A trip to Laitlum Grand Canyons

Prasanta Talukdar

We often visit Shillong, Sohra, Shillong peak, Elephant falls and Police Bazaar. For those who like a bit of
adventure and natural beauty, this canyon is worth a day visit. Suddenly valley end, what was that! Grand
Canyon, it’s a majestic. This place is having something for everyone; adventure, relaxation, romanticism can
enjoy. To see such beautiful location in our country, untouched, not very popular among tourists. It is a beautiful
valley and it is similar to foreign highlands, which is known as Laitlum Grand Canyon. It is located about 45
minutes driving from Shillong is an ideal place. On the old National Highway, towards Smit, just 22 kms away
from the city, the road in the last 3-4 kms is bad but motorable, the Laitlum Grand Canyon is a place of worth to
visit. Laitlum Grand Canyon literally translates to ‘end of hills’ and it does justice to its name. The tourist flow to
this spectacular spot is relatively less and though this means inconvenience.

Weather of Laitlum is quite amazing; changing every half an hour, cloud comes and goes within a minute of time.
This is one of those hidden gem off regular path. One can see awesome cloudy view from the hill top. Green top
valley specially adds cherry on top. This is also a really nice place for a picnic with family and friends. Since, it’s
not so popular spot; there are no any restrooms nearby. There are only a couple of small shops out there selling
water, chips, etc. Local people come out there with tea and snacks to sell. If you wish to spend long time, it’s
advisable to go well with stocked with water. The Grand Canyon got famous only after Hindi movie Rock on-2
was shot here. This is really one of the most breathtaking views anyone would see in India. The best part about
this location is that car can directly reach to the hilltop and from there; one could see the views of entire valley.
The drive to this place so scenic, it looks like a postcard. The car takes you all the way up to 6200 feet or more
from sea level. In one side you have the deep canyons which install a sense of fear and on the other side the lush green fields provides you tranquility and serenity. Once you reach the top, the views are breathtaking and you can feel the clouds are touching you and passing by. If anybody loves nature and cloud surfing nowhere else will ever find better place than this. If you have luck, then you may have a fantastic view as well all the neighbouring cliffs drop off at similar angles to create a very deep fall down there. Stone steps about 3500 lead down to a small village in the foothills. It is only a foot trail for the locals, without any railing. Adventurous people may like to trek down the trails, but it is strenuous on the climb back. The weather is very unpredictable there, it is always advisable to carry umbrella and rain suit.

On a day when it is foggy, but still the view is amazing, on a clear day this will be a photographer’s paradise.
There is a river below, clouds and lots of winds, if the canyons are fully covered by cloud, one could hear the
musical sound of flowing water, which will mesmerize anyone. The beauty of the place has managed to remain
unspool. Adding to this, the chilling cold and gusty winds amidst the golden meadows make you feel so fresh. It’s a real sight of Meghalaya, beautiful location and beautiful Khasi people. Relish black tea and very behaviour of tea vendors. It is an awesome location even for kids, who can round around and play; but not recommendable
from people with breathing problems, height phobia and leg problems.

The journey is fascinating and refreshing as one drives along the hills and valleys all green with tall trees and
farmlands. Yes, farming is a major occupation of the locality. As one drive through Smit village, the rural beauty of Meghalaya is even more appealing. The rustic wooden homes, small gardens with bright flowers, people clad in typical Khasi attire will soothe the eyes. The canyon is on the other side of the village. The land abruptly drops off at the edge into a deep gorge. It usually remains very misty. It is to be mentioned that one of the most ancient and grandiose festivals of the Khasis, the annual Nongkrem Dance is observed during the autumn season at Smit (capital of the erstwhile Khasi state of Hima Khyrim), the cultural centre of the Khasi Hills.

Laitlum is a place something that can’t be actually reviewed; it’s just mind- blowing and wonderful. A must visit
place near Shillong and better than some well known hyped places. An adventure to Shillong is incomplete,
without a visit to Laitlum Grand Canyon.

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