Places of Interest
Two mountain ranges – The Arebella range and the Tura range, passes through the Garo Hills, forming the great Balpakaram Valley in between.
During April each year, the entire Balpakram plateau is covered by exquisitely colourful wild flowers and swarms of colourful and beautiful butterflies, making it a veritable dreamland.
On the wayside there is a sturdy Boldak tree (schimawalliche) that has a mysterious depression around its trunk as if eroded by the constant tethering of animals on it. The Garos believe that the spirits of the dead tie their animals slaughtered for their funeral to this tree while taking a rest close by hence when one such tree was felled by strong winds, soon after another tree close by started having the same symptoms.
There is small pool in Balpakram which is absolutely charcoal black. It is believed that the spirits of the dead wash and clean themselves here before entering the realms of the dead. Hence the clear water turned black from their sins and soots of cremation.
Anti or Animal market. In the heart of the vast plateau there is a big stretch of flat rocks that is full of foot prints of all kinds of animals big and small. It is not understood how only that stretch of rock has thousands and thousands of footprints embedded there whereas the nearby rocks are completely bereft of such prints. Myth logically of course it is said that it used to be a market place where all kind of animals gather for their weekly markets.
It is a massive rock with a hollow space on its surface that is believed to have powerful magnetic powers. This hollow space acts as a veritable death trap to any bird or animal (except for man of course) that goes near it. Any living being that goes near it is magnetically drawn towards the hollow from where it can never come out and die eventually.
The rock cliffs of the canyon are said to be the natural habitats of gonchos, the evil spirits who like to take away people from their homes. These gonchos lead their victims over steep precipices and inaccessible rock faces without causing any physical harm.
To the southern side near Mahadeo village there stands a massive flat rock in the shape of an upturned boat. It is said that one night when Dikki, a legendary hero was making this boat, the cocks started crowing before completed the task and hence the uncompleted boat turned to stone. The legend says that spirits work only at night and have to complete their works before cocks crow.
On the South Garo and Khasi Hills border there is a very interesting rock tank that is 120 ft long and 90 ft wide. Interesting side of it is that the water here remains perpetually clear and transparent, also it remains at the same level throughout the year. It is surprising that heavy down pours of rain cannot raise its level or the scorching heat of summer reduce it. The Garos believed that it used to be the bathing ghat of Bandi’s wife Shore. Her bucket of water fossilized into stone remains in that place.
Further east to the northern side of Balpakram there is a beautiful cave that contains shining pieces of rock that resemble banana flowers.
Balpakram has been declared a National Park some years ago. This place is about 220 sq kms in area and is 45 kms away from Baghmara. This is a place of not only mythological importance but also the natural habitat of many rare and exotic animals and plant life . It is also believed to be the original of the rare citrus plant Me- mang Narag . Balpakram is exquisitely beautiful when ground orchids and herbs are in bloom. The best time to see is from April to mid June. There is the guest house at Hattisil entrance to Balpakram run by the Forest Department.
30 kms. North of Baghmara, Siju is famous for Dobakkol or the bat cave with impressive stalagmites and stalagtites. It is one of the longest cave in the Indian sub-continent and contains some of the finest river passages to be found any where in the world. The magnificent limestone rock formations inside especially named princes Di’s chamber by the excavators will fill any visitor with awe.