The Best National Parks In Meghalaya That Are A Must Visit For Every Wildlife Enthusiast
Close your eyes and imagine a place with mist all around you, the fresh cold breeze caressing your face, the chirping of birds delighting your ears and peace and serenity rejuvenating your soul. This quality of stimulating all your senses is possessed by the one and only ‘ abode of clouds’; Meghalaya, a destination cherished by the entire travel community. Owing its name to the rains and the overcast weather throughout the year, mesmerising Meghalaya is also a haven for a wide array of flora and fauna which eventually lead to the creation of national parks in Meghalaya. Travellers from all over the world embark on a sojourn to get a closer glimpse of their favourite creatures in the lush green north eastern state, due to which sometimes the two main questions arise, the first being how many national parks are there in Meghalaya? And the second being which are the top national parks in Meghalaya? Well we heard these concerns and to clear them all have curated this list of the best national parks in Meghalaya for an unparalleled experience in the midst of your favourite creatures.
1. Balpakram National Park
Topping the list of best national parks in Meghalaya is the national park nestled in the ‘land of the eternal wind’, Balpakram. The Balpakram National Park is located at a great height of 3,000 ft and is close to the international border of Bangladesh. Besides the serene and breathtaking views that this national park offers, it is home to some of the rarest creatures too. Leopards,barking deer,marbled cat, Bengal tiger, wild water buffalo and not to forget the absolutely adorable Red Panda. It is suggested by the locals that this park should be visited during the winter season, therefore making this a great addition in your Christmas and New Year travel bucket list. Well, this is not just it, the location of the park- Garo Hills, is also about to be included in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, truly making this one of the most famous national parks in Meghalaya.
Best Time To Visit: Autumn and Winter season
Entry fees: Free
Park Timings: 7AM to 6PM
2. Siju Bird Sanctuary
The phrase rarest of the rare fits pretty well when it comes to Siju Bird Sanctuary, possessing some of the rarest birds like the Siberian Duck, the Grey Hornbill and the sporadic and vibrant Peacock Pheasant. An absolute bliss for bird watchers and photographers the Bird Sanctuary is not just a mere bird watching location but a complete travel experience since a lot of migratory birds fly over to this sanctuary to find an abode during the season. And not to forget about the gushing Rongbang Dar Waterfall- a one of its kind waterfall in Meghalaya located in the vicinity of Siju caves located along the Simsang river near the Siju cave, this unique bird sanctuary is also a haven of a plethora of adventure activities like trekking, angling, river rafting and much more waiting to be explored by you when you visit the abode of clouds. When planning a visit to this addition in the Meghalaya national park list it is suggested that you book a hotel in Baghmara, which is the nearest town to this location.
Best Time To Visit: November-January
Entry Fees- Varies upon the nationality of the person
Park Timings: 4 AM-8 PM
3. Nokrek National Park
Nestled in the cultural and heritage centre of the Garo tribe;Tura- The Nokrek National Park is renowned for being one of the best national parks in Meghalaya that is home to a wide assortment of members of the wildlife. From the adorable Red Pandas to the majestic Asian Elephants and rare clouded leopards, this national park has it all. This national park also dwells a rare species, the Hoolock Gibbon. Besides being one of the top national parks in Meghalaya, the Nokrek National Park is also known to have a plethora of medicinal plants like the Nepenthes Khasiana; an endangered plant used by the locals for medicinal purposes. The national park also possesses forest tracks and limestone caves.
Best time to visit: October- May
Entry Fees: INR 40
Park Timings: 10 AM to 5 PM
4. Baghmara Reserve Forest
Situated at a mere distance of just 4 Kms from the town of Baghmara, this reserve forest finds itself a spot in the Meghalaya national park list first because of its location on the South Garo Hills and second because of the creatures that inhabit this forest. Four legged creatures like the elephants and langurs can be found here in high numbers, besides fauna, a wide array of flora can also be found in this national park of Meghalaya, like the pitcher plants and other wild flowers. When on your Meghalaya road trip you must not miss out on witnessing the Garo tribe and the unique ways in which they live.
If you’re lucky, you might also witness the herd of elephants traversing from the Balpakram national forest to Baghmara via the Baghmara Forest Reserve, truly making it one of the best national parks in Meghalaya.
Best time to visit: October- February
Park Timings: 10 AM to 5 PM
5. Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary
The last but definitely not the least on this list of national parks in Meghalaya is the national park that is regarded as the best protected area in the entire north east and has a duly notified eco-sensitive zone. Kindled in the Ri Bhoi district which is known for famous landmarks like the Umiam Lake and Lum Nehru Park, this wildlife sanctuary is home to Bengal tigers, black bears, leopards and a myriad of other rare and special members of the wildlife, the sanctuary is also known to possess some birds that are the brink of extinction like the necked hornbill and brown hornbill bird, getting this 29 sq kms area a spot in the Meghalaya national parks list.
