Complete Guide about Meghalaya: Traditional Games, Dance, and Food

When it comes to Indian places that boast picturesque landscapes with lush valleys, glorious history and diverse culture, northeastern Indian states often tend to escape the notice of travel enthusiasts. Meghalaya is one such state that deserves a place on every traveler’s bucket list.

Meghalaya is well-known for its rich culture and traditions, mouth-watering delicacies,  historical sites, hospitable locals, and more! Contrary to popular Indian destinations such as Goa, Manali, Mumbai, etc.

Meghalaya does not attract much crowd during peak tourism season and is, therefore, the best place to visit when you want to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Dive in to learn more about everything Meghalaya has to offer! 

Why Should You Visit Meghalaya?

Northeast India consists of eight unique states – Assam, Manipur, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram, and Meghalaya. These states are often referred to as the “Eight Sisters” and are well-revered across the globe for their distinctive culture, traditions, food, and history.

Meghalaya borders the beautiful state of Assam in the north and northeast and is bordered by Bangladesh in the south and southwest. Popularly known as the “Scotland of East”, Meghalaya’s capital is Shillong.

This state tends to boast relatively good weather throughout the year and is home to Cherrapunji, one of the wettest regions in the world. Cherrapunji, along with its accompanying village, Mawsynram, attracts many tourists yearly.

Meghalaya is undoubtedly one of the greenest states in India as it is covered by lush greenery, pines, bamboo, oak, birch, and sal, among others.

Rich in fauna, this northeastern state is extremely popular for animals such as elephants, wild pigs, wolves, monkeys, apes, anteaters, etc. You can also find stunning-looking birds such as peacocks, pigeons, jungle fowls, parrots, etc.

Check an ultimate list for Best Camping Places for Couples in Meghalaya

Traditional Games in Meghalaya You Should Know About

Meghalaya is well-known for its lush and abundant landscapes, which offer a great chance to participate in various adventure sports.  You can enjoy multiple sports in regions such as rivers, mountains, waterfalls, and so forth!

If you are an adrenaline junkie, here are some sports you should try in Meghalaya.

1. Archery or Teer

Archery, locally known as Teer in Meghalaya, has been the traditional sport of the Khasi people for years now. People in Meghalaya are trained in this sport from a very young age, and the sport is generally played on the last market day in rural areas.

The popularity of this sport in Meghalaya also led to the introduction of Teer Betting. Generally, there are 50 archers, and they all have to shoot 30 arrows at the target.

The betters will have to predict the last two digits of the total number of arrows that can hit the target. For instance, if the total number is 945, the person who predicted 45 will emerge as the winner.

2. Hiking

This northeastern state boasts lovely terrains that are perfect for hikers. As you take a walk through the scenic landscapes, you will be able to bear witness to serene root bridges, beautiful flora and fauna, and breathtaking riverscapes.

The months from November to February are the best time for hikers to visit Meghalaya as it’s dry compared to the rainy season. You can also enjoy camping during these months. Hikers or people who love to walk long distances can visit Kyllang rock, David-Scott Trail, etc., for an amazing hiking experience.

3. Trekking

The unique root bridges of Meghalaya attract hordes of tourists throughout the year. Cherrapunji is well-known for its living root bridge, unlike anything you will ever see in your life.

It is also extremely fun to trek on the path leading up to the root bridges, as it takes you through thick jungles, water streams, and more. If you wish to go trekking during your vacation in Meghalaya, please take a day to visit the famous Tyrna village. If you are lucky, you can also spot the rainbow waterfall!

4. Water Skiing and Other Sports

Meghalaya contains quite a few rivers and lakes that are extremely convenient for a diverse range of water sports. If you visit the famous Umiam region in Meghalaya, you can enjoy fun activities such as water skiing, sailing, and canoeing. You can also get on a high-speed, pedal, or speed boat to have the time of your life.

You can also go canoeing in River Sohra. You can seek help from a guide while out river canoeing in Sohra. Adventure seekers can also go jumping from one boulder to another or jump into the shallow part of the river. It is, however, recommended that you enjoy these sports during the dry months of the year, preferably from November to February.

5. Calving

Meghalaya is a haven for explorers who love to go cave-exploring. If you love exploring, you can make your way through the popular stalagmite and stalactite caves.

6. Golfing

Did you know that the “Shillong Golf Course” is popularly known as the “Gleneagle of the East?”.

7. Football

Just like other Northeastern states, football has a massive fanbase in Meghalaya. The popularity of football triumphs over the popularity of other common Indian sports, and kids usually start training in this sport from a very young age.

Traditional Dances in Meghalaya You Should Know About

Most people in Meghalaya belong to the Garo or Khasi tribe. Other tribes include Jaintia, War, Hajong, and so forth.  The different languages spoken in the state are Garo, Khasi, English, Assamese,  Bengali, and Hindi, among others.

Different tribes of the state participate in different folk dances, which have been talked about below –

1. Behdienkhlam Dance

The Jaintia tribe performs this dance during their yearly Jowai, Jaintia Hills festival. The dance is performed to invoke the blessings of the divine creator to ensure a healthy harvest and eliminate any disease.

2. Lahoo Dance

The popular Lahoo dance is also a part of the Behdienkhlam dance, wherein both men and women get dressed in colorful clothes. A girl links her arms with two boys on both sides to perform this fun dance. Instead of any musical instruments, couplets performed by talented artists play in the background.

