With sparkling waterfalls, undulating-picturesque hills, limestone caves, and idyllic parks 1,496 meters above sea level, Shillong lies in the lap of mother nature. Known as the Scotland of the East, Shillong is a heavenly abode.
The pristine woods will fill the void of your heart with happiness. Shillong receives the highest rainfall in the world and looks more lively during monsoons. Considering heavy rains are not favourable for road trips, we planned our expedition in the month of September when the rain is scant and the place is still very enjoyable.
The 99-km Guwahati-to-Shillong road trip is a 3-hour journey and is teeming with breathtaking scenery. We took the NH40 route, which is well connected and maintained. It drizzled lightly while we were travelling, which was enthralling and soothing.
On the GS Road, we took a short break and had refreshments at a local eatery and commenced our road trip.
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Places To Visit In Shillong
Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, houses exciting places enthralling mountain peaks, museums that preserve and reflect Shillong history and culture, beautiful landscapes, waterfalls and more. It took us 3 hours 15 minutes to reach Shillong from Guwahati and we took a short halt and started exploring the ebbs and depths of mystic Shillong.
Ten kilometres from the north of Shillong lies a spectacular man-made reservoir that generates hydroelectric power to cater to the State’s electricity needs. The dam led to the formation of the beautiful Umiam Lake surrounded by the lush greenery of the East Khasi hills. We picnicked at a park adjoining the lake, went on a boat ride, clicked amazing pictures and watched the beautiful sundown. The eye-catching flora and fauna around the reservoir include coniferous forests sprawled over 222 square kilometres of land. We sat back and savoured the Gulmohar trees and the pleasant winds, and observed the daily life of the natives who came to the river for foraging twigs and grass, and fishermen paddling in the steady waters.
There are provisions for pedal boating, water scooter ride (5 to 10 minutes), speed boat, river bus ride (20 to 60 minutes) and water skiing at the lake from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
The next day, we visited the most popular waterfalls in the country, Elephant Falls, which is 8 km from the city centre. During colonial rule, the British named these waterfalls after the elephant-shaped rock at the foot of the waterfalls. You don’t get to look at this elephant-like stone anymore as it was lost to an earthquake years ago. The locals now call these falls “Ka Kshaid Lai Pateng Khohsiew,” meaning the three-step waterfalls.
There are three waterfalls layered in succession, accessible to people from different vantage points. The top-most step of the waterfall is very broad and crammed between dense forests, the second step waterfall has thin waters that go obsolete during winters and the third step of the waterfall is the tallest with clear and milky-white water cascading from the black stones. We are in awe of these impressive waterfalls, especially the third step. This place also makes a great backdrop for pictures and will act as a great canvas for photography enthusiasts.
Towering at a height of 6,449 ft and 1,965 m above sea level, Shillong Peak is the highest point in Shillong. From this point, you can get a panoramic view of the entire city, the Himalayas and the Bangladesh plains. Telescopes are made available at this peak for the tourists to get a 360-degree view from the peak. We trekked our way to this amazing peak. Check the weather before scaling the peak, as the place may experience heavy snowfall and can be quite risky to climb.
It is believed that Shillong got its name from this peak and that the patron deity Lei Shyllong lives in this peak and protects the people from all evils. Rituals are conducted at a U Shulong site at this peak as it is considered sacred and spiritual. As the peak situated at the airforce base it houses the radar station of the Indian Air Force due to which high-security checkings are made at the entry point to the peak, so you need to carry a valid id proof with you.
Don Bosco Museum
If you want to learn the culture and tradition of North East India, you ought to visit Asia’s largest Museum of Indigenous Cultures, Don Bosco Museum, in the Mawlai area. The museum has 16 galleries showcasing artefacts, figurines, and paintings related to Northeastern culture in a seven-storey building. We experienced the local culture and got insights into the living and lifestyles of North-East people.
Prominent people from across the world, like the princess of Thailand, have visited this museum. The Don Bosco Museum also exhibits high architectural artwork with its hexagonal shape and is referred to as Shillong’s architectural pride. Art competitions are often held at this museum, so you will see many writers, artists, musicians, and lyricists from different parts of the country at this museum.
The museum is open from Monday to Saturday (9:00 am to 5:30 pm) during summers, and Monday to Saturday (9:00 am to 4:30 pm) in winters (December 1 to January 31). Entry fee is Rs. 100 for adults, Rs. 50 for students, and Rs. 200 for foreigners.
Ward’s Lake is a simple yet popular picnic spot lying in the heart of Shillong; several locals and tourists come to this lake to unwind and spend time with loved ones. The lake is shaped like a horseshoe and is also known as Pollock’s Lake. We loved sitting near the lake and watching the colour play of flowerbeds and listening to the bird’s chirps. There is a small bridge created on the lake from where you can feed the fishes and watch. Paddle boating is also available at the lake.
The lake is open from 8:30 am to 5:20 pm during November to February, and 8:30 am to 7:00 pm during March to October. Entry fee for adults is Rs. 10 and for kids it is Rs. 5.
David Scott Trail
If you have an appetite for trekking, then you must scale the 16-km long David Scott Trail from Mawphlang to Lad Mawphlang. The trail has popular villages with rich culture, history and folklore. Directions to navigate the trail are not available. You have to ask locals to help you with this. There are breathtaking landscapes, rivers, cascading waters, massive rock formations, meadows and water streams along the trail, to keep you going.
If you start at the Mawphlang village, you will traverse through windy hills, mountains, and valleys. Take a short break at Ka Kor Ka Shonmai, explore the tomb of Camilia, experience the thrill of the hanging bridge over river Umain and listen to the folklores on the way to Lad Mawphlang.
Lady Hydari Park
Lady Hydari Park is the most popular park in Shillong, named after the first lady of Assam. The entrance of the park has a Japanese style garden that will catch the attention of the visitors. The round-shaped hedges and willow trees keep up the vibe of the park and connect to nature.
There is a small lake in the park where you can find ducks and colorful small fishes. There is a playing area for kids and the museum, zoo, and boating activities in the park which keep both kids and adults entertained. Even a leisurely stroll to the park on the paved walkways and manicured lawns is an experience in itself.
Located at 5 km from Happy Valley in Shillong, Sweet Falls is the steepest, most beautiful waterfall in India. But don’t let the name ‘Sweet Falls’ trick you because this mesmerizing waterfall is notoriously dangerous. The route to the falls is treacherous. The slippery stones make it even worse. Don’t plan a visit to this waterfall during monsoons. There are some stories of hauntings linked to this place. The locals say that people who visit these falls in odd numbers will return in even numbers.
The verdant greenery, butterfly museum, and a mini zoo at the waterfalls are also worth visiting. Government has restricted the place for visits for a while and marked the place as a danger zone due to accidents. With good safety measures and caution, you can make the most of this serene and amazing waterfall. Note, do not plunge into the waterfalls and wear slip-resistant shoes.
The vehicle entry fee for this falls is Rs. 70 and it takes 2 hours to tour the waterfalls.
There are countless museums in Shillong that preserve and feature the indigenous culture and history of Shillong. Every museum has its own grandeur; out of the wide list of museums in Shillong, The Butterfly Museum, Wankhar Entomology Museum, The Arunachal State Museum, Meghalaya State Museum, and the Rhino Museum are must-visits.
Shillong is a spellbindingly beautiful city, and you need to invest time to explore this magical place.
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