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SHILLONG: SCOTLAND OF INDIA

While the human race is locked inside the house to fight COVID 19, a pandemic which held the entire world hostage in unprecedented and unparalleled manners, while one is even debarred to visit neighborhood milk booth and one is prohibited to cross over to another district in a same state, every piece of literary work is an expression of paranoia in one way or other.
View of shillong from Shillong Peak
Nation is facing most harsh form of lockdown, and consequent toll on human, psychological as well as physiological, is pushing to the limit of tolerance. At this crossroad in life, picturesque lush green meadow, hills covered with pine trees, fresh air and country roads driven me nostalgic and take me far away from new normal, every time I remembered of Shillong. ‘Scotland of India’ title it rightfully defended perched in East Khasi Hill district of Meghalaya, Shillong lies at north eastern corner on Indian Map. Shillong is the capital of Meghalaya. Entomology of the word Meghalaya stands for ‘abode of the clouds’ in Sanskrit.
State – Meghalaya
District – East Khasi Hills
Capital of – Meghalaya
Elevation above MSL – 4908 ft. – 6449 ft.
Minimum & Maximum Temperature – 2 – 24 Degree Celsius
Majority religion – Christian
Official language – English, Khasi
Best time to visit Shillong:
Climate of Shillong offers pleasant hospitality to visitors throughout the year. Temperature during peak summer remains at 23 – 24 Degree Celsius, nearly half mark behind normal temperature of other parts of the country. Winter is cold but seldom touch subzero mark. Minimum temperature during winter remains at 2-3 Degree Celcius. Shillong receives high rate of monsoon throughout year with maximum rainfall recorded between June and October. The period is most loved by honeymooners. During this time Shillong appears lush green and beautiful. This is the time to witness water falls perched between mountains. Adequate clothing including an additional pair of shoes must be carried because drying of clothes especially during monsoon and winter take days. Carrying of umbrella and raincoat will be of great help. Period from October to May is ideal time, as Shillong receives comparatively fewer monsoons, for all types of outdoor activities. Warm clothes are required throughout year in Shillong.
Country road: Shillong - Cherrapunjee Road
How to reach Shillong:
Shillong is well connected to Guwahati by four lanes road. Distance from Guwahati Airport and Guwahati Railway Station to shillong is 125 Km and &70 Km respectively. Taxi service is available in abundant between Guwahati and Shillong. Another option available for one who loves adventure is Zoomcar service available at Guwahati. It is also recommended especially for people who love long drive and fun drive in country sides. Journey from Guawahati to Shillong is the most memorable stretch of road. Road is open and wide, unlike any other hill stations. Journey is of great fun in the lap of nature. Time requires to reach Shillong from Guwahati is around two and half to three hours. Rows of refreshment points all along the road serve different types of cuisine.  Jivva Restaurant, a prominent landmark, is the most favorite of all. Heavy traffic remains inside Shillong town, but one thing worth mentioning here is about traffic discipline maintained by all motorists. No honking unnecessarily and no overtaking while on road. Inspite of heavy traffic and hill road flow of traffic seldom come to abrupt standstill. Visitors must know overtaking is a traffic offence in Shillong.

Place to stay in Shillong:
Many hotels provide homely, economical stay in neat and clean environment to its guests. Economic hotels are mushrooming at police Bazar which is a central point of Shillong. Hotel tariffs are quite reasonable in Shillong, but few luxury class hotels are also available such as Hotel Polo Tower, Central Point, and Hotel Poinisuk etc. Shillong is considered to be a safest place as by Nation Crimes Bureau Report. Place is also very safe for single woman traveller too. Being a matriarch society, women enjoy adequate gender equality and women rights. Stalking, eve teasing or any other crimes against women are fewer significantly as compared to other parts of the country. Place is very safe for family vacation. Good news for government employees is that there are many government guest houses at Shillong which are available to government employees.

Place of visit in and around Shillong:
Shillong is known as Scotland of India with its lust green mountains, beautiful green meadows in country sides, sparkling water falls falling from mountains and clean and chill breeze of air enamored all tourists.        

Ward Lake:
Ward Lake is located at the center of Shillong adjacent to Police Bazar and Raj Bhavan. Its name is derived after Sir William Ward, Chief Commissioner of Assam during British Raj who made this artificial lake. It is a lovers spot as well as tourist attraction for its magnificent scenic beauty around the lake. Lake in the center of the park is the main attraction and provides boating to visitors. Water birds and fish preserved in the lake provide a feeling of closeness to nature.
View of Ward Lake
Cherrapunjee:
Cheerapunjee and Sohra is a famous name in the world for its highest annual monsoons recorded.  It is 54 km from Shillong. It is world wettest place in terms of maximum rainfall received. It receives average rainfall of 463.7 in in a year. Historically, Sohra was the capital of East khasi tribe during the British era. Natives of East Khasi Hills fought British at Sohra but later surrendered to British. It was an important strategic location of British during the occupation of Sylhet Division of Bangladesh.  Sohra remains under the blanket of low flying clouds all time of the year. Sohra has many natural scenic spots around it. Most prominent one amongst all is ‘Seven Sisters Water Fall’, magnificent seven water falls in a row falling from a top of a cliff. Drive from Shillong to Cherrapunji is approx. two and half hours crossing over one mountain fold to another, cutting through green meadows and thick jungles on the lap of nature.
Outdoor sports enroute to Cherrapunjee

