It is said that the terra firma of the North-Eastern part of India is well-blessed with natural profusion. And you start believing this saying when you explore the picturesque states of North-East India. This post is going to drive you through one of the most astounding cities in North-East India, which is also regarded as the ‘Scotland of the East’. Yes, you guessed it right!
Nestled at an elevation of around 1,496 meters above sea level, Shillong is the capital city of Meghalaya. The home land of Khasi tribe, Shillong is famed for its fascinating landscape and rolling knolls around the buildings. A blend of ancient monuments, moderate climate and the structures in Shillong take you back to the quaint European settlers of Scotland. This is why this beautiful small city of the Indian state of Meghalaya is eminent as the ‘Scotland of the East’. Apart from its arresting natural abundance, the vibrant city Shillong also offers you some exciting outdoor activities like boating and rock climbing.
Just like its rich landscape, the inhabitants of Shillong are equality rich in terms of edification, courtesy and colourful lifestyle. They are quite generous by nature and love peaceful ambience. English and Khasi are the official languages in Shillong. Though, Hindi is also well-spoken and understood by the people of Shillong these days. The city is highly influenced by western culture and practice. Thus, most of the youths here enjoy their leisure time playing guitar and English songs.
The people of Shillong are religious, and festivals like Shad Suk Mynsiem and Christmas are celebrated with great enthusiasm here in the months of April and December respectively. If you visit Shillong during last week of December to first week of January, you can rejoice an electrifying ambience on the eves of Christmas and New Year. The entire city is encircled with dazzling lights and fireworks.
When you talk about the lifestyle of the people of Shillong, you can’t overlook their trendy attire. They are quite cognisant about what they wear. Similar to their colourful lifestyle, football is the lifeline of their sport of preferences, and they spend lot of time playing football. Therefore, you can observe many lush soccer grounds around the town. The inhabitants of Shillong are quite foodie and they relish eating rice, noodles, meat and fish. During any festival, they offer rice-beer with food.
The climate of Shillong is moderate all round the calendar. Summer hits the city in the month of March and lasts till June with a temperature ranging between 15°C and 24°C. After summer, monsoon entre the city in the month of June and lasts till September. If you love rain and want to witness the exotic exquisiteness of Shillong, you must visit here during monsoon. At that time the weather becomes quite enjoyable with a blend of drizzling and arctic breeze. Moving ahead in November, the city witnesses the first wintry touch of nature, and continued till February end. During winter, the temperature in Shillong slopes down up to 2°C making the city very frosty.
Best time to visit:
Though, Shillong is place that can be visited any time of the year, but the best time to enjoy the eternal beauty of this place is from September to April when the weather is soothing and rainfall comparatively lesser.
Places to visit:
The breathtaking surroundings and scope of exciting outdoor activities always pull numerous tourists to the ‘Scotland of the East’. The place has various sightseeing attractions out of which, the prominent ones are illustrated here:
#Shillong Peak: Shillong Peak is the heart of the city, which is a must visit for having a complete and picturesque vista of entire town from an elevation of around 1965 metres. This is the highest point of Shillong. If you are lucky enough on a bright sunny day, where could has no interrupting role to play, Shillong Peak will offer you a perfect panorama of refreshing greeneries and waterfalls. While plunging into the splendour of Shillong from the highest peak, don’t forget to try few bites of Bhuttas that are sold near the peak. Located around 10Kms away from the main city, Shillong Peak is a perfect spot for couples and honeymooners to spend some tranquil moments of togetherness.
#Lady Hydari Park: If you want to explore little zoo with some vivacious animals, you must visit Lady Hydari Park. This is one of the popular tourist spots in Shillong. The park was named after the First Lady of the prefecture Lady Hydari. The key attractions of this park are array of reptiles and various bird species. Presence of conspicuous red roses near the play area easily grab the attention of visitors here.
#Ward’s Lake: Also popular as the Polok Lake, this is one of the major tourist pullers in Shillong city. With more than 100 years of existence, Ward’s artificial Lake is an ideal evening gateway for couples with Botanical Garden and spectacular wooden bridge. In addition, boating and lively fountain are two more additions to this splendid park. During winter (November to February) the park is open from 8.30AM to 5.30PM. On the other hand, during summer (March to October), the timing is from 8.30AM to 7.00PM. You can also try some beverages and food inside the cafeteria established in the park premises.
#Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Culture: Located in Mawlai Phudmuri, Shillong, this is an amazing museum showcasing the rich culture and lifestyles of the inhabitants of North East India. The key feature of this museum is its galleries exhibiting a blend of art, music, tribal world, vintage hunting and fishing equipments. The museum is open all days in a week except Sunday. During summer (February to November) the park is open from 9.00AM to 5.30PM. On the other hand, during winter (December to January), the timing is from 9.00AM to 4.30PM. Thus, Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Culture allows you to witness the North-East India under single roof.
#Elephant Falls: Depicting the attractions in Shillong without Elephant Falls is incomplete. Located around 12Kms away from the city centre, Elephant Fall is popular for its three steps water flow. This majestic waterfall was named by the British because of its structural stones, which are resemblances to elephant. Visitors spend hours splashing the cold water from the lively waterfalls.
Apart from these cited attractions, you may also explore some other sites like Diengiei Peak, Meghalaya State Museum, Jakrem, Spread Eagle Falls etc. If you don’t run short of time, don’t mist the wettest land on the earth Mawsynram and Cherrapunji.
After exploring the key attractions in Shillong, let’s have a look into some of the thrilling outdoor activities that one must experience in and around Shillong.
Things to do in and around Shillong:
Positioned on Khasi Hills, the mountainous city of Shillong provides ample of outdoor activities to experience. The following are few interesting activities that you shouldn’t miss during your stay in Shillong:
#Boating: Paddling the boat amidst lively lake water is always fascinating. If you are looking for grabbing one such opportunity in Shillong, Umiam Lake is the place that you should visit. Located around 16Kms away from Shillong in Nongpoh, Umiam Lake is an idyllic boating hub for tourists. This lake not only mesmerises you with its eye-catching environs, but also gives you an amazing feeling with its crystal clear water.
#Angling: This is one of the favourite pastimes for the local inhabitants in Shillong. If you have zeal of Angling, you can try it at Dawki River. With diverse range of fishes, Dawki is famed as paradise of angling in Meghalaya. This location is situated around 80Kms away from the city of Shillong. So, don’t forget to flock this place and try your hand catching Mrigala, Golden Carps, Catfishes, Silver Carps etc.
#Trekking: Leaving a mountainous city without trekking is like leaving Goa without exploring any beaches. If you want to bring out your adventurous persona, David Scott’s trekking trail is the best trekking spot in Meghalaya. The steep routes of David Scott’s trekking trail take you through low sandstone crags amidst rolling mounds. Besides, the sites like Sophet Bneng, Kyllang Rock and Living Root Bridge also offer you an excellent trekking exposure in Meghalaya.
#River Rafting: Though, it is difficult to get an opportunity for experiencing river rafting within the city. However, situated around two and half hours distance from the city, Ranikor is an ultimate site for river rafting. The rafting levels are filled with super excitement amidst animated water flow. If you have never experienced river rafting before, visit Barapani Lake, which is merely 17km away from the main city of Shillong.
#Camping: Located in the Khasi Hills, the state of Meghalaya offers you a thrilling camping opportunity amidst lush bush and windy weather. Camping overnight in Meghalaya around pine trees and green meadows is an amazing experience that one can have with family and friends. So, if you are planning for a camp stay, refer the dense woods of Mawlynnong and Dawki.
#Travel around the Caves: Having said, North-East India is known for its natural abundance, and visiting Shillong will always make you fall for its astounding sites around. The place houses several thrilling caves for exploration. Some of the exciting caves in Shillong are Krem Mamluh, Krem Mawsmai and Krem Umshyrpi. Walking inside the deep dim limestone caves takes you to a different level of delight altogether.
#Exploring the Waterfalls: You will come across number of majestic waterfalls in Shillong. Some of the popular waterfalls in Shillong for hopping purposes are Sweet Falls, Spread Eagle Falls and Crinoline Falls. In addition, the giant Elephant and milky Bidon Bishop Falls are also amongst the key tourist pullers in Shillong.
#Rock Climbing: If you travel bit outskirt of main Shillong town near the East Khasi Hills, you will get various hard rock formations that are ideal for rock climbing. If this is the first time you are going for rock climbing, you are advised to consult with expert guide, as the structures are quite jagged and exigent.
#Golfing: This is completely an unusual experience that one can have in Shillong. Dotted with refreshing Pine and Rhododendron trees, the city has its own golf club where various promising golfers play their shots amidst the longest trying holes in India. So, if you are familiar with this game, Shillong Golf Club is just the place for you.
