Considered sacred by local Khasi community is the large 700 acres forest area known as the Sacred groves of Mawphlang. It’s an Indigenous forest conserved by the local community protecting and preserved by traditional religious sanction, since the ancient days. Some state it to be 500 or 800 years old and it is the state’s most renowned forest, for its dense foliage,history and stories it holds. Mawplang translating to grassy stone holds true to its name with stones,trees and ground being covered in grass and moss.

Located 25 kms away from Shillong, it is a natural museum filled with wild vegetation, variety of flora, medicinal herbs, orchids, ferns, mushrooms, trees, butterflies and a lot more making it an excellent destination for nature lovers to be amidst the forest for a walk and botany explorers to study the fascinating flora it has to offer. The sacred groves also have luxuriant foliage of ferns, pipers and aroids. Trees of Castanopsis kurzii encompass this dense forest, preventing them from getting mixed with the vegetation of Khasi pines. Over the centuries, the forest ground has got a thick cover of humus that supports the growth of unique plants. A small stream and water spring is also present within the forest adding charm to its existence. Main features being the monoliths and their significance for the khasi tribe. An annual monolith festival held near the forest keeping the traditions and culture alive.

Folklore says that no one is ever lost in the forest - the deity always protects and shows the way out. Also that nothing should be taken out of the forest - resulting in some bad karma or harm if you do.  With just few incidents reported as stories mentioned or probably more of a method to preserve the forest. Free from any form of carbon footprint, making it the special place that it holds. An entire trek within the forest lasting for almost 2 hours more or less.

A peaceful enchanting forest with several stories it holds are told by the locals and guides. The guided tour offering two options. One to the ancient sacred sacrificial site and other a longer route through the jungle. The latter always recommended to witness the glory of the forest. Leaving you mesmerized by the pristine beauty of nature.

Preserved since time immemorial, the forest is a contrast to its surrounding grassland. Which is a place now considered a cultural ground for traditional events and a heritage site showcasing the different architecture and living styles of different himas or villages. The grassland nearby the edge of the forest is a ground for picnic goers, the local archers practicing and playing or just visitors strolling around. At the far end of the grassland is a path to a viewpoint that overlooks the villages and hills beyond. A lovely point to be at during sunsets to witness the picturesque view. About half a kilometer away from the venue lies the famous David Scott trial path, an old trekking route considered the most famous one in Meghalaya.

A quaint environment setting an excellent example of how local communities can contribute in maintaining the rich diversity of what nature has to offer. An experience to feel the serenity and calmness of the forest. The drive from Shillong to Mawphlang offering scenic views all along to be floored once at the destination.

- Nocy Rangsa Marak

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