Known as the ‘Scotland of the East’, Shillong is a beautiful city and is the capital of Meghalaya it derives its name from Lei Shyllong, an idol worshipped at the Shillong Peak. The beautiful hill station encircled by pine trees is known for its weather, picturesque locations, and traditions. One can find descendants of the Khyrim, Mylliem, Maharam, Mallaisohmat, Bhowal, and Langrim tribes. The place is home to numerous waterfalls. The key reasons people visit Shillong are the exciting mountain peaks, crystal clear lakes, breathtakingly beautiful golf courses, cafes, and museums. Apart from the natural beauty, Shillong also acts as the gateway to Meghalaya, the state famous for heavy rainfalls, caving, tallest waterfalls, beautiful landscapes, and amazing people and culture. Shillong, in particular, has been in the limelight for its jovial people and their culture.
PLACES TO VISIT
- Elephant Falls : Named after an Elephant with a stone at its foot, the Elephant Falls are amongst the most popular falls in the Northeast. These falls consist of three mesmerizing falls in succession. It is a great stopover destination before one heads for further journeys into Meghalaya.
- Shillong Peak & View Point : At the height of 6449 ft or 1965 m above sea level, Shillong Peak is the highest point of Shillong. It offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the entire city, the Himalayas, its waterfalls as well as the Bangladesh plains. A telescope is available for tourists to get a bird's eye view.
- Umiam Lake : Umiam Lake is a mesmerizing man-made reservoir surrounded by East Khasi Hills. It is famous for boating and water sports along with a stunning sunset view. The lake was formed after a dam was constructed to generate hydroelectric power.
- Laitlum Canyons : Perched on the East Khasi Hills, Laitlum Canyons is a less explored but one of the most picturesque tourist and trekking destinations in Shillong. This exotic viewing site offers the best panoramic views of the whole of Meghalaya embraced by the majestic hills and valleys. Visit Laitlum Canyons either during sunrise or sunset.
- Boat Ride : Umiam Lake, a mesmerizing man-made reservoir, is located at a distance of 15 kilometers north of Shillong which is the capital of the north-eastern Indian state of Meghalaya. The lake was formed after a dam was constructed to generate hydroelectric power. The area of this lake is four times the size of San Marino or Bermuda. The picturesque location and the serene beauty of the lake attract tourists from all over the world. The sunrises are a treat to the eyes and shouldn't be missed. Another must-try activity on the lake is boating which is also one of the best things to do in Shillong.
- Mountain Climbing : Situated on the western side of Shillong, is 6200 ft in altitude, this peak is just 200 ft shorter than the tallest peak in Shillong, Shillong Peak. For a height of about 1000 ft, the gradient of this peak is very steep and precipitous which makes for excellent mountain climbing. Other adventurous sports like rock climbing and rappelling can be done here. If you are an adventurist, visiting here should be on top of your list of things to do in Shillong.
The nightlife in Shillong is quite unique in its own sense. It is not very happening or electrifying like what nightlife is usually assumed to be. In Shillong, the nightlife is slow and steady. People usually like to relax and have a drink or two at some of the bars Shillong has. However, the city doesn’t lack nightlife completely. One can find, Shillong has many pubs, bars, and discos. The nightlife in Shillong has slowly shifted from sedate to a happening one. Some of the best places to experience the nightlife in Shillong are Cloud 9, Café Shillong, Tango, and Platinum.
Shillong brims with the flavors, colors, elements, and popular dishes of authentic Meghalayan cuisine. When visiting Shillong, then it’s a must to try the local preparations such as Tungtab which is a preparation of fermented dry fish, a wide variety of Momos, Tarumbai, which are fermented beans as well as the very popular Dohneiiong, a preparation of pork using local spices. You must also indulge in Kyat which is a beverage prepared from rice. A traditional and refreshing item is the Kwai prepared from betel nuts. Other than these Shillong's restaurants have enough choices from Chinese, Indian, and Tibetan cuisines.
