Shillong is the capital of the state of Meghalaya in India. Popularly known as the ‘Scotland of the East’, Shillong is the state capital and also the district head quarters of the East Khasi Hills. The city derives its name from ‘Leishyllong’ – the Supreme Power or God who is believed to have his abode on the Shillong Peak overlooking the city.
It was the summer capital of Eastern Bengal and Assam for many years before it became the capital of the newly formed Indian state of Meghalaya in 1972.
Shillong is a hill station, a famous travel destination with a temperate climate through out the year. It was discovered by the British who envisioned its possibilities as a retreat from the heat and dust of the Indian plains and developed it as a miniature Scottish countryside complete with churches, Victorian bungalows, schools, public parks, picnic points, a golf course and a Club house. Set amidst hills and valleys, rivers, waterfalls, brooks, pine groves and gardens, Shillong offers an unforgettable experience.
Shillong occupies a prominent position as fast developing centre of education in the north- east of India. It is home to a diverse indigenous population composed of the Khasis, Jaintias, and Garos in addition to people from the neighboring Indian states of Assam, Tripura, Nagaland and Manipur. The State Museum located at the State Central Library complex offers a glimpse into the heritage, culture and the lifestyle of the Khasi tribe. The Butterfly Museum at Riatsamthiah has a rare collection of butterflies and moths, besides breeding them as a conservatory measure. The city is dotted with several old churches among which the Cathedral of Mary, Help of Christians, with its beautiful stained glass windows and vaulted arch and the All Saints’ Cathedral, situated near the State Central library are remarkable. The Khasis follow an eight day week and on the first day of the week, people from all over Eastern Meghalaya come to sell their products in the markets. Bara Bazaar or Lewduh, the biggest market in the North- East run mainly by women is a great tourist attraction.
Close to the town, there are a few waterfalls like the Spread Eagle Falls (6km) Sweet Falls or Wei Tdem (8 km), Bishop Falls, Beadon Falls and Crinoline Falls which has a swimming pool too. Ward’s Lake, which is an artificially created water body, shaped like a horse shoe, is well stocked with carp and there is a carp feeding tradition by visitors. Lady Hydari Park with extensively landscaped grounds houses a mini zoo also. Umaim Lake or Barapani Lake, which is 17 km away from town on the Guwahati-Shillong road, considered as the biggest artificial lake in the state, offers water sports facilities and is a popular spot for anglers. The Botanical Survey of India Orchidarium in Shillong showcases the wealth of Meghalaya’s orchid and botanical heritage.
The Golf course in Shillong is the third oldest in India and enjoys the distinction of being one of Asia’s natural golf courses as well as the most challenging. Shillong Peak, an ideal picnic spot and the highest point in the state, is 10 km from the city. At 1965 meters above sea level, it offers a panoramic view of the scenic countryside.
Cherrapunji, 56 kms from Shillong and one of the rainiest places in India, is a centre of Khasi culture and literature. Another interesting place worth a visit is the 70 acre sacred forest at Mawphlang, in the west Khasi Hills, which provides an insight into Khasi history and religious beliefs.