Shillong: Jewel of the Northeast India
Shillong, one of the most popular tourist places in the Northeast of India makes for a beautiful holiday experience. It is capital of Meghalaya, which means the abode of clouds. A trip to Shillong is an assertion of India’s incredible cultural and geographical diversity. On the one hand you get to see the cascading waterfalls, green hills, the wettest place on earth and Living Root Bridges; on the other, you are introduced to a society, which is predominately matrilineal. Here, most of the population is Khasi (tribe), in which mother is head of family.
The state of Meghalaya came into being only in 1972, when Assam was divided into two parts and Shillong became the first capital of Meghalaya. Shillong is often called the Scotland of East and even today the British legacy is visible in Shillong’s architecture and food.
What to See
There is so much to see and do in Shillong that you will have always something to feel excited about. Butterfly Museum, 2 km from Police Bazaar is one such place. It has a huge collection of different types of butterflies. You may also visit Don Bosco Museum, to get a glimpse of musical instruments, weapons, objects of daily life, costumes and jewellery.
Umiam Lake, also called Bara Pani and Wards Lake are great for travellers who enjoy outdoor activities. These lakes attract both adults and children as they can enjoy boating and water sports here. Lady Hydari Park, which has a variety of local flowering plants, orchids and a mini zoo, is another place of tourist interest in Shillong.
Though there are many waterfalls in the close vicinity of Shillong City but the most prominent is the Elephant Falls. It is a must visit attraction and so is the Shillong Peak, the vantage point, which offers breathtaking views of the city and the villages around.
Bara Bazaar offers many options when it comes to eating out in Shillong. There are restaurants that serve Chinese, Tibetan, Indian, Continental and local Khasi cuisine. You can also take an easy stroll in the market and shop for local products.
Cherrapunji & Mawlynnong
At a distance of about 56 km from Shillong is Cherrapunji, once the wettest place on earth. The honour now belongs to Mawsynram, which is 16 km from Cherrapunji. The journey is scenic and you will find greenery and waterfalls on your way to Cherrapunji. Eco Park and Mawsmai Caves are two most visited attractions in Cherrapunji, which you should not miss.
Another interesting attraction in Cherrapunji is the Living Root Bridges. As the name suggests, these bridges are built by directing the roots of a species of Indian rubber tree that grows alongside rivers and streams in Cherrapunji. This tree sends its roots to the riverbed, which are directed to the other side of the river and then they are allowed to take root in the soil. Double Decker Root Bridge, which has two bridges stacked one over the other is of special interest to tourists. It is not very easy to reach these bridges as one has to walk a few kilometers to reach them. These root bridges are so strong that some of them can carry up to 50 people at a time.
Mawlynnong, considered as the cleanest village in Asia is also visited by the tourists. It is located some 90 km from Shillong. The village offers picturesque natural beauty. A short trek from Mawlynnong leads travellers to Riwai village, where they can see the Living Root Bridge.
The best way to reach Shillong is to take a flight or train to Guwahati. Buses and shared cabs are available from Guwahati to Shillong. Though the distance is about 50 odd kilometers but it may take you 2-3 hrs to reach Shillong.