Meghalaya – The Cloud’s abode

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Meghalaya, a hilly state of virgin forests and rocky cliffs, high plateaus is another paradise unexplored in Northeast India. It literally means abode of clouds. Practically too, the Meghalayan sky is seldom devoid of clouds. Shillong is the capital city of the state. The state has a surprising mix of different climatic conditions. It receives abundant rainfall and sun shine. The state is picturesque with dense forests, high plateaus, scenic waterfalls and rivers. The climate varies with altitude.

The inhabitants of the state can be classified into three groups – Garos, Khasis and Pnars or Jaintias.
Garos are believed to be the descendants of Tibeto-Burmar race whose members travelled and settled in the north eastern states of India from Tibet. The descendants of Proto Austroloid Monkhmer race are known as Khasis and Pnars or Jaintias. In the tribes at Meghalaya, property’s inheritance is traced through the women.

Whether you are looking forward to a caving experience or watching wildlife at its best, Meghalaya is your holiday destination. The state has some amazing caves along the major hills.

Around the Khasi hills, the popular caves are Krem Mawkhyrdop, Krem Lymput, Mawsmai Cave and Krem Mawjymbuin. Along Jaintia hills, Krem Liat Prah is the longest natural cave in India and has a high tourist foot fall. Other nearby caves are Krem Chympe, Synrang-Pamiang, Liat Prah, Krem Lubon,etc. Along Garo hills, the prominent caves are Tetengkol Balwakol, Siju Cave, Dangedikol Chiningkrikol and Korekol.

Meghalaya is a wonderful home to the wildlife. It houses national parks, reserves and sanctuaries that protect the wildlife. The two national parks at Meghalaya are Nokrek National Park in the district of West Garo Hills and Balpakram National Park in the district of South Garo Hills. There are two wildlife and natural reserve areas in Meghalaya. One is Selbagre Hoolock Gibbon Reserve in the district of West Garo Hills and another is Baghmara Reserve Forest in South Garo Hills District at a distance of about 4 kms from the main town of Baghmara. Tourists often sight herds of elephants in the open enroute Balpakram National Park from Baghmara via Baghmara Reserve Forest. Tourists also enjoy the Siju Bird Sanctuary in South Garo Hills District which is home to many rare and protected birds and other wildlife. Some unique species found here includes Siberian ducks that migrate here during the winter months, Grey Hornbill and the Peacock Pheasant. Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary in Ri Bhoi District is a tourist attraction for bird watching. The best time for bird watching are months of March and April during the nesting season.

Several gushing waterfalls dot the state of Himalaya and add to the natural beauty of the state. The thundering sound of these waterfalls make tourists go gaga over the miraculous paths they make through the hills. Some of the most popular of them among tourists are Dainthlen falls, Nohkalikai falls, Khoh Ramhah, Kynrem Falls, Nohsngithiang Falls and Elephant Falls etc.

Besides being home to about 300 known varieties of the 17,000 species of orchids found in the world, the state boasts the Rhododendron forested Shillong Peak and insectivorous pitcher plants. Large variety of ferns especially the tree fern lush beautifully in the Meghalayan hills.

The major festivals of Meghalaya include Bamkhana, Shad Suk , Mynsiem, Shad Nongkrem and Seng Kut Snem. During the festivals, men and women wear their traditional dresses made in gold and silver. The females can participate in dances only if they are a virgin. Males are not restricted. They dance to the beats of Tangmuri (flute) and Nakra (drum).

The best time of the year to visit Meghalaya is throughout the year. During monsoon you can enjoy the breathtaking views of waterfalls and thrilling experience of being on the wettest place of the world, during autumn you can enjoy the traditional Wangala, a harvest festival celebrated by the Garo tribe.

There is a small airport at Umroi, almost 35 kms from Shillong. Otherwise, tourists can also travel to Shillong from Guwahati which takes nearly an hour of travel by road. The nearest railway station is at Guwahati, approximately 104 kms from Shillong. Buses and cabs on hire are easily accessible, economical and safe in Meghalaya.

Meghalaya offers a variety of resorts and hotels to the tourists. Some of them are maintained by the government while some by private hospitality companies. They are located in Shillong, Sohra, Ri Bhoi, Jowai, Tura, Williamnagar and Bhagmara – all important towns of Meghalaya. To name a few, Hotel Pegasus crown and Hotel Lake view Inn in Shillong are good places to stay. Tourists may choose among them as per their budget and stay in a town closest to their tour sites and interests. Tour guides are also available in close vicinity of the hotels.

Local handicrafts are often taken home by tourists as souvenirs.


A self-described travel enthusiast...

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