25 km off the quaint little town of Shillong, the Mawphlang Sacred Grove is no ordinary forest.
Stories of the Grove
Beneath the thick carpets of mosses, moulds and algae lay buried ancient secrets, stories and legends of The Khasi Folks.
According to the legend, the sacred groves of Mawphlang is protected by the local deity-Labasa.
But, you need to know only one thing here, You Cannot Take Anything Out Of This Sacred Forest. Yes, Nothing. Not even a leaf! If anyone enters with bad intentions, they face dire consequences!! Yes that was what we were warned by our guide!
Flora and Fauna
A biodiversity hotspot, the Sacred Grove is a treasure trove of rare medicinal trees and plants like the English yew, the Chinese sumac, chinquapin, etc. It is also home to several species of trees that work as climate indicators, such as the Japanese blue oak and griffitti. In total, there are about 450 species of trees and plants in this forest as well as rare species of animals and birds.
Heritage and practices
The forest also serves as an important ritual site for the people of HimaMawphlang who perform various thanksgiving and blessing ceremonies in the area. This has evidently been going on for a while, attested by scattered mounds of ritual stones and menhirs, some of which are over 900 years old!
There were monolithic stones of different sizes around and some of them were seats of coronation, celebration of victory or simply for discussion.The guide pointed out to some places for sacrifice of cocks, lambs etc as per the local practice. The people participating in the practice cannot return until the sacrifice is completed so they have to be very careful to bring all the required material in one go.
10 am to 5 pm.
Carry umbrella. Wear socks and ankle high shoes to avoid leeches.