beautiful state situated in north-eastern India, Meghalaya is most conducive
for long holidays. Literally meaning, the 'abode of clouds', the
enchanting state of Meghalaya presents many hues of nature. Amongst the
variety of attractions, the hill station of Shillong has always been a hot
favourite for tourists. Besides, over 300 varieties of orchids, two national
parks housing some rare species of flora and fauna and the gentle hills
interspersed with rich meadows and pine forests, add more to the mystic
beauty of the state.
Looking like a hilly strip in the eastern part of India, Meghalaya has a
total area of around 22,429 sq.kms and it is 300 kms long and 100 kms wide.
The state is bounded by the Indian state of Assam on the north and
Bangladesh on the south. Meghalaya consists of seven districts that include
East Khasi Hills, West Khasi Hills, East Garo Hills, South Garo Hills, West
Garo Hills, Jaintia Hills and Ri-Bhoi. According to 2001 census, the
population of the state is 2,306,069. Shillong is the capital of the state,
which has a population of around 2,60,000.
Take a trip to this magical land coming vacation and discover plethora of
natural jewels on your own. On your trip, you will see the unique
carnivorous plant - the Pitcher Plant, the blue vanda, lady's slipper
and other rare orchid varieties in the flower gardens of the state. In
addition to these, the trek routes of the state will surely amaze you with
their challenging paths and spectacular views.
Meghalaya - History
Earlier history of Meghalaya is mostly unknown. During the 18th and 19th
centuries, the Khasi, the Garos and Jaintia tribes had their own kingdoms in
this region. In the 19th century, these kingdoms came under the British
administration. Later, in 1835, the British incorporated Meghalaya into
Assam. Due to a treaty relationship between the kingdoms and the British,
the region enjoyed semi-independent status for several years.
Further, the Lushai tribe entered India from Burma and became the dominant
tribe in the Lushai Hills region. In the early 19th century, the Lushai
tribe came into conflict with the British and in 1895 the region was annexed
to British India. The missionary activity was encouraged by the British
among the tribes, as a result the Lushai and many other tribes converted to
On 16 October, 1905, Bengal was partitioned by Lord Curzon and Meghalaya
became a part of the new province of 'Eastern Bengal and Assam'.
Next, on 3rd January, 1921 in pursuance of Section 52 A of the Government of
India Act of 1919, the Governor-General-in-Council declared the areas now in
Meghalaya, except the Khasi states, as 'backward tracts'. However,
the Government of India Act of 1935 regrouped the backward tracts into two
categories namely - 'excluded' and 'partially excluded'
areas in place of 'backward tracts'.
In 1947, at the time of India's independence, Meghalaya constituted
two districts of Assam and enjoyed limited autonomy within Assam state. The
Assam Reorganization (Meghalaya) Act, 1969 provided an semi-autonomous
status to Meghalaya which came into effect on 2nd April 1970. A
semi-autonomous state of Meghalaya came into existence and the state had a
Legislature in accordance with the 6th schedule to the Constitution. In the
year 1971, the Parliament passed the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganization)
Act, 1971, which conferred full-statehood to semi-autonomous state of
Meghalya. On 21st January, 1972, Meghalaya attained statehood with a
Legislative Assembly of its own.
Meghalaya - Tourist Destinations
Meghalaya is home to a number of picturesque destinations which offer a
number of attractions for tourists. State capital, Shillong is a good
tourist base as it is connected by air with Guwahati. In addition to this,
Shillong houses several tourist attractions namely - Ward's Lake,
Lady Hyadri Park, Lewduh Market, Shillong Peak, Sohpetbneng Peak, Spreak
Eagle Falls, Sweet Falls, Bishop Falls, Beadon Falls, Elephant Falls,
Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians, All Saints Church and Butterfly
Museum. Recommended tourist circuits for Meghalaya include Kaziranga-
Guwahati - Shillong - Cherrapunjee - Shillong, Shillong -
Mawphlang- Weilloi - Maysynram - Shillong, Shillong - Smit -
Nartiang - Thadlaskein - Jowai - Thlu Umwi - Shillong
and Guwahati - Dunai - Bajengdoba - Anoggre - Tura -
Barengapara - Baghmara - Siju - Balpakram - Shillong.
Meghalaya - People & Culture
per the census of 2001, the population of Meghalaya is 2,306,069. The tribes
make around 85% of the state's population which goes up to 97% in some
interior reaches of the Garo Hills. About 15% of the population is
non-tribal which include Bengalis and Shaikhs. The Jaintias, the Khasis and
the Garos are the three main tribes of Meghalaya. Other groups include the
Koch, Hajong, Dimasa, Hmar, Kuki, Lakhar, Mikir and Rabha. One of the unique
features of Meghalaya is that majority of the tribal population follow a
matrilineal system where lineage and inheritance are traced through women.
