Shillong, Meghalaya – the abode in the clouds

August 24, 2013 By:

Table of contents for North East Trip

  1. Shillong, Meghalaya – the abode in the clouds
  2. The grandeur of the North-East – Kaziranga National Park
  3. Majuli – The Island of Dancing Monks

The two-hours long Spicejet flight from Delhi landed at Guwahati airport on time at exactly ten past eight in the morning and after collecting our baggage and haggling with a few taxiwallas, we were on our way to Shillong – the capital city of Meghalaya, one of the seven sister states of North-Eastern India.

34

Breakfast at the airport lounge in Delhi – what you do before a budget flight

Shillong, as we all know, had been the capital of the whole of Assam province that was created during the British Rule. It remained the capital of undivided Assam until the formation of the state of Meghalaya in 1972. The capital of Assam was then shifted to Dispur, a part of Guwahati, and Shillong remained a capital city, now of Meghalaya.


Shillong is located at a distance of around 100 kms from the Guwahati airport. The entire journey from Guwahati to Shillong is an exciting
 experience. No sooner the Assam state border at Jorabat is crossed, 
nature suddenly seems to put its best face. All along the road, a 
sequence of scenery continues to unfold in its true captivating
splendour, and viewing points are hoisted to vintage heights. The 
hills gradually start merging. We noticed the quality of roads 
suddenly improving, despite the fact that the Guwahati – Shillong
 Expressway was then under construction. It is believed that once the Expressway becomes operational, the journey time would be cut short from the present three hour drive to just around two hours.

On the way to Shillong, we enjoyed a break at a small time Dhaba 
called National Highway Dhaba at Nongpoh which is a small town on the
 National Highway 40. We had our breakfast consisting of the typical 
chhole bhatures, aloo paranthas and omelettes. It looked great because 
we were very hungry.

37

The highway dhaba at ‘Nompo’

To our pleasant surprise, while driving past the Umiam Lake located at 
around 15 kms short of Shillong, the mercury started dropping dramatically. No wonder the non-partisan nature must have extended a warm welcome to the Britishers who had long ago wandered this far. It would not be inappropriate to mention that what was once fondly called the ‘Scotland of the East’ was acquired by the British (of course through coercive negotiations) way back in 1862 from the 25 principalities ruled by the Khasi kings. As the district headquarters, Shillong was carefully planned both for the resident and other affluent Englishmen. Because of its strategic location, the military authorities too had 
established its cantonment in Upper Shillong. Shortly thereafter, the 
European pensioners, the tea planters and many noteworthy businessmen
 started putting up their cottages here itself. Lured by the beauty of the hills, both Europeans and Indians began to buy land on the outskirts of the “British Shillong” and built their imposing houses. The princely families of the area also started constructing their own
 establishments.

Being the capital of undivided Assam, the growth of the city became phenomenal after the attainment of India’s independence from the 
British Rule. Shillong today houses one of the best schools, colleges, 
university and hospitals. Not only is the cantonment area very neatly 
maintained, even the crowded areas of the city are kept absolutely
 clean. Shillong, as of now, is the most happening place in the North-East.

Day 1 at Shillong
We had made our bookings for the three – days stay at White Orchid,
 the Guest house which is an eight – rooms complex located at Upper Lachaumiere, formerly a part of the ‘European Ward’ area of Shillong,
 close to the Malki Point. The rooms are simple, clean, bright and spacious and give a panoramic view from the rooftop. The Guest House is owned by a Sikh gentleman by name, Gurmit Singh, whose family had moved to Shillong some 60 years ago and now have their business
 interests in trading of tea as well. No wonder the quality of tea at
 this place was excellent. White Orchid, located in close proximity to
all major sites of the town, appeared to be fairly popular with the 
student community, and we happened to meet two girls from the 
Institute of Technology who had been staying there for the previous 2 
months.

After settling down at White Orchid and refreshing ourselves, we 
thought of taking a stroll and hunt for a good local eatery. Our
search brought us to a small joint called New Hope Restaurant, located in the church premises, close to Police Bazaar. After a clean,
 sumptuous and reasonably priced lunch, we headed for Police Bazaar, 
the hub of commercial activity at Shillong. As we were all quietly walking down, the weather took a pleasant turn and we ran for cover towards this small park, having temporary shops along the boundary, a kind of fete-fair going on. We had tea and realised that it is actually a heritage monument, paying tributes to martyrs.

40

The monument discovered by surprise

After my return, I read more and here is what the stone says:
“In memory of James Wallace Quinton, Colonel Charles McDowal Skene, Frank St.Clair Grimwood, William Henry Gossing, Lt. Walter Henry Simpson, Lt Lionel Wilhelm Brackenbury, who lost their lives at Manipur on the 24 March 1891, this monument has been erected by friends in Assam and elsewhere”.

If you are curious to know more about James Wallace then this link talks about his times.