Best time to visit: March or April
Suggested time to be spent here: 2-3 Hours
Park Timings: Sunrise to Sunset
Well, this brings us to the end of our list of national parks in Meghalaya, but don’t click away as you’re in for a treat! Since Meghalaya is also one of the top New Year destinations too, we thought it would be absolutely amazing to also give you a glimpse of some of the best lakes in Meghalaya too, to take your Meghalayan escapade to greater heights.
Best Lakes In Meghalaya
1. Umiam Lake
Earning the top spot not just in this list but in every Meghalayan itinerary is the Umiam Lake- The biggest lake in Meghalaya. A treat to the eyes, the lake is a perfect stopover when travelling to Guwahati from Shillong. Established as a reservoir, the lake has now turned out to be one of the best adventure spots in the north eastern beauty that offers a plethora of opportunities for kayaking,boat rides and if an adrenaline rush is not your thing, then don’t worry as the lake also makes up for an amazing picnic spot with marvellous sunset views.
2. Dawki River
Stunning views,mesmerising beauty, lush greenery and heaven like feels right on Earth, all of these make Dawki River an absolute gem in Meghalaya. Nestled in Dawki which is just a kilometre away from the India Bangladesh border, the river is visited by each and every one who visits the state. Regarded as one of the cleanest rivers in the country, Dawki river is definitely a nature lover’s paradise. We highly suggest relishing some quintessential dishes of Meghalaya in the restaurant located near this river.
3. Ward’s Lake
A must visit attraction in the abode of clouds, Ward’s Lake; also known as Pollock’s Lake is almost 100 years old which was planned by the then Chief Commissioner of Assam,Sir William Ward. With a unique history, the lake lies in the middle of Shillong and is surrounded by lush green flower beds and walking tracks for an evening stroll like no other. This happening lake is also a treat for street food lovers as there are a number of eateries right outside the lake area. Visitors can cherish snacks like momos, panipuri and much more at a price as low as INR 20. This not all, travellers can also get a closer look at the lake by taking a boat ride.
4. Marngar Lake
Last but definitely not the least is this Meghalaya gem of a river that is kindled between the lush greenery of the abode of clouds is the Marngar lake. The placid and the serene waters of Marngar are perfect for rejuvenating your mind and body. The lake also has a wooden bridge that adds an extra visual detail which is a delight for all photography enthusiasts. Beauty and serenity are just one of the aspects that give this lake a spot in this list, activities like boating, kayaking, fishing make this a must visit spot. Located in the Bhoi district, which gives out more tropical vibes as compared to other areas in the state, travellers also visit Nongpoh town near the lake which is renowned for its local markets that sell locally grown pineapples and home made pickles, which just cannot be missed.
Do’s and Don’ts while visiting the national parks in Meghalaya
A visit to a national park and getting a closer glimpse of your favourite animals can be a bit overwhelming so here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind while visiting the national parks in Meghalaya.
- Always remain silent, and if there’s a need to speak then do it softly.
- Read the rules of the national park very carefully before entering it.
- Get in touch with the local guides, they can give you proper information about the essentials which can enhance your time in the best national parks in Meghalaya.
- Always stay on designated trails.
- Do not approach or get too close to an animal.
- Never make sudden movements.
- Do not use cell phones in the national parks.
- Do not litter the national parks.
- Do not play loud music/make sounds to get an animal’s attention.
Frequently Asked Questions about national parks in Meghalaya
1. How many national parks in Meghalaya are there?
Meghalaya possesses a Protected Area Network which consists of 2 national parks, 4 wildlife sanctuaries and 1 biosphere reserve.
2. Which animals can I see when I visit the national parks in Meghalaya?
When in Meghalaya you can get a glimpse of the leopard,Golden cat, Elephants,Barking deer and many more. Visitors can also spot rare birds like the Whistling Duck, Siberian Duck, Peacock Pheasant and other winged creatures.
3. Which are the best national parks in Meghalaya for a wildlife excursion?
Some of the best national parks in Meghalaya are
- Balpakram National Park
- Siju Bird Sanctuary & the
- Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary along with a plethora of other wildlife spots.
4. Which is the best time to visit Meghalaya?
Meghalaya is an all year destination which offers something new every time one visits it, but April and June are considered to be the months to get the best experience of the state. New Year and Christmas tours to Meghalaya are also cherished by travellers.
5. Is Meghalaya safe for tourists?
Yes, Meghalaya is absolutely safe for tourists. All kinds of travellers can explore the state without any worry.
With this we come to the end of our list, with so much that Meghalaya has to offer you just cannot miss exploring this north eastern state, so pack your bags and buckle up to start your new adventure with WanderOn.
Written By : Aryaman Punj