Namaskar friends! Welcome to Visa2explore! This is your host, Harish Bali. Right now, we are in Tura, the district headquarters of West Garo Hills. You can see the Tura town sprawled in front of your eyes. It is 8 o’ clock in the morning. Right now, we are going to Selbalgre from here. Selbalgre – now I’ve pronounced it correctly. The place Selbalgre is about 25kms away and it will take us an hour or so to reach there. Today, we will do local sightseeing in the radius of 25-30 kms of this town. We also want to go to at least one destination today, which is located a bit off-road. Since we would not be able to take our present vehicle there, which we’ve been using since Shillong,…. …therefore, we’ve hired this Thar Jeep at Rs. 4000 today. So, we will take this Thar as well as our vehicle both. Since we are a group of 4-5 persons, we will sit comfortably in the two vehicles. Just for your reference, the taxi that we hired in Shillong…. …its per day charge is Rs. 2600 We hired it to travel into East Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills regions. Now here, in Tura, by Tura I mean the Garo Hills area, is at a distance of 300kms,…. We have paid Rs. 12,000 for a two-day trip. After that, for every subsequent day, we have to pay Rs. 2000. Today is our third day in the Garo Hills. Going forward, I will keep sharing more information and tips with you. For now, let us make a move. The time is 8.15 in the morning. I just checked Though it is sunny for now, but as soon as clouds take over, the sun is hidden behind them. That is how Meghalaya is. Come, let us go. We’ve reached Selbalgre. Let me introduce to you Mr. Daniel. He owns the Thar jeep that brought us here. So, since we are new to this place, we are onto you So, we’ve come to Selbalgre. This is Huro A Song. ‘Huro’ means ‘Hoolock Gibbon’ and ‘A Song’ means ‘village.’ You can see Gibbons here in the morning? Yes, during the mornings, if you come around 8 o’clock, you can spot Gibbons. 8 am or may be before that you can see! But now it is already time up so you can’t! Yeah! So, last night, we have already had a conversation with the owner of this place…. …and we had told her that we would like to have breakfast and spend about an hour here. Then we will check out the trees on our left or right…. …whether we will catch a Hoolock Gibbon or not for some videography. Let us go and meet Ma’am inside. I have been talking to Mrs. Gunme for the past 10 minutes. And she has informed us about an opportunity lost today. She said if we had conveyed …. …in better detail what our expectations were…. ….she could have arranged 4-5 traditional vegetarian food items too in this breakfast spread. So, we kind of lost that opportunity. No problem! What is ready now? Today, we have the rice packet! This is organic rice from our highlands. This rice is paired with a Garo-style chicken preparation called ‘Kappa.’ This is cooked with Khaar. Sorry, Kappa is ‘Kh’ or ‘Ka’? Ka! This is a traditional dish of the Garos. It is cooked with a cooking agent called ‘Karitchi, which is vegetable-based.’ And we have the Country Chicken, this is normal fry with onions. And we have the cabbage, boiled cabbage! And some boiled eggs! Great! Super! So, we will eat our breakfast and then wait for the gibbon. Ma’am, please tell me one thing. We’ve been noticing, for the past few days, in Meghalaya…. …there is almost no oil in the food, or very limited oil. We use a cooking agent – Karitchi! This is vegetable-based! This cooking agent is made from the bamboo strips. Is it the same thing as Khaar, which they use in Assam? There are many ways of preparing Khaar but this is prepared from bamboo. Yesterday we saw Khaar that was…. …Khaar, I mean this thing,… …Karitchi…. ….made out of cotton trees. Bark of cotton trees! Great! She has also cooked some chickpeas along with everything else. Generally, in North India, poori makes for a good combination with chholey (chickpeas)! Roasted chicken looks very tempting! Kappa! By God! Wow! Really good! Awesome! Very well-cooked, tender, and the best part about it is ginger! Ginger with little it of chili! Khaar is an important ingredient and I can feel its taste in the dish. This fried chicken is kind of good but that Kappa was the ultimate! Kappa was delicious to eat! No, seriously, very well-cooked & very tasty! Generally, I feel, that the phrase that I use to describe such food is ‘simplicity at its peak.’ Very good! We have been here for a long time. While enjoying the view around us, we are continuously trying to understand…. …Garo culture, traditions from her. Now, I don’t think we will get to see the Gibbon. That is because it is late now. So, they told me that there is a Center, about 10kms from here,.. ..where we can, at least, have a look at the Hoolock Gibbon. So, we will finish our meal and leave. We have come to see their farm after finishing our breakfast. So, all the vegetables that you cook here, do you source all of those from your farm here? Yes! Wow! So, this is the yam plant. Taro! And you can see this! This is a root vegetable! Ohh! You pulled it out! Okay, let’s take his help. This is a root vegetable. So you can see the vegetable here. As far as I know, both ‘arbi’ and ‘kachaalu’ are called Taro. So, I am trying to differnetiate a bit, from Hindi language to English. If you have detailed information about this, do share with us, rest…. …this is the plant, in front of you. And do you make fritters out of its leaves? Yes! It is shredded and mixed with dal paste. Or besan (chickpea flour), besan is dal paste. Otherwise, powdered dal! But it is quite common! Yes! Great! Nice! Thank you for giving us this demonstration! So, this is haldi plant (turmeric). We have the ginger and this is hibiscus soreli. This is a sour vegetable. This is also called Gongura. Very popular in South India. I just remembered, in Hyderabad, we had gone somewhere for lunch and there…. …I ate this Gongura chutney. Hmm! It makes very good achaar (pickle) also. So, what do you call it here? Sorell. Sorell. Even here, somewhere, we ate it in dry form, with meat or something. You can preserve these leaves by drying them. Once these are dried, these are converted into powder. And it is used as a cooking/seasoning agent It is cooked with meat, with vegetables. Okay! Okay! Look at this large leaf! Huh! Big size! Very big, but I’ve seen leaves 3 times bigger than this. 3 times! That means this big! Huge! Yeah! Oh Wow! Magnificent! Cool! And Ma’am, we need to leave. Before that, we want to see the huts where tourists can stay. Yes! Travellers can come and stay in this structure. This is a replica of traditional bachelor’s house. And this is a room, which can accommodate four people. Four persons! Okay! And it has an attached bathroom. And a family can pay Rs. 1500, which includes a traditional, complimentary breakfast. That is a lot reasonably also. And Ma’am, what do you call this ‘dhol’ like instrument? This is called ‘Dama’. These are the traditional drums. It is 11.15 am and we must leave now. Thank you so much! Thank you so much! The pleasure is ours! This is a small token of gratefulness! Thanks a lot! This is a good luck charm! Thank you so much! And we have this book. This is a coffee table book. Ohh fantastic! This book is compiled and produced by my friend, Dr. Ramona Sangma. Wow! She is a professor in NEHU (North Eastern Hill University). So beautiful! Let me check out this book here and then we will leave. And, tonight I am going to read it in detail. This is a very expensive book that you’ve gifted to us. That’s okay! But I’m sure that reading this would be a great experience for me. This book is about the Wangala – which is the post-harvest festival. And it also speaks about the rituals pertaining to the agricultural practices. All this culminates into Wangala. Wow! I will go through this book once I reach my homestay tonight. And thanks again! See you some other year. See you again, whenever we come back. Come back! Thank you so much. Bye bye! Bye-bye! After travelling for 30 minutes, we’ve reached the Hoolock Gibbon Rescue Centre. I am watching a gibbon for the first time in my life. It is a great experience! To go closer, we will need to wear this mask. Will you please help? Okay! Oh Man! Wow! India’s only surviving ape! Just like I told you earlier, monkeys have tails, but Hoolock Gibbon doesn’t have one. See, this is the rehabilitation centre. It can also be called injury recovery centre. Gibbons who get injured are brought here, treated and sent back to forest after recovery. And this Centre was established in 2009, I found out here. What a lovely place! Lifetime experience! It looks amazing! Look at the facial expressions of the Hoolock Gibbon! It is a fact that 98% of the Gibbon brain is similar to that of human brain. That means the gibbon thinks just as we do. We will look around a little bit more and then find out more about Hoolock Gibbon from the staff here. Hello, my name is Besida C.H.Mara. Now you are here in the Hoolock programme. This is the only rescue and rehabilitation centre in India for Hoolock Gibbons. The