Shillong : Scotland of the East
A beautiful city encircled by pine trees, Shillong is the capital of Meghalaya. It derives its name from Lei Shyllong, an idol worshipped at the Shillong Peak. Standing as tall as 1496 meters, Shillong provides a relief from the heat across the country. This hill station is known for its picturesque sights and traditions. The soothing climate makes Shillong suitable to visit in all seasons. The light drizzles and the cooling gentle wind adds to the joy of visiting this hill station. This place is also known as the ‘Scotland of the East’. One can find descendants of the Khyrim, Mylliem, Maharam, Mallaisohmat, Bhowal and Langrim tribes.
Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, is the home to numerous waterfalls. The exciting mountain peaks, crystal clear lakes, breathtakingly beautiful golf courses, museums and the zoo are the key reasons why people visit Shillong. Apart from the natural beauty, Shillong also acts as the gateway to Meghalaya, the state famous for heavy rainfalls, caving, tallest waterfalls, beautiful landscapes and amazing people and culture. Shillong in particular has been in limelight for its jovial people and their culture. Interestingly, Shillong has a very westernised culture and it has a very young feel to it. Shillong is also famous as the music capital of India, as many prominent musicians have hailed from this place. Many music events keep happening throughout the year, making it a very lively place.
Best time to visit:-
April to June is best month to visit Shillong. Temperature during this time stays between 24 degrees celsius and 15 degrees celsius
Mawlynnong is a small village situated around 90 km from Shillong in the East Khasi Hills, Meghalaya and is also known as God’s own Garden. It was declared as the cleanest village in Asia in 2003 by Discovery India which certainly which makes it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Indian state. Mawlynnong village is a community-based ecotourism initiative where the entire community made collective efforts in making and maintaining the cleanliness of the village.
Mawlynnong offers some of the most picturesque natural beauty with lush green valleys, crystal clear water in the river, an abundance of flowering orchids hanging from the trees and extremely clean roads which makes this small village a worth visiting destination for tourists visiting Meghalaya. Mawlynnong village also offers pleasant weather throughout the year and especially during monsoon, the village tends to extend its elegance which makes the visitors feels like heaven on earth. Apart from its cleanliness, Mawlynnong is also famous for its living root bridges, tribal locals having a 100% literacy rate with exceptional women empowerment and offering warm hospitality to the visitors.
Umiam Lake, a mesmerizing man-made reservoir, is located at a distance of 15 kilometres north of Shillong which is the capital of the north-eastern Indian state of Meghalaya. The lake was formed after a dam was constructed to generate hydroelectric power. The scenic Umiam Lake is encircled by lush green East Khasi hills that form one of the best panoramic sights for nature-lovers in the country. The sunrise at the lake is a treat to watch and shouldn’t be missed. The Umiam Lake has a park adjoining it which is a hotspot for picnics and frequented by locals for a getaway from their busy scheduled.
The serene lake or the reservoir is surrounded by thick coniferous forests and expands over an area of about 222 square kilometres. Students and nature-lovers can admire the flora and fauna at Umiam Lake as they study the science behind the dam, children can spend some time in the park with their parents, visitors can take a long boat ride in the lake, and adventure lovers can enjoy boating and various water-sports. Apart from the tranquillity that Umiam Lake has to offer, one can also observe the daily life of the natives who come to the lake in search of twigs and grass or the fishermen canoeing in the still waters. In summers, the shores are adorned by beautiful Gulmohar trees while in winters, the water level recedes and turns azure.
Named after an Elephant like stone at its foot, the Elephant Falls are amongst the most popular falls in the North-East, situated next to Shillong. It is a tourists’ paradise with three layers of the falls accessible to the layman from different vantage points. The Britishers named this fall so owing to the presence of an elephant-shaped rock on one side of the fall. However, the stone disintegrated and was washed away due to an earthquake in 1897. Elephant Waterfalls is a superb place for spending some time in the midst of nature while capturing the incredible moments for your keepsake.