Seven sisters Water Fall Cherrapunjee
Mawsmai Lime cave:
Meghalaya is famous for its natural lime caves. Mawsmai Lime Cave is one of such caves in Meghalaya. It’s a natural cave made in lime deposits due to flow of water. Flow of water inside the cave makes a musical sound inside. It provides fun and an opportunity to witness a rare form of nature. Movement inside the cave is of not much difficulty as enough apace available for an adult. The cave appears to be very safe from the point of security measures installed inside such as proper lighting and guides. The cave is also suitable for children. Person with breathing problem may have little difficulty as less of oxygen.  It takes approx. 45 – 50 min to take a tour inside the cave.

Mawlynnong:
Asia’s cleanest village by Discover India, Mawlynnong lies 78 Km from Shillong. Meaning of Mawlynnong is God’s own garden in local dialect. A visit to this village makes one realized about responsibility towards environment and how to live in a community. It is a treat to see a place so clean without any litters around.  A sky walk is also created in the village for visitor to have a panoramic view of Bangladesh’ Sylhet division. Visitors are allowed to move around in the village and can visit any household. Lunch is serves in the village on payment.

Dawki:
Dawki is an Integrated Check Post on Indo – Bangladesh Border and it is on Indian side. Tamabil is the village in Bangladesh side. It is one of the ICP along Indo – Bangladesh border where crossing of men and materials take place between the countries.  View of Bangladesh’ Sylhet Division can be enjoyed from Indian side. Umngot River flows from Indian side into Bangladesh. River bank is divided between India and Bangladesh by border boulders at the center. Dawki is famous for its iconic photograph of boat floating in the air. During off monsoon period, September to February, water in the river is so clean and free from sediments that river bed at the depth can be visible, and thus an especial effect of boat in the air is visible. Dawki is warm during day as compared to Shillong. One needs to start early morning from Shillong to cover 82 Km in hills. Packed breakfast and lunch can be carried as country side provides adequate family picnic spots.
Boatman and his boat in Umngot River

View of Indian and Bangladesh tourists, and also in pic Bangladesh patrols at Dawki.
Bird eye view of Bangladesh from Dawki

Laitlum Canyon:
It is a deep gorge in the heart of Meghalaya natural wonders. Laitlum is approx. 26 Km from Shillong and one of the wonders of Meghalaya. Perched between two clefts in both side, it is an ideal route for tracking in the wild. Approach to Laitlum is from the top of the Clift which remains under the cover of cloud through the year. Open in all direction, this lush green meadow is an ultimate gift of nature. Grass is so fresh and its fragrance so strong and natural that one is truly connected to nature. It provides ideal spot for all outdoor activities.
View of Laitlum from the top

Sacred Forest:
Natural scenic beauty of the place brought Bollywood for shooting of blockbuster film ‘Rock on II’. The scene of main concert was shot at Sacred Forest.  As the name suggested it is truly a sacred piece of gift of nature. Forest remained protected by native tribe. No one is allowed to carry anything from the forest. Volunteers from neighboring villages are also acting as a guide for venturing into the forest. Adjacent to the forest there is an open meadow which provides visitors spot to hang around and fun making. Model village perched to the meadow gives an idea of layout of a typical village and the sense of peaceful and clean community life in hills.
View of Sacred Forest (left flank) and open meadow
Model Village at Sacred Forest
View of sunset at Sacred Forest

Krang Shuri Fall:
Krang Shuri fall lies 90 Km from Shillong on Jawai – Shillong axis. Perched in the woods of Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya, it is the one of the most scenic water fall in Meghalaya. Swimming is allowed in upstream water of the fall. It provides an ideal camping site and tracking for adventurous tourists. Camping tools are provided at the side on payment. Driving to Krang Shuri Fall from Shillong on countryside road is a different experience to cherish.

Umiam Lake:
Umiam Lake is an artificial lake lies enroute to Shillong from Guwahati. The lake is created by damming Ummiam River for irrigation purpose. Umiam Lake welcomes all visitors arriving Shillong at its gateway with its scenic beauty. This magnificent lake is the most popular landmark of Shillong. Different types of water sports are conducted in the lake including high speed boating, water scooter etc. Adjacent to the lake is an orchid garden which houses different varieties of this wild flower. Drive from Shillong to Umiam will not take much time but one must cater for traffic on road. 
View of Umiam Lake


- NP Singh
Amity University
Kolkata





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