Shillong used to be a hamlet peacefully settled in the mountains; now it is now the capital of one of the smallest states in India, Meghalaya. A picturesque hill station surrounded by pine trees, Shillong has enchanting waterfalls, ancient megaliths, mesmerizing forests, all in a dreamy landscape, and is even nicknamed the ‘Scotland of the East’. The town has its own ancient culture and heritage and is a fascinating place to explore.
The Don Bosco Museum is a treasure of the North East. Built in a hexagonal shape, its seven floors represent the seven states of North East India. It sets a good example of how to preserve tradition. Providing a glimpse of the rich and multi-cultural lifestyles of the indigenous people of North East India, it can be the perfect place to start off the day. The museum contains 17 galleries displaying cultural artefacts and paintings. They also have indigenous food menus in their food lounge for visitors to discover the local cuisine. The museum offers study and research facilities with its specialised library of 10,000 volumes, media hall, and conference hall. It is frequented by school students, research students, and anthropologists.
Built by the British, this is one of the oldest churches in Shillong. Boasting a wooden colonial style architecture, it was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1897. It is said that only the baptismal font and the Holy Bible were left unscathed. It was rebuilt in 1902, and remains one of the most visited churches in the town.
Also know as Lewduh Market, this is a must visit bazaar to discover more about the culture of Shillong. A varied conglomeration of stalls, ranging from colourful handicraft items, to local betel nuts and leaves, line the streets. You might even come across some indigenous fruits and vegetables which are not common to other parts of the country. Buy a piece or two to take home a part of Shillong with you.
Nature is everywhere in this tranquil lake, which is 15km from the heart of Shillong. The vast lake, also known as Barapani (Big Water), spreads over 10 square kms, and derives from the river of the same name. You can spend the entire day sitting in awe of the view. For those who seek adventure, the tourism of Meghalaya has developed numerous water sports, like kayakaing, skiing, and scooting. The other shore of the Umiam Lake has an island named Lumpongdeng Island. Surrounded by ancient trees, the soothing breeze, and the chirping of the birds, there is a lovely little house boat where visitors can spend the night and wake up to the scenic view. Exploring the island and camping beside the vast lake is nothing less than a paradise.
This café is the best place to get a real sense of the town. It is a charming boutique bungalow with gorgeous interiors. Live music performances are given during the weekends in the café, and the popular jazz festival is also held annually. If you’re a jazz lover, make sure to check dates before planning your trip.
A few minutes drive from Shillong Peak lies this waterfall. The water rushes down from the edge of the hill, creating a splendid view. The original Khasi name for the falls was ‘Ka kshaid lai pateng khohsiew’ (Three Steps Waterfall), because of the way that the water falls down three steps. The name was changed by the British, who called it Elephant Falls because of a rock resembling the animal towards the left hand side of the main falls. However, that rock was destroyed in an earthquake back in 1897.
This trail got its name from the person who discovered it. One of the oldest near the town and a favourite among trekkers, the hill climbs 16km, which can be covered in four or five hours depending on the pace. Throughout the climb, trekkers are greeted by cascading waterfalls, sprawling meadows, tropical trees, tribal villages and breath-taking valleys.