- The Arcadia Resort
- Woodland Hill Stay
- Dew Drop Inn
- The Heritage Club, Tripura Castle
- Lamee Restaurant : A Indo-Chinese restaurant, Lamee Restaurant serves both veg and non-veg delicacies covering both cuisines. They have a good deal of North Indian options as well.
- Café Shillong : The café is situated in the Laitumkhrah area in the L.P. Building. It is a sophisticated café that offers an array of continental dishes. The live music here is some of the best in Shillong. Often flocked by a really attractive crowd, this enchanting café in Shillong offers great food that can spice up your evenings.
- ML05 Cafe : Celebrating love for bikes and rides, this comfy café in Shillong pays tribute to the biking culture of the city. Although it is situated a bit far from the city center, every attribute of ML 05 makes it distinctive and unique from a lot of the other cafes in Shillong. As soon as you step in, you will feel like entering a garage. No one can ever forget the gleaming Harley Davidson set in its middle.
- Dylan's Cafe : This rustic and laid-back eatery houses some of the quirkiest interiors coupled with funky art pieces. It is undoubtedly the most famous café in Shillong. Besides tempting baked food and desserts, Dylan's Cafe serves an irresistible deal of local cafe food coupled with refreshing beverages.
- Trattoria : With the perfect Khasi indulgence, Trattoria welcomes visitors with a wholesome lunch combo as well. There is also a stall nearby selling exotic pickles and other such condiments.
- Barbeque Chinese Restaurant : Serving a blend of barbecue and Chinese, this restaurant also hosts a crisp menu of some of the best Chinese food coupled with beverages and desserts. They have drinks combos as well.
- Police Bazaar : A one-stop shop for locals and tourists alike; the Police Bazaar has everything that might tickle your fancy. A modern market awash with hotels, restaurants, malls, and shops, it truly is the answer to all your wishes. Famous for exquisite handicrafts and indigenous ornaments, there is a lot at Police Bazaar that would be just perfect for you to take home.
- Bara Bazar : The market is one of the oldest and largest for traditional items not just in Shillong, but the whole of the North East. It is a market that to this day is owned and operated by locals. The market has a mystic vibe to it as every year, certain rituals are performed which according to local belief, aids the market in continuing to thrive. It's also known for housing a Beef/Meat market that sells in large quantities.
- Bhutia Market : This market is especially popular in winter time as it houses a high-quality range of Woollen clothes. Even in the summertime, you can get everything from shoes to trendy fashion wear at amazing prices! Head on down to the Bhutia market to get a hold of the latest in fashion at prices that can only be described as a total steal.
- Don Bosco Market : The Don Bosco Square is a hub of activity at all times in Shillong. With cafes and a bustling market on either side, there is never a dull moment in this part of Shillong. An epicenter for all things Khasi, from traditional weapons to dresses to relics to sublime souvenirs, you are sure to be taking back a bag full of memories from the Don Bosco Market.
- Jail Road : Referred to as the Chandni Chowk of Shillong, Jail Road is overflowing with shops as far as the eye can see, often it is very hard to see here owing to the congestion. But just like Delhi, this is the go-to place for some yummy delicious street food. Engage in your guilty pleasures guilt-free at this piece of the national capital in Meghalaya’s capital.
- Air Force Museum : The Air Force Museum is positioned in upper Shillong and exhibits pictures of the Indo-China war and the Indo-Pak war. It is indeed the ideal place for photo enthusiasts as they can come across a wide array of photographs. Python's skin is also displayed at the museum. It is also a fascinating site to know about air defense history and valiant flying warriors. There is a souvenir shop where you can buy anything and take it back as a memory.
- Don Bosco Museum : Perched at the hill of Mawlai in Shillong, the Don Bosco Museum has seven floors with various galleries presenting the 8 states of northeast India under one roof. It has a great collection of artifacts that include fiberglass models, and paintings - a delight to the eyes. Don Bosco Museum is a main appeal for students because it offers an opportunity of learning at a beautiful center. Besides this, one can also have a breathtaking sight of Shillong City from the terrace.