As the rains subsided, we made our pay to Police Bazaar and on the way we spotted some kind of tourism office. It was some kind of ‘Airport Shuttle’ centre so here is first tip for anyone who is flying to Guwahati and wants to visit ‘Shillong’. Meghalaya Tourism runs this ‘Airport Shuttle’ and the rates are pretty fair. Since we didn’t know, we spent quite a time haggling at Guwahati. Now, though we didn’t need a shuttle for Guwahati, since we were scheduled to go to Kaziranga in three days, we were lucky to strike an attractive deal in booking of a 12 – seater “Winger” for 
our onward journey to Cherrapunji.

One very pleasant feature of the transportation in Shillong is that most of the taxis (mainly the Altos, the Maruti 800s and the Santros) ply within the city on a sharing basis for a paltry charge of Rs. 10 per passenger for a distance of 3 kms and Rs. 20 above that. In these
 taxis, you can hop-in and hop-out wherever you please. One can book the full taxi too. Transportation is simple, hassle and haggle free (unlike the daylight looting in Delhi and other metros).

We walked down the Police Bazaar (poplularly called PB) and were amazed to
 see it packed with hotels and restaurants of various sizes and 
ambience strategically located at the place from where visitors find 
it convenient to reach all main tourist spots. PB has well – stocked 
shops. At this very market the local weekly – market known as “Lewduh” 
is held. You can see several colorful stalls plying their trade of 
village produce. Forest honey is easily available and the souvenir collectors can pick up handmade knives, cotton bags, shawls, bamboo 
cutlery and other bamboo products at very competitive rates. There is
 a Government Emporium near PB, where one can buy a set of the traditional Khasi skirt which are a good pick though pricy, but 
made from pure silk.

It would not be out of place to mention that the Khasi women who are 
charming and proud of their heritage are very enterprising. It is very 
easy to spot the Khasi women for they wear the typical Khasi dress 
that sets them apart.

Shillong’s hotels cater to a wide variety of tourists at affordable 
rates. There are some good hotels located around PB, the prominent
 being Hotel Centre Point, Hotel Magnum, Hotel Monsoon, Hotel Alpine 
Continental, etc. Meghalaya Tourism’s ‘Orchid Lake Resort’ located on
 the banks of Ulium Lake has a restaurant and a water sports complex.
 The Royal Heritage offers a bar and a restaurant, where you can order Khasi food. These two hotels are favourite spots of affluent guests.

Now a good piece of information for the liquor lovers – due to lower 
taxation in Meghalaya the prices are considerably lower than the other states. We picked up some booze, which is cheaper in Meghalya on 
account of lower rate of taxation, and some snacks and decided to call 
it a day. The nice well-cooked simple dinner savoured by us at the 
Guest House helped us in getting the sound sleep we needed.

Day 2 at Shillong
I am an early riser and while the family was still enjoying their extended sleep, I decided to sit in the verandah and soak in the mild early morning sunshine. The sweet chirping of birds was the only sound I could hear. Seeing me, the Manager of White Orchid, an Assamese Gentleman, came towards me, wished me and asked if I would like to have a cup of tea. What more could have one asked on a beautiful morning.

He soon returned with a steaming hot pot of tea. I asked him to join 
me. During the conversation I was told that prior to our gaining 
independence from the British Rule this beautiful area of rolling forested hills and lush green fields was known as Assam Province, but due to socio-political reasons, it was carved up into seven separate states namely, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram,
 Nagaland and Tripura — and the Himalayan state of Sikkim became a part
 of the North East Region in 1990. He told me a few very interesting features about Meghalaya, that Meghalya means the abode of clouds, and
that it was formed by carving out two districts from the state of Assam namely the United Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills, and the Garo 
Hills in January 1972. Before attaining full statehood, Meghalaya was given semi-autonomous status in 1970; the tribal people make up the majority of Meghalaya’s population.

The Khasis are the largest group in Meghalaya, followed by the Garos and others like the Jaintias, the Koch, the Boros, Hajong, Kukis. Mikir, and Nepali. There is also a sizable population of mainland Hindus and Sikhs. Around 70% of the population of Meghalaya practices Christianity. Hinduism is the next sizeable faith (14%), followed by 12% of sizable 
minority following the traditional animist practices.

Being a sensitive subject, I hesitantly asked him about the menace of insurgency and about the ethnic violence of the North East. Gathering his thoughts and probably searching for suitable words, he told me that the reasons for this unrest include a feeling of being neglected
by the central government, poor transport links and lack of industrial 
development in the region. All state governments of this region are
 endeavoring constantly to resolve these principal issues. However, he 
quickly added that Meghalaya is comparatively safe from rebel activity
 and ethnic violence is practically absent.

I thanked him for this valuable information.
 The breakfast consisting Aloo paranthas and omelets was delicious. At around 9 o’clock, we started for the Shillong peak, a picnic spot, 10 kms from the city. It is located at a height of 6433 ft. above the sea-
level. As Shillong Peak is located in an area which is under the 
control of Armed Forces, the tourists have to take permit for security
 reasons, which is easily given. A double story viewing point gives a 
panoramic view of the scenic countryside and is the highest point in
the state. The peak also offers a breathtaking bird’s eye view of the 
city spread out against the scenic hill slopes. It is one of the most
enchanting parts of the state noted for its tropical vegetation (we saw lots of potato crops) and for the deep chasms falling away from the road.

