Shillong is just 8 hours drive from my home town, Silchar. Very often I need to travel Guwahati en-route Shillong and every time I used to fall in love with its salubrious weather and incredible scenic beauty. Waterfall rolling down from the roadside mountains, aroma of pine trees, lush green vegetation and orchid flowers used to make my 12 hours long journey pleasant. So, with a daylong dream of witnessing Umiam Lake and Elephant fall, (as I was aware of these two places only) I went to my cousin’s place who was studying in NEHU. The plan was too short from my side but I was bound to stay there for three long weeks. And instead of sightseeing geek I became an adventure lover. Let me tell you what all attracted me to stay there for so long.
The day I reached Shillong, we sorted out a plan and listed activities to experience in Shillong. Let me share the activities that we enjoyed initially.
Umiam is a beautiful lake to enjoy boating. It is located in Nongpoh at a distance of approx 17km from Shillong. Enclosed with rich greenery of Shillong from all sides this lake is filled with blue and crystal clear water to sail without being worried about water pollution. We reached by the late afternoon and could see that water-skiing, sailing and rowing options are also available at Water sports complex at Umiam Lake. But, we opted for boating as we were prepared for that only. The feel was out of the world as the scenic beauty of Shillong was accompanying us while floating on this placid waterbody.
Khasi lad is enjoying Angling
The scenic lake of Umiam also houses enormous species of rare and common fishes that are found swimming with lively colours. It is known as anglers’ paradise in Meghalaya. Spending evening with close ones generates a classy feel. After boating we were left with some time, so thought to go for angling. Though I couldn’t identify all species but could catch a mrigala fish.
My cousin said that Dawki is another promising option for angling in Shillong. It is around 80 km away from Shillong and located amidst a placid surrounding. Catfishes, Golden Carps and Silver Carp are most significant species are found there.
Fresh drinking water rolling down on the David Scott’s Trail
Though I expected that trekking option might be available within the town, but he said we need to travel out of the main town for finding out trekking trails. We went to David Scott’s trekking trail where we could feel the real charm of this ever-enthusiastic adventure activity. It is considered to be Best Place for Trekking in Meghalaya. The trek passes through low granite and sandstone cliffs found amidst rolling hills. A serpentine clear stream runs along with the trail. A valley covered with green carpet made us spellbound and we planned to set camps for overnight stay. Though for best trekking experience in Meghalaya Living Root Bridge, Kyllang Rock and Sophet Bneng also offer brilliant opportunity.
Bird eye view of Shillong town while enjoying horse ride towards Shillong Peak
We had a plan of arranging a picnic party on Shillong Peak as this is one the most beautiful picnic spots in Shillong. We planned to reach at the peak riding on horseback and it was a superb experience indeed. Witnessing the birds’ eye view of the city found at the slopes of the hills is a must see sight. While approaching towards the peak we could have a glimpse of that imposing sight. Here I must share with you the fact that Shillong Peak is the highest point in Meghalaya with an elevation of 1966 m. The peak is dotted with tropical vegetation and wonderful cliffs hanging across the road. Horse riding can be enjoyed in living Root Bridge as well.
Rafting at Ranikor
Our next plan was to go for rafting. I was excited to enjoy rafting in Shillong, as I used to consider North India as the only destination to join this thrilling adventure activity. Ranikor is an offbeat destination to Shillong and takes around 2 and half hours to reach. It is considered to be one of the best destinations of river rafting in Meghalaya. Feeling was awesome and every level was full of thrill and adventure. However, first timers can go for enjoying this invigorating activity in Barapani Lake which is only 17km from main town Shillong.
Kayaking at Kynshi River
The day we left for kayaking was drizzly in Shillong. We reached Kynshi River, which is considered to be the best kayaking destination in Shillong. We reached by the mid noon when it was heavily raining in river vicinity. Guides told us it is not safe to go for kayaking on that rainy day. I lost all hope and came back. My cousin said it is only a few years back this destination is discovered and experience gathered in this small hill station of North-East is no way different than Uttarakhand and Kerala.
A fall which was known to me for its astounding scenic view baffled me when I came to know that Elepahant Falls can let one experience rappelling as well. My cousin was happy to join the team as both of us were first timers and the elevation was 40 ft only. Rocks on both the sides were working as support to strengthen hold. The level is not that tough but enough to satiate an adventure hungry soul.
Picturesque Elephant Fall
It is considered to be a core adventurists’ activity and one needs to be zealous and ready to accept the challenges. I did not have enough but my cousin is always daring and he planned to join to experience waterfall hopping with full confidence at Elephant fall itself. Though, for waterfall hopping Spread Eagle Falls, Sweet Falls and Crinoline Falls are also considered to be of equivalent status.
Camping on Khasi Hills
One of the best options for camping holidays in Meghalaya, Khasi Hills was in our preference list as well. Staying overnight in these fleeting camps add to the memorable experiences of entire life. Green meadows, chilling weather, and fragrance of pine trees make this hilly region ideal for camping with the best buddies or even with the family members. Though for camping in Meghalya, Mawlynnong forest and Dawki also rank high.
Nature’s wonder Living Root Bridge
After our university senior batch made a documentary on Mawlynnong, the cleanest village in Asia, I used to dream of visiting this place. From Mawlynnong to Living Cliff Bridge the trek passes through thick forests and it is a quite uneasy trail, though after reaching at the destination one can meet with a nature’s wonder. We met a few villagers who were very conscious about dumping litters. After visiting this serene village we visited gorgeous Umterming waterfall which gushes down to a bottomless ravine. Living Cliff Bridge is at a distance of around 4 km and requires approx 2 hours to reach. The bridge is always brought to the limelight for its exclusivity of being formed naturally and not by the humans. It is the hanging roots of the rubber tree which assemble together to make it a perfectly functioning bridge.
