Shillong…Scotland of the East

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An Ideal Summer Hill Station Tourist Destination in India

 

With the rolling hills of pine conifers and pineapple shrubs, the British named Shillong as “the Scotland of the East” – an impression first brought to mind by Barapani (or Umiam), the stunning loch-like reservoir on its fringes, and the sight of the local Khasi women wearing gingham and tartan shawls. Situated at an altitude of around 1496m above sea level, the city derived its name from “Leishyllong”-the Superpower or God, believed to reside on the Shillong peak. Lying in the cradle of the tall pine conifers and pineapple shrubs, Shillong’s undulating terrain is a constant source of attraction for tourists from both home and abroad.

 

The series of gushing waterfalls, majestic mountains, and tranquil waters of the clear lakes provide a breathtaking view to fascinate the visitors with its conquering beauty. The climate is pleasant round the year and is an ideal place to spend a holiday. Shillong the capital of Meghalaya, is one of the smallest states in India and is an home to the Khasis. The city lies at the centre of the Shillong plateau only 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. Under Köppen’s climate classification the city features a subtropical highland climate. 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.

 

Mainly considered as a tourist destination, Shillong is famous for its numerous waterfalls, peaks and ancient cathedrals. The Khasi, Jaintia and Garo tribes add color to this hilly city. With events happening from April to June, it is an ideal place for nature and food lovers.

 

Elephant Falls:Situated 12 km on the outskirts of the city, the mountain stream descends through two successive falls set in dells of fern covered rocks making it a famous picnic spot amongst the locals a must see for the tourists.

 

Lady Hydari Park:The Park stretches over a kilometre and has an adjacent mini zoo enabling it as an enjoyment area for the kids.

 

Wards Lake:An artificial lake with garden and boating facilities and known locally as Nan-Polok is a famous relaxing destination for the vistors.

 

Gleneagles of the East:Shillong has one of the largest natural golf courses in Asia: Gleneagles of the East. Not only is the Shillong golf course scenic and enjoyable, it is also challenging. The present 18-hole course was inaugurated in 1924. The course is set in a valley covered with pine and rhododendron trees. The tight fairways, carpeted with a local grass hardens the soil, are difficult to discuss.

 

Motphran:“Motphran” or The “Stone of France” was erected in memory of the 26th Khasi Labour Corps who served under the British in France during World War I. It bears the words of the famous Latin poet Horace “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” which can be roughly translated into English as “It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.”

 

Shillong Peak:A picnic spot, 10 km from the city, 1965 m above sea level, offers a panoramic view of the scenic countryside and is the highest point in the state. The religious priest of Mylliem State pays obeisance to U Shulong at the sanctum sanctorum at the peak’s summit every springtime.

 

Cherrapunjee (Sohra):Better known as Sohra, Cherrapunjee is situated 56 Kms from Shillong and 1300 metres above sea level and is well known all over the world as the rainiest place on the planet. Besides a number of roaring waterfalls, including the famous Nohsngithiang falls the lovely town is also famous for its limestone caves, orange, honey, a headquarter of the Syiem of Sohra and a Centre of the Khasi Culture and literature.

 

Apart from this the Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians in Don Bosco Square, Bishop and Beadon Falls, Spread Eagle Falls, Sweet Falls and Crinoline Falls are some of the other places which one needs to visit to be enjoy being amidst nature’s beauty.

 

SPORTS

Although relatively unknown in the field of sports, Shillong recently got into the limelight because of Shillong Lajong FC, a football club based here which has taken the Indian football scene by storm in the recent Indian leagues.

 

Shillong Golf Course is one of the oldest golf courses of the country and with its scenic presence the tourists can just whiles away their time by playing golf.

 

Shillong is also famous for its daily dose of archery gambling where people predict scores of an archery game played near Polo Ground, Shillong.

 

Binningstar Lyngkhoi from Shillong is a national marathon runner and represented India in the last 2010 Commonwealth Games. He is currently the fastest marathoner in India with a timing of 2:18 hours.

 

FESTIVALS

The locals of Shillong celebrate various festivals round the year. To mark the yield of good harvest, they celebrate weeklong festival ‘Wangala’. Similarly, during Oct-Nov, people perform ‘Nongkrem dance’ to offer thanks to the Almighty for good harvest, peace and prosperity of the community.

However, the most colourful and interesting is the Thanks giving Dance Festival, which is held in the month of April and is observed for three days. It is wonderful to see men and women dressed in traditional fineries dance to the drums and the flute.

 

EVENTS

April to July is full of events, be it food festival, archery competitions or flower festival, everything takes place on a scheduled time and place. Once can enjoy the delicious food of the Meghalaya’s in the Food Festival held every April in East Khasi Hills, Shillong along with the joyful dance numbers. April and May also holds Archery Competition amd Spring Flower shows much to the delight of the locals and tourists at Polo Ground, Esat Khasi Hills, Shillong. The Flower Festival takes place during the month of June and July at Mawphling just 23 kms from Shillong.

 

FOOD

Tree main tribes are Khasi, Garos and Jayantias, and the foods they prepare are similar to rest of the North East region. They prepare mouth watering fish based dishes. Fish cooked is bamboo hollow, fish baked banana leaves are a favourite among the people too. Only ginger, garlic, onions and green chillies are used to cook the dishes.

 

Apart from the other Meghalaya speciality, what is indispensable is the importance of khwai (betel nut). A day for a resident of Meghalaya starts with a mouthful of khwai, betel leaf and chemical lime. It is also a vital requirement for all important occasions; in wedding ceremonies the groom presents khwai, betel leaf, chemical lime, rice beer and clothes to the eldest female member of the bride’s family.

 

HOTELS

Shillong is home to some of the finest hotels in the region. Catering to the large number of tourist who throngs this city, hotels in Shillong are among the best in lot. Hotel Polo Towers, Hotel Alpine Continental, The Majestic Hotel, Hotel Centre Point, Pinewood Hotel, and Royal Heritage are some of the renowned hotels in Shillong.

 

TRANSPORTATION

Shillong is well connected by roads with all major northeastern states. Private bus operators as well as state transport buses from other states ply to and from Shillong daily. Sumo taxi service is also available to destination like Guwahati, Agartala, Dimapur and other northeastern towns and cities.

 

A new Indian Airlines flight service has started, three days a week from Calcutta to Umroi, about 20 km from Shillong. Otherwise, the nearest airport is at Borjhar in Assam about 124 km from Shillong. Air India has flights connecting Bombay – Calcutta – Guwahati – Bangkok. Tourists can avail the services of private tourist bus and taxi operators from Guwahati to Shillong. The journey takes around 3-4 hours. Shillong is also connected to Silchar in Assam, Aizawl in Mizoram and Agartala in Tripura through National Highways.

 

There are several trains, which connect Guwahati with all major cities of India.

 

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