Nestled among hills, Shillong the capital of Meghalaya, looks like a cluster of red roofs from the sky. This picturesque city throbs with life from dawn to dusk. Narrow hill roads skirted by tall pine trees are lined with cottages made of wood. Shillong is blessed with temperate climate all year long, which makes it an ideal holiday destination. Although modernization has taken its toll and traffic jams are the order of the day, this is an ideal place to unwind amidst simplicity and natural beauty.
FESTIVAL: Festivals in Garo Hills: Among the Garos, the most important festival is the Wangala or the Hundred-drum Festival held from Nov. to Dec. This is a harvest festival celebrated in honour of Saljong, the Sun-God of fertility. The festival marks the end of the period of toil in the fields, bringing a good yeild of crops. Everybody - young & old joins in the festivities. The men beat the drums and move forward in rhythmic union. Doregata Dance Festival is another interesting dance. In this dance, women try to knock off the turbans of their male partners, using their heads. Another dance that requires exquisite skill is the Chambil Mesara or Pomelo Dance. This is a solo dance form, in which the performer dangles a pomelo or any other fruit on a cord tied to his waist and then hurls it round & round.
Festivals in Khasi Hills: The Khasis have two important festivals - Nongkrem Dance held in Oct. / Nov. and Shad-Suk Mynsiem, held in April. Nongkrem Dance is held annually for five days together. It is a religious festival for thanksgiving to God Almighty for good harvest and to pray for peace and prosperity in the community. It is celebrated in the month of November. An important part of this festival is 'pomblang' or decapitation of the goats, offered by the subjects to the Syiem of Khyrim. The Syiem is the administrative head of the state. Offerings are made to the ancestors of the ruling clan.
Festivals in Jaintia Hills: Behdienkhlam is the most important dance festival of the Jaintias. It is celebrated after the sowing period is over. At Jowai town, this festival can be seen being celebrated in July. Youngmen make a symbolic driving away of the evil spirits by beating the roofs of every house with bamboo poles. The climax of the celebrations is the tussle, as seen in a tug-of-war, for a large undressed beam of two groups of people opposed to each other. The Jaintias have also another Dance festival for entertainment called the Laho Dance, where young men and women dance to the merriment of the audience.
Shillong is subject to vagaries of the monsoon. The monsoons arrive in June and it rains almost until the end of August. The climate is hot and humid during summers but quite cold during winters. October-November and March-April are the best months to visit Shillong.
View of Shillong
Mawsynram: 56 km from Shillong, Mawsynram is famous for the giant stalagmite formations shaped like a shivalinga, locally called Mawjymbuin.
Jakrem : 64 km from Shillong, the place is a popular health resort with hot springs of sulphur water believed to have curative powers.
Umiam Lake : the lake is 17 km from Shillong and offers water sports facilities including sailing, water scooter, and water skiing. There is the Orchid Lake Resort for accommodation to holidayers.
Elephant Falls is 12 km from Shillong.
Mairang - About 14 km from Shillong; is famous for the home of the Raja of Nongkhlaw who spearheaded a war against the British.
Attractions and Places to Visit in Shillong
Within Shillong city is the flower bedecked Ward's Lake encircled by whispering pine groves. Take a boat ride if you want to or feed the multihued fish standing on the bridge across the lake. You'll love the walks in this city although it does get a little crowded with cars in the afternoon. Lady Hydari Park doubles up as a miniature zoo and is a short distance away from Ward's Lake. A visit to the St. Mary's Christian Cathedral at Dhankheti is a must ? it has beautiful stained glass windows and the grotto is carved out of a single rock.
You see some impressive waterfalls around town - Sweet Falls, Beadon and Bishop Falls, Crinoline Falls and Elephant Falls , though the most spectacular ones are near Cherrapunjee (56 km south). Take a trip to Shillong Peak , which is the highest point in the city. It has the most stunning view of Shillong enveloped in clouds, one you just can't afford to miss. In the evening, the lights of the city look like a thousand twinkling stars.
How to Reach Shillong
By air: Calcutta is the nearest international airport. The nearest domestic airport is Guwahati, 129 km away. Indian Airlines, Jet airways and Sahara Airlines have daily flights from Delhi. Indian Airlines (daily) and Jet Airways (all days except Thursdays) have flights from Calcutta.
By train: The nearest railhead is also in Guwahati. There are three daily trains from Delhi. The New Delhi-Guwahati-Rajdhani Express runs on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Several trains also run from Calcutta. The Howrah-Guwahati Saraighat Express runs every Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday.
By road: Hourly buses ply the route from Guwahati. The distance to Shillong from
Darjeeling is103 km; Manas, 273 km; Kaziranga is 294 km away; Aizawl is 430 km; Kohima, 469 km; Itanagar is 481 km away, Agartala, 499 km; Siliguri, 578 km and Gangtok is 692 km away. Hire a car in advance