Shillong, named after the gods of the Khasis ‘U Blei Shillong’ is a small town covered in clouds protected by the three hills – Lum Sohpetbneng, Lum Diengiei, and Lum Shyllong. Clouds, Misty weather and luscious green hills are the three things that puts Shillong on the tourist maps of the world. But that is just a tip of a deeply rooted iceberg. Beneath the clouds, lies the colourful tin-clad huts built on age-old myths and folklores, where men with their kwai filled mouths and women adorned in local Jainkyrshahs and dakmandas live, laugh and exist creating the true essence of Shillong.
While carrying our backpacks and suitcases as we are travelling on the unpredictably curvy roads surrounded by pine trees running parallel to the hills that will lead us to this small town, one thought crosses our minds; What makes Shillong so Special? And why are we travelling to this city? Well, here is a short trailer of what your journey in this beautiful town will look like. A town that we call our home.The ‘Must Go’ Places
A hillstation without tourist destinations is like a pizza without cheese. Well, Shillong is a pizza base covered with different toppings overflowing with melted cheese from every corner.
Wards Lake: At the heart of the city lies the peaceful stagnant water with reflection of trees falling all around it. Especially, during the month of November when the entire city turns pink with the blush of the cherry blossom trees. The pink blooms shade the entire lake with its branches; looking like a scene straight out of a poetry. From the quacking of the ducks to feeding popcorns to the little black and orange fishes from the bridge, Wards Lake is a perfect location for evening strolls and boating dates.
Police Bazaar and Iewduh: Being the busiest streets of the town, they are the textbook definitions of an Indian Bazaar. Price battles between hawkers, shops adorned with local crafts as well international brands, cramped up streets with people teaching us life lessons of how to make our way and place in life, Police Bazaar and Iewduh has it all. There is also a constant music of bargaining playing in these bazaars. Except silence there is nothing you cannot get here.
Viewpoints: Since Shillong is situated in a valley, every window has a different cityscape view to offer. The famous viewpoints in the city are Shillong Peak and Laitlum Canyons. Shillong Peak serves the best cityscape view of the entire city, whereas, Laitlum Canyons surrounds you with beautiful hills and valleys serving you with the best sunrise and sunset experiences. If luck is in favour, then your shoulders might brush against the soft fogs and mists.
Dawki: As individuals we are a big fan of transparency, whether it is in our relationships of the water bodies infront of us. Dawki, a small town sharing its borders with Bangladesh is famous for the sheer clear Umngot River and suspension bridge built by the British in 1932. Boat rides on the crystal clear Umngot River while watching the fishes swim beneath you is a surreal experience that one mustn’t miss.
Mawlynnong and Living Root Bridge: Imagine a town where the drains are cleaner than our roads. A town that is so well maintained that it is hard to find even a sweet wrapper on the side of the road. The imagination comes to life in Asia’s cleanest village, Mawlynnong or ‘God’s own Garden’ as the locals like to call it. Along with the rich fruit orchards and rushing streams, Mawlynning is the village where Meghalaya’s most famous icon, the Living Root Bridge is found. The Bridge was created by weaving the roots of the Ficas Elastica tree around the framework by the villagers. The bridge was made in harmony with the nature and it gets stronger with age. After taking a walk on the handmade creation of the locals, one can even dip their feet in cool gushing stream below.Abode of Clouds
Meghalaya is the home of the clouds. People and clouds co-exist with one another living their lives parallelly to each other. Once in a few days, their lives intertwine with each other as the clouds in the form of fogs embraces the humans and they sit and have heartfelt conversations over a cup of tea. The scenic beauty and breath-taking landscapes of Meghalaya is driving force between romanticised relationship of the people of the town with the beautifully mystical clouds.People and Communities
Meghalaya without its people is like a hot cup of tea without sugar, the essence and the sweetness of the land is lost. The greenery, landscapes, dense clouds and beautiful viewpoints is a part of Meghalaya, but the people from different cultures and indigenous backgrounds who reside here is what makes Meghalaya, the state that it is today. The land is shared by three tribes-Khasi, Garo and Jaintia. The people and their believes in this part of the country is very similar to rest of the country, yet it is very different. The people here are relatively short, but they carry the responsibilities of age-old lineage on their shoulders which makes them greater in personality. Their heart belongs to the ancient traditions and cultures, while their minds evolve with the modernity of time.
As the entire country is living the old-stagnant patriarchal way of life while preaching of women empowerment, Meghalaya, a state way ahead of its time is following the matrilineal way of living, where women are the bread-earners and decision-makers of the house.Local Cuisine
The streets of Meghalaya are always filled with delicious smell of the authentic tribal food. With every turn, one will find a local stall serving the ancient culinary traditions of Meghalaya on a plate. Just like the people even the food is simple and minimalistic. Smoking and fermenting is the base on which the pot of local cuisine is brewed. The local food is a treat for very tastebud. From the spicy red rice of Jadoh to jaggery powdered rice of Pukhlien, the balanced nature of the cuisine will fill your stomach and leave your heart satisfied.
The beautiful valleys of Shillong and misty clouds is a great getaway from the monotonous hustle and bustle of the metropolitan cities. The simplistic nature and air of Shillong will bring you closer to yourself.