Shillong is a beautiful, clean and picturesque capital city of the state of Meghalaya, which means abode of clouds.
A lot of natural beauty has been bestowed upon this place and is called the Scotland of East. But I am pretty sure if you happen to visit Scotland sometime, you would not mind calling it Shillong of the West.
No amount of words I write here will ever be able to describe the real beauty and the surreal experience you have when you visit this place. Nature has shown all its love to this place through the beautiful mountains, rivers, forests, waterfalls, lakes and a lot of greenery to witness which is a treat to the eyes.
WHERE, HOW AND WHEN– This capital city is surrounded by the Assam hills which comprise of Jayantia hills, Garo hills and Khasi hills on the three sides and Bangladesh border on the fourth side. The best route to get there is through an awesome road trip from Guwahati to Shillong. It is a four hour drive through and the scenic beauty along the whole trip is definitely worth the drive. The weather is cool and pleasant and the best time to visit this place from October to April.
ACCOMODATION– Being a tourist place, there are a variety of options are available for accommodation but homestays are the most preferred options. Hotels and resorts are also available but homestays provide you the local feel and touch. Although I stayed at the Army Holiday Home, but it is not available to people without reference from an army personnel.
SEEING AROUND– There are a lot of places to visit in and around Shillong. If you love trekking and are a nature’s person, this is just the right place for you. You atleast need five whole days to go around and visit all the places. Savour each moment you spend looking at the magnificence of nature which you will frequently witness when you go around. Every place is worth capturing. I am mentioning few of the places which you should definitely visit.
- Dauki– Dauki is a four hour drive from Shillong. You should dedicate one whole day to this place as there are many places on its way which are worth visiting. The drive itself is an experience and you will definitely remember the road trips from the movies Dil Chahta hai and Zindagi na milegi dobara. When in Dauki, make sure to visit Mawlynnong, which is the cleanest village in Asia. This village is immaculately clean and is well maintained by its people. There are various souvenir stores in this village if you wish to purchase something. Apart from this few other places worth going are The Living Root Bridge, which as the name suggests is a bridge made by the people through the roots of a huge old tree on a river. This is bridge definitely worth going to. While on your way to Dawki, comes the Dawki river which has such clean water that you can literally see the bottom of the river while boating on it. But make sure you visit this place before the monsoons hit Shillong, as once the rains start the water becomes muddy and you will miss this once in a lifetime experience. Another place you would like is the India Bangladesh International border. It’s a few kilometers ahead of Dawki.
- Cherrapunjee– or as the locals call it Sohra is known to be the place with the heaviest rainfall on the earth. I personally enjoyed Cherrapujnee more than I liked going to Dawki. The main reason being waterfalls. This place has a plethora of such huge and gorgeous, waterfalls that you are awestruck each time you see any waterfall. Every waterfall has a history or a story behind it which make it all the more interesting when you visit these. Starting with the Elephant falls which is in Shillong on the way to Cherrapunji. The rest waterfalls I am mentioning are in Cheerapunjee. Among which the most famous ones are, Wakaba falls, Seven Sister falls, Nohkalikai Falls, Wei Saw Dong and Dain Thlen Falls. Except for the Wei saw Dong falls, rest all the other waterfalls can be easily seen from the top of the mountains. Wei saw Dong Falls is the most beautiful of all the falls I visited and the most difficult to reach too. To reach the deepest level of the waterfall, it is a difficult trek down the mountain. It is not completely visible from the top. But after you reach the lowest level, the beauty you witness is worth the trouble you go through during the trek.
After all the waterfalls, come the Mawsmai caves. Visiting these caves is a thrilling experience. These are long and narrow caves and the more we go inside these, the narrower the passage becomes. And it is just impossible to walk straight in these caves. You have to bend, kneel and at some point even crawl in these caves. If you are claustrophobic, I would suggest you to not go into these.
- Shillong- The beautiful city of Shillong is well established on the mountains and the people there are really nice and cordial. There are many places in the city and also nearby which are huge tourist attractions and should be on your list too if you plan to visit Shillong. We started with the Mawphlang sacred Forest which is a wonderful place to visit. This forest is on the outer of Shillong and is spread over a huge area of land filled with beautiful and exotic trees. It is taken care by the the local tribal people, the Khasi tribe. As the name suggests the forest is considered to be a sacred place by the Khasi people, as according to their beliefs, is the place where the kings, in the ancient times would go to perform their scared rituals. Among the many beliefs is one that you are not supposed to bring out anything from the forest. Anything you find there has to be left there. Even the fruits you find in the forest are supposed to be eaten in the forest itself. If you bring out anything intentionally, then it may be inauspicious and may cause you some trouble. This is what the people strongly believe in. Any outsider can easily get lost in the forest and it may become very difficult for them to come out on their own. Hence it is recommended that you take a guide with you when you go to the sacred forest. The local people are the guides and will guide you properly in and out of the forest. The visit to this forest is an unforgettable one and should not be missed at any cost.
On our way back from the forest we went to Shillong peak. This is the highest peak in Shillong and the whole city can be seen from this point. It is splendid experience to witness this. There are small shops on the peak where they serve eatables and also there are shops where the traditional khasi attire is made available for the tourists to dress up and click pictures to make the whole trip more memorable. I would suggest you to experience this. The local Police Bazar was the next place we went to. It is the the main market of Shillong and everything is available here for shopping and entertainment. It is a must visit. If you wish to buy anything then this is the place to visit. Anything you need, you will get here. We ended our day at the Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians. Visiting this lovely church was a divine experience. You have to go there to feel it. Photography inside the church is not allowed so unless you see it for yourself; you will not be able to understand how enticing the whole experience is.
My trip ended in the most awesome way. I visited the Umiam lake. Although this lake will be mentioned in a local place to visit in Shillong but it was more convenient to go to Umiam lake on our way back to Guwahati as it is just on the way. This man made lake is an impeccable piece of work. Your trip will never be complete without seeing this lake. Make sure you go boating on this lake. It’s too much fun.
Apart from all these places I am mentioning a few other places which are worth seeing.
- Jayantia hills
- Double root bridge
- Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures
- Air force museum
- Village of Smit in Laitlum
- ML 05 café
These places I have mentioned are only a few of the famous places to visit in and around Shillong. But these are worth mentioning. When you plan a trip to Shillong, these places are must visit places.
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