This Sacred Forest in Shillong, India is Guarded By One Strict Rule

Mawphlang Sacred Forest
Mawphlang Sacred Forest | © Prida Ariani / Wikimedia Commons

The East Khasi Hills and the Jaintia Hills District of Meghalaya are filled with sacred forests, all closely linked with the indigenous cultures and religious beliefs. The most sacred among these forests is the Mawphlang Sacred Forest, which is guarded by one strict rule – ‘NOTHING is allowed to be taken out of this Sacred Grove. Not even a leaf, stone or a dead log’. Failing to comply may lead to death.

Covering some 192 acres, the Mawphlang Sacred Forest, nestled in the East Khasi Hills near Mawphlang village, has its roots steeped deep in the age-old religious beliefs, in which forests are regarded as a sacred entity. The local Khasi tribes have been preserving this forest for thousands of years, and believe it to be the abode of the local deity, called Labasa. The tribal people have a firm belief that Labasa protects this forest and their community from any mishap. The deity takes on the form of leopard or tiger, and protects the village. To maintain favours or appease the local deity, the villagers make animal sacrifices in the stone temples located within the forest.

Panoramic View of Mawphlang Sacred Forests

There is only one rule, however, to be followed in this sacred forest. And, that is – “You cannot take anything out of this forest, else the deity gets upset”. Removing even the tiniest thing from the forest means you’re disrespecting the deity.It is said that whoever attempts to break this rule is punished with illness, which can even lead to death. In fact, local lore says that in 1970, the army tried taking out the dead wood and trees from this forest, but they were not able to do so as the truck didn’t start even after trying multiple times.

Nothing can be taken out of the Mawphlang Sacred Grove, else the local deity gets angry
Monolith at Sacred Forest

Locals often flock to this sacred forest to celebrate nature and other festivals. This sprawling forest comes alive, especially during the three-day monolith festival held here that showcases the tribal heritage and culture.

Mawphlang in the East Khasi Hills

Entry fee

The Mawphlang Sacred Forest is open every day, from 9:00am until 4:30pm; The entry fee is INR 20 ($ 0.31) per head, plus additional INR 20 ($ 0.31) for the camera. For a guided tour, the fee is around INR 300 ($ 4.69) for one-hour, and it includes an English-speaking Khasi guide.

Where to stay

There is a smattering of accommodation options available should you wish to stay for a day or two and experience the tribal culture. The best option is the Maple Pine Farm that has four eco-friendly cottages, complete with all the basic amenities, as well as organised trips in and around the area.

Maple Pine Farm, Lyngkein, Hima Mawphlang, Mawmyrsiang, Meghalaya, India, +91 098560 41205

Mawphlang village

How to get there

Mawphlang Sacred Forest is situated approximately 16 miles from Shillong. You can hire a cab/taxi from Shillong, and it takes less than an hour to reach there.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article