Surrounded by Assam to the North and the East, and Bangladesh to the South and West, Meghalaya is one of the seven sister states of India, and is located in the northeastern part of the country. Its name derives from Sanskrit, which means 'abode of clouds'. The hilly state was nicknamed 'The Scotland of the East' by the Britishers because of the region's resemblance with Scotland. Due to its rich features and raw form of nature, it would not be wrong to call this highly underrated region one of the most gifted states to visit in the country.

Following are some of the reasons excuses why you should visit the breathtakingly beautiful state of Meghalaya with your family:

1. No need to get a permit:

Unlike most of the states in the Northeastern part of the country, you would not require any kind of permit to visit Meghalaya. You are free to visit any part of the state just like the locals can, and stay there as long as you want to. No restrictions whatsoever.

2. Living Root Bridges

The ethereal region of Meghalaya has a bevy of natural wonders to offer, and the most popular of them all is the Double Decker Living Root Bridges. Located in Nongriat, nearly 75 kilometers from the state capital, a visit to the Living Root Bridges, which is the result of the sublime work of nature and humans, cannot be missed. The majestic bridges are so strong and robust that they can support more than 50 people at once. October to May is the best time to visit the Double Decker Living Root Bridges. Close to the bridges is the exotic Rainbow Falls, which is almost always sans the crowd.

A memorable trip to Meghalaya.
The legendary Living Root Bridge at Cherapunjee in Meghalaya
The legendary Living Root Bridge at Cherapunjee in Meghalaya

3. Caves

Ever wondered what it is like to be inside the 'belly of a mountain or a hill', and crawl within? Meghalaya has the longest Cave (and also the second and the third longest Caves) in the Indian subcontinent - Krem Liat Prah - which is about 34 kilometers in length. The caves in the Cherrapunjee district of Meghalaya, although small, promises quite a bit of adventure for families. Mawmluh, Arwah, and Mawsmai are the three caves in the region, with Mawsmai Cave being the most popular one.

A memorable trip to Meghalaya.
Spelunking one of the many caves in Meghalaya
Spelunking one of the many caves in Meghalaya

4. No language barrier

Contrary to the popular belief, there are a number of common languages that are spoken in Meghalaya, including English. As a matter of fact, more than 70% of the state's population comprises of Christians. Also, the state's average literacy rate is 74.43%, which is higher than the country's average literacy rate, as of 2011.

5. Nohkalikai Falls

Among other things, Meghalaya is also gifted with arguably the most gorgeous waterfalls in our country - Nohkalikai Falls. At 340 meters, it is the highest waterfall in India. Located in the East Khasi Hills, about 50 kilometers from Shillong, the plunge waterfall can be visited pretty much any time of the year to witness a surreal view of the waterfalls and its surroundings. The legend behind its formation is quite interesting.

A memorable trip to Meghalaya.
The most magnificent waterfall in the country is the Nohsngithiang Falls or the Seven Sister Falls
The most magnificent waterfall in the country is the Nohsngithiang Falls or the Seven Sister Falls

6. Lakes

Another set of natural assets that Meghalaya is graced with is the lakes. Two of the most famous lakes in the state are Umiam Lake and Ward's Lake. Both Umiam Lake and Ward's Lake make for an ideal family visit. Located at a proximity of about 17 kilometers, both the places are popular hotspots amongst tourists. Where Ward's Lake, which is located within the city, provides only boating services, one can do kayaking, fishing, and other water based activities at Umiam Lake, which is located outside the city.

A memorable trip to Meghalaya.
The scenic beauty of Dawki River sans the crowd of tourists
The scenic beauty of Dawki River sans the crowd of tourists

7. Laitlum Canyons

Easily my most favourite reason to visit Meghalaya is the Laitlum Canyons. The word Laitlum means 'end of the hills', and it truly lives up to its name. The sublime beauty of this place is hard to miss on a visit to Meghalaya. Whether you want to trek, get a bird's eye of of Shillong, play with the goats, or give yourself an adrenaline rush, Laitlum Canyons is the place for you. Albeit it is starting to gain some popularity, the ineffable destination is far away from the hustle and bustle of a popular tourist hotspot.

A memorable trip to Meghalaya.
Another extraordinary view of Laitlum Canyons.
Another extraordinary view of Laitlum Canyons.

8. Umngot River

What Pangong Lake is to Ladakh, Umngot River is to Meghalaya. About 80 kilometers away from Shillong, Dawki is a small town nestled in the Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya, and shares its border with Bangladesh. Famed for its emerald green coloured and crystal clear water, Umngot River is one of the most visited places in Meghalaya. Speaking of the river, the water is so clear that one can actually see the shadow of the boat that falls directly on the river bed. For nature lovers, it is an absolute must visit destination.

9. Cherry Blossom Festival

Not many people are aware of the fact that Meghalaya experiences the phenomenon of Cherry Blossom, at the start of Autumn, every year. Last year, Shillong hosted the country's first Cherry Blossom Festival, which was organized by the Meghalaya government in association with Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development Department of Biotechnology. With thousands of Cherry trees in the state's capital alone, you no longer have to visit Japan to experience the phenomenon. The event, which started last year, and is possibly Meghalaya's best kept secret, will take place in the month of November, every year.

A memorable trip to Meghalaya.
The only place in India where one can experience Cherry Blossom
The only place in India where one can experience Cherry Blossom

10. Home to the Wettest Place on the Planet

Unlike what most people believe, Cherrapunjee is not the wettest place on Earth. It is, in fact, the second wettest place on Earth. The wettest place on Earth is Mawsynram in Meghalaya, which is approximately 15 kilometers away from Cherrapunjee. Mawsynram receives an average annual rainfall of 11,872 millimeters. As per the Guinness Book of World Records, in 1985, the village received 26,000 millimeters of rainfall.