The capital of Meghalaya- Shillong was fondly called ‘Scotland of the East’ by British as its milder climate; several waterfalls and serene nature- are quite similar to that of Scotland.
Shillong has remnants of British era- with its building-architecture and beautiful churches.
Apart from these reasons, Shillong is one of the most favorite travel destinations for Bengalis as Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore wrote a passionate novel called ‘ Sesher Kboita’ ( The last Poem) at the backdrop of Shillong.
From Shillong you can travel further to Cherrapunji to explore eastern India
How to Reach Shillong
To come to Shillong via air- Either you have to land at Shillong Airport at Umroi (also known as Barapani air force base) or at Guwahati Airport (officially named Gopinath Bordoloi airport). Umroi has connecting flights only with Kolkata by Indian Airlines and they are available only for certain days of the week. From Umroi you will get a Meghalaya-Transport- run bus to Shillong.On the other hand, Guwahati Airport has many connecting flights with the rest of the India. You will get many shared cabs (mainly TATA sumo) outside the airport where you can get a ride to Shillong.
The fair will be 400-500 per passenger, though it depends upon your bargaining skill to some extent.
Additionally Helicopter service is also available from Guwahati to Shillong and vice versa and flight time takes around 30 minutes.
Being 1496 meter above of sea level, Shillong has no rainlines. Guwahati Station is the nearest.
Guwahati Railways Station has a bus stand right next to it. Both Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) and Meghalaya Transport Corporation (MTC) operate buses from there. There are also private buses.You can choose between shared taxis and TATA swinger service from Guawahati Paltan Bazar. Fare ranges from Rs.150-400 per passenger.On the way to Shillong from Guwahati- there is a small stopover place called Nongpoh that offers refreshments.
Places of tourist interests
The main attractions of Shillong are –
1 Elephant falls– situated at the upper part of Shillong near the air command base, Elephant Falls is a set of small falls. It’s one of the few falls where you can reach at the bottom of the fall by a narrow footpath.
2 Don Bosco Centre for indigenous culture- is an attractive depository of information regarding the ‘7 sisters of India’ (seven north-eastern states) and a large collection of historical memorabilia.
3 Shillong Golfe course– is the first Golf course of India and based in a unique location.
· Apart from these tourist hot spots, Shillong is famous for its- Butterfly museum, Shillong Peak, Lady Hydari Park, Wards Lake, Umiam Lake and the number of falls like- Sweet falls, Bishop and Beadon falls etc.
What to eat
There is mainly Tibetan, Indian and Chinese cuisine available here. Don’t forget to taste authentic momo and thukpa from local stalls.If you are fond of jalebis, then Delhi Misthan Bhandar is there to tickle your sweet taste-buds.The popular City Dhaba has got nice ambience and serves tasty food as well.For the coffee and snacks-lovers, there are two coffee shops named- MOT (Matter of Taste) and Swish café.Madras Café serves authentic south Indian delicacies.Shillong is pub-goers paradise as it has number of trendy watering holes.
Hottest shopping destinations
Shillong’s local bazaars are the best places to shop- handmade shawls to local condiments, to Garo and Khasi (local tribes) souvenirs and handicrafts.Purbashree in Police Bazaar is another Meghalaya tourism run emporium that sells authentic local handicrafts and fruit products.For bambaoo related crafts it is advisable to checkout the Guwahati markets for shopping as it is much cheaper and has a finer work.
Shillong has a bunch of hotels for budget travelers.There is Youth Hostel and Marwari Basa hotel- suitable for lower range of budget.Hotel Polo towers and Hotel Centre Point are for those who have mid-range budget for accommodation.Most of hotels are located around Police Bazaar.
- Explore the beautiful caves around Shillong
- Visit Cherrapunji near Shillong that has world’s highest rainfall record
- Visit the sacred forest for its exotic plants and Mawlynnong village for it’s being Asia’s cleanest village.
- Don’t Show disrespect to local tribes or their rituals.
- Don’t set some high expectation prior-your visit about the cleanliness / facilities of the local hotels and restaurants. You may feel disappointed.
Some info for travelers:
- Try to avoid this place during rainy season or winter.
- Shillong has dried fish, chicken and pork in abundance, but beef is rare.
- At the end, enjoy your stay at Shillong. It brought out the romantic best of Rabindranath Tagore, and it will surely do the same for you.
by Jheelam Duttaroy