mylliem, a region in the East Khasi Hills where children frequent hillside graveyards to offer their condolence. It’s as if they are waiting for a story to unfold. Mylliem is that story-teller, she tells the tale of regions – waterfalls, canyons, footbridges, and crystal clear shimmering water.

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On the way to cherapunji
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At the tip of the Seven Sisters
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The Seven Sister Waterfalls
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The Living Footbridge at Mawsynram Picture: The Daily Mail
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The laitlum canyon of Meghalaya Picture: The Better India
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On the way home I left the city in pink hues Picture: The official event page

 

It’s a fortune teller’s land.

The Pied Piper of Mylliem is waiting to enchant us here with her spell of magic – in the land of the fortune teller.

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