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Thursday, May 28, 2009

EXOTIC LAND IN CLOUDS, Shillong, Meghalaya, India

courtesy A.K. Sircar
Shillong View

I went straight to Ushaban, the restaurant at the Hotel Brahmputra Ashok, Guwahati after a morning walk at the banks of mighty river Brahmputra. The waiter brought a plate full of inch square toasts topped with scrambled eggs. It looked delicious. I just wolfed down all.

Soon Tommy Singh, my good old friend joined me and we were off to Shillong by road. It was a 100 odd kms drive to a height of about 4000ft. What a picturesque road. Wow! The scenery was exotic, all we could see was mountains, clouds, greenery, clean water and cool breeze. We stopped at midway at Nongpoh a small town to have a cup of tea. The town had trees all around and a beautiful roadside market. With the wind whispering, the atmosphere was mesmerizing!
As we approached Shillong, we saw a massive dam, then we saw a few big lakes. 
Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, was a hill town, situated in the north eastern part of India. Shillong in Meghalaya is situated at an altitude of 1496 m above sea level. Shillong remained the capital of Assam, before the formation of Meghalaya in the 1974.
The place, the people and the climate all combined together to create an amiable atmosphere, to make Shillong Meghalaya an ideal holiday destination throughout the year.
Cherrapunjee, the wettest place on earth is only 56 kms away from Shillong. 
Shillong had beautiful lakes and waterfalls, and was set in pine forests and green mountains. Most of the Shillong population belonged to Khasi tribe, who were predominantly Christian.
An interesting aspect of Khasis is that they are a
matriarchal society - the mother is head of family, youngest daughter owns all the property and mothers surname is passed on to children.
The Mawphlang Sacred Forest:

In the afternoon we visited an interesting forested area called Mawphlang Sacred Forest in the Khasi hills, 25 kms from Shillong-the sacred forests, which had been preserved by traditional religious sanction, since the ancient days. The sacred grove had an amazing life form of plants, flowering trees, orchids and butterflies. The sacred-groves which had been preserved since time immemorial, are in sharp contrast to their surrounding grasslands. These groves were generally rimmed by a dense growth of Castanopsis kurzii trees, forming a protective hedge which halts intrusion of Pinus kasia (Khasi pine) which dominated all areas outside the sacred groves. Inside the outer rim, the sacred groves were virtually Nature's Own Museum. The heavily covered grounds had a thick cushion of humus accumulated over the centuries. The trees in every sacred grove were heavily loaded with epiphytic growth of aroids, pipers, ferns, fern-allies and orchids. The humus-covered grounds likewise harboured myriad varieties of plant life, many of which were, I believed, found nowhere else.
In the evening, to our good luck was an international rock band show at one of the hotels. It turned out to be a real treat to music freaks like us!
And then we came to know that-

Shillong is considered the rock music capital of India!!
Many international and Indian rock groups visit Shillong every year. Shillong itself has produced a many legends in rock music which are greatly recognized all over India. Some of the International rock groups that have visited Shillong in the past are:


Petra (a Gospel Rock band)

Bob Fitts (Gospel Singer)
Michael Learns To Rock
Eric Martin
White Lion
Fantastic! Oh, what a memorable day it had been.
There were many beautiful places to visit in Shillong:
A-Lady Hydari Park
B-Golf Links-one of the best in India

C-Museum of Entomology

D-Shillong Peak

E-Ward's Lake

F-Umiam Lake- (north of shillong). A beautiful lake north of Shillong, which resembles the 'Lochs', or lakes of Scotland, and is a must-see for all tourists.
G-Elephant Falls

Most of the hotels are located in and around the Police Bazar which is the noisy, crowded city center of Shillong. Hotel Polo Towers and Royal Heritage have locations that are more relaxing. Backpackers might want to check the Youth Hostel near Office of Chief Telecom Officer (CTO Complex). Internet reservation is available only in few starred hotels.


Ri Kynjai Resort, (+91 98624 20300/01 email:rikynjai@yahoo.co.in)

Rosaville Cottage

Star hotels:

Hotel Centre Point (+91 364 222 0272/ 222 0480
email: centre_point91@rediffmail.com)

Royal Heritage Tripura Castle (+91 364 250 1111/49
Email: rh_tripuracastle@rediffmail.com)

Hotel Alpine Continental,3 Star, Shillong

email: alpineshillong@hotmail.com

Hotel Polo Towers, Shillong`s Only 4 Star
HotelPine Brook Guest House***' Pure Bengali food available
Non Star hotels:

The Majestic Hotel, Polo Road
Lake View Inn MG Road
Shillong Club Guesthouse near Police bazaar
Hotel Pegasus Crown
Hotel Pinewood

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