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Shillong, ‘Scotland of the East’

Updated: May 25, 2023

Cherrapunjee | Mawlynnong | Dawki

Geographic Location: Sitting at an elevation of 4,909 feet in the East Khasi Hills, Shillong is situated in the North-Eastern state of Meghalaya of India. It is the headquarters of the East Khasi Hills district. It is 100 KM away from Guwahati, the North Eastern Gateway of India.

Access: Shillong is very well connected by road with Guwahati (NH37 to Jorabat; NH40 to Shillong via Barnihat, Nongpoh, Umsning, and Umiam). The city is connected by road to other major cities of North East also such as Dimapur, Aizawl, and Agartala.

The city does not have a direct rail connection. Guwahati is the nearest railway station situated 100 KM away. Guwahati is the headquarters of the northeast frontier railway. So it is very well connected with other major railheads of India. From there one has to access by road connectivity to reach here.

The nearest airport is Shillong Airport which is about 30 KM. Guwahati international airport is 115 KM away from Shillong and it is the busiest airport in the North-East.

Brief Facts: Shillong is often referred to as “The abode of clouds”. Due to the subtropical climate, Meghalaya receives the highest annual rainfall in the country. So the weather here remains very moist throughout the year.

The British obtained two large plots in the East Khasi Hills between 1862 – 64 from Mylliem which is one of the 25 Khasi States and after that, it has been developed in a regular manner. It is believed that the British used to get a resemblance between the extended hills around the city with Scotland and that’s why it is also known as “Scotland of East”.

Shillong is an enjoyable 2 – 3 hour ride from Guwahati city. As the road approaches from Guwahati towards the city, nature suddenly seems to turn on its best face. Throughout the road, the views appear to be very beautiful. Since the roadside viewing points are elevated to vantage heights, the Umium Lake and adjacent hills are clearly visible.

Best Time to Visit: September to May is the best time. Since the climate is subtropical, the city receives heavy rainfall in summer. The winter season is comparatively dry but very cool.

Nearest Attractions: There are several tourist attractions within and around the city. A day tour will cover the following places such as State Museum, Capt. Williamson Sangma State Museum, Wankhar Entomological Museum (Butterfly Museum), Bishop and Beadon Falls, Spread Eagle Falls, Sweet Falls, Crinoline Falls, Phan Nonglait Park. Apart from those, a few important places are listed below.

Elephant Falls Located 12 KM away from the main city in East Khasi Hills District, it is a three-step waterfall. The first fall is very wide and is mostly hidden by the trees. The second fall is cultivated and the third fall is the tallest one and looks very eye-catching as crystal clear waterfalls over the lush green fern-covered rocks. It is a frequently visited tourist place.

Shillong Golf Course – One of the largest golf courses in Asia, the Shillong Golf Course was constructed in the year 1898. The course is situated in a valley, at an elevation of 5,200 feet and it is enclosed with pine and rhododendron trees. Presently it has an 18-hole course.

Shillong Peak – 10 KM away from the city, the place offers a panoramic view of the city and it is also the highest point of the state. The elevation of the peak is 6,433 feet. It is open to the public from 9 am to 3.30 pm.

Ward’s Lake – Centrally located in the city, Ward’s Lake or locally known as Nan Polok, is a horseshoe-shaped artificial lake and it was built in the year 1894. It is surrounded by a botanical garden.

Umium Lake – The major tourist attraction within the city, Umium Lake was created long ago by damming the Umium River, and the area of the lake is approximately 220 square KM. Boating and other adventurous water sports like kayaking, and water cycling can be experienced here.

Cherrapunjee – Situated in East Khasi District, Cherrapunjee (locally known as ‘Sohra’) is about 54 KM away from Shillong and it is a very wet place as a nearby place ‘Mawsynram’ receives the highest degree of rainfall in the world. The tranquil valley is covered with swirling clouds; the Mawsynram is 15 KM away from Cherrapunjee. A few sightseeing places are Mawsmai Cave, Mawsmai Falls, Nohkalikai Falls, Double Decker Living Root Bridge (formed of living plant roots), Seven Sisters Falls, Khasi Monoliths, Nokrek National Park, The Mawkdok Dympep Valley View, Dainthlen Falls, Krem Mawmluh Cave.

Mawlynnong – From Cherrapunjee, ‘Mawlynnong’ can also be visited and it will add additional flavor to the trip. This small village is situated in the East Khasi Hills district and it is 78 KM away from Shillong. A day trip would be perfect from Shillong or Cherrapunjee.

It is considered ‘Asia’s cleanest village. Smoking and use of polythene are prohibited and rainwater harvesting is encouraged here. Bamboos-made bins are used here for waste collection and the waste materials are used to create organic fertilizer. Agriculture is the elementary occupation of the villagers.

Dawki – Dawki is a small town situated in the West Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya and from Shillong, the distance is about 82 KM. The distance from Mawlynnong would be 35 KM. This place is famous for the natural beauty Umngot River, which is a crystal clear water stream in a green ambiance. It is also known as the Dawki River. Boating and kayaking options are available here. It is considered ‘The cleanest river in the country’.

Things to Do: Shillong’s Bara Bazaar and Police Bazaar are popular shopping places within the city. You can buy handmade shawls & stoles, and handmade organic products from here. Rebecca’s Thrift Store, Meghalaya Handloom, and Handicrafts Development Emporium, Khasi Emporium, Daniel Syiem, Police Bazar, Glory’s Plaza, and OB Shopping Mall are shortlisted shopping places in Shillong.

City’s Hong Kong, Kimpoo, Kowloon, Elgin, and Bamboo Hut are popular Chinese restaurants. There are a few dhabas in Bara Bazaar which serve Khasi special cuisines. Tungrymbai (preparation by fermented soybean), Jadoh Rice (red rice with pork meat), Dohneiiong (pork with black sesame seeds), Dohkhlieh (traditional pork salad), Pukhlein (deep-fried snack), smoked red meat are local delicacies.

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