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Garo Hills

Garo Hills: An undiscovered tourist destination

 

People travel far and wide just to get a glimpse of nature. Not many are aware of the scenic beauties in our North East India. Garo Hills, in Meghalaya is abode of nature and mystery filled with thrill and adventure that you will never forget.

Blessed with unique culture, tradition, folklore, rich mythology is a beautiful hill called Garo Hills, in Meghalaya, in North East. The region is divided into three districts – East, West and South Garo Hills. The region is rich in flora and fauna amidst the scintillating landscape that makes this places, a must visit tourist destination in India, perhaps only discovered by a few lucky ones.

The longest river in Garo Hills known as the Simsang, which eventually enters Bangladesh is a threshold of unique fishes indigenous to this region. The river, as it passes along various courses springs up to a beautiful waterfall, of all shades, which has a unique tale of its origin.

Nokrek is the highest range in Garo Hills, 1400 metres above sea level. This is the buffer zone and the place is known for its rich citrus gene pool. The famous citrus indica, known locally as ‘me’mang narang’ is found in abundance here. It covers an area of about 47 sq km.

Nokrek has been is declared a national park and a biosphere reserve. This place is located at about 45 kilometres from Tura, the district headquarter of West Garo Hills. At the foothill of the Nokrek is located the beautiful hamlet of indigenous Garo people.

Chidekgre, Chandigre and Sasatgre are the villages in this range. People living in this hill are very hospitable, warm and welcoming. The climate round the year is pleasant. For an avid trekker, the place will all be welcomed. Walking in the lap of nature will be a wonderful experience. The villagers grow oranges here, which are famous in Meghalaya.

The indigenous variety of citrus fruit ‘me’mang narang’ means ‘orange of the spirits’. From the Nokrek range, Simsang originates, it enters Bangladesh through Baghmara in South Garo Hills. It is known as Someshwari there.

At this circuit, Selbagre Hoolock Gibbon Reserve is located. The community protects this reserve. The only tale-less ape species in India is found here. The sacred grove in the reserve is the pride of the village.

The Garos never kill or hunt the hoolock, it is locally known as ‘huru’. They have a traditional believe that if it is killed, a famine or a curse would befall in the village. The Garos are very much inclined towards nature and this is evident everywhere.

On this circuit another location is the Songkalwari, where the community has kept a fish reserve on the bank of Simsang river. Next is the Rongbang, where beautiful waterfall stops every traveler to enjoy it beauty. The local people maintain this place. Amidst the enchanting location you can also relish Garo delicacies and drinks. 

All along this circuit, which is the best eco-tourism destination in Garo Hills, you will find all the ingredients to make your travel memorable. The place has a lot to offer. Rombagre is located about 35 kilometres from Tura, the district headquarter of West Garo Hills.

Towards, South Garo Hills, Siju will be another destination. However, road leading to this areas is bad. But nevertheless, all complaints will go in vain once you reach there. The place is known for caves and is home to different species of birds. The Siju Bird Sanctuary is located here. Then proceed to Chitmang peak.

This place is located about 135 kilometres from Tura. Chitmang to the Garos is the final resting place for all spirits from where there is no return or rebirth, since Balpakram is only the temporary abode of the spirits. The Attongs, a sub-tribe of the Garos call it (Chitmang) Wai-mong, meaning the dwelling place of the great god, who gives life and also takes it. The place is also sacred among the Hindus who revere it and call this hill, Kailash.

Once you reach a distance of about one kilometre from the main town of Baghmara, you’ll notice thick forest ahead. Langurs, birds of different species, elephants etc inhabit this thick forest. Elephants are very common here.

If you are daring enough to explore the forest during wee hours you will definitely come across the ‘big one’ (elephants are locally known by that name).

The Balpakram National Park is located to the extreme of South Garo Hills, at a distance of 90 kilometres from Baghmara. This pocket of pristine beauty is close to the international boundary of Bangladesh.

This park aptly known as ‘The land of eternal wind’ in the local Garo language is shrouded in mystery, soaked with charms, breathtaking scenery, amazing variety of wildlife, magnificent and charming tribal lore, legends, beliefs and sentiments. Simply put, it is a travellers’ paradise.

This park with its vast elevated variation supports a profile of various types of floral and faunal compositions. There are perhaps very few places in the whole world where such a unique concentration of immense numbers of flora and fauna occur, in such a small area. Elephants and tigers are the flagship of the park. Hoolock gibbons, the only ape species found in India can also be seen here.

Other animals found in the park are deer, great Indian hornbill, pheasant, wildcats, wild cows, wild buffalo, leopards etc. Among the plants very rare species like pitcher plants (Nepenthes Khasiana), orchids and drosera flourish abundantly which often attracts wildlife biologists, researchers, nature-lovers and conservationists. Agar (Aquillaria Agallocha) is another endemic plant, which enriches the flora diversity of the park.