While many of us are busy setting New Year fitness resolutions that we absolutely don’t intend to keep, the adventurous ones are already making other plans. If the usual spots - like rock climbing in the south to mountaineering in the North, to beach-hopping or whatever it is you do in Goa – no longer hold the same excitement or you, it might be time to look into cave diving in Meghalaya.
A state known for its rain and breathtaking landscapes, Meghalaya doesn’t always feature on the list of the top adventure spots in the country. Though for those who live nearby know that Meghalaya is also one of the best spots to cave dive (along with a bunch of other adventure activities), due to the intricate cave system found throughout the state. Not only are many of these caves ancient, they’re also important for scientific study.
There are over 1,700 identified caves across the state, and the largest one is about 24km in length. If you go with the right company, there are vast underground caverns, hidden rivers and bathing spots to be found. Of course, we don’t suggest just grabbing a torch and heading to a cave solo; there are experts that arrange tours of the various caves, and - at least in the big ones - you’d regularly see ongoing scientific operations at all times. Of course, there are offbeat caves to be explored, too, but we can’t stress the need for a local guide enough if you’re going to take that path.
For artists or other creative folks, some of the caves offer completely vacuous environments to sit and get some much-need inspiration from. That’s, of course, once you walk and crawl for hours to reach the best spots. Depending on what your plans around it are, cave exploration tends to be an advisedly daytime experience, as it’s difficult to navigate them at night. It’s also not advisable to head here during the monsoons, as there’s a danger of flooding in the caves along with a slippery, difficult-to-navigate terrain.
You’d also have to do a bit of research on what kind of cave you’re entering (limestone, sandstone etc.) and prepare your attire/supplies accordingly, even if you have a local guide around and its usually a few-hourly activity. As it falls in the slightly-dangerous category of things, we’d strongly suggest doing your homework before doing something completely new.
There are a bunch of activities around the area you could indulge in, too, though it’d be best to get your own vehicle if you plan to do them, as transport services can be difficult to arrange in remote places. From ziplining and kayaking to rock climbing and scuba diving, there’s a lot you can explore and do, though again, you’d have to be prepared if you’re planning to go all out. The region is vast and it takes hours to reach nearby places, so make sure to send in those leave applications accordingly.
Staying options depend on where you want to explore. The caves are spread out across the hilly and forest regions of the state, though there’s plenty of accommodation available almost everywhere. Do make sure to book in advance, though.
The best time to visit is any time of the year barring the monsoon season. Seriously, do not go in the rains.