Meghalaya is also one of three states in India having a Christian majority,
other two are Nagaland and Mizoram.
Music, Crafts and Costumes of Meghalaya provide a glimpse of rich cultural
heritage of the state. The tribal people sing folk songs during various
occasions such as birth, marriage, festivals, love and heroic deeds
accompanied with various types of drums and flutes. Beside, they also sing
songs to praise the nature like hills, lakes, waterfalls, rivers and also to
express their love for mother land. From ancient times, the tribals of
Meghalaya are known for weaving cane mat, stools and baskets. The Khasis
make a special kind of cane mat called 'Tlieng' and they also
extract iron ore to make knives, utensils, guns and other warfare weapons.
The Garos weave the material used for their traditional dress called the 'Dakmanda',
besides, the Khasis and the Jaintias also weave their costumes. The tribes
of Meghalaya have distinct type of costumes and jewellery, however, with the
change of time the males have adopted the western code of dress while the
ladies still carry the tradition of ethnic sartorial elegance.
Meghalaya - Cuisine
Most of the people in Meghalaya are non-vegetarian and they like cuisine
prepared from meat, particularly pork. In fact, pork is Meghalaya's
staple meat and it is called as Dohsniang and beef Dohmasi. Jadoh, a spicy
dish prepared from rice and pork is favourite among the people of the state.
Shillong is famous for the local pork delicacies cooked in Khasi style.
Besides, you can savour a variety of authentic Chinese food in Shillong. You
can also taste Kyat, the local brew prepared from rice, at any bar spread
all over Shillong.
Meghalaya - Fairs and Festivals
Fairs and festivals form an important part of Meghalaya. People of the
state celebrate large number of fairs and festivals all through the year.
Fairs and festivals of Meghalaya differ from district to district. People of
Garo Hills celebrate festivals of Wangala Dance (November), Doregata Dance,
Chambil Mesara or Pomelo Dance. Nongkrem Dance (November) and Shad Suk
Mynsiem (April) are popular festivals of Khasi Hills. Important festivals of
Jaintia Hills include Behdienkhlam (July) and Lahoo Dance. Other festivals
celebrated by people of the state include Durga Puja (October -
November) and Chritsmas (December).
Meghalaya - Caves
Meghalaya has more than 1000 caves, many of them unmapped and unexplored.
Of the ones surveyed, five are amongst the longest caves in the Indian
sub-continent. Krem Laitprah/ Um Im-Ladit is the longest cave which is 22.2
kms long and is located in Nongkhlieh Elaka of Jaintia Hills. Some of the
important caves include Krem Mawmluh, Krem Phylutt, Soh Shympi, Krem (East
Hills) Dam, Krem Kotsati, Krem Umshangktat, Krem Um-Lawan, Krem Lashing Krem
Sweep, Siju Dobakkol, Dobakkol Chibe Nala, Telengkol- Balwakol and Bok Bak
Meghalaya - Wildlife
9,496 sq.kms area of Meghalaya is under forest cover, which comprises 42.34%
of the total geographical area of the state. Meghalaya is mostly covered by
subtropical forests which are considered among the richest botanical
habitats of Asia. The Meghalayan forests receive abundant rainfall and is
home to a huge variety of floral and faunal species. A small portion of
Meghalaya's forest area consists of 'sacred groves' that
harbour several rare plant and animal species. Meghalaya is referred as 'orchid
country', it houses about 300 of varied species of orchid. Some of the
rare species include the insect-eating Pitcher Plant, Wild Citrus and Pygmy
Lily. You can see the orchids in forestland, gardens and nurseries of
Meghalaya. Meghalaya Tourism Corporation has adopted the orchid as its
symbol. Meghalaya also boasts of over 250 species of butterflies, about a
quarter of all species found in the country.
Meghalaya has two national parks namely - the Norkek Biosphere Reserve
and the Balaphakram National Park. Situated in the West Garo Hills, these
wildlife sanctuaries are considered the most biodiversity rich sites in
Meghalaya. In addition to these, Meghalaya has three wildlife sanctuaries -
the Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary, the Bhagmara Sanctuary and the Siju
Sanctuary. In the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries of Meghalaya you
can spot a variety of wild animals that include elephants, deers, bears,
civets, mongooses, weasels, gaurs, wild buffaloes, wild boars, lizards,
crocodiles, tortoises and bird species like Magpie - Robin, Red-vented
Bulbul, Hill Myna, Large Pied Hornbill, Large Indian Parakeet, Peacock
Pheasant, Common Green Pigeon and Blue Jay. Meghalaya also houses a large
variety of bats, the limestone caves in the state, such as the Siju Caves
provide shelter to some of the rarest bat species.
