Shillong – The Scotland of the East

Usually holidays are days of myself – Waking up late, having a long shower, cleaning up, reading novels, eating out and sleeping again. A day of repose from daily monotonous work load.  But I was very elated to spend two days with my parents at Shillong.

I always heard of Shillong as a calm and stunning place. As if nature had blessed it with all its bounties, whether it was the greenery, the water falls, the climate or the vegetation. The ruffling of leaves, the beautifully varied coloured orchids, the bunches of plum and peaches in the grooves – all revealing their own uniqueness and adding to their grace. It’s a must visit for all nature lovers and for those people who love the serene and cool temper away from the hustle and bustle, like any other capital cities of India.

Shillong is located on the Shillong Plateau, situated at an average altitude of 4,908 feet (1,496 m) above sea level. The city lies in the centre of the plateau and is surrounded by hills. It was the capital of undivided Assam, until January 21, 1972, when Shillong became the capital of Meghalaya and Assam moved its capital to Dispur in Guwahati.

We took a taxi from Guwahati to Shillong which took us around three and a half hours because of the long pause at Barapani and then at Nongphoo for tea. We booked a room at the hotel Polo Towers for two nights. Reaching there we freshened ourselves and quickly heeded towards the Ward Lake. Shillong is the birth place of my parents. My mom’s house is near the ward lake – an artificial lake with a draped garden and boating facilities. It lies in the heart of the city. And my dad used to live in the Public Health quarters at Police Bazaar – the main market.

After a lot of reminiscence, we went to Hotel City Center for lunch. It had all sorts of food and we preferred Chinese food. We then headed towards upper Shillong where we went to the Lai golf course, Shillong peak, a few Churches, etc. It was a tiring day and we went to bed early.

Next day we went to Cherrapunji. It holds two Guinness world records for receiving the maximum amount of rainfall in a single year. The road to Cherrapunji was not clear – heavy thick fog and mist accompanied us all the way. After reaching there, we went to Mawsmai Falls, Nakhalikai Falls, and Cherra Caves. We also got the chance to see the famous living bridges, built by some techniques known to the local Khasi tribe over there.  And one of the most interesting things which I learnt about the Khasi culture was that it followed a matrilineal culture, the man goes to stay at his wife’s place after marriage and children take their mother’s surname.

Usually mid autumn is the best time of visit as monsoon starts in early June. Two major National Highways pass through Shillong, they are 40 and 44, connected to Guwahati and Tripura-Mizoram. The roads are finely built and taxis are found in a huge number. It has no rail connections and the Umroi Airport has only limited number of flights.

Nystha Baishya

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