When we talk about going to hill stations, the names that generally come to our minds are Shimla, Manali, Mount Abu, Nainital, etc. We seldom think about a beautiful hill station situated in the valleys of Assam- Shillong. Owing to its location in the far-east, it becomes a little difficult for the tourists to reach here. Life in Shillong resembles that of Scotland, and hence, it is also known as the ‘Scotland of East.’
The Shillong travel starts from the Paltan Bazar, near the Guwahati Railway Station. As we travel the 100 km. distance from Guwahati to Shillong, it is hard to believe how quickly our surroundings change. Hills, pattern of the buildings, dressing style of the people and their language, everything changes. Due to the uneven topography in the North-East, railway system is not much developed here. Therefore, most people commute by road. If you don’t get stuck in a traffic jam, then this journey usually takes around 3-4 hours.
The capital of Meghalaya, Shillong is a hilly area and it is surrounded by Assam hills (a combination of Garo, Khasi and Jaintia Hills) on three sides and Bangladesh on the fourth. . Shillong is situated in the heart of the Khasi Hills. Situated at around 1500 meters above sea-level, it is an ideal visiting place for people who wish to spend some days in peace.. Clean environment, enrapturing views, cool, calm and soothing air and a tranquil surrounding is all one wants in the summers. Presence of many tourist places around makes it all the more attractive.
PLACES TO VISIT
Being the capital city, all the modern facilities are available here. The main attractions in Shillong are wildlife parks, animal and bird museums, view-points, handicrafts centre, waterfalls and lakes. Southern Cherrapunji, situated in the nearby area, is a must visit. If you wish to view the whole of Shillong, consisting of 2.5 lakh people then there is no better option than Shillong Peak. This place is around 10 km. away from the City Centre. This place is cooler and if the weather is clear, you may also get to view the distant snowy peaks of Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan. There are two beautiful picnic spots in the city- Lady Hydari Park and the Wards Lake. On one end of the city is situated the Golf Course which has its own natural beauty. The greenery at this spot adds to the aesthetic value of this place.
Shillong has two museums- The Butterfly Museum and the State Museum, known as the Don Bosco Museum. The State Museum reflects the style of living of the native people. Their kind of dresses, weapons, utensils, music instruments, art forms and handicrafts, all are shown in miniature form. In the nearby areas, there are the Elephant Falls, the Bishop and Beadon Falls. Out of these, the Elephant Falls are the most attractive. The view of the water falling from three different levels is absolutely spellbinding. The Police Bazar is the heart of the city. It is crowded by the people the whole day. The aura of the place changes with the shimmering lights that are lit in the evening.
One of the most amazing attractions of this place is the ‘Barapani Lake’. Its regional name is the Umiam Lake. It owes its name to its sheer big size. A human endeavour, the lake is created by stopping the waters of the Umiam River. Nearby is the Lum Nehru Park where one can find many tourists. Walking by this lake is mystifying and blissful in its own way. It is an inexplicable experience. Various water sports like kayaking, water-skiing, etc., are also available here.
HOW TO GET THERE
Before you visit Shillong, you have to go to Guwahati which is connected to all parts of the country by rail and plane services. Then you can travel by road to reach Shillong. Helicopter facilities are also available from Guwahati. There are many resorts in the city, but it is always recommended to book them beforehand. Souvenirs like handicrafts, etc., are available in all the markets.
The most favorable time to visit Shillong is between October and May but many tourists come here in the rainy season to go to Cherrapunji. During this time, the waterfalls, are in their full flow and have a different charm which is truly breathtaking.
PEOPLE OF SHILLONG
85% population in Shillong comprises of the local people out of which 70% are Christian-converts. Even then, the original traditions are still alive among the people. The language spoken by people is mainly Khasi and English. They speak Hindi but most don’t know how to write it. The people are extremely courteous and friendly and any interaction with them is bound to end in a laughter riot.
People have misconception that being situated in the hilly areas of North-East, Shillong is an unsafe place to visit. But the rising number of tourists to this place and its increasing charm goes on to prove otherwise. This place is much more thrilling and serene than most of the other crowded hill stations. So if you want to spend your time in the lap of nature and are bored of going to the same hill stations then Shillong is the place that you need to visit.