Shillong… The Britishers called it the “SCOTLAND OF THE EAST” for its resemblance with Scotland and since then its beauty and splendor have never ceased to attract travelers from different corners of the world.
My fondness for Shillong has an emotional connection not just because it is my place of birth but also because amidst the serenity of Shillong I spent my childhood which were the best days of my life. The cozy surrounding of Shillong had sheltered my young spirit so defensively that it took relatively a long period for me to cope with the outside world.
Nestled in the East Khasi Hill district of Meghalaya (which means “abode of clouds”), Shillong is situated at an altitude of 4908 feet from the sea level. Once loved by the Britishers for its climate and freshness, Shillong still carries the European way of life, be it the living style, the language or the culture. The beautiful cottages of Shillong too reflect the grace and style of the European lineage and architectural design of wooden planked floor and cliquey rooms.
A new traveller in Shillong will find everything beautiful and worthy. But there are some spots that one must visit in Shillong to actually feel its beauty in true sense.
Best Places To Visit In Shillong:
- Cathedral Catholic Church: One of the important attractions, Cathedral Catholic Church has been attracting a lot many tourists as it stands to be an important monument of the state. This present gothic architectural church was developed after the first church in its place was destroyed by fire in 1936. A bronze monument of the cavalry, the stained glasses, the huge boundary and a well-maintained garden add fresh magnetism to the monument. The church is located beside the main road which leads to Nongthimai and anyone passing by that road would be tempted to pay a visit to the Church.
- Shillong Golf Course: Also commonly known as the Polo Ground is a scenic natural valley that was carved out to be a golf course by the British officers in 1898 as they introduced golf to Shillong. It is spread across a vast area that is covered with smooth grass which is regularly maintained and trimmed. The golf course is adorned by pine trees that make it all the more scenic and peaceful. The blue sky above and green grass below combines to offer the tourist a pleasant view to the eyes and onlookers. Many locals visit this with their families and children as it offers a wide open area to move around freely. Many come here for a day picnic too. The beautiful cottages far across the road surely give you a feel of any European countryside.
- Shillong Peak: Shillong Peak is the highest point of Meghalaya located at an altitude of 1965 from sea level. It comes under the area of upper Shillong that is comparatively colder than the town below. From the peak, one can have an aerial view of the town which offers a very panoramic sight. The zigzag road on the way to the peak provides a marvelous journey and as the wind touches your face, you feel heavenly as the air out here is so fresh and pristine. Upper Shillong is a low populated area with beautiful locations and scenic beauty. The pine trees on the roadside just beside the Eastern Command Air Force office are a view to remember for your whole life.
- Elephant Falls: It is located near the Shillong Peak which stands as one of the must-visit places of Shillong. A long tail of steps will take you down so that you may witness the waterfall. The milky water falling down a cliff in three layers is a beautiful sight. The surrounding is so mysterious that you feel it to the nerve with the sound of the insects and birds around. It is said that the current below the water stream is very high and so it is not advisable not to go deep down the stream. The Britishers named it Elephant Falls as the water falling down the hill was like the back of an elephant. You will find Khasi kongs (sister) selling local fruits and other food items on the ways. It is definitely nature’s paradise which one must keep in his/her itinerary.
- Mattilang Park: While at Upper Shillong, one may also visit the Mattilang park which is located nearby Elephant falls. It is a beautifully crafted amusement park and offers a beautiful view of the Elephant Falls.
- Lady Hydari Park: This park is located in the heart of the city and is the best place for a refreshing afternoon. The park also has a mini zoo with a comparative good count of animals and birds. It has a children’s park and a beautiful garden where you will see many varieties of rose. If you are a flower lover, then you must visit this park.
- Wards Lake: This is a beautiful artificial lake which is one of the oldest and most loved tourist spot of the city. Just a minute away from the main commercial hub which is called the police bazaar, this lake is favorite among the locals as well as the tourists. There is this bridge above the lake from where you can catch glimpses of the fishes below and also offer them food which is sold outside the lake entry. There is a lush wide garden surrounding the lake where one may have wonderful walks amidst natural abundance.
- Laitlum Canyons: It is paradise for trekkers and nature lovers as it is filled with an abundance of natural beauty. It is covered with rocks and green grass all over. It is becoming a favorite tourist spot as it is not yet commercialized and not crowded. It is located in Smit villages which is approx 6 km from Shillong. Recently Bollywood film Rock On movie was filmed here after which it has attracted lots of tourist interest.
- Police Bazar: It is a Shopper’s paradise which is famous for new clothing trends and styles. Police Bazar is the main commercial hub of the city and one of the main attractions for tourists. Glory’s Plaza is one of the oldest present time malls in the entire region and you will get wonderful woolens for winter here. The prices quoted are a bit high but you may always bargain and get it at a good rate.
- Sri Sri Sankardev Namghar: The vaishnavite culture of Assam is well maintained by the Assamese society of Shillong which is reflected in the form of the Namghar (prayer house) located in the Bishnupur area Shillong. It is a beautiful old architectural style structure which has got a huge prayer hall that can accommodate at least 200 people.
WHAT AND WHERE TO EAT IN SHILLONG
- Chinese Cuisine: If you love Chinese food, then you must visit Broadway Restaurant in Police Bazar, The Wok Chinese Restaurants, Barbeque Chinese Restaurants, Kimfa Restaurant etc.
- North Indian Cuisine: City hut dhaba in Police Bazaar is a good place for north Indian items.
- Sweets: If you have a sweet tooth then you must visit Delhi Mistan Restaurant located in the heart of police bazaar. The Jalebis here is a must try and is famous not only in the town but in the entire region. Personally, I have never tasted such delicious Jalebis anywhere in the country.
- Khasi Cuisine: Try local Khasi Cuisines such as Jadoh, Ja Stem, Tungrymbai, Dohneiiong etc in restaurants such as Jadoh, Red Rice Restaurant, Trattoria Restaurant etc. But before trying Khasi food please be sure that you are a non-vegetarian.
PLACES TO VISIT NEARBY S SHILLONG:
- Mawsynram ( 61 km from Shillong)
- Cherrapunjee ( 54 km from Shillong)
- Dawki (82 km)
- Mawlynnong ( 73 km from Shillong)
- Barapani or Umiam lake ( 20 km from Shillong)
HOW TO REACH SHILLONG
By Road: Shillong is 100 km from Guwahati via NH 6.
By Railways: Guwahati is the nearest railway station.
By Air: Guwahati is the nearest Airport.
Next time you visit North East, you must not anyway miss Shillong.
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