After a lazy day in the city yesterday, today I set out to visit another unvisited Degree Confluence: 26N92E.
The ride lead me out of the city on main roads, but after 30km, in the village of Sonapur, I cycled off into the countryside. And oh, it was so amazingly beautiful! A steep climb brought me out of the Brahmaputra lowlands and onto a high plateau in the Ri-Bhoi district of Meghalaya, where 26N92E is located.
The narrow road wound its way through rice fields, little villages, and the occasional forest. No cars, very few people out, and an amazing countryside. I met a guy who spoke fluent English and lived in one of the villages around. He asked me about my scars on knee and ankle, and when I jokingly said that they were from a tiger, he looked seriously shocked. I found out that there are indeed tigers living in the area and occasionally they come out of their hiding places and attack livestock and even people. From that moment on I looked at the forest with different eyes.
I came past a spot where the road led through a very dense part of a forest and – and that was totally new to me – it exhaled not only cold an fresh air, but also a calm and relaxed feeling that made me appreciate this trip even more.
I made it to 26N92E, which again is located several hundred meters off the main road in a valley used for cultivation of rice. The GPS signal was a bit flaky and it took me a while to close in on the actual spot.
It was already late in day and I had to hurry back to Guwahati. I still had to cycle 50km. I wanted to go back on a different route, cycling west to the Guwahati-Shillong main road. The GPS gave up completely and I could just follow the road that approximately led west, towards the sinking sun. There were no villages any more, and, fortunately, no junctions either, where I’d have to decided which way to go. Just forest left and right. Tiger forest. The sun was disappearing behind the hills.
I somehow made it to the highway with last light, without having seen or heard any tigers. However, true horror was awaiting me there. The highway was busy, and under construction, and the place were I reached it was full with smoke-producing heavy industries (some kind of smelters?). And still 30km to go.
I did survive; I’m not so sure my lungs and eyes did.
I am indescribably happy I have seen the countryside off the main road, and once more grateful to the Degree Confluence Project for making me go there.