One of the seven sisters of the north east India, Meghalaya is a small green land. Up to the decade of seventies, Meghalaya used to be a part of Assam, but afterwards it was designated as a separate state and Shillong became its official capital. Shillong also used to be the capital of undivided Assam and Meghalaya, but later Dispur became the capital of Assam. Like some north eastern states (Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram), an inner line permit is not required to enter Meghalaya. Due to its natural beauty, Meghalaya is often termed as ‘Scottland of the East’.
Now I am going to suggest you one day itinerary for Shillong city sightseeing. The city is full of lakes, gardens, museums, parks, hills etc. So, let’s talk about how you should spend the first day there.
How to reach and see Shillong:
You should cover the following places on the very first day on arrival in Shillong. You can reach from Guwahati to Shillong by any shared taxi in about 3 hours. No trains is available between these two cities as of now. You can hire any local taxi which will cost you about Rs 700 – Rs 1000 for the city sightseeing.
1. The Umium Lake (Bara Pani)
The very first thing you see on the right side of the road, while on the way from Guwahati to Shillong. It is a large reservoir at a distance of 17km from Shillong and a major tourist destination in the entire Meghalaya also. Every time you can see a lot of tourists enjoying boating, water cycling etc. It is generally known as Bara Pani. If you don’t want to go 17km back to see it after arrival in Shillong, you can just get down here while coming from Guwahati and save some bucks (Rs 300) in local sightseeing taxi fare.
2. The Shillong Peak
You will be required to submit any ID proof at the entry gate of Shillong peak, the same will be returned to you after exit. After travelling 2km from the gate, you will reach at the peak. It will remind you of the Dodabetta Peak in Ooty. Cool breeze and magnificent view from here will make you feel like getting lost here. It is not only the highest peak in Shillong, but in the entire Meghalaya too.
It is the must visit site after you arrive at Shillong. You can get a mesmerizing view of the amazing city from a height of about 6500 feet from the sea level. You may be aware that Meghalaya has three types of hills- Garo, Khasi and Jayantiya. Shillong is also situated in eastern Khasi hills.
3. The Elephants Falls (Three Steps Falls)
Located at a distance of only 12km from the city center of Shillong, it is another important point of attraction. It is also known as ‘Three Steps Falls’ as water flows in three steps here. Long ago, the Britishers may have seen here any rock looking like an elephant and named it ‘Elephant Falls’, but due to massive earthquake in 1897, the rock disappeared, but still known as Elephant Falls. You will have to go downstairs which will take almost half an hour. In the evening, it is mostly crowded by tourists.
Located in the heart of the city, probably it is the largest church of the entire north east. I compared it with the White Cathedral Church of Goa and found it even more beautiful than that. The architecture of this church is just like western or European style and make anyone feel like he is in Europe.
4. Shillong Golf Course
It is one of the largest golf courses in India, and one of the natural golf courses in Asia also. It is also known as Gleaneagles of the East. It was made by the British govt in 1898, that time it had only 9 goals, now it has 18. You can visit here in the evening and enjoy a magnificent sunset with cool breeze passing through your body.Another interesting fact is that you don’t need to pay any entry fee, there is no boundary. The green land is filled with pine trees and Rhododendron’s fragrance.
5. Lady Hyadri Park
This park is a tourist destination not for only the tourists, but also the locale.There is no entry free, you can enjoy anytime. A heart shaped small reservoir is very interesting to see here. Park is full of a variety of trees, flowers and gardens. There is also a small zoo inside the park, also a playground zone for the children.
6. Don Bosco Museum
This museum is a very different one from traditional ones. You can get a glimpse of entire north east culture here. But, this site is not covered in the local sightseeing package which the taxi owner will offer. You will have to do another day trip for it, next post will be dedicated to Don Bosco Museum only.