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Shillong

The romantic city of Shillong is one of the important tourist destinations in the northeast. It is often referred to as the "Scotland of the East" due to its striking similarity with the Scottish highlands. The city derives its name from "Leishyllong"-the Superpower or God who is believed to reside on the Shillong peak, overlooking the city.
Shillong
Lying in the cradle of the tall pine conifers and pineapple shrubs, Shillong's undulating terrain is a constant source of attraction for tourists from both home and abroad. The Khasi, Jaintia and Garo tribes add color to this hilly city.

Location
The capital of Meghalaya, Shillong lies on the eastern part of the state. Perched at an altitude of 1,520 meters (4,990 feet) above sea level, the city stretches for about 6 km on an elevated tract. It is situated on a plateau bound on the north by the Umiam gorge, on the northwest by the great mass of the Diengiei Hills that rise up to a height of 1,823 meters (6077 ft.) above sea level, and on the northeast by the hills of the Assam valley. The Umshyrpi and the Umkhra rivers, which finally merge and form the Umiam River, water it. Shillong is at distance of 104 km from Guwahati, 295 km from Kaziranga, 578 km from Siliguri and 658 km from Darjeeling. The climate is hot and humid during summers. The monsoons arrive in June and it rains almost until the end of August. It is quite cold during winters

History
Shillong was a small village until 1864, when it became the new civil station of the Khasi and Jaintia hills. It remained the summer capital of Eastern Bengal and Assam for many years. In 1874, on the formation of Assam as a Chief Commissioner's Province, it was chosen as the capital of the new administration. An earthquake destroyed the city in 1897, necessitating its complete rebuilding. In January 1972, Shillong became the capital of the newly formed state of Meghalaya.

Fairs & Festivals
The festivals vary according to the tribes. Christmas, Easter, Good Friday and the New Year Day celebrations are the most important. Ka Pomblang Nongkrem, or the Nongkrem dance, is one of the most important Khasi festivals. Shad Sukmynsiem is another important festival of the Khasis. Behdiengkhlam, the festival of the Jaintias, is celebrated in July. Wangala is the festival of the Garos and is dedicated to the Sun God.

Best Time to Visit
Shillong is blessed with a pleasant climate all throughout the year and thus it can be visited all around the year. The months of March and April bring in summers but the weather is quite nice. There is no excessive heat and the summers are mainly mild, with temperatures ranging between 24°C to and 15°C. The time is ideal for sightseeing and other activities.
Rainfall in the months from June to September ranges from average to heavy. This is time when the waterfalls look even more stunning and Shillong look even greener. The month of July is the wettest month. Though sightseeing is slightly difficult at the time but the hotels offer great deals.
The rains stop in October and the weather starts become cold. November marks the starting of the winter season in Shillong. In the winters, temperatures go down as low as 2°C. If you love winter chill, this is the place to be for both honeymooners as well as leisure vacationers. Pack enough woolens as the nights become quite cold.

How to Reach

BY AIR - The nearest airport and railhead is Guwahati in Assam.

BY ROAD - The Guwahati-Shillong Road connects the two cities. Pineapple plantations and pine trees on both sides line the road. There are buses every half an hour to Guwahati. Taxi services (Ph. 223895) are also available at cheap rates.