3. Wangala Dance

The wangala dance is performed during the Wangala festival by the Garo tribe. The dance is performed to satisfy the “Patigipa Rarongipa” deity and happens over a period of four days and nights. On the last day of the festival, the “Dance of the Hundred Drums” or the “Dance of the Warriors” takes place, which is a treat to watch.

4. Nongkrem Dance

This dance is unique to and has been popularized by the Khasi tribe of Meghalaya. The khasis perform it during the autumn season to appease the Gods and invoke their blessings.

5. Dorsegata Dance

This dance is another popular traditional dance in Meghalaya wherein the female dancers try to remove the turbans from the heads of the male dancers. If the former succeeds in doing so, laughter ensues.

6. Shad Suk Mynsiem Dance

The popular Shad Suk Mynsiem Dance is performed during the spring, bringing forth the harvest and planting season. The dancers wear colorful clothes and stunning jewellery items to celebrate the agricultural cycles. An amalgamation of drums and flutes, popularly known as “Tangmuri”, plays in the background.

7. Pomelo Dance

The Pomelo Dance festival, also known as Chambil Mesara, is another popular festival that attracts people worldwide due to its vibrant nature.

During this dance, a Pomelo fruit is attached to the waist via a cord. The cord is then whipped around by the dancers without moving the hips to create an enchanting dance. The Khasi tribe generally performs this dance.

Traditional Foods in Meghalaya You Should Know About

food of north east

Every year, people who enjoy food items with unique history or food enthusiasts who love unique-tasting food flock to Meghalaya in large numbers to taste the state’s wide variety of food items.

If you are enjoying the lush greenery of Meghalaya or having a jolly good time in Cherrapunji, you must take some time to try out Meghalaya’s local delicacies. Dive in to learn more:

1. Jadoh

Jadoh is a Meghalayan cuisine that the Khasi tribe has popularized. This delectable concoction is made of red rice and pork and is truly mouth-watering.

The popularity of this dish has led to the opening of the widely known Jadoh restaurant in Shillong. If you enjoy spicy food, you can always get extra helpings of green chillies to go along with your scrumptious plate of Jadoh.

2. Pumaloi

This popular Meghalayan dish is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike and can be seen in stalls during festivals. You can expect to try this dish during the popular Wangala, Shad Suk Mynsiem, or Shad Sukra festival. This dish includes powdered rice carefully steamed in a special pot called the Khiew Ranei.

3. Doh-Khlieh

Very few Meghalayan dishes do not contain pork, and Doh-Khlieh is one of the best pork-based foods you will ever taste in your lifetime! This dish is a delectable salad made from minced pork, green chillies, and onions.

As simple as it sounds, this dish has become widely famous due to the generous amounts of pig brains, curry and local bread.

4. Nakham Bitchi

You can enjoy a soulful bowl of Nakham Bitchi after you are just done consuming a heavy meal. It is a soup made out of boiled vegetables and dry fish and is extremely nutritious in nature.

5. Bamboo Shoots

Dishes based around bamboo shoots enjoy massive popularity in Northeastern states like Meghalaya. In Meghalaya, people enjoy bamboo shoots with their favorite meat. Generally served with pork, the popular dish contains chunks of fried pork, veggies, sliced onions, and so on.

6. Momos

Momos enjoy great popularity across the country, but nothing beats the momos you will find in the northeastern states. Momos in Meghalaya are made from a wide variety of stuffing, such as vegetables, chicken, and pork.

It is a popular street food and you can find a great number of stalls in Meghalaya that serve mouth-watering momos.

7. Sakin Gata

When you feast on a plate of Sakin Gata, you will be able to identify the tribal and Asian influences that are inherent in many Meghalayan dishes. It is a type of sweet rice cake that contains several layers of rice along with Sesame seeds.

8. Tungrymbai

If you wish to have a truly gastronomical adventure in Meghalaya, the popular Tungrymbai dish is highly recommended. It is a humble offering that is going to leave a mark and is made out of fermented soya beans, black sesame, ginger, onion, and boiled and chopped pork. The unique flavor of the dish comes out of black sesame.

9. Pukhlein

Pukhlein is a sweet Meghalayan delight wherein powdered rice has been made sweet with a generous serving of jaggery. Later, it is fried in a pan, which results in a thick, deep paste.

It is often served with meat-based dishes and is unlike the spicy dishes that are so common in Meghalaya’s cuisine.

Final Words

Meghalaya is a delightful place hidden in the Northeastern region of India that you must visit at least once in your lifetime. The scenic regions, lush forests, and hospitable people, among other things, are bound to blow you away.

Unlike other popular tourist spots, Meghalaya is yet to blow up, so you should rush to this breathtaking Northeastern state today!

From historical sites to delectable food items, there is something for every traveler in Meghalaya. You can have the time of your life while enjoying sports such as archery, golfing, trekking, hiking and so forth in the state.

Additionally, the best time to visit this place would be during festivals wherein you can take in the lovely cultural dances. Your stay in Meghalaya will only be more memorable with delicious servings of tasty dishes such as Jadoh, Pumaloi, Nakham Bitchi, and Momos that come with a glass of the popular Khyat.
So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Meghalaya today!