|City : Shillong
Location : East India
Language : Local dialects and Englis.
Best Time To Visit : October to May
Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya takes its name from the deity Shyllong or Lei Shyllong. This city used to be the capital of Assam for over century since 1874 till Meghalaya became a separate state. The cit is based on an n elevated swathe which lays almost 1500 mtr above the sea level. The city is picturesquely located within the Umiam ravine from north and the Diengiei hills from the north-west making this city a prey to natural blessings as well as vagaries (incessant rains during June- September). One such incident almost wiped out Shillong from the face of earth in 1897 when a strong earthquake destroyed the city. The hard working people of Meghalaya reconstructed the city completely.
Shillong is located at 25.57° N 91.88° E. It is on the Shillong Plateau, the only major pop-up structure in the northern Indian shield. The city lies in the centre of the plateau and is surrounded by hills, three of which are revered in Khasi tradition: Lum Sohpetbneng, Lum Diengiei and Lum Shillong.
Due to its latitude and high elevation Shillong has a sub-tropical climate with mild summers and chilly to cold winters.Shillong is subject to vagaries of the monsoon. The monsoons arrive in June and it rains almost until the end of August. October-November and March-April are the best months to visit Shillong.
Bara Bazaar (Iewduh Market)
The Iewduh market or the Bara Bazar, as many old timers still prefer to term it, is one huge colourful jamboree. Generally recommended to every newcomer as the first place to be visited upon arrival the Lewduh market sees an influx of peddlers across Meghalaya advertising and trading their wares. The market becomes the hub of a million activities on the Iewduh (the very first day of the Khasi week) when populace from the entire spectrum from Meghalaya arrives in vibrant bunches and enhances the festive atmosphere. The vendors offer some of the best Meghalay products for the most reasonable prices. A quick bargain purchase of some of the handwoven goods and natural resources can be one of the best clinched deals of your life.
The normal trends of Indian waterfalls do not apply to the unique waterfalls in Meghalaya. These waterfalls are almost always at their full glory and rarely dry up or become a trickle as is the case with rest of the waterfalls. The Beadon waterfall is surrounded by verdant forests from every side and the sight of the creamy torrent gushing down almost a 100 feet and crush the resilient rocks below is awe inspiring. The clear water stream and the picturesque surroundings make for a memorable sight. The sight is always in demand and provides an excellent opportunity to relax and enjoy a half day trek cum picnic with the entire family. An operational hydroelectric powerhouse is situated at the base of the falls
The Bishop's Waterfall is often referred to as the twin brother of the Beadon Waterfall since both tumble down the same escarpment into a yawning gorge. As the gushing stream of water plunges and crashes into a cavernous lagoon the sprinkled droplets create a mystic rainbow that stretches across the spectrum. The emerald pool formed at the bottom is inviting and it's a fantastic idea to trek up or down the hills along the stream discovering the marvels of nature. Although a few hotels and local vendors offer grub for the famished do not expect a five star spread from these simple souls who are untouched from the mean grasps of bottom lines and profits.
Botanical Survey of India Orchidarium
The Botanical Garden in the vicinity of the enchanting Ward Lake specializes in preservation and research of various species of vegetation especially those related to the Meghalaya region. The Botanical Garden has been successfully preserving and recreating some of the rare species. The Orchidarium of the Botanical Survey of India boasts of am amazingly rare collection of orchids. These Orchids have been obtained from remote location with an aim to provide a congenial atmosphere for these species to hold and grow their roots once again on the soil of Meghalaya. The Orchids have special glass chambers and even temperature controlled atmosphere and feed for better acclimatization.
One of the most amusing sights even for an adult is to watch a delicate little butterfly land on hands and perform a balancing jig before it takes off again to regale another bystander. The Butterfly Museum at Riatsamthiah presents some of the finest and rarest species of butterflies and moths. The museum, had initiated the breeding program for butterflies with an eye on the mounting commercial market. However, the program has now developed into a full fledged Butterfly and moth anthology. The museum also provides a rare insight into the life cycles and habitat of these fragile mortals.
Smack in the middle of the Shillong city is another natural splendor. The Crinoline Falls cascading down the luxuriant woodland create a graceful waterfall. The pool created by the fall has been creatively carved out to serve as a well sustained Swimming Pool. A dip in this pool is a foregone conclusion for the allure of the lagoon would drag and float the most ardent watch babies. The pool is perennially abounded with screeching hordes outdoing each other and feasting on the nature's bounty. An attached restaurant provides relief for the tired spirits and the adjacent area nourishes the heart with some soul stirring cultural programmes.
