Balpakram National Park
Nokrek Biosphere Reserve
Rongbang Dare Waterfall
Welcome to West Garo Hills (Tura),
West Garo Hills is a district in the state of Meghalaya in India. Tura is the headquarters of the district. It is located at the westernmost part of Meghalaya. A heavenly place full of breathtaking sceneries and serene spots, it is resplendent with picturesque views and innate scenic beauty. The tourists flock the place to enjoy and absorb the beauty of some of its scenic attractions such as Nokrek National Park, Rongbang Dar Waterfall and Siju Caves etc. The district is also popular for its activities of Mining, Weaving, Animal husbandry and Dairy farming.
The highest point in the Garo Hills is Nokrek Peak with elevation of 1412 m, this is the place good for adventure trekking tours. As there are various amazing landscape of hills against a backdrop of low-lying plains. A sunset view can be best seen from Tura Peak.
Arbella Peak, stands above the sea level at a height of 999 meters. The range on which the peak is located goes by the same name, i.e., the Arbella Range. The peak is located en-route the Guwahati-Tura highway of Tura's north eastern border in Asananggre village. The Garo Hills are celebrated for their unique flora and fauna and their wealth in wildlife, and the Arbella Range is no exception. The Arbella Peak is packed with greenery- exquisite orchids and shrubs. Besides these, one can also find a diversity of birds and pheasants, making it a haven for nature lovers. The drive to the top amidst lush forest cover is an adventurous one. On reaching the top, one gets a beautiful view of the entire range. The hills overlapp one another and fades away into the horizon, leaving a bluish tint.
Asanangre, a quintessentially Garo Village, lies at the crossroads of the Williamnagar-Tura highway. It is one of the large villages in Garo hills. Asanangre prides itself as being the village which consists of the Rongram Community and Rural Development block headquarters. The Asanangre village is perfectly symbolic of what a Garo village and society looks like. With its simple thatched houses, minimal furniture and utensils and extremely simple lifestyle of living, Asanangre gives you a feel of what "living with nature" actually feels like. The village also consists of fishing ponds everywhere with small fruit and vegetable orchards.
A special aspect of the village is that it happens to be site of the Wangala Dance festival, a famous festival of the Garos which in fact is celebrated throughout Meghalaya and also attributes to a local holiday in the state.
Balpakram National Park is situated in the South Garo Hills District and covers an area of around 220 sq. km. It was established in 1987, at an altitude of 3,000 ft above sea level. There are many animals inhabiting the national park, including the wild cow, elephant, wild bison and tiger. Exotic species of herbs and plants, having medicinal value, are also found in this national park. The ideal time to visit Balpakram National Park is between the months of April and June, when colourful wild flowers and exotic butterflies can be spotted.
Bazars are extremely popular in West Garo Hills, and to get a feel of the local life and energy, a visit to the local bazars situated at different villages is a must. These bazars open up on different days of the week. One can shop here for handloom products, local artefacts, handicrafts, vegetables and also enjoy various Garo cuisines. Garos practice a lot of shifting cultivation, and these bazars were traditionally popular for people who used to buy and sell the products that they would bring in from the fields after a week's trek.
One of the most important and colourful festivals of West Garo Hills, Behdeinkhlam Festival is held for three days during the month of July at Jowai. The meaning of the festival signifies 'driving away of evil by wooden sticks'. It is connected with a sequence of religious rituals. People dance on the street roads and promote friendship and unity among each other by beating drums and playing pipes.
Bhaitbari is a small village on the bank of river Jingjiram in West Garo Hills district. Bhaitbari gained its popularity after an archaeological exploration was conducted in the village in 1991 and 1992. This exploration led to some very interesting findings for the people. There is a mud-cum-nurt brick fort that runs in the shape of a horse-shoe for over five kilometres in the north-south direction on the banks of river Jingjiram. There was also a beautiful temple made of burnt brick which was unearthed during this exploration. The third impressive discovery was that of an Octagonal Temple with eight miniature "Shiv Lings". Fourth was the most thrilling discovery of a "Stupa" which is associated with the Buddhism. However, nothing is definitely known about this site as yet.
This festival is celebrated during the mid of April or early May every year by the West Garo Hills people. The locals of the state believe that a farmer can start sowing the seeds on his land after the completion of this festival. The festival is observed as to safeguard the crops of farmers from all forms of the natural calamity.