Gibbons are very special. They are like apes and they are like humans. They are an endangered species so we need to protect them. That is why we are rescuing them from people, giving them good food… ….and also treatment so that they can gain weight, get healthy so that they can be released back in the wild. Nice to get all this information from you. Thank you so much for your time! Thank you Sir! The time is 1 o’clock in the afternoon. For your information, if you want to come here…. …you should be here before 3 pm. This place is open for visitors on all seven days of the week. Now, we are leaving here for Daribokgre. It will take us approximately 1.5 hours to reach there. From the rescue centre, we travelled 2kms straight on the way to Chandigiri. There is a fish sanctuary here, on our left hand side. We bought some Murri to feed the fish. As soon as we threw Murri into the water….Ohh God! Thousands of fishes showed up on the surface! Lovely! It feels good to be here. You can either get Murri with you or buy it here locally while visiting here. And it feels good. In fact I feel that one should come here with enough time at hand. That way, you will enjoy here. We are going to Daribokgre! For that we need to go via Chandigre, which will take us 30 or 20 minutes to reach. At Chandigre, we will leave one of our cars behind. And from there onwards, we all will shift to the Thar jeep. That is because the road further, being off-road, can only be covered in this jeep, not the car. So now we will join you again after travelling for another 15-20 minutes to Chandigre. It started raining as soon as we reached Chandigre. If it starts raining heavily…. …we may have to face difficulty during off-road travel. Mr. Daniel is driving our jeep right now and he says he has been to this place several times. In fact, he was here the day before yesterday. First experience for me. Before this, I rode a motorbike in Manali. That was an off-road track. But that was bike, this is jeep and the road is narrow, with slippery surface, as you can see. High difficulty level! Well, if you come here during November and December, this road will have dried up by then. And he told me that this place is a favorite of tourists. This is a very popular tourist destination among locals too. We’ve reached Daribokgre. I am really impressed with your driving skills. You know, if I just close my eyes and try to imagine the road, I still get goosebumps! The road was zig-zag and sometimes, the jeep was inclined like this. So, the journey was possible because of your sturdy jeep and your awesome driving skills. Thank you! We enjoyed so far. Now let us pay some attention to the view in front of us. This is a really ultimate place! The time is 3 o’clock in the afternoon. What a location! You said you were here with your family the day before yesterday? Yeah! So, he tells me that he was here with his family the other day and though they wanted to stay overnight….. …but couldn’t because they had come unprepared. Secondly, they had not pre-planned to stay in a tent here. So, if you would choose to camp here, where would you do so? We usually set up camp here itself. Really Mostly here, and there is another spot, down in the fields, where we can camp. This place is really beautiful! One more thing, rainy season may not be the best time to do camping like this. So, this is something we should do during October-November. You will find leech on the ground during rainy season. hmm! November-December is better. But it will be cold during December because I am already feeling cold now. Yes, December is very cold month. Correct me if I am wrong, there is, at least, a temperature difference of 7-8 degrees between Tura & this place. Yeah! This place is colder. Wow! Lovely place! All these are local houses. Are there any homestays in this area? Yes, there are home-stays, located down below. While going back, we would like to check out a few home-stays. Look at the clouds! Though most of the sky is clear, but we can see dark clouds hovering at a distance. Mountains, greenery, wow! And it is amazing! And if one would like to go trekking from here, tell us something about that. You will have to go about 2kms from here in a vehicle…. …and from there, you can go on a trek of around 2 to 2.5 hours. Okay! So, ideally, one should come here during evening or night, set up a camp here,… …go for trekking early next morning…. …then come back by the afternoon, 2 o’clock,…. …then go back to Tura. Yeah, that is the right thing. Also, this place is at a distance of 12kms