Meghalaya - Adventure
Adventure is one of the important tourism aspects in the state of
Meghalaya. Trekking and caving are two most popular adventure options which
attract adventure seekers from all over the world to the state. Old mule
track is one of the popular trekking routes in Meghalaya which had been
built by David Scott. Popularly known as the David Scott's Trail, it
runs from the Borders of Assam, across Khasi Hills to the Bangladesh border.
Other interesting options are Cherrapunjee to Pynursula or Krang to
Pynursula. Jaintia hills offers a trek route from Nartiang to the plains of
Bangladesh, the Balapakram national park also has a variety of treks which
are ideal for wildlife treks. In addition to these, Meghalaya has a number
of other trek routes. You can organize trekking in Meghalaya with advice
from either the Tourism Department, Guides and tour operators.
Caving is another interesting adventure option in Meghalaya. For those who
enjoy caving, Meghalaya is just the place for it. Over the year Meghalaya
has become a dream destination for cavers from all over the world. In fact,
caving is an art which need the skills of rock climbers and swimmers and
plenty of physical fitness. If you are looking for caving in Meghalaya then
you have to contact experienced cave guides.
Meghalaya - Shopping
is known for rich tradition of handicrafts which make for good shopping in
the state. Weaving is an important part of the lives of the tribes which can
be seen in the cane or cloth. Meghalaya has a huge forest area, since long
past the tribes of the state have developed a heritage of woodcarving, cane
and bamboo work. Some of the must buy include Wood carving, Jewellery,
Pineapple fiber articles, Cane and bamboo work, Carpet and Silk weaving.
Bara Bazaar in Shillong is the best place for souvenirs. Here, you can buy
mounted butterflies, handwoven shawls, Khasi dresses for women, black
mushrooms, orange honey, pineapple, orange and other fruit products. In
fact, Bara Bazaar is not just a shopping place but also a tourist
attraction. Mounted butterflies are available at the Butterfly Museum at
Mawkhar. Other shopping destinations are GS Road, Jail Road and Police
Bazaar. Some of the popular shopping outlets are Meghalaya Handloom &
Handicrafts, Manipur Emporium, Nagaland Handlooms & Handicrafts, Assam
Emporium and Khadi Gram Udyog.
Meghalaya boasts of a moderate type of climate and it never becomes harsh.
In summer, the temperature ranges from 15oC to 25oC and the weather remains
pleasant. Winter is much colder, with the temperature ranging between 4oC to
16oC. The monsoon season drench the state from June to September. The hills
of Meghalaya often remain covered by fog during this season.
Best Time to Visit
From September to April.
Meghalaya - Transportation
Guwahati airport (Assam) at a distance of 128
kms is the nearest airport from state capital Shillong. From Guwahati
airport, airlines operate several flights for important places of India.
Taxis are available at Guwahati Airport for Shillong, the journey takes
about 4 hours and it costs around Rs.1100.
A helicopter service operates daily
between Guwahati, Shillong (30 mnts) and Tura (60 mnts). Some helicopter
services to Shillong land at the ALG in Upper Shillong, while others land at
Umroi airport, 35 kms away from the downtown. The Helicopter service is
convenient and economical and the permitted baggage is 10 kg.
Guwahati railway station (103 kms) is the
nearest railhead from Shillong. Several mail and superfast trains connect
Guwahati with rest of the country. Meghalaya Transport Corporation (MTC) has
bus services co-ordinated with train arrival at Guwahati railway station.
Buses leave Guwahati from 6 am to 5 pm and the journey takes 3.5 hrs.
Reciprocal services from Shillong also leave at the same time. Taxis are
also available at Guwahati railway station for Shillong.
National Highway No 40 and other state roads
connect Shillong with Guwahati. Meghalaya State Transport Corporation and
private operators have bus services to various places in Meghalaya and to
the neighbouring states. Regular bus services are available from Guwahati to
Shillong. In Guwahati, the buses leave from the main bus stand close to the
railway station. The taxi stand is nearby, from where taxis and shared taxis
are also available to Shillong. In Shillong, the bus terminal is located
near Centre Point, the heart of town.