India is a country which is renowned in the world for its age-old rich culture, traditions, and hospitability. And what a culmination of various religions, communities, and their heritage is our country is. It is said that there are thousands of deities of Hindu religion who are worshipped all around the nation. And there is no proper list on the various local deities, tribal lords and goddesses who are known only to a few people.
Over the years, Shillong has become quite popular among the tourists as a destination which is enthralling, adventuresome and full of greeneries. The Mawphlang forest is a well-known name now not only because of its natural beauty but also of the local legendary tale of the tribal deity associated with it. This makes it the most interesting and sacred forest in whole of Shillong and thus a major tourist attraction site.
Where is it
The Mawphlang forest, adjacent to the Mawphalang village, is located near the East Khasi hills, about 25 km from Shillong in Meghalaya. It spreads over an area of 192 acres.
The myth associated with the forest:
At first glance, it may appear as a dense rich forest and just like any other forest in these climatic conditions. A variety of plants ranging from medicinal to flowering plants such as orchids can be seen in this forests. Rudraksha trees are also found as well as carnivorous insect-eating plants, mushrooms, and ferns can be spotted.
What makes the forest attractive is the tale associated with it. It is said that the local tribal deity, Labasa, resides in the forest and who protects the people and takes the form of tiger or Cheetah. There are a few stone temples dedicated to the deity where locals worship the lord, sometimes sacrifices animals in times of urgency or peril.
It is a must follow rule while visiting the forest is that nothing, and that means absolutely nothing can be taken or carried away from the forest. Be it a twig, leaf, mud, rock, the people are not supposed to take anything away as it angers the deity and might result in some mishap to the carrier and in extreme case even death.
There have been numerous incidents in past regarding these. Locals say that once, the army in the 1970s, tried to carry away some logs from the forests and no matter what, their trucks won’t start.
Certain areas in the forest are treated as cremation place for local tribal people.
How to reach:
The Mawphlang forest is just an hour drive from Shillong. Cabs and private cars are available for the commute.
The forest is open for tourists from 9 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. every day. Ticket price is INR 20 and extra charge for Camera(subject to change). You may avail a Guide to get a thorough knowledge about the place and legends associated with it.
Nearby attraction to this place includes Elephant Falls, and the Khasi heritage village, which is just opposite to this forest. Apart from this, there is also a trekking trail (David -Scott Trekking trail).
Featured Photo by ChanduBandi