Meghalaya (which means “Abode of Clouds” in Sanskrit) is one of the seven Northeastern states of India. Most of the terrain is hilly and experiences heavy rainfall during monsoons.

Famous for its high rainfall, subtropical forests, and biodiversity, it is surrounded by Assam in the north and east and by Bangladesh in the south. The Brahmaputra River forms the border in the west.

Top Cities

  • Shillong — East Khasi Hills
  • Cherrapunji — formerly the wettest place on Earth and still holding the all-time record for the most rainfall in a calendar month and year
  • Mawlynnong — the village offers picturesque natural beauty
  • Jowai — Jaintia Hills
  • Mawkyrwat — South West Khasi Hills
  • Nongstoin — West Khasi Hills

Places to Visit in Meghalaya

shillong meghalaya PD

Balphakram National Park

Located in the Garo Hills in Meghalaya, a well-known park in India for its scenic beauty and various species of flora and fauna.

Nokrek National Park

Also a Biosphere Reserve, Nokrek National Park is a small population of Red Panda resides in this park. It is habitat for the Asian elephant, species of cats and primates.

It is also an important area for birds. Rongbang Dare Water Fall and Nokrek Peak are located in this park with tall thick forest.

Explore Caves

Meghalaya is a caver’s delight. The area around Cherrapunji has quite a few limestone caves that can be visited, such as the caves at Mawsmai near Mawsynram.

Earlier in 2018, the world’s longest sandstone cave has also been discovered in the area at Krem Puri. At nearly 25km long, its length is almost three times the height of Mount Everest. Some dinosaur fossils have also been found in this cave.

Waterfalls

Apart from caving, you will also enjoy visiting the beautiful waterfalls around Shillong and Cherrapunji. You should also not miss visiting at least one of the Living Root Bridges.

These are natural bridges, created by the local tribals by training the roots of trees to grow in certain directions and weaving them together with mud to create a passable bridge over a stream.

shillong nature PD

Other Must Do Visits

  • Elephant Falls
  • Lady Hydari Park
  • Shillong Peak
  • South Garo Hills, Pitcher Plant sanctuary, Siju Caves
  • Umiam Lake
  • Wards Lake
  • Living Root Bridges

Language

Garo, Khasi & Jaintia are the major languages spoken in addition to English, which is spoken all over the state and all urban areas.

How to Get Here

By plane

The Shillong Airport, located around 35 KM from Shillong is the only airport in Meghalaya where commercial flights operate from. A limited number of Air India flights (ATR42 type) are available from Kolkata per week.

However, the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport at Guwahati, serves as the nearest major airport to Shillong. It is connected by daily flights to all Indian cities and also to Bangkok.

By helicopter

The Government of Meghalaya operates a twice-a-day helicopter service from the Guwahati Airport to the Shillong Heliport, located 10 km away from the city center. Tickets are modestly priced at ₹1500.

A 4-hour long journey by road from Guwahati to Shillong (and vice-versa) is cut down to just a 20-minute flight if traveling by helicopter.

By train

There are no railway lines in Meghalaya. Guwahati is the nearest railway station located around 104 KM from Shillong.

By road

Shillong is connected with Guwahati by NH 40. Various modes of transport including Shared taxis, Buses, and private cabs ply on this route. Shared sumos are available from right outside Guwahati Railway Station to Shillong for ₹160 per seat.

Getting Around

Any Meghalaya excursion should start from Shillong or Guwahati for convenience. Local non-AC buses, share sumos connect several parts of Meghalaya and other destinations of the North-East.

Though cheap, these buses are infrequent and inconvenient for both domestic and foreign travelers. Best is to hire a taxi for a day and cover your destinations. Standard Maruti 800 taxis cost about ₹1200 (with fuel) for standard day excursions (Mawsynram, Cherrapunjee, Nartiang) as of Nov 2008.

Bargain if you want to explore places other than regular tourist sites. Shillong City Tour costs about ₹500-₹700. Since Meghalaya is a small state, destinations are not very far apart in the regular tourist circuit, so retaining a car is not a cost-effective idea. If one visits Orchid Lake Resort or Cherrapunjee Resort, cars are not readily available from these offbeat spots.

So plan your itinerary in advance and accordingly make arrangements from Shillong for pick up from the resorts on the return leg. Otherwise, you may have to face delays. As tourism initiatives are mostly limited to Shillong and East Khasi Hills, travellers to Garo Hills (Tura, Williamsnagar), Jaitia Hills (Jowai) and West Khasi Hills (Nongstoin) should plan their route/itinerary considering the lack of proper tourism infrastructure (food/lodging/transport/roads).

Local Cuisine

Rice is the staple food and different varieties from the red rice to the sticky glutinous rice are grown and eaten in Meghalaya. The red rice from the Sung Valley is known to be particularly delicious. Pork in every form is enjoyed by all three communities. The Khasi and Jaintia cuisine are similar and use black sesame seeds to add a distinctive taste to the pork and other dishes. A cold salad of shredded pork with onions and ginger is also very popular.

During the early monsoon, different varieties of mushroom sprout all over the Jaintia and Khasi Hills and these make their way to the local markets. The mushrooms are either cooked in combination with the meat dishes or just fried lightly on its own.

Rice is cooked either plain or in combination with onions, ginger and turmeric, giving it the characteristic yellow colour; this is known as ‘jastem’. Another variation is the ‘jadoh’ which is rice cooked with meat (namely pork). Rice cakes called ‘putharo and the drier flaky ‘pumaloi are prepared from rice flour. Another variety is the deep fried jaggery sweetened pukhiein and steamed pusla usually eaten as snacks with tea.

The Garo cuisine is simple to cook with different variations adding richness to the flavour. One of the most popular dishes among the Garos is the Nakham Bitchi dish, which is prepared from special dry fish, chilies and a pinch of soda. This is a hot spicy soup and is usually served with rice, together with some other fish or meat dish, usually boiled with yam, pumpkin, gourd, chillies, and a dash of bamboo ash water.

These dishes are sometimes cooked wrapped in leaves or in fresh bamboo cylinders over an open fire, thereby infusing the food with the flavor of the leaves and green bamboo. Also popular among the Khasi, Jaintia and Garos is fish and meat preserved either by drying in the sun or smoking over fire.

A variety of chutneys prepared from different types of herbs, fermented soya bean, and fermented fish always accompany the meals.

Similar Posts:

November 10, 2018 9:01 pm Published by

Join the Travel Club