10 days were gone and yet I was not in a mood to go back. I was feeling as I am in love with the serenity of Shillong. As my cousin was also passing his leisure after dealing with his papers, so I stayed back to get involved in other popular adventure activities to do in Shillong.
One of the Caves at Shnong Rim area in the Jaintia hills
The dream of discovering the traits of primitive men often traces me and I had a dream of exploring any of their dueling places. In Shillong, I couldn’t find the primitive trace rather could see something which is rare to find in other parts of the country. For caving in Shillong its limestone caves are ideal place. Krem Mawsmai, Krem Mamluh, and Krem Umshyrpi are some popular caves in Shillong and longest caves hold dark secrets within.
Shillong Golf Course
Enjoying golfing in Shillong Golf Club has a different charm altogether. So, out of curiosity I asked him to take me to the Shillong Golf Club. The club is located at a picturesque setting with lush green hills at the backdrop. Beautiful Pine and Rhdodendron trees function as wonderful decorative plants to enhance the splendor of its undulating meadows. Here I must mention the fact that Golf was brought to Shillong by a group of British Civil Service gentleman in 1898. The course is known for encompassing one of the longest trying holes in India.
Rock Climbing at Rock Garden
At the outskirt of Shillong, in some parts of the East Khasi Hills hard rock formations are found where rock climbing can be enjoyed to the truest sense. Tourists are always advised to head consulting with proper guide and to select the spot as per the reference only.
Shillong famous Cloud-9 Resto Lounge
Though Shillong is detached to the metros but scenic view and lifestyle of Shillong can easily beat any posh metropolis. People are fun loving and thus this small town has exclusive night clubs, lounges and bars. For boozing up to the brim Platinum, Cloud 9 and Dejavu are a few hot spots. Tango Pub is a place to have enough fun enjoying exotic drinks with lively music, scrumptious food and invigorating dance. We went to Cloud 9 at a weekend as it is known to be the unrivalled and the most vibrating resto-lounge in Shillong. Had two drinks…the classy L.I.I.T and refreshing Virgin Mojito. Vibrancy of the music and activities of the party animals of Shillong were rumbling in my ears throughout the night.
Tree house amidst serenity of Shillong
There cannot be a better fun activity than spending some time in tree houses built on the hills of Shillong. It is indeed a unique experience and adds to the repository of unforgettable memory. We went to Dawki to visit one of my cousin’s friends and spent a night at a tree house there. However, he told us that Sky View Tree House is one of the popular tree houses in Shillong.
‘Dwar’-A progressive melodic Metal Band
Unlike other Indian states, Shillong is identified across the country for its tradition of rich Metal and Rock Music. Youngsters are fond of different Genres of Western Music and as a result artists from US and many other European countries are invited to present live performances. The music loving Gen-Next assembles together and works hard to make a historical note in the Metal and Rock music tradition of Shillong. Some of the reputed Metal bands of Shillong are Prisoners of Chaos, Native Rules, Namesis etc. So, we planned to attend any of these bands’ live concerts.
Besides enjoying oodles of activities, I told him to sort out the names of few weekend getaway destinations in Shillong…………..
An afternoon view of Ward’s Lake
We were done with almost all adventure activities and were free that afternoon when I proposed to go for a leisure walk. So, he said going for a leisure walk around majestic Wards Lake will be of worth. The lake is encircled by winding walk-way and is inter spread with flowerbeds and different innovative illumination created with grass. It is during Sundays and holidays, the lake vicinity remains jam-packed with tourists roaming with their family and honeymoon.
Undulating meadows of Nokrek National Park
Though we could not go for visiting this park, but my cousin said it is a wonderful option for hangout in Shillong or to go for a picnic party with friends and families. This is mainly an amusement park and located in Upper Shillong. Having a glimpse of Elephant Falls from this park is unbelievably stunning.
On the way to Cherrapunji
We read in our geography texts that Cherapunji is the wettest place on earth and travel guides used to describe it as nothing less than heaven on earth. Truly speaking the ever romantic Shillong tour seems incomplete without visiting this nature’s wonder. The view en-route Cherrapunji bewildered me to capture a glimpse through a digital lens.
One of the pristine falls at Cherrapunji
The moment we reached I lost somewhere in the midst of exoticness and forget to stop shutters of my cam. This mystique land is perched on an escarpment. It was not raining, but mist and fog were enhancing the natural beauty of this mesmeric tourist spot. The experience gathered from my Cherrapunji tour compelled me to consider it to be one of the best monsoon getaways in India. The families looking for a change in their preferred vacationing options can spend their desired holidays in Shillong.
One of the largest Khasi Handicraft shops at Police Baazar
Wherever we go, without shopping our tour remains incomplete (for me at least). So, the day before my return, I and my cousin went for shopping in Police Baazar. Though apparel stores were almost same to that we find in cities but the handicraft items were exclusive. Pure forest honey, souvenirs and a few local artifacts were truly out of the box. Traditional Khasi Garments were flamboyant and those who want to experiment with their looks (especially girls) can try special Khasi indigenous ornaments. But, I would suggest going for bargaining before buying any item, as in most cases the shopkeepers charge high to the tourists.
Apart from these Fun Park, Anglican Cemetery and State Museum are some of the popular tourist attractions in Shillong which one should not miss to visit if they are with their family especially with kids. Motphran, Cathedral of Mary help of Christians, Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Culture are some of the popular sightseeing places in Shillong. However foodies should not miss to taste the mouth-watering Pork Choupsey in Bamboo Hut Restaurant. After experiencing all these adventurous, thrilling and rejuvenating activities in Shillong I can bet that Shillong is not only the best place for family vacations in North-East India but also the best destination for enjoying adventure in North-East.