- Butterfly Museum : Butterfly Museum is a feast for those who are visiting Shillong for the first time. It consists of numerous beautiful butterflies from all over the world. It is one of the most amazing places even for a kid to spot a colorful butterfly sitting on hands and carrying out a dance before setting out to amaze another onlooker. Also known as Entomological Museum, it displays a wonderful collection of beetles, spiders, butterflies, and moths. It is a must-visit place for all groups in Shillong.
- Captain Williamson Sangma State Museum : When in Shillong, then a visit to Captain Williamson Sangma State Museum is a must. It makes you familiar with the ancient history and lifestyle of the different communities dwelling here. It has the state central Library Complex, thus making it a destination that renders sources on all parts of the state. One can also witness the statues and shrines devoted to patriots who battled for the state. The other highlights of this museum are the Indira Gandhi statue and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
EVENTS & FESTIVALS IN SHILLONG
- Shad Suk Mynsiem : The Shad Suk Mynsiem is celebrated in April. The rituals or ceremonies are conducted by individual family clans or the Khasi state (Hima). The dance is performed to signify the matrilineal and patrilineal structure of the Khasi society. The dance is performed by unmarried girls dressed in their traditional best, while the man circles the women brandishing his sword. The significance of the dance is that a man is the protector of a woman's honor. The dance is performed at the Weiking Grounds near the capital city of Shillong and other places.
- Nongkrem Festival : The most important festival among the Khasis, is the Nongkrem Festival which is celebrated every year at Smit, 15 km away from Shillong. It is an essential seat of the Hima Khyriem (Chief of Khyriem). The rituals are performed by the Syiem, the head of the Khasi state, and ka Syiem Sad (head priestess). They are revered as the caretakers of the ceremonies and the people. The festival is celebrated for good harvest, peace, and prosperity. People from all over the country and the world come to witness the celebration that is accompanied by young women performing the Shad Kynthei and the men circling them performing the Shad Mystieh, as a symbol of male power and protection over the women.
- Behdeinkhlam Festival: It is one of the most important festivals of the Jaintia people and is celebrated by the people of the Niamtre religion. It is celebrated in July before the seed-sowing season. The literal meaning of Behdeinkhlam is 'Chasing away the Plague'. Rituals and sacrifices are made by the priest accompanied by the beating of drums and flutes. Tall minarets are paraded to the holy ground and are then submerged in a river. Men, both old and young accompany the drums and flutes with dance while the women stand watch in their finest traditional and heavily decked in gold. The festival is celebrated every year at Jowai Town and other villages of the Jaintia hills.
- Shad Sukra : The Shad Sukra festival is celebrated by the Jaintia people every year in the month of April or May. It is a celebration that hints at the commencing of the sowing season. Rituals and dance are accompanied by the drums and the flute to pray for a bountiful and fruitful season. Men and women take part in the festivals in their traditional best, heavily decked in gold ornaments.
Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit Shillong is between September and May as the weather remains pleasant during these months. It does occasionally rain, but it is relatively lesser than in the monsoon season, i.e., between June and August. During the season, the region experiences heavy rainfall, and it might be tough and inconvenient to explore tourist attractions. The beauty in monsoons is at its peak as the terrain turns into a scenic paradise with lush greenery, lakes, ponds, and waterfalls coming to life. It, therefore, can be an off-season location worth a visit for some.
How to Reach
- By Air - If you plan on commuting vis flight then you should keep in mind that Shillong Airport has very limited connectivity and only a few flights are operated from there. The nearest major airport to Shillong is in Guwahati, Assam. From there you could either take a bus or hire a cab or self-drive to Shillong.
- By Train - By road, the NH 40 connects Shillong to the rest of the cities in India. There are both private and government buses that run from most major cities to Shillong.
- By Road - The nearest railway station to Shillong is in Guwahati, Assam. From there you could either take a bus or hire a cab or self-drive to Shillong.