6th March 2016, Sunday…Day (16) Byrnihat-Shillong, 116 km
It was my first day in Meghalaya some 2500 kilometers away from home. It was even hard for me to believe that I slept inside the car parked at a filling station in Byrnihat, a border town on Guwahati-Shillong highway.
The filling station was quite large and had a number of trucks parked inside its premises during night. Clean washrooms and toilets at the filling station were a bit of surprise and came handy in me freshening up in the morning.
Took a little break at one of the side shops, had plenty of tea, charged the camera and laptop batteries. Unlike Punjab, there were no big dhabas, just small little eateries.
There was a sign board mentioning Sohpetbneng Peak six kilometers from the road. I got curious and wanted to see what lies there. In fact it turned out to be an ideal site for solitude seekers. It provided a mesmerising bird’s eye view of the dense forest and the Barapani lake. There was also a religious place at the peak.
After some quiet time at Sohpetbneng Peak, drove back on the main Guwahati-shillong highway. Crossed a dam and a huge bridge over the Umiam Lake, parked the car on a side and walked down to the banks of Umiam lake.
The atmosphere at Umiam Lake or Barapani as they call it locally was quite good. A few anglers were were fishing, and some more were making merry with their friends.
The cool waters of the lake were very tempting for bathing. I looked around, made sure it was safe, took off the clothes and had full body wash at Barapani, my first in Meghalaya.
Umiam Lake, also known as Barapani lake, is a reservoir located just 15 km before Shillong towards Guwahati. It was created by erecting a dam over the Umiam river to store water for hydroelectric power generation.
The lake also serves as a major tourist attraction to the state of Meghalaya. It is a popular destination for water sport and adventure facilities. Tourists visit this spot for kayaking, water cycling, scooting and boating.
There was a nice viewing area on a side of the road and a good crowd was having fun watching sunset over the Umiam Lake. A van parked near the place was serving a variety of mouth watering chicken snacks.
I told them that I was driving solo all the way from Punjab and asked them to serve two three varieties of snacks of their choice. The snacks that they served that evening tasted real good, may be because I was too hungry or there was something special about the Shillong streat food.
Shillong looked like a nice and organised city. Since I was solo and first time in Shillong, I just drove randomly from one road to the other, one bazar to the other observing the ways of the city.
Later in the evening parked the car at a parking lot and strolled through Police Bazar and its bylanes. There was huge crowd every where. It took me lot of time and effort in finding parking place for Lalpari.
There were a number of street food vendors everywhere, outside the Police bazaar, inside the Police bazar and into its numerous bylanes. Majority of them were selling mouth watering non veg stuff. I thought I am in for some real fun in Shillong.
Did not do much that evening in Shillong, just kept on walking and observing the life and living style of the people, their behaviour, their dress, food, market etc. I tried lot of verities of non veg snacks that evening. So many and so much that I did not feel like having dinner.
Later in the evening I drove back on Shillong-Guwahati highway, chose a nice filling station, asked for permission to park the car and sleep inside. So here I was sleeping inside the car, parked in a filling station in Shillong on the 17th day of my solo drive…..!!!
Map of the route followed for the day