Tourist Attractions
Waterfalls
Elephant Water falls
  • The Crinoline Falls is about 12-13 m in height and lies to the west of the Survey of India Office. There is a swimming pool at the base of the falls.
  • The Gunner's Falls 1 is about 24-26 m in height and is near the military establishment on the Upper Shillong road. It is about 1.6 km from the GPO.
  • The Gunner's Falls 2 lies a km away from the Happy Valley amidst picturesque locales.
  • The Spread Eagle Falls or Sati Falls is located about a mile away from the Polo Ground. It is a famous picnic spot.
  • The Sweet Falls (also called "Weitden," in the native dialect) is the most beautiful of all the waterfalls in Shillong. It lies about 5 km from the Happy Valley and is about 96 m in height.
  • The Elephant Gait and the Elephant Falls are located near Upper Shillong. These are beautiful sights especially in the rainy season and are favorite picnic spots among the locals. Beyond the Elephant Falls, one can also view the Upper and Lower Elysium Falls.
  • The Beadon Falls lies about 2 km from Bara Bazaar. There is a hydroelectric powerhouse at the base of the falls. The Bishop Falls is also nearby and together they mingle and flow into the Umiam River.
Peaks
Peaks in Shillong
  • Shillong Peak, the highest point of Shillong, is located 5 km to the south of the city and is 1961 meters (6,433 feet) in altitude. Being the highest peak in the district, it is often surrounded with fog. The peak itself is not steep, but rather semi-circular like that of a crown placed on the flat and extensive top of the Shillong Hill. The peak is accessible via the Upper Shillong or Jowai Road.
  • The Sohpetbneng Peak is 1343 m in altitude and is regarded as sacred by the Hynfiiewtrep tribe. It is a picturesque location.
  • The Dingei Hill is situated near the Umiam stream. Two paths lead to this hill from Shillong. One is the narrow tract that leads straight to the gorge through Umiyangka village. For a height of 1,000 ft on either side of the stream, the gradient is very steep and precipitous and makes for excellent mountain climbing. The second route begins at Barapani on the GS Road, about 16 km from Shillong. During the upward journey, one is provided a captivating view of the Bhoi district, which lies 300 ft below the summit of the Dingei Hill.
  • The Dumpeep Peak is the highest in Swer and is 5100 feet above sea level. The Kyllang rock lies 78 km from Shillong. The rock is a steep bare cliff of granite, 200 m in height and rises abruptly from plain grassy downs.
Lakes
Ward Lake

  • The Ward Lake is an important tourist site of Shillong. It is a horseshoe-shaped artificial lake lying beneath the Raj Bhavan (Governor's Residence) and the Accountant General's (AG) Office, with little isles and a bridge over it. The lake abounds in fish (grass carps) and feeding the fish from the bridge is a favorite pastime of the tourists. It is said that a Khasi prisoner, who requested for any kind of work to get him out of his cell, initiated its construction. The lake has a charming winding walk-a-way in the midst of rolling flowerbeds and fairyland lighting with gradually undulating grounds, hemmed in by lush greens. Boats are also available, while the cafeteria provides refreshments.
  • Seventeen kilometers before Shillong is situated Umiam or Barapani-a large lake formed after a hydroelectric dam was built across a stream. In recent years, this has become an increasingly popular place for outings and weekend visits. The Orchid Lake Resort, designed by the famous architect Charles Correa, and constructed amongst pinewood, overlooks the lake. There are facilities for water sports here: from kayaking and water skiing for the adventurous to water cycling and simple boating for the less brave. The Orchid Lake Resort, run by the Meghalaya Tourism Department, has pleasantly appointed rooms with balconies, a restaurant and bar.
Other attraction

Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures Shillong
Don Bosco Center for Indigenous Cultures or DBCIC is an exclusive endeavor by the Silesians of Don Bosco, set up in North East India to develop a facility for the conservation and preservation of a number of small, local cultures of the area, in India, as well as in conjunction with local cultures anywhere else in the world. The center has some specific, distinct areas of operation including exhibitions, research and study, culture related publications as well as knowledge sharing and other activities which are conducted with the help of different media. The essential mission of Don Bosco is to furnish a platform for a healthy concord of different cultures to develop a spirit of peace, harmony and mutual development. This ideal, in essence, is achieved through research, museum tours, animation programs and articulating a concept of museum in education so that it becomes a “powerful catalyst for strengthening the bonds that unites the people.”