Apart from all these outdoor activities, you can also try few other exhilarating activities like staying in tree house, exploring the Nokrek National Park and walking around Wards Lake. Well, the galore of offerings just not stop here. If you are done with exploring the natural beauty of Shillong, don’t forget to enjoy the nightlife there. The people of Shillong love rock music and luscious food served in bars and pubs. They enjoy partying at night in lounges and clubs. This is why some vibrant night clubs, bars and pubs are set up in the city of Shillong. If you want to make your night stay in Shillong more thriving and lively, Tango Pub, Dejavu, Platinum and Cloud 9 are few suggested boozing hubs for you. So, don’t miss the nightlife out there with some rocking music, delectable food, energising music and floating sip.
Similar to nightlife, Shillong is equally full of activity at day time. The city has plenty of shopping and scrumptious stores to make your voyage more alluring. Police Baazar is the prime market in Shillong showcasing numerous apparel stores, handicraft items, woven shawls, cane works, Khasi Garments and traditional ornaments. You will also find various fruit vendors on the street offering you their local fruits peach and plums.
After a strenuous day of excursion, if you want to taste some delicious food, some of the eateries that must visit in Shillong are City Hut Family Dhaba, Qzine Restaurant, Munchies Shillong, Bamboo Hut Cafe, The Wok Chinese Restaurant etc. Also, don’t miss the tasty eatables like momos, local Khasi food, fried eggs, Chinese cuisines, bakery foods, Jalebis etc.
How to go:
The Meghalaya state of India is frequently visited by many tourists, honeymooners and travellers from different parts of India. And your voyage to Meghalaya is always incomplete without exploring the ‘Scotland of the East’. The number of visitor’s footfalls indicates the fact that reaching the terrain of Shillong is quite convenient.
Here’s how you can go there:
By Air: Though the city has its airport within 25Kms reach near Barapani, but the connectivity from Umroi Airport is not quite regular with other parts of the country. Hence, the best alternate option is Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Guwahati. This airport is located around 125Kms away from Shillong. Once you reach Guwahati airport, you can hire cab or taxi to reach Shillong. Guwahati-Shillong road journey will take nearly 3 hours.
By Train: On account of mountainous routes, Shillong has no railway station and there is no railway connectivity to reach here directly. Therefore, if you are planning to visit Shillong by train, book your ticket till Guwahati Railway station, which is about 100Kms away from Shillong. Guwahati Railway station is well-connected to various major cities in India. From Guwahati Railway station plenty of buses (both private and public), cabs, Sumo and taxis run on regular intervals for Shillong.
By Road: Nothing could be as charming as road journey. By road Shillong is well-connected to its adjoining cities Silchar, Tezpur and Jorhat. If you want to enjoy the beautiful sceneries on the go, road journey is idyllic for your trip to Shillong.
From one of the prominent cities of Assam, Guwahati the road connectivity to Shillong is frequent and convenient. The distance is around 100Kms via NH 40, and this distance can be travelled in 3 hours time by cab, bus and taxi from Guwahati. Bus fare between these two cities is around INR 150. However, if you hire a private cab/taxi, the rate may vary to some extent. Don’t forget to bargain before hiring a private taxi/cab.
Places to Stay:
For visitors, the ‘Scotland of the East’ has no dearth of comfy staying options. Numbers of travellers come here for holidaying and sightseeing. Considering the mounting footfalls of visitors throughout the year, various budget and luxury hotels/accommodations/guesthouses are set up in the small town of Khasi tribe. Most of these hotels are established catering the basic amenities of tourists. By spending an amount ranging between INR 800 to INR 4500, one can avail various hotels within the city.
For your convenience, some of the hotels are listed as follows:
#Hotel Polo Towers
Polo Grounds, New Colony, Shillong,
Meghalaya Shillong India 793001
#Hotel Barbareek Inn
Iewduh,Mawlonghat,Opp. Muda Parking,
Bara Bazar, Shillong India 793002
#Hotel Knight Inn
K.L Complex, Near Sbi, Opp Neepco,
Demseiniong Shillong India 793011
Land Mark: Lady Veronica Ln, Nongkynrih,
Police Point Shillong India 793003
#Hotel Orchid Annex
Polo Road Shillong India 793001
#Royal Heritage-Tripura Castle
Cleave Colony, Tripura Castle Road, Shillong,
Meghalaya Shillong India 793003
#Hotel Silk Route
Keating Road, Police Bazaar
Shillong India 793001
Once you make your trip to Shillong, I can bet you will realise the true essence why Shillong is crowned as the ‘Scotland of the East’. Not because of its enchanting natural magnificence, but also for all the rejuvenating activities that you perform, Shillong is probably the best holiday hub in North-East India.