Tuesday, 22 April 2014


Courtesy Wikipedia
     It was the cool white sheets tautly spread with a soft white quilt under which I snuggled that changed my mind about Shillong. I've hated journeys as a child and this was my first visit to my aunt's house at Laban in Shillong. It was only the morning after we reached Shillong, dead tired after a drive from Guwahati, that I realised the fairyland we had arrived at. Her home was a cottage with wooden floor that made rather heavy sounds when anyone walked . A neat kitchen with shining utensils spreading warmth as homes in Shillong do. Outside the window I could see fine powdery drizzle that fell softly and melted in the air. These are my earliest memory of Shillong, the Scotland Of The East.

    Around hundred kms from Guwahati in Assam, Shillong has always been a place which people from the Brahmaputra plains have spoken about with reverence. It used to be a matter of great pride if one had a relative who was a Shillong dweller.They were invariably looked upon as the ones with a liberal mindset and English speaking elite class of people.  Being the erstwhile capital of undivided Assam, it has a colonial charm with the trademark architectural stamp on the buildings; a golf course said to be one of the best in Asia; old churches; missionary schools and colleges like Pine Mount, Loreto convent, St. Edmunds, St.Anthony's, Lady Keane to name a few; winding sloping roads; kwai (betel nut) chewing, pink cheeked pretty Khasi girls  in  "Jainsems", a material knotted over their shoulder ; add to this list, the salubrious clime of the Khasi hills and you have the charming Shillong.

   If you are ambling around the town do visit the Police Bazaar and try some of the local pork delicacies and the noodles. There is a Chinese shoe maker who can fashion pretty shoes out of the fabric of your choice that can go with your dress. I remember a friend who was looking for an exact shade of beige to go with her 'muga mekhela sador'. She finally gave him a strip of 'muga' silk out of which an exquisite pair of shoes were made. If you are the kind who loves to explore local authentic ingredients then Bara Bazaar is the place for you. You will find all kinds of ingredients, fruits and vegetables here and place experience the feel of a local market. Although it could get a tad dirty here. Once you are done with the market you could go to Ward's Lake, biggest man made lake here. It is a good place to relax and stroll around or go boating around this horse-shoe shaped lake. You must make a trip to the Shillong peak that gives a beautiful view of the plains below with clouds wafting in and out. And if there is a slight drizzle you will love the hot plates of maggi served there.  We have always bought potatoes on our way back from the peak. I've never seen such white and thin skinned, clean potatoes anywhere. That there is a Central Potato Research Institute here helps. I remember our car always being loaded with "Shillong vegetables" on our way back from a trip here. They are the tastiest and the freshest lot. Elephant falls ( a series of two falls) in the outskirts about 12 kms from Shillong, and Spread Eagle falls in the Shillong cantonment, are quite a crowd puller. Monsoon is the best time to enjoy these falls and the many others that add to the natural splendour of Shillong.

   Once you are done with the town visiting the churches, museum and parks, do venture out for some overwhelming places like the Mawphlang Sacred Forest ( 25 kms from Shillong), a place teeming with plant life, aroids, orchids and other epiphytes, butterflies and a ground soft with a rich layer of centuries old humus.This place has been traditionally preserved since ancient days by the local people. Another must visit is one of Asia's cleanest village, Mawlynnong around 90 kms from Shillong along the Indo - Bangladesh border.  I relate now from what I've heard of my parents account, who made a trip here a few years back. Not a piece of paper was lying about on the roads.The villagers take pride in their village and every waste goes into the bamboo bins installed at regular intervals on the streets. the bio waste is collected and turned into manure in a pit. With hundred percent literacy, the villagers practice and spread the message of conservation.

  If you have travelled this far to see the cleanest village, you might as well go to Sohra, local name for the wettest place on earth Cherrapunji. Recently Sohra has wrested back the title from Mawsynram. You will not only be showered with the rains but also have a chance to see a natural marvel, the living root bridges. The Umshiang Double Decker Root Bridge is a Unesco world heritage site. The roots of the trees belonging to the ficus family are first pointed towards the opposite banks of streams by the local people. Once they grow over a period of time, they are entwined with roots coming  from the opposite direction and allowed to delve into the soil. This ingenuous bio-engineering takes 10 to 15 years for a bridge to evolve out of it. Root Bridges deserve a post in itself to do justice to them.

     The people of Meghalaya share a unique bond with Mother Nature drawing inspiration and learning to sustain themselves without jeopardizing the balance. Inhabited by charming people who believe in cleanliness and peaceful co existence with nature, Shillong  had always been a stress buster for the likes of us from the plains.

This post was written for the A to Z Challenge 


  1. Enjoyed reading this. Shilong is a lovely place. Soothes your nerves.

  2. I have been to Shillong n Cherapunjee , beautiful hill station.

    Soon write on Shillong , cherapunjee & Guwahati

  3. Lovely post on Shillong. Seems quite an exotic place.


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