A Little Bit Of Shillong

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Shillong is the capital of Meghalaya state of India. It was a part of undivided Assam, and on 21 Jan 1972, it achieved its statehood. This beautiful state is the homeland of three of India's ancient hill tribes/communities: Khasis, Garos and Jaintias. The state is called Meghalaya, which means ‘Abode Of Clouds’, as the hilltops are generally covered by dense and beautiful clouds, making them almost indistinguishable and inseparable.

Shillong is a landlocked territory of lovely hills. Agriculture is the main source of livelihood here. The state has rich source of deposits of coal, limestone, sillimanite, fire clay, dolomite, feldspar and quartz. Its thick forests produce timber species like Sal, Teak, Titachapa, Gamari, Pine, Birch etc. It is also rich in wildlife, and there are some rare species of birds, like the adjutant stork, which can be seen here. It is also rich in orchids. The famous insect eating pitcher plant, which is a botanical wonder, is found abundantly in the hills of Meghalaya.

Here in this picture above you see young girls and boys wearing traditional Khasi attire. I clicked this picture back-stage, right after their dance performance during Rongali Bihu cultural event at Shillong.

Bejeweled maidens attired in traditional finery and silver-clad men in colorful costumes, dancing along with the drummers and flutists. Males wear Jymphong, which is a longish sleeveless coat without collar, fastened by threads in front, and a dhoti with an ornamental silver waistband. The attire is complimented by a turban or a headgear. Ladies wear Jainsem, a two-piece unstitched wrap-around garment, woven from mulberry silk cultivated in the local region, and they too wear a beautiful silver crown on their head.

Here is another group of young ladies wearing traditional Khasi dress Jainsem. They were about to present a Christian devotional chorus in the same event. Meghalaya is one of the three states of India to have a Christian majority, with approximately 70% of the population following Christianity. The Khasis are believed to be the remnants of the first Mongoloids overflow into India. They have matrilineal society, where the descent is traced through the mother. It is only the youngest daughter, or Ka Khadduh, who is eligible to inherit the ancestral property. If she dies without any daughter surviving her, the property is inherited by the next surviving elder sister. Ka Khadduh needs to obtain an approval or consent from her uncles and brothers, in case she wants to dispose the ancestral property.

As Shillong is known for its scenic beauty and cool climate, it is considered one of the most favorite tourist destinations of NE region of India. We were there on a short trip, but, still we managed to take the kids to Ward's Lake, which is situated right at the heart of the town and is very near to our home there. Feeding the fishes and pedal boating are the main attractions -- we did a little bit of both. We were lucky to get a sunny weather throughout our stay.

This is Lady Hydary Park -- not only is it beautiful, but it also has a mini Zoo attached to it. When we visit Shillong during Bihu, we purposely avoid long hours of sight-seeing, because we don't want our kids to get tired and miss the beautiful and very active cultural evenings ahead. Yes, the Bihu celebrations and cultural events are observed for three consecutive days. But in order to do full justice to the festival, I will need to dedicate a full post to it.

QUICK FACTS about Shillong:

Altitude and weather: Located in undulating pine-covered hills, the city has a milder climate than tropical India. The city center is 1496 meters above sea level, and receives heavy rainfalls during monsoon. The rainy season here usually lasts longer than the rest of India. An umbrella is, therefore, a necessity while packing your bags.

Best time to visit: October to March.

Getting there:
  • By air: Guwahati is the nearest airport from where Shillong can be reached by car or bus.
  • By rail: Again, Guwahati is the nearest Rail head, and it is well connected to the rest of the country.
  • By road: Both Bus and Taxi services are available to Shillong from Guwahati.
Must-Visit Places: Shillong Peak, Botanical Garden, Golf Course, State Museum, Elephant Falls, Cathedral Catholic Church, Donbosco Centre of Indigenous Culture, and Spread Eagle Falls.

Accomodation: There are numerous economical as well as luxury hotels available in Shillong.

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