The Mawphlang Sacred Grove
One of the most remarkable features of the Khasi Hills is the sacred forests, which have been preserved by traditional religious beliefs since the ancient days. One of the most famous sacred forests is the Mawphlang Sacred Forest, about 25 kilometers from Shillong. It has amazing, flowering trees, orchids and butterflies. It is an ideal destination for nature lovers and photographers.
Meghalaya in Sanskrit means the abode of clouds. To me, Mawphlang has always been a magical place within an hour away from Shillong.
As you move away from the town and come up along the driveway that leads to the sacred grove, you are awestruck by the landscape in front of your eyes. From the dried grasslands of the plateau to a series of stone megaliths believed to be 500 years old and a repository of the remains of dead ancestors, you’ll find many beauties outlining the boundaries of Mawphlang’s 75 hectare sacred forest. These stones are silent witnesses to numerous traditional beliefs and legends about the sacred forest, revered and preserved by local Khasi communities.
As you try and find trails that lead into the grove, you find magic. Every magical reality of the groves is dense and dark. Even a twig cannot be taken out of the forest. The belief is that harm and misery will befall anyone who attempts to do so. It is believed that the spirits and deities that reside in the groves protect the local population from various kinds of calamities.
The ground crackles with every step you take. Insects pass by you at the blink of an eye. Fallen leaves cover the thick trails of gold-like dirt. Locals use it as a passage to get to nearby villages, tourist use it as picnic spots.
Every step adds mystique to your senses. The humus-covered grounds harbor myriad varieties of plant life, many of which are found nowhere else.Aroids, pipers, fern-allies and orchids are found in abundance.
It provides an escape from the bustling city life.
The Mawphlang Sacred Grove has managed to survive, with test of human intervention, religious beliefs and taboos.Adding to that, climate change and migration are taking a toll on the picturesque Khasi Hills.