Welcome to the 'misty mystery' that Shillong is!
An easygoing pace that Nature deems fit is characteristic of Shillong hill station. Taking a mild walk or riding slowly a vehicle on the road alongside Khasi hills gives many glimpses of the valley and a clear perception of the beauty epitomized by Nature in the capital of Meghalaya. Showering drizzles and cooling breeze of Shillong bring along an unmatched joy experience. A yearning of being able to see far and beyond the vantage point of the road is only obvious. The more of the place is explored, the more playful ways of Nature gets revealed.
For its resemblance to the civilization established in the rolling hills of Scotland, the place at 1,966 m altitude is often referred to as 'Scotland of India'. Shillong holidays would only emphasize this comparison. The Shillong plateau on which the city is located is surrounded by hills, main of which are Lum Sohpetbneng, Lum Diengiei and Lum Shillong- an object of worship for the locals.
Somewhat forgotten British imprint still catch the fancy of exploring visitors, because it is not possible to tug free of the history. Sooner or later Shillong tourism reveals what it was to be a part of English idea of civilization, prominently in its architecture. The once capital of undivided Assam, the hill capital now welcomes eager travelers in its new world.
Very easily people find themselves lost counting the ways Nature on hills can surprise them. The same theory applies in Shillong as well, especially during monsoons. Briskly walking locals, enthusiastically searching tourists, shyly honeymooning couples and the people engrossed in routine life, together with pleasant climate present an admirable picture.
Find all this while visiting the following major tourist spots:
Places of Worship
Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians- Originally built in 1913, the cathedral was destroyed by a fire in 1936. Rebuilt in 1934 in the same site, the place attracts numerous tourists for its beauty and religious significance as well as the aspect of antiquity.
All Saints Church- The antiquity of this worship place is never questioned ever since it came into existence, though it was destroyed in 1897 in an earthquake, rebuilt again in 1902. The influence of British could be seen in the colonial architecture.
Falls- Shillong travel is studded with numerous falls that come alive with vigor during monsoons. Some names that are worth mentioning include Beadon, Bishops, Crinoline, Elephant Falls, Spread Eagle and Sweet falls. Packing picnic baskets and coming down to all one by one is recommended during the tour.
Umiam- 17 Km from Shillong and visitors can enter in a different world- a water sports complex facilitating activities like yachting, paddle boating, kayaking, water cycling and scooting and many such fun. Also known as Barapani locally and famously, it has Lumu Nehru Park, another spot of fun.
Wards- Call it 'Polok', it still remains the same lake, though manmade but nothing short of amusement. Designed in a horse-shoe shape, it serves as an ideal spot for picnicking, studded with many recreational activities.
Shillong Peak- The highest peak of the area with 1,965 m altitude, this one also offers sights that couldn't be forgotten easily if one opts to come in its vicinity. Legends and myths believed by the locals also make it worth to have a look and be marveled but that has to be admired without Camera due to safety issues.
Sohpetbneng Peak- To imagine what the place would be like is not difficult if its meaning- 'The Navel of Heaven' is known to a visitor, as it was believed once that local tribes planted a tree that serves as connection to God. At 1,343 m, the sight would not allow to breath for a moment.
Mawjymbuin Caves- The location of the place is roughly 56 Km away for everyone who is visiting Shillong. These caves are a must-see if visit to the Meghalaya capital is like once in a blue moon. The natural structures have aroused much curiosity and thus the buzz surrounding the place is expected.
Lady Hydari Park- The name tells about its British connection with Lady Hydari- wife of Governor of Assam but rest is to seen to enjoy. Its celebrated features include mini zoo, landscaping in Japanese style consisting orchids and other plants and more.
Golf Course- If passing time in the most leisured way is on the mind, coming to Laban and playing in this golf course is something to be tried. Among some of the oldest fields to play this game, it never fails to remind people of its British origin.
Police Bazaar- All the things of necessity can be found in this market place, which is conveniently located near bus stand of Shillong. Other such markets that would be worth trying are Motphran and Bara Bazaar.
Meghalaya Butterfly Museum- The museum came in to existence to study and thus conserve rare species of various butterflies and moths. Glancing over 1600 species can be a whole new experience.
Anthropological Museum- Dates back to 1954, the museum is located in Nogrim Hills. Various types of specimens are displayed for casual and scholarly observation, during 10 AM to 4.30 PM on weekdays.
Capt Williamson Sangma State Museum- The art and culture of Shillong can be experienced encapsulated in this place. It showcases the history of tribal people living here and handicraft they create.
Places around Shillong
Adding following villages / towns to Shillong tour package is going to be all the more rewarding, if time in hand is plenty.
Cherapunji- The place is known for receiving rains throughout the year. The original name of the place is Sohra which later got impacted by British pronunciation. The old name is now restored.
Mawsynram- This place holds the title of the wettest place of the earth. Surrounded by the Khasi hills, one can revel in the glory dripping with honey of Nature. It is just 16 km away from Sohra.
Mawlynnong- For lessons in cleanliness, one can go and see the marvel in Mawlynnong, tagged 'cleanest village in Asia' in 2003 and 'cleanest village in India' in 2005.
Mawphlang- Separated by only 25 Km from Shillong, one can come here for the lookout of Sacred Groves and the admirable enchanting environment would swipe tourists off their feet.
Jakrem- Talk about hot springs in mountain and hilly landscape, this place near Shillong has gained popularity as health resort. The waters have curative medicinal properties.
Nongriat- The place is well known for being featured in BBC, Asahi TV, etc for the living hand-woven root bridges, one of which is referred to as Jingkieng Nongriat, meaning double decker.
Things to do
If someone wants to experience the drizzle turning to showers that again turning to heavy downpour, no hill town can come to stand equal to Shillong. Travel from one corner to other on bike or on foot, the enveloping ambience of the place would accompany everywhere. Sports complex in Umiam Lake presents itself as an excellent opportunity for families to bond and have fun. Golfing as English did is something an enthusiast of the sport cannot shrug off. Sacred Forest is another place fitting to suit the taste of trekkers and hikers who love to venture in unknown territory.
The place would seem slightly different with no fans in the room but not those who are in habit of sitting in accommodation with air conditioners only. Nevertheless the place is an exquisite amazement in all the months of the year, which is why booking rooms of the Shillong hotels and resorts in advance would seen as a thoughtful act to go along with.
Some of the names tourists can rely upon include Hotel Knight Inn, Hotel Rainbow, Hotel Yalana, Shillong Clubhouse, The Majestic Hotel, Centre Point, Highwinds, Polo Towers, Orchid Lake Resort, Micasa Hotel, Hotel Alpine Continental, Ri Kynjai Resort and many more.
Winters can get extremely cool with temperature dropping to 2°C where as summers are known for a temperature varying between 15°C to 24°C. Monsoons receive medium to heavy rainfall and might lure rain lovers to Shillong.
Best time to visit
Best time is considered to be from September to May, however to enjoy eight waterfalls and lush greenery in the area no season could be better than Monsoon.
How to Reach
By Air: Shillong is connected with Kolkata with its airport in Umroi, however travelers from locations like Delhi, Imphal, Kolkata, Aizwal, etc can fly to Guwahati, separated by 100 Km to reach Shillong conveniently from there on.
By Train: Guwahati is the major railhead for Shillong connected with other major cities of India.
By Road: From many northeastern cities and towns, regular bus services (both public and private) could be used to get to Shillong.