The breathtaking Elephant falls were referred to as ‘Ka Kshaid Lai Pateng Khohsiew’ by the local Khasi people, which means ‘The Three Step Waterfalls’, as these falls consist of three mesmerising falls in succession. The first of the three waterfalls are tucked between the dense trees and are very broad. The second waterfall reduces to thin strands of water and is almost negligible in winters due to the receding water levels. The third and the most visible waterfall is the tallest with clear water flowing like a sheet of milk on the dark rocks in the backdrop. Out of the three, the third waterfall tends to strike the visitors as the most impressive. Elephant Falls is a great stopover destination before one head for further journeys into Meghalaya. Located 12 km away from the capital city of Shillong, it is one of the most visited falls in the beautiful state.
At the height of 6449 ft and 1965 m above sea level, Shillong Peak is the highest point of Shillong. It offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the entire city, the Himalayas, its waterfalls as well as of the Bangladesh plains. A telescope is available for tourists to get a bird’s eye view. Trekking up to this semi-circular Shillong Peak is highly recommended for the best views but it is often bounded by heavy fog.
It is said that Shillong gets its name from the Shillong Peak itself. Regional tales tell that the patron deity ‘Leishyllong’ resides in the hills and protects the city from all evils. The U Shulong site at the top of the peak is sacred and every spring, a ritual is organised there. The Shillong Peak is situated at the air force base and features a radar station of the Indian Air Force. Due to security reasons, heavy checking is done at the gates, and tourists are asked to deposit their cameras.
Don Bosco Museum
Hailed as Asia’s largest Museum of Indigenous Cultures, the Don Bosco Museum is the house of the beautiful culture and tradition of North East India. It is conveniently located in the Mawlai area, near the Police Bazaar. With its seven storeys, it rises into the skyline of Shillong and flaunts 16 laid out galleries that showcase artefacts, paintings, figures significant to the Northeastern culture. Not only do these provide a feast to the eyes of the visitors, but also give an insight into the lifestyle of the North-Eastern people.
The significance of Don Bosco Museum is prominent from the fact that it has been toured by the eminent people from Rajya Sabha as well as the princess of Thailand. The museum is more of an institution with its own research wing, publications, newsletters and cultural calendar. Another striking fact about Don Bosco museum is that it is built in a hexagonal shape, which is why it is referred to as Shillong’s architectural pride. Often, there are competitive events held in the premises of the museum and scholars, writers, musicians and lyricists from all over the country participate in them.
Acknowledged as one of the wettest place in the world, the mesmerizing village of Mawsynram is a nature lover’s delight and the perfect destination to behold the beauty of the rains. Mawsynram trounces cherrapunjee by a slight margin in being the wettest place in India.
A rain lover’s paradise, Mawsynram is one of the best tourist attractions of India. The ‘Maw’ in Mawsynram is a Khasi word meaning ‘stone’. It symbolizes the unique megaliths unearthed in the Khasi Hill area. The village is well known for its huge formation of a stalagmite, which takes after the shape of a ‘Shivling’. Located in the East Khasi Hill district of meghalaya, Mawsynram is 1400 m above sea level. The rains are so powerful in Mawsynram that the local villagers have to make use of thick grass to sound-proof their homes from the thunderous rain.
Lying in the centre of Shillong city, the Ward’s Lake, an artificial lake surrounded by a prolific green garden, is a major tourist attraction around which the entire city has been planned. Also known as Pollock’s Lake, the mesmerising lake is a popular picnic spot amongst the locals and travellers who come here to simply walk around the horseshoe-shaped lake or sit and admire the stunning flowerbeds throwing a myriad of colours.
In the middle of Ward’s Lake is a small bridge created to enable the visitors to have a panoramic view of the entire lake or feed the tiny fishes floating around in the water (puffed rice is available at the entrance of the lake for feeding the fishes). The major highlight of the lake is definitely the paddle boating. The Ward’s Lake is named after the Chief Commissioner of Assam, Sir William Ward, who initiated the construction of this lake. Since Ward’s Lake is located centrally, you can easily reach it through any means of local transport.