Chibragre, in the Garo Hills district of Meghalaya, is a popular picnic spot for the people of Tura. It is located approximately twenty-five kilometres from Anthurium plantation and does not take more than half an hour to reach the spot. River Gangol and river Rongram meet at Chibragre and continue their flow towards Rongram, Garobadha and Mancachar (Assam) before they finally meet with the mighty Brahmaputra and flow together into the Bay of Bengal.
Dargah of Hazrat Shah Kamal Baba is located Indo-Bangladesh border, 80 kilometres from Tura, West Garo Hills. Built in the 16th century during Raja Mahenranarayn's reign, it's said to have been made in the span of just a night. The shrine is also known as Pirsthan. The Dargah is situated at a serene spot and has a structure and design that is typical of the Mogul architecture. The Dargah is known for its annual prayer-fair or 'Urs', which has been a tradition since the pre-partition time. Devotees from near and far flock the shrine to submerge themselves in the divinity of Peer Baba and seek his blessings. The Pirsthan has a history of never letting its devotees go back empty handed.
Daribokgre, a hamlet in the Garo hills is just 3 kilometres from Nokrek National Park. Since the advent of technology and machineries in agriculture, the use of manual labour has become increasingly less, forcing the village people to resort to other mean such as rural tourism to sustain the economy. The Daribokgre village is one such example. The prime motive of the Daribokgre Rural Tourism is to acquaint and involve travellers into the rural lifestyle. The project mainly aims at accommodating travellers who come to visit the Nokrek National Park or the Nokrek Peak, which is the highest peak in Garo hills. The village community works together to provide a comfortable stay to its guests.
It is a waterfall of immense visual beauty. The deep green environs full of large ferns, tall creepers and elegant climbers complete the desired effect, making Imilchang Dare a memorable sight. The deep wide pool at the bottom of the falls with its wide and expansive surrounding make it an exciting natural swimming pool, full of fish of varied size and colour, besides being an ideal picnic spot.
Kata Beel, a large placid pond surrounded by palm trees in Garo hills is a great spot for fishing, angling and picnics. The scenic pond is located near Nogorpara village, about 70 kilometres away from Tura, precisely on the Tura-Garobadha-Ampatigiri-Mahendraganj road. Legend has it the pond was dug and constructed at the order of Lengta raja of the Garos.
Kima Songa is a traditional Garo totem or memorial post that is built in memory and honour of a dead family member. This is done mostly after the funeral ceremony. The Kima Songa is usually placed in the front-yard of the house. The posts are carved in human form to depict the dead person and then it is festooned with the clothes and belongings of the deceased. It shows the immense respect that the Garos have towards their family members, and they never believe in forgetting one who has passed away. The totems are built to symbolize that the one who has passed away shall forever be in their hearts.
The local people of the district have another amusing dance festival called the Laho dance. Both males and females takes part in this dance festival, usually two young men on either side of a girl, connecting arms together, dance merrily in step.
Mir Jumla's Tomb is located at Rangapani, near Mancachar in Garo Hills. The tomb is located on a small hillock and has been maintained by the local Muslim associations for over centuries. The tomb reflects a remarkably long grave which bears witness to how huge a man Mir-Jumla was.
Naphak Lake is situated about 6 km away from Songsak and around 112 km from Tura. The River Simsang flows near this lake. This lake is ideal for bird watching and fishing.
Nokrek Biosphere Reserve, or Nokrek National Park is extremely popular for activities such as camping, bird watching and observing different animals in their natural habitats. Nokrek happens to be the highest peak of Garo Hills, and also the home to several different species of plants and animals. There are rare species of orchids like white meranti, wild lemon, lali, chempaka and grand rasamala which are found in the reserve. One can also see a variety of rare, endangered and endemic species of animals here. Some of them are the hillock gibbon, pig tailed macaque, Himalayan black bear, elephant and giant flying squirrel.
There is also a thrilling track through some thick tropical forests from Nokrek to Tura for trekkers and adventurers. A breathtaking view of the mighty hills mingling with river Brahmaputra at a distance ends this journey.
Pelga Fall just located at the distance of 7 kms from Tura has become increasingly hot spot for anglers and picnickers in recent years. The tourism developed this place by constructing a footpath and view point. A typical traditional Garo bamboo bridge constructed over Ganol river is another added attraction.
Rangapani village is a beautiful ecological destination in West Garo Hills district of Meghalaya. The earthly remains of Mir-Jumla, the army general of the great Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, still lies here. Mir-Jumla died of malaria while returning from his excursion in the North-East. The Muslim association of this village are responsible for maintaining his tomb. Rangapani is not only popular for the historical significance that it holds, but also for the magnificent scenic beauty of the place. The calm environment with the fresh blowing breeze is absolutely delightful.