The Elephant Falls located just outside the Shillong city at a distance of approx 10 kms provides a unique sight wherein the water column carves out its way and surrenders to gravity at two successive locations. The gigantic stream accumulated just at the pinnacle comes crashing down the terrain and rebounds only to cover a short distance and once again leap into a daunting gorge. The very sight of natural pandemonium is enough to make one miss a heartbeat and leap with joy. The surrounding basin sheltered by the sky like green vegetation provides a perfect backdrop to this enchanting picnic spot.
Lady Hydari Park and Zoo
Lady Hydari Park, owes its existence to the erstwhile nature loving first lady of the state, Lady Hydari the wife of Governor of Assam (It used to be a big state). This mini zoo clubbed with a deer park stretches for more than one Kilometer and presents some of the best grown and bred rose beds. The roses and blossoms are of tasteful tones and colours. The park has been very passionately maintained and also provides a special play arena for the tiny tots. The combination of the zoo, Park and beautiful stretches of flower beds makes it an ideal location for young couples but also for the families to spend some quality time together.
Meghalaya State Museum
The State of Meghalaya used to be the part of the state of Assam till 1972. Post separation the state has made conscious efforts to preserve and highlight its own identity through display of its tribal culture and heritage. This Museum is located within the State Central Library complex which is situated at Laichumiere. The lifestyle and cultural diversity of the tribes in Meghalaya especially the Khasi tribes have been elaborately displayed in the museum. The information regarding history, culture and social structures of these tribes is also available in the museum.
Shillong Golf Club
Considered to the first 18 hole Golf Course in India the Shillong Golf Club (an altitude of 5200 ft) is any Putters dream come true. The Shillong Golf Course is sometimes equated with "Glen-eagle Course" in the United States because of its beauty and unique location. The Golf Course has been charted in a surging valley full of thick pine groves and rhododendron trees. The course initiated as a 9 (nine) hole course in 1898 was later converted into a full fledged 18 hole course by Capt Jackson in 1924. This enchanting Golfing paradise is also often visited for the enormous panoramic view it presents of the Shillong city and against the backdrop of snow-covered Himalayan ranges.
The Shillong peak stands at a whopping 2000mtr above sea level. The peak dedicated to the city is also the highest point in the state. An ideal picnic spot, the Shillong Peak offer breathtaking bird's eye view of the city and the scattered villages around the Peak. A sanctum offering curtsy U Shulong is located at the peak's summit. The spiritual pastor of Mylliem State offers prayers at the sanctum during springtime. If the view of the human abode below is breathtaking during daytime, then the view at nighttime in absolutely awe inspiring. The city and other dwelling lights provide the ground below an aura of the night sky.
Spread Eagle Falls
As we move towards the forests from the Polo ground at a distance approximately 3 Km the calmness and peaceful lull of the verdant jungle is broken, initially with a silent hush, and later by a roaring waterfall that breaks out of the dominating green terrain with an aim to carve a niche for itself. Welcome to the Spread Eagle Falls or the Sati Falls. The Spread Eagle Falls can be considered as the widest waterfalls amongst those in and around Shillong. The stream grows wide just near the pinnacle and crashes into a massive pool created by its incessant splash on the rocks below.
The Sweet Falls apart from the adorable name does not posses any feminine quality. Situated near Happy Valley, the Sweet Falls travel a stomach wrenching dive height of an incredible 96 mtr before it pounds the black rocks in the crevice below. The sweet falls is very popular amongst the local populace and it is common to find a swelling crowd at the Sweet Falls during weekends. The place has been developed as a tourist spot and basic facilities for travelers and tourists are available at affordable prices.
Umiam Lake (Barapani)
Umiam Lake, also known as Barapani (Big Water) is a spot around 15 Km from Shillong where a massive hydro-electric dam has been constructed across the Umiam river stream. The Lake is popular for the Water Sport and adventure facilities that it offers. Kayaking, Water cycling/ scooting and boating are a few of the facilities available at the Umiam Lake. The Lake has been developed as a tourist spot by the State authorities and the Meghalaya Tourism Department, runs the Orchid Tourist home overlooking the lake. Don't miss the chance to order a sumptuous spread from the floating restaurant with ferry services.
The story goes like this. A Khasi prisoner, bored with the penitentiary routine requested the warden for some creative release by permitting him to create some construction over the Wards Lake. He was permitted to do so and what stands today is a marvelous site of the Wards Lake or Polok's Lake as the locals prefer to call it. This century old picturesque (horseshoe-shaped) artificial lake lying beneath the Raj Bhavan (Governor's Residence) is located at the heart of the city and is extremely popular for its garden walks and boating. The lake is chock-full of fish it's a common sight to see tourists feeding fish from the bridge. The lake is encircled by a winding walk-way and is inter spread with gently sloping flowerbeds and innovative illumination, edged in by luxuriant greens.