Meghalaya, one of the seven sister states of the North-Eastern region, is one of the picturesque states of India. The name Meghalaya literally translates into the ‘abode of the clouds’. The rich cultural heritage, abundant vegetation, beautiful waterfalls and the hills of Meghalaya, the erstwhile ‘Scotland Of The East’, make it an ideal tourist spot. The Cherapunjee – Mawsynram belt in the southern slopes of Khasi Hills receives the highest amount of rainfall in the world.
The Nongkrem dance, is one of the most important festivals of the Khasis, a tribe in Meghalaya.
Meghalaya is broadly divided into three regions, namely Khasi, Jaintia and Garo hills.
The Khasi Hills
Cherrapunjee situated at a distance of 56 Kms from Shillong, Cherrapunjee is famous for receiving the highest amount of rainfall in the world. The place abounds in waterfalls cascading down steep mountains. Extensive limestone caves with stalactites and stalagmites exist here. The springs and sacred forests lend a special charm to the beauty of the place. The Thangkarang Park is situated at a distance of 12 Kms from Cherrapunjee. It houses a bird sanctuary and offers a commanding view of the plains of Bangladesh. The ideal time to visit Cherrapunjee is during the monsoons.
The Ward’s Lake– This lake completed a hundred years of existence recently. It is situated in the heart of the city and is ideal for walks and boating.
The Botanical Gardens– Located just below the Ward’s Lake, it houses many indigenous and exotic plants.
Shillong Peak– Shillong Peak is the highest point in the state of Meghalaya and offers a panoramic view of the country side. It is also a place of worship for the locals.
Umiam Lake– Just 17 Kms from Shillong, it has many kind of water sports like sailing, water skiing and et al. Also known as Barapani, it has a good holiday resort.
Lady Hydari Park– There is a mini zoo adjacent to the park, thus making it an ideal tourist spot.
State Musuem– This museum offers a glimpse of the local lifestyle and heritage.
Elephant Falls– Situated at a distance of 12 kms from the city, the mountain stream descends through two falls. The rocks around the falls are covered with fern. Other waterfalls in ther area include the Spread Eagle Falls, Sweet Falls and Crinoline Falls near the Lady Hydari Park.
Jakrem– Jakrem has hot springs of sulphur water which is considered medicinal. Thus people come here from all parts of the country to cure themselves of their ailments. Jakrem is situated at a distance of 64 Kms from Shillong.
Mawsynram– Just 56 Kms from Shillong, Mawsynram is known for the Giant Stalagmite formation shaped into a Shivalinga. From the top of the hill, you can see the grand hills, valleys and fast moving rivers of Bangladesh.
The Jaintia Hills
Nartiang– Nartiang 65 Kms from Shillong, Nartiang is characterised by huge monoliths, believed to be erected by Mar Phalyngki, a goliath. These monoliths represent the megalithic culture of the Hynniewtrep people and reminds one of Obelix’s ‘Menhirs’. Nartiang also has a five-hundred year old temple of Goddess Durga.
Jowai– Jowai is located at a distance of 64 Kms from the national highway. It is a picturesque town encircled by the majestic Myntdu river.
Syndai– The Syndia village is dotted with a number of caves and these were used as hide-outs during war times.
The Garo Hills
The Garo hills abound in Flora and Fauna of all kinds. Two mountain ranges – the Arabella range and the Tura range, pass through the Garo Hills, and form the Balpakram valley in their midst. The highest point in Garo Hills is Nokrek Peak.
Balpakram– Situated at a distance of around 167 Kms from Tura, Balpakram is also famous as the abode of perpetual winds. It is home to the Indian bison, the rare Lesser Panda and the Stag like Serow.
Napthak Lake– The Napthak Lake is located at a distance of 112 Kms from Tura, and is an ideal retreat for fishing and bird-watching with the river Simsang flowing in the vicinity.
You can also opt for trekking if you are in the mood for some adventure. The famous ones are the treks to Sing Song Gorge and Jakrem Hot Springs.