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Weekend getaways: Meghalaya.

Summary: Asia's cleanest village, Mawlynnong is for a weekend lost in nature.

Nature: Mawlynnong

Where: About 100 km from Shillong.

What: Asia's cleanest village, Mawlynnong is for a weekend lost in nature.

How: Hire a car at Shillong and drive three hours up to Mawlynnong.

Why: For a rendezvous with nature and the simple people who live in this village. The villagers have taken it upon themselves to keep Mawlynnong sparkling clean. Small streets lead to quaint thatched huts; bamboo dustbins can be seen at every street corner. The gardens are full of flowers. And for tourists, there are bamboo tree houses, 20 ft up in the air with two bedrooms, a living room and a sit-out, equipped with beds, blankets and mosquito nets. To continue the experience is Sky View, a 60-ft viewing platform built in the tallest of the trees with bamboo bridges linking it to five other trees. If you are lucky, on a clear day you can look down on the Meghalaya plains and Bangladesh. Less than 20 minutes away is one of the famed living root bridges.

Good to know Tip: Cleanliness is religion here, so respect the sentiments of the villagers and do not litter the place. Food: The food is basic--rice, fish, pork and steamed vegetables-so be prepared for a traditional home-cooked meal. Carry snacks, and, preferably, bottled water. Stay: Mawlynnong has two guesthouses and three homestays. Starting Rs. 1,500 for 2; call Henry for more information: (0) 96150 43027

Luxury: Ri Kynjai

Where: About 25 km from Shillong.

What: One of the few luxury resorts in the north-east; a treat for the eyes located next to the sprawling Umiam Lake.

How: Drive up an hour from Shillong to Umiam.

Why: Perhaps no other resort can claim to have what Ri Kynjai does--a Khasi spa. Ri Kynjai offers two kinds of Khasi therapy: the Khem Tynrai (traditional curative massage) and Khem Jah Thait, which focuses on the pressure points. In between treatments you can try a round of golf at the famous Shillong Golf Course. Walk through the beautiful forest that surrounds the resort, or take a picnic basket to the Umiam Lake. The architecture of the resort is based on traditional Khasi thatched huts and its restaurant serves up a mouthwatering array of local dishes to choose from. The pork with bamboo shoots is delicious and should be a must on your itinerary.

Good to know Season: Meghalaya is pretty much a year-round destination, except maybe for a few weeks of the monsoon when driving becomes a risky proposition. Tip: Tripura Castle, a heritage property in Shillong, also has an excellent spa. Activity: Plan the trip to Ri Kynjai around the Bob Dylan Music Festival, held every year on May 24 to pay tribute to the iconic star. It is organised by Lou Majaw, a guitarist who also hails from Meghalaya. Stay: Ri Kynjai: Starting Rs. 6,000;

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Publication:India Today Travel Plus
Date:Jul 1, 2012
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