Rombagre is a popular picnic spot at a distance of thirty-five kilometres from Tura. The villagers of the area have been preserving and protecting a beautiful water pool in the Simsang river where one can find schools of fishes swimming in the crystal clear water. This is what has really shot up the popularity of the place, as quite often, visitors are found really interested in watching these fishes swim about in the protected pool. There are also several picnic spots in and around Rombagre, where people love to come with their friends and families, relax, play around, do their own cooking and enjoy the day.
Rongbang Dare is a very small, picture-perfect waterfalls near Chinabat village. It is to the right of Tura-Asanangre-Williamnagar State highway, and is a beautiful site for people visiting the area. During the monsoon season, the fall becomes twice as beautiful with the snowy white water flowing like a continuous bed of cotton. Adding to the beauty of the Rongbang Dare is the tall evergreen forests of bamboo that is present on either sides of the falls. It is a small but delightful view for every person who passes across this area.
Sasatgre Village lies at the foot of the Nokrek Peak, in the West Garo Hills district of Meghalaya. This beautiful little village is filled with several houses that are well-built in a typical Garo pattern. These houses are firm, airy and spacious. Sasatgre gains its popularity mainly from the excellent oranges that it produces every year. They have a vast orange plantation, and the entire village is surrounded by dark green orange trees. People love the oranges of Sasatgre as they are not only tasty and juicy but also healthy. The village is now on the side-line of the Nokrek Gene Sanctuary cum Biosphere Reserve.
Siju Bird Sanctuary is located near the Siju Caves and River Simsang in Meghalaya, which is home to many rare and protected birds along with other animals. Birdwatchers can also spot the migratory Siberian duck at this sanctuary during the winter season.
It is one of the longest caves in the Indian Sub-continent and contains some of the finest river passages to be found any where in the world. There are magnificent limestone rock formations inside, epecially named princes, Di's chamber by the excavators will fill any visitor with awe. Close by on the other side of Simsang River is the Siju bird sanctuary, a home for many rare and protected birds and other wildlife. The Siberian ducks also migrated here during the winter months. At the entrance to this bird sanctuary after a steep climb of nearly 1 km there is a stretch of fantastic rock formations that will take your breath away.
Simsang River starts from Nokrek peak and runs towards east, passing through Rongrengiri, Williamnagar, the headquarters of East Garo Hills district, Nongalbibra, Siju, Rewak and finally Baghmara, the headquarters of South Garo Hills district. Simsang river is known as Someshwari when it enters Bangladesh at Baghmara is the most magnificent and most prominent.
Trekking is a major attraction for adventurers and tourists who visit the Garo Hills. These treks are officially organised by the Department of Tourism. The longer route starts from Tura Peak to Sakalgre, and then to Dura Kalakgre for a night halt in a village house. The next day, the journey continues to Daribokgre Nok Achik and then to Nokrek Biosphere Reserve, and then return to Daribokgre for night halt. The following day, the trek takes one to Oragito, Chandigre, and then to Arabella Range. The day after, trek continues to Waribokgre and Sonkalwari Fish Sanctuary and then back to Rongram village. On the final day, the trek ends with a visit to Babadam and traditional village like Tokitgre and then back to Tura via Dorenggre,Dopananggre and Asibra village.
A beautiful and majestic hill stands on the eastern side of Tura at a height of 872 m above sea level overlooking the town of Tura. Local legend has it that the peak provides a sacred shelter or abode to the 'Gods' and it is also claimed that Tura was traditionally known as Dura, but due to mispronunciation by the British gave it the present name of Tura. The Tura range has been declared a reserve forest with an observatory, a Cinchona plantation and a tourist bungalow located at its vicinity. A magnificent view of the lower Brahmaputra valley as well as the golden yellow plains of Bangladesh can be seen all year round from the peak. A foot-track or path developed during the British Raj is still in existence and can be used by tourists and adventurers alike to reach Tura peak with ease and comfort.
Wadagokgre is a fascinating destination in West Garo Hills, for people who are interested in History and Civilization. The Archaeological Survey of India had taken up an excavation in the area, and found out that it was one of the biggest cities and also a religious centre, that was cast out of the river Brahmaputra in the fourth century A.D. This excavation has brought into light that the Wadagokgre township was sprawling with Buddhism and Hinduism, and also a combination of both, which is widely practiced in the area.
- Sisobibra, Williamnagar, Baptist Church etc.