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.
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.
Shillong is subject to vagaries of the monsoon. The monsoons arrive
in June and it rains almost until the end of August. The climate is
hot and humid during summers but quite cold during winters. October-November
and March-April are the best months to visit Shillong.
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 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)
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.
Tourist Spots in around Shillong & Meghalaya in General :
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 1,343 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
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
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 n by
lush greens. Boats are also available, while the cafeteria provides
SHILLONG'S WARD LAKE
UMIAM LAKE AT BARAPANI
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.
The State Museum is located at the State Central Library complex in
Laichumiere and visitors can catch a glimpse of the heritage and lifestyle
of the Khasi tribe here. The Butterfly Museum at Riatsamthiah holds
a rare collection of butterflies and moths.
The Botanical Garden near Ward Lake has some species of flora of the
region. A better place is the Orchidarium of the Botanical Survey
of India. It has a rare collection of orchids and is a treat to the
Near the Botanical Garden, one can find the celebrated Golf Course,
called the Gleneagles of the East. The Golf club retains the colonial
touch and is the first 18-hole golf course in Asia.
Behind the Shillong Civil Hospital, near the Pine Mount School, is
the Lady Hydari Park. It has a small museum, a small zoo, an aviary,
and a deer park among tall cedars and pines.
In front of St. Edmund’s College, one can visit the fruit garden,
maintained by the Department of Agriculture. During spring, one can
see the trees in full bloom. There are many reservoirs filled with
natural spring water that have the dual purpose of watering the gardens
and functioning as a nursery—known as “Fishdale”—for the raising and
breeding of fish, notably hill-trout and carps.
Shillong is also famous for its churches. The most beautiful church
is that of the Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians. Directly below
the hill is the Grotto Church. The All Saints Church opposite the
State Central Library is an attractive structure made out of wood.
Events and 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.
The main shopping areas are Police Bazaar, Bara Bazaar and Laitumukhrah.
On Iewduh, the first day of the eight-day long Khasi week, people
from all over eastern Meghalaya come to sell their products here.
In the centre of Police Bazar, on the corner of Kacheri road, there
are shops selling finely woven baskets of all sizes. For hand-woven
shawls, handicrafts, orange flower honey and cane work, one can visit
the various emporia like Meghalaya Handicrafts, Khadi Gramodyog and
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
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 m. A 500-year-old temple of Durga is another attraction
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.
The nearest airport and railhead is Guwahati in Assam. 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.