Hearing the word ‘Sacred’ naturally inculcates some sort of curiosity within me. This time when I heard the word in line with the word ‘Forest’, my excitement reached new levels. A week later, when I finally visited the Mawphlang Sacred Grove, I felt a vibe which was ethereal and difficult to explain. The place was like an illusion, more like an alternate reality, where everything was in perfect sync. The trees were dense, alive and fresh, while there was organic growth everywhere on the forest floor. The butterflies flew with a purpose, the stream sang in perfect harmony, and there were flowers in all the right places. Not very sure, but I think this 800 year old forest was actually breathing. The monoliths blended in beautifully with the surrounding, proudly demonstrating that the forest has remained untouched.
Yes, untouched because people are not allowed to carry even a single leaf out of the forest. Beliefs suggests that misfortunes and curses befall people who do not follow the rules of this Sacred Grove. On the other hand, people with good intentions receive all the love and protection from the forest. I am not superstitious but if you are in the Mawphlang Sacred Grove, I genuinely request you to adhere to the rules of this forest.
Why you should visit: Mawphlang Sacred Grove is often referred to as Nature’s own museum signifying the special place it occupies in the hearts of nature enthusiasts. Since the grove has been untouched for years, it will give you the most genuine wilderness experience ever. The endemic plants and orchids add to the flavor. The Grove is easily accessible from Shillong, the experience is all the more worth.
Things to do: Trek across the forest and experience the sanctity it provides, learn about various endemic flora and fauna, connect with nature, come back refreshed.
Best time to visit: The forest is fresh anytime of the year.
Accessible from: Mawphlang is an hours drive from Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya.
Something extra: Beliefs say that if you go to the sacred grove with evil intentions, you will be cursed and will probably suffer from some ailment. It is the herbs and fruits from within the forest that can cure the ailment. The grove is known for some very rare medicinal plants. Also, guides are compulsory for entering the forest.
Photography and Visual Support: Imdad Rasul, @imdadrasul (instagram)
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