March 9, 2016

A Day in Shillong!


Chaang tasted similar to toddy with a light fizz, but hardly gave a high. Cocooned inside a car with dim lights we happily gulped down 3 glasses each of the rice beer (Chaang is a type of rice beer). This was a much better scenario where we could peacefully have a drink. Previous night we were first warned by a passer by and then almost questioned by a local while trying to quickly finish a few glasses of whiskey by the way side. Quite a  risk, I must say. You aren't allowed to drink by the road side in Shillong. Despite the fact that the last peg had to go down the drain, I was impressed by the city and its people. Though a very happening city with clubs, nightlife and a forward outlook towards life, Shillong very much adheres to its rules. It is not without a reason that it has become one of the prominent cities in eastern India.

The drive from Guwahati was an absolute pleasure as the wide winding road meandered its way through the hills of Meghalaya to Shillong. The hills gave way to intermittent vantage points, valleys, distant hills and green canopies. Amid the natural landscape the disturbing aspect was the many hills that were encroached and eaten into. Not sure how many of these would withstand this alarming act by mankind and be there to welcome me on my next trip to Meghalaya. As I pondered over this fact, the expansive Umiam lake showed up with its glistening waters. That was something to bring a cheer. The breathtaking lake and the mist engulfed hills ran along side for a while until we stopped at the view point to take in some fresh mountain air. Numerous islets strewn across the water body in various sizes and shapes creates an encapsulating landscape. It was quite hazy in the late afternoon with the hills and the greenery covered in mist. This sprawling reservoir lies 16 Kms before Shillong and offers boating and water sport facilities.

Umiam Lake

Being in the eastern part of the country, sun descended much earlier and we spend time exploring Police bazaar in the evening. Police Bazaar is the commercial hub and lively place with visitors and tourists frolicking the area. We walked many lanes which are lined up with restaurants, cafes and shops selling a myriad things from wicker baskets to woolen clothes. Jackets and footwear are less expensive and the best buys here. An ideal way to end the day is to explore a few pubs or relish Khasi cuisine at any of the eateries here. However, we did neither of them, left the bazaar as the shops closed and crawled into the blankets soon as the night turned colder.

Police Bazaar
One of the lanes in Police Bazaar



Pickles lined up at a Khasi stall

Next day began with  a walk around Ward's lake and its green meadows. Colourful flowers were peppered all across. Located in the middle of the city, this is undoubtedly the best place for an early morning walk in Shillong. All commercial activities are a short walk away. Meghalaya is predominantly a Christian state and Shillong in particular has numerous gorgeous looking churches. The city was once the capital of this part of British India and the old world charm is still evident all over.

Ward's Lake

Littered with waterfalls, Meghalaya is breathtakingly beautiful during the monsoon when the hills, greenery and falls come alive to make it the abode of clouds. While most waterfalls had turned dry when we visited during the fag end of winter, Elephanta falls, one of the most popular falls did not disappoint us. Located en route Cherrapunjee in Upper Shillong and engulfed in greenery, a sudden drizzle accentuated the beauty of the place. One has to walk down to reach the falls and he third tier is the most beautiful of all. This three tier falls was named Elephanta due to a rock which looked similar to an elephant when first spotted by a Britisher. Though the rock was later washed away during an earthquake,  the falls still is called by the same name. There are numerous shops here selling a cornucopia of artifacts. The drive back to the city was not before we had a hot pipping tea in the rains near the falls.

Elephanta falls- First tier
Third Tier
Missed out on Shillong peak (offers expansive vistas of the city) due to certain restrictions for civilians when I was there, a few waterfalls (Spread eagle falls, Beadon and Bishop falls), Don Bosco museum and State museum. Shillong is also well known for its popular music festivals which are held frequently.

Despite the shortage of time, Shillong did entice and captivate me with whatever little I saw of her. Two days is recommended to explore Shillong at a leisurely pace and the right time to visit would post the rains when the city and its surroundings are at its liveliest best.


Getting there: Take a flight to Guwahati and then a taxi to Shillong. Guwahati is 120 Kms from Shillong. Taxis (Maruti 800) are easily available to commute across the city.

Accommodation and Food: There are a wide range of hotels, restaurants and cafes in Shillong city to choose from. There are numerous places to explore the local cuisine.

39 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Glad to know it re-kindled your memories.

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  2. Like all other cities this too looks crowded.

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    1. The commercial hub is crowded. The other places are a delight.

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  3. Lovely write up.. Although i have seen Shillong differently..its unmistakably quaint. That's a pleasant surprise one can't booze on d roads.good deterrent for some!

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    1. Thank you, Shilpa. The fact that"Chaltha hain" doesn't work here is what I liked about the booze part.

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  4. Wow! A great trip for you.
    I was there more than 20 years back. Wish I could visit again.

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    1. It absolutely was, but wish I had a day more.

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  5. Beautiful captures and wonderful narration. By the way you are not allowed to drink on the roadside anywhere in India :)

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    1. :))) we have it here in Mumbai .. It's almost officially acceptable in Ganesh processions...sad affair

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    2. Thank you, Magiceye. Yeah, one isn't allowed to drink by the road. The fact that the rule is followed was what I liked. :)

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  6. Beautiful narration and equally nice pictures... :-) Shillong is there in my bucket list for a long time...

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  7. Replies
    1. Thank you, Aravind. Unfortunately couldn't visit the root bridges.

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  8. This post brings back so many beautiful memories of my trip to the same places!

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  9. Beautiful place. I am yet to explore this.

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    1. Head there soon,am sure you will love it.

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  10. When I saw your last post, I was wondering what else you did in that part of the country; thought I should ask you and it slipped off my mind. :)
    Hmm... you did some good stuff out there, I see. Shillong looks and sounds very, very charming. This is the part that is totally strange to me except for the bits and pieces I've read now and then. Thank you for showing me a little more of the Northeast, Nomad.

    The mountains dressed in mist and the attractive Police Bazaar (intriguing name) are pretty alluring, eh! :)

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    1. Glad to know you liked it, Nambiare. Had to squeeze time to explore a bit of Shillong and surroundings. Wish I had a bit more time on hand. Such a beautiful place to reside. Am sure you would love it.

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    2. Looks like you made the most of your time while you were there.
      Thumbs up, my friend! :)

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  11. Beautiful place and well described by you. Never been there but would love to go there sometime soon.

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    1. Thank you. Am sure you would love the place.

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  12. I must say, a day well spent. Never been there but your description makes me want to do that.

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    1. Head there soon, Nisha. You will love it.

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  13. Shillong is mesmerizing. I wish to visit it sometime ☺️

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  14. lovely read!! some of my colleagues in a previous organisation told me funny stories about the shift in daylight hours and how they had to get used to it during their stay in shillong on a project.

    www.myunfinishedlife.com

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  15. Thats a beautiful article on Shillong. We have never been to the North East and have been planning a trip there for a long time. If we ever go there, Meghalaya will always be our top priority :)

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    1. Thank you. Am sure you will love Meghalaya.

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  16. You have captured every part of shillong so perfectly in this post :D

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