Shillong has often been referred to as the Scotland of the East and with good reason too. Rolling hills, picturesque scenes and lush greenery make it an apt comparison. The capital of Meghalaya derives its name from Leishyllong - the Superpower or God who they believe lives on the Shillong peak and looks out over the city. Shillong is also known as the rock capital of India for the numerous excellent musicians it produces. Apart from that, Shillong tourism is also influenced by the colourful Khasi, Jaintia and Garo tribes which live here.
Shillong lies at the centre of the Shillong Plateau which is bordered on the north by the Umiam gorge and on the northwest by Diengiei Hills. The rivers that play a huge role here are the Umshyrpi and the Umkhra rivers which come together and form the Umiam River. Shillong is around 103 km from Guwahati, which is the nearest air and train link to the city. Shillong sits at an altitude of 1520 metres above sea level.
Shillong has a pleasant climate, and the weather here is agreeable in many ways. In summer, the average temperature can be around 23 degrees Celsius while in winter, the temperature can go as low as 4 degrees. Shillong has a highland climate, which means that summers are cold and rainy, and winters are cool and dry. Shillong is affected by the monsoons, and the rains can get quite get intensive. This does affect Shillong tourism as people don’t prefer to visit during this time.
Shillong has a rich culture thanks to the numerous tribes that have made it their home. Their traditions, dresses and way of life play a huge role in influencing the culture of the city. Shillong tourism counts on these various interesting and exotic elements to draw visitors, although this is more a part of life for the tribes. Shillong festivals are an excellent way to get an insight into the lives of the people who live here and what makes them tick. While the Khasi tribes sing songs in praise of nature and use several different instruments, Shillong is also known as the Rock Capital of India because of the numerous singers and performers who have come from here.
Khasi, Jaintia, Garo, Nepali, Bengali and Hindi
There are numerous different things to see in Shillong, and people come here from all over the country and even abroad to immerse themselves in the sights, sound and cultural delights that the city has to offer. Whether it’s the lakes or the waterfalls or the nearby villages, there are several places to see here and things to do which will ensure that your vacation in Shillong has been well-spent.
Around 15 km from Shillong is the famed Umiam Lake, a human-made reservoir which was formed after a dam was built. The lake is quite beautiful, surrounded by lush trees and the East Khasi hills. The lake features highly in the list of Shillong tourism spots as visitors who come to Shillong make it a point to visit it. Near the lake, people can often be found having picnics, and it’s a great way to relax and have fun. Those interested can go boating on the lake too.
Another famous feature of Shillong is the Elephant Falls. Around 12km away from the city, these mesmerising falls are in three layers which can be accessed from different points. Named because of an elephant shaped rock on one side initially, the rock is now disintegrated but the name has remained. People love visiting these falls and it’s easy to reach by public transport as well.
Shillong Peak is the highest point of the city that offers brilliant views of the Himalayas, waterfalls, Shillong itself and even Bangladesh plains. There are telescopes here to provide an even better view to tourists. Treks to the top of the peak are popular but you have to watch out for fog as that’s a real possibility. Shillong gets its name from this peak where the patron deity supposedly lives and watches out over the city protectively.
Another popular spot for tourism here is the village of Mawlynnong which shot into fame for being the cleanest village in Asia, and which has a predominantly women-centric society. The small village is charming and has a small number of residents and should not be confused with Mawsynram, yet another village that is famous here, but for different reasons altogether. Mawsynram is said to be the wettest place in the world, just slightly more than the more famous Cherrapunji. If you love rain, you will not miss visiting this place. Believers and devotees also come here to see the famous stalagmite that resembles a Shivling.
Ward’s lake is a wonderful getaway in Shillong, where people often converge for picnics and boating. There’s a park here with fountains, a cafeteria and Botanical Garden which makes it the perfect way to spend your time in Shillong admiring the beauty of nature. Another popular spot here is Lady Hydari Park which also has a mini zoo and is famed for its beautiful roses. The zoo has around 73 species of birds and more than a hundred reptiles.
If you are planning to visit Shillong for a vacation, do make it a point to check the SOTC website. There are some great deals and offers there for Shillong tour packages.