Mawphlang sacred forest is regarded as one of the most divines in the Khasi Hills region of Meghalaya. It is located in the Mawphlang village which is 25 kilometres from Shillong, also known as the "Rock Capital of Meghalaya." This sacred forest covers 192 acres of land which is near Mawphlang Village. It is an ideal location for nature lovers because they can see the variety of flora and fauna in this forest with their own eyes.
'Maw' means 'stones,' and 'maw phlang' means 'grassy stone.' The name does full justice to its meaning as the grassy stone is abundant, or maw phlang, in this area, which magnifies its beauty. This sacred forest is also known as Law Lyngdoh. Due to the religious beliefs of the native, Mawphlang Forest is considered to be a sacred entity.
According to local legend, this sacred forest was once under the protection of the Blah Clan. However, due to its vast size, they were having difficulty maintaining it. They came across a woman from the Lyngdoh Clan one day. They wanted to hand over their powers to their Clan, but she had a condition. Only if the 5 saplings that she planted in this forest grew into magnificent trees, then she would allow her son to take over the forest.
In this forest, all of the saplings grew into beautiful trees.
One interesting fact about this Forest is the strict rule that every visitor must follow while visiting. "Nothing may be taken from this sacred forest." It is believed that breaking this rule may result in illness or death. The story has it that in the year 1970, a troop of the army attempted to take the deadwood and trees from this forest.
Hence, now this forest is guarded by the local deity names Labasa. If someone dares to break the rules, the local god becomes enraged, which may result in sickness or even death for the offender.
This reason for this rule or even the belief and the story may appear absurd to anyone reading it, but even if these beliefs are not held, no one has the right to abuse nature by attempting to destroy it. It doesn't matter if it's tearing a leaf or taking a stone or a log from there. Nature and its inhabitants are intended to be preserved.
The sacred forest is adorned with intertwined trees that are said to be 1000 years old. The Lily cobra is an extraordinary plant that can be found in the forest. The name comes from the fact that this plant has a leaf and a twig that resembles the head of a cobra. It is also believed that some of the plants in this forest have medicinal properties. It is capable of curing tuberculosis and cancer.
Aside from the plantation, Monoliths can also be found in the forest. It is viewed as a location for sacrifices. Locals frequently sacrifice animals to make their wishes come true. Vertically placed stones are considered masculine, whereas horizontally placed stones are considered feminine.
In ancient times, only men with a beard and moustache were permitted to perform the rituals in the sacred forest. Women were not allowed. An interesting story is that, when men of the tribe entered the sacred forest to offer their prayers at the Monoliths, the deity would make its presence known. If Deity appears as a Leopard then the men were allowed to proceed as a sign of good omen, but if deity emerges as a snake then rituals would not take place as a sign of bad omen.
Intriguing, isn't it?
Many festivals, including but not limited to Monolith Festivals, take place in the Mawphlang Sacred Forest. The locals enjoy celebrating nature while also showcasing their culture and traditions. What better place to do that than on the mainland of nature itself?
There is an intriguing hypothesis that if sacrifices are not performed in a certain way, the god of this holy forest becomes enraged, causing him to appear as a snake. As a result, the sacrifices must be flawless. You must have all of the requisite things for the sacrifice or it will not take place. And if the deity is happy, then he will emerge as a leopard.
Another intriguing tale about the deity is that if the desired king is chosen during the democratic election held in the village, the sun shines on that day as a mask of the deity's happiness, and if the deity is unhappy, it rains. As the village is ruled by the king, there are approximately 53 kingdoms there. And there is only one law that all kingdoms follow: 'Respect the Sacred Forest.'
Many tourists were drawn here because of its beliefs and history. It provides you with first-hand knowledge of not only how to be mesmerized by this dense forest, but also how to appreciate nature. However, you should be aware that rain can fall at any time in the forest, so bring an umbrella and walk through the forest with the assistance of a guide.
The entrance to the holy forest is majestic in and of itself. It's a green tunnel composed of green branches. As you progress inside, you will notice monoliths that represent the sacrifice of animals such as cocks, lambs, and so on.
One can also stay here to fully explore the region. One of the most well-known accommodations is the Maple-Pine Farm. It has eco-friendly cottages with all of the essential amenities. To reach these sacred destinations, one can hire a cab or taxi. It just takes about an hour to reach there.
This sacred forest in Meghalaya offers a rare experience. With a peculiar and curious belief in its sacredness and elegance, this magnificent forest is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.