from Chandigre, we checked. Correct? And it took us almost an hour! So, from that you can imagine how we have reached here. But the journey is not so tough during November-December because the road surface is not slippery. Wow! Lovely place! It is feeling good! We climbed down 200 metres, to visit this home-stay. This is the building. Can we look at the rooms inside? These pictures, are these from the treks in the area? Yes, this trek takes 3.5 hours and this place is called Matcha Nokpante. In this photograph, you seem to standing atop a rock on a mountain and looking out. Oh Man! Amazing! Come, let us go back up. The rooms are good. Yes! Their room tariffs are in the range of Rs. 300, Rs. 500, Rs. 700 and this one is for Rs. 1200 as per facility. There is mattress, mosquito net and so many windows to let the cool breeze blow in during the night. So this looks like a very nice experience! And if I had been aware of this information, maybe, I would have planned a one-night stay at this place. Namaste! hello! Hello! Very good! Does she know Hindi or English? No Hindi! Okay, no problem! Oh Wow! What a view! Really magnificent! Man, this view is amazing! Can we see that hut one time? Okay, they also have a living arrangement here. Wow! They also have a mattress! Super! Ohh man! Great! One can enjoy a meal or a cup of tea sitting here. Mind-blowing! What a view! The views were good from that room as well as from where we were standing earlier but….. …this is the right angle. Amazing! I think one would need to wear a sweater by 6 or 7 pm here. Right now, it is pleasant. Mitela! After travelling for an hour, we’ve reached Chandigre resort. Here, talking about Meghalaya…. … more cultural programmes, dance events are organized during winter season than summer. Now, I don’t know when I would be able to come to Meghalaya again, therefore,… …we got a folk dance event organised through someone so that we can…. …see and understand the local culture closely. Come, let us go inside! Hello, my name is Harish! My name is Thikre Sangma. My name is Rajiv Sangma! We are here to represent our Wangla dance today. And they are our members from Dokaku Arts and Culture Association. And we are going to represent our culture, tribe, tradition today. Through this dance, we will present our beautiful culture today, so you will get to see that today. I am so impressed looking at the dress…..traditional dress! Thank you! Do you guys understand hindi? No? All of you? Great! I don’t have words to express how good I feel here today! Actually I am short of words. I don’t have words to describe this moment. Before today, I have seen this moment…. ….only on YouTube or TV. And today seeing you all like this is a really good feeling. It feels really good! Just a bit of information from you – are you all students or you work somewhere? All of you are students? Very good! Looking at your traditional dress and your excitement to perform your cultural folk dance…. …….I am very, very excited. So, now we will see the Wangala dance. Great! After watching your folk dance presentation, I am seriously motivated to…. ….plan a visit within next two months or next year to the “100 Drums Wangala festival.” So, I am so much happy. I would really like everyone of you to clap, not for myself, but for yourself! Thank you so much! Thank you so much! A group photograph with you all! Great! Last night, we reached our homestay and went to sleep. We got up a bit late today. Today is 10th September. Now, we are leaving Tura for Guwahati. This total journey is 220kms long. It is good that I visited West Jaintia Hills along with East Khasi Hills. I toured the region and also came to the Garo Hills, which gave me a perspective of the whole Meghalaya. So, if you are planning a 6-9 days’ journey to Meghalaya, you can do the same. Spend 3 days each in different regions throughout Meghalaya. You will enjoy very much. I would like to repeat myself that if you want to come to Tura, you must come via Nongstoin. The route is magnificent. Though, you should get your lunch packed with you and eat it enroute. This is because you won’t find any eateries on the way. That was our experience. Now, we are returning to Guwahati via direct route. It will be a different route. Not via Shillong. It is time to leave. Let us say goodbye to the home-stay owner and then we will be on our way. Okay Mr. Oswin. We are leaving now. Our luggage is packed. We had a great trip. We really enjoyed Garo hills. And bye to you as well. Amazing food! I still remember the breakfast! Ohh! Thank