Butterfly Museum Shillong
Butterfly Museum
If fluttering colorful wings of butterflies have always charmed you, Butterfly Museum in Shillong would be of interest to you. Also known as Entomological Museum, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Shillong. The museum has a collection of butterflies, spiders, moths and beetles species from all across the country.
Butterfly museum is a privately owned museum and is a real treat for kids. Owned and managed by Wankhar, Riatsamthiah, this museum looks extremely colorful and beautiful. Programs about conservation and preservation of moths and butterflies are also initiated here. Butterflies are here cultivated too for commercial purposes, ensuring the maintenance of ecological balance. A visit to this museum would surely be a memorable one for people of all age groups.
Address- Near Christian Academy School, Riatsamthiah Jaiaw
Timings- Monday to Friday - 10 AM to 4:30 PM
Saturday: 10:30 AM to 1 PM
Sunday (Closed)

Air Force Museum Shillong
An attraction for both adults as well as children, Air Force Museum Shillong is a great place to get knowledge about the country’s defence forces, mainly the Indian Air Force, brave flying warriors and defence history. Located in the Upper Shillong area, this museum has pictures of Indo-China War and Indo-Pakistan War on display. If you have an interest on this subject, it is a must-visit attraction in Shillong because of the wide range of photographs. Visitors can also see Python’s skin at the museum.
The museum also has uniforms worn by the air force pilots, missiles, rockets and miniature models of air-crafts, along with other things as exhibits. If you wish to get your hands on some great souvenirs, there is a gift shop in the complex.
Address: Air Force Museum, Sohra Road, East Khasi Hills District, Shillong
Closed on: Public holidays
Entry-Free

India Orchidarium and Botanical Garden Shillong
Placed alongside the Ward Lake, amidst the virgin forest of Mawphlang, India Orchidarium and Botanical Garden is one of the most famous attractions in Shillong. This Botanical garden houses an amazing collection of rare orchids and plantations. A visit to view these native exotic plants would be a delight, if you are a nature enthusiast.
A myth is also associated with the flora and the forest of this area. It is said that the trees and plants here are sacred and if anyone disturbs them, he calls for misfortune. This area basically lies in the outskirts of the main city. Along with the collection of orchids, there is a small aviary where one can see a colorful collection of rare avifanua species. Take a walk at the well-maintained pavement and treat your eyes to the lovely views here.

Places Around Shillong

About 56 km from Shillong is Cherrapunji village (East Khasi Hills district), now called Sohra. Located on the Shillong plateau about 55 km southwest of Shillong, Cherrapunji and Mausynram (another village nearby) are reputed to be the wettest places in the world. The heavy rains here often swell the waters of the Nohsngithiang waterfall. The town is famous for its limestone caves and orange honey. It has the oldest Presbyterian Church. Krem Mawmluh is a 4.5-km-long cave near Cherrapunji.
A little further down the road to limestone caves, there is a graveyard where British missionaries and their close relatives lie buried. The visitors are awed by a series of giant pillars or megaliths that have been erected near a stream. Such megaliths are to be seen in different parts of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills and are usually erected to commemorate great deeds or to honor dead chieftains. Accommodation is available at the Circuit House.
The summer capital of the Jaintia kings, Nartiang, is about 65 km east of Shillong. There is a park of megaliths, some of which are as high as 8. A 500-year-old temple of Durga is another attraction at Nartiang.
En route Nartiang, 64 km from Shillong, is the small lake of Thadlaskein. It is a beautiful picnic spot.
About 13 km from Shillong is the village of Nongkrem. It is the seat of the Syiem of Nongkrem, whose estate extends up to Shillong. The traditional Nongkrem Dance festival is held here around autumn and draws large crowds of visitors.
Sixty-four kilometers from Shillong is Jakrem, a popular health resort having hot springs of sulfur water, believed to have curative medicinal properties. Dawki, a border town, 96 km from Shillong, provides a glimpse of Bangladesh. The colorful annual boat race during spring at the Umgot River is an added attraction. At a distance of 140 km from Shillong is Ranikor, an angler's paradise containing a huge population of carp and mahseers.
Jowai is a popular and prosperous town situated on a beautiful plateau 1,500 m above sea level. Three sides of this plateau slope sharply down to the Hai River and contiguous areas are rich in coal deposits. It is also an important station on the route to Silchar and Agartala.

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