Meghalaya - The Abode of Clouds
A small state in the North Eastern part of India has its capital in a picturesque and romantic looking town - Shillong. Perched at 1450 meters above sea level, this lovely hill station is surrounded by beauty on all sides - pine covered hills, flowing streams and water falls which give it a milder climate than tropical India. Shillong derives its name from the legendary "Lei Shyllong" - The God believed to be residing on the Shillong peak but is nicknamed "The Scotland of the East” due to its striking similarity to the Scottish highlands.
Cool air, music, food and drink
The best time to visit is October-November or March-April. You can get to Shillong by road, a three hour ride. As you journey up to Shillong you are greeted by the beautiful landscape on both sides of the road. Dotted along the way are small villages and little tea shops. As you near Shillong you are welcomed by a slight change of weather; the air becomes cooler and refreshing. At the end of your journey you’ll find yourself in the heart of Shillong in the middle of bustling activity. This is Police Bazaar, a place where you find people from all walks of life going about their daily business.
Considered the rock capital of India, Shillong has produced many rock legends and is a stage for many Indian and International rock groups every year. There are various pubs where local rock bands perform for entertainment, warming the air. Cafes and restaurants scattered around the town have a variety of lip smacking delicacies. You might fancy a taste of the local cuisine which you will find in food joints around Bara Bazaar and Police bazaar.
Now for a little sight seeing
For starters, a visit to the Don Bosco Cultural and Indigenous Centre for a glimpse of the rich culture of the State. This is located in a spot where you can easily get to your next destination – The Science Centre which is a part of the North Eastern Hill University complex. Book lovers might enjoy browsing and reading in the State Central Library stacked with a good collection of books.
Churches of different styles and sizes adorn the different parts of the town. The largest and the most beautiful is the Cathedral at Don Bosco, Laitumkhrah, and then there is the Anglican Church opposite the State Central Library and the little Presbyterian Church in Police Bazaar which are reminiscent of the British era.
Nature lovers would love a stroll and a boat ride or two in the Wards Lake with its cool refreshing surroundings, well maintained flowerbeds and lawns. Next to the lake is the Botanical garden filled with abundant trees, plants and flowers. The Lady Hydari Park is a good place to spend the afternoon in leisure. Here you can have your fill of children’s voices, flowers of all kinds, animals in a mini zoo and birds in a small aviary.
Shillong boasts of an 18-hole golf course, the third oldest in India and by far the largest in Asia. This is often referred to as the “The Gleneagles of the East” and most probably this is also what led Shillong to be termed the Scotland of the East. On the way to the Golf links is what used to be the Polo grounds, which is today a football ground.
Care for a swim? There is this little place called Crinoline- a swimming pool which interestingly is at the base of the “Crinoline Falls” which fall from a height of 12-13 meters. Besides the Crinoline there are other falls which might attract your interest like the Spread Eagle Falls, The Sweet Falls and The Bishop and Beadon Falls.
A little way to the South of Shillong lies the Shillong Peak which is the highest point at a 6,433 feet altitude. This is definitely a must go must see spot because the view from this point is simply magnificent for it overlooks the whole of Shillong town.
A trip to Shillong however, does not have to end in Shillong, as short daylong trips to the villages can be very rewarding and memorable. There is Cherapunjee or Sohra, the wettest place on earth that boasts of caves and waterfalls, Mawlynnong with crystal clear streams the cleanest village in Asia, the sacred grove steeped in legend at Mawphlang, the monoliths at Nartiang; these are but a few of the various sites outside Shillong.
Shillong is just the perfect place for the romantic, the adventurer and the creative minded. It is a shopper’s paradise, a musician’s stage and the heaven of nature, eats and treats. It is the ideal place for a holiday and sightseeing, often picked by many to spend their hard earned vacation.
Take a little time off, Shillong beckons!
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