you so much! Ohh! Lovely!! I saw this on performers during the Wangala dance. This is worn by men, women, both? Yes, they both wear it. Ohh, so nice of you! So nice of you! Thank you so much for coming to Garo Hills. And covering our traditional life. Whenever you come next time, do come with your family. Definitely. One thing you forgot to tell me. I should come for a duration of 6-7 days! Because 2 days are too less of time. You need time to explore the region properly. Ohh! This is a little souvenir from our side. This is a Pitcher plant carving. I just recalled, while teaching science to my son,…. ….I also read about this plant in plant nutrition. This plant eats insects, right? Yes, it does! And it closes up like this from the top. Yes, it closes up. Nutrition for plants! Good! Thank you so much, once again. Let us take a photograph together. We’ve covered 30kms so far. We stopped here for the scenic view. The view is gorgeous from this point. Look at the road, no traffic at all. When we left Tura, there was some traffic, but since then, almost no traffic and the road is very good. Let us go up there! Wow! Very good! The mountains in the front look nice. If the sky had been clearer today, I mean if there were no clouds, we could have been able to see upto 50kms. Wow! Great experience! This journey is awesome! Now let us move on! We are feeling hungry, let us see if there is a restaurant on the way for us to eat something. We have travelled 70kms. Now, we’ve stopped to eat here. This restaurant is called ‘Kapa.’ Though there is no ‘h’ in the name, but it is pronounced as Khapa. Let us go inside and find out what all is available. The highway on which we are travelling…. …it connects Guwahati with Tura. Here, at this dhaba, you will get the traditional food of Garo tribe. So, let me tell you what I have ordered. By the way, this restaurant is very popular in the area. A lot of travellers stop here to eat. It is 11.45 am right now. A while later, there will be a waiting line here. Fish fry! Dal! This is called Mati Kalai. This dish is made with split urad dal, chicken and khaar. Then there is potatoes, rice, papad, two kinds of chutney with salad. First, let me directly taste this – Do O Kalai I took a spoonful of this gravy. Since the dal is totally cooked, it cannot be identified. Second thing, Khaar is dominating the taste of this dish. Simple & tasty combination of rice with this preparation! Very nicely cooked! This chicken has not been marinated in any manner. This chicken has been boiled and cooked with this dal. While travelling in Meghalaya, while staying in a home-stay, or eating at a traditional eatery…. …you will get to see cats as pets at several places, like this place right now. Let us finish the food and continue our journey further. Along with hygienic food and surroundings in this joint, you can also enjoy the mountains, scenic view. I’ve heard it is raining cats & dogs in Shillong today. By the way, right now, we are about 350-360kms away from Shillong. Anyways, I’ve bought Kuai for myself, which is called Gui here. So, this is a popular practice here to eat pan leaf piece with supari (betel nut) in it. Like this, I will eat this supari wrapped in this leaf. Great! You will get to eat this in every restaurant, eating joint, everywhere. The greenery looks awesome! Great! Let us move on! The road so far was almost empty. Now, we will get to see traffic because we are inching closer to Guwahati. We will take a right turn from this crossing. It will take us about 2.5 to 2.75 hours to reach Guwahati. The weather is changing constantly. Sometimes it is sunny and sometimes cloudy! We hope that we will be able to reach Guwahati by 3.45 or 4.00 pm. We’ve reached the Guwahati airport at 4 pm. This is the end of our Meghalaya series. I hope you have enjoyed this whole series. What next after this? Frankly speaking, at this moment, I haven’t decided that. For your information, if you come to the Guwahati airport,…. ….and from here, you want to take a helicopter to Shillong or Tura,…. …there is a service available at the airport. Though you cannot book a ticket online, but I will provide the necessary details in the description of this video. Rs. 1500 is the cost of ticket to Shillong and there are two flights daily, in the morning. And Rs. 1700 for Tura! Two flights daily, during morning, I mean, during first half of the day. That is it! Your experiences, as always, please share in the comments. We will meet soon. Till then, goodbye! New destination, new journey! Thanks for your time!