Imagine what happens when natives choose to abide by a sacred oath, wherein they maintain a healthy and harmonious relationship with nature, worshiping her as their deity. It results in a green haven, unperturbed by human interference. The Sacred Groves in Meghalaya or Mawphlang Sacred Forest, is a prime example of such a mutualistic association. These age-old groves are temperate rainforest with evergreen broad-leaved trees. The sanctification of these enormous forests came from the fundamental pantheistic philosophy, rooted into the traditions and customs of the Khasi tribe. They staunchly believe that God exists in every element and aspect of the universe, and manifests primarily through nature.
The divine law, Ka Hukum Blei, prohibits them from blatant destruction of forests for their personal gain. This is considered an act of utter disrespect towards the deity, Labasa. She is the protector who keeps the forests from suffering from mishaps or being taken advantage of. The natives offer special prayers in order to pay their respects, if and when they derive anything materialistic from the forest, which they acknowledge as the abode of Labasa. As a result, these forests thrive on one strict rule - ‘Nothing should be taken from the forest, not even fallen branches or rocks’. Legend has it that once an army entourage tried taking out some old fallen branches in the 1970s, but they failed in their attempts to do so, as their car refused to start. This rule preserved this sanctorum for centuries, and some believe that a few species of flora and fauna that have been pronounced extinct or endangered, might be found in this habitat.
These forests provide a blissful home for several species of animals, birds, mushrooms and medicinal plants. They also have sites of coronation and sacrificial ceremonies where Khasi kings and ceremonial leaders (Ki Lyngdoh) once held their meetings to anoint new chiefs. It is not just the customs, traditions and lores associated with these forests that attract travelers and tourists from all over the world, but also the greenery wrapped in the majesty of the thick vegetation. Even though entry is allowed for outsiders, you must be under the strict supervision of a local guide throughout the tour and adhere to the rules and guidelines. One should also respect and maintain the balance of nature that the indigenous local tribes have built over all these years. The dense network of trees comprises some which are said to be over a century old. The locals often join hands and flock to these forests to celebrate festivals. For instance, the three-day Monolith Festival is held annually to celebrate the tribal culture and lifestyle.
Where to Stay
The entrance to Mawphlang Sacred Forest is almost equidistant to both Shillong and Cherrapunji. Both these destinations are popular tourist hubs that are dotted with luxurious hotels and resorts. Hotel Polo Towers in Shillong offers four resplendent categories of accommodation with modern facilities, expected of a 4-star establishment. In Cherrapunji, Polo Orchid Resort stands to welcome you to fine living amidst the green hills. At this resort, we not only offer refined living spaces, but also contemporary facilities and options to explore Cherrapunji, to deliver the complete 5-star experience.