We were told by the locals that obeisance is paid to U Shulong at the 
sanctum sanctorum at the peak’s summit every springtime, by the
 religious priest of Mylliem State.

134

The city overview from Shillong Peak

Just by the side of the viewing point, there are a few stalls selling 
tea, milk packets, soft drinks and freshly cut pineapple, all run by enterprising Khasi women. The gently rolling hills of Meghalaya are
known for growing fruits and betel nut, which locals, especially the women folks, immensely enjoy.

After spending a couple of hours at the peak, we headed for the city to look for lunch. Please note most of the markets are closed on Sundays and after a good hunt we landed at Cafe Shillong, located
 near the Don Bosco Circle.

149

Lunching at Shillong Cafe

The café serves high quality Chinese, Thai
 and Continental dishes. The ambience of the café is excellent and so 
is the service. You can use the free Wi-Fi facility provided at the 
café and we made full use of it by following the ball by ball 
commentary of the Test Match between India and Australia, which to our 
delight, was won by the Indian team.

139

Don Bosco Square

Post the lunch, we decided to walk down the Don Bosco Square, which houses the Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures (DBCIC). DBCIC encourages 
research on cultures, brings out publications, conducts training, 
animation programs and houses a museum, which is a place of knowledge-sharing on the cultures of the northeast in particular and
 of culture in general. DBCIC with its Don Bosco Museum is situated at 
Mawlai, Shillong.

Just a few paces from the Don Bosco Museum, the Cathedral of Mary Help 
of Christians is located. The Cathedral is the cathedral of the Roman
 Catholic Archdiocese of Shillong.

The first church built at the site in 1913 was the Church of the Divine Saviour. That church, a wooden structure, was destroyed in a fire in April 1936. Construction of the new church of Mary Help of
 Christians was begun on the same site in October 1936. The transepts were added in the 1970s. The church now has an underground grotto church dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, which was carved out of the
hill. The interior of the church has high arches.

We then headed for the Wards Lake, known locally as Non-Polok, which
 is an artificial lake with garden and boating facilities. While our 
grand daughters, Pihu (7) and Kuhu (3) were enjoying the pedal boat
ride along with their mothers, we decided to stretch ourselves at the lush green grass carpet so as to relish the serenity of the place
which was disturbed by the filming of birds by few foreign photographers.
 The other places of interest in Shillong include the Lady Hydari Park, a kilometer long park with a mini zoo, Shillong Golf Course, which is
 one of the largest golf courses (the world’s wettest too). Not only is 
the Shillong Golf Course scenic and enjoyable, it is also equally 
challenging.

Boating time

Boating time

Depending on the availability of time and the length of stay, visitors 
to Shillong can visit the Air Force Museum at Upper Shillong, the 
Forest Museum in Lady Hydari Park, the Rhino Heritage Museum at
 Shillong, the Bishop and Beadon Falls which cascade down the same
 escapement into a deep valley, and the Sweet Falls, the most beautiful of all the waterfalls in Shillong. It lies about 5 km from the Happy Valley and is about 96 m in height and, of course, the Elephant falls, 
about which we would talk in the later part of this saga.

One can make a trip to Meghalaya at any time of the year but October
t o March are considered as the best months for spending good times in
this state.

Day 3 – Cherrapunji
Cherrapunji, 58 km from Shillong, is known to every school child for receiving the highest rainfall in the world, but it is the nearby 
Mawsynram that now receives the most rainfall.

Cherrapunji is located at an altitude level of 1484 meters (4869
ft.) on a plateau in the south of the Khasi Hills,
 facing the plains of Bangladesh.
 Cherrapunji is possible the only place in India, which has only one season throughout the year: the Monsoon. The amount of rainfall varies from heavy to medium to light, but there is no month without rain. We were told by the locals that surprisingly in Cherrapunji it rains mostly at night. Thus, the day-to-day activity is not really disrupted by the rain. 
However, the irony is that despite perennial rainfall, Cherrapunji faces an acute shortage of drinking water, and the inhabitants often have to trek for miles to obtain potable water.

One of the unique features of Meghalya state is that a majority of its 
tribal population follows a matrilineal system (matri-pradhan). According to the Khasi law and tradition, the mother inherits the children and property. After the wedding, the husband of the youngest daughter goes to live with his wife’s family, in which family the youngest daughter inherits all the property and acts as the caretaker of aged parents and her unmarried siblings; others live on their own getting a bit of the share. The children take on the surname of their mother. The tribal people of Meghalaya are a part of what may be the world’s largest surviving matrilineal society.

Cherrapunji is also famous for its living bridges. Over hundreds of 
years the people in Cherrapunji have developed techniques for growing 
roots of trees into large bridges. The process takes 5-10 years and 
the bridges typically last hundreds of years, the oldest ones presently in use being over 500 years old.
 The environment of Cherrapunji changes not with the seasons but with the pattern of rainfall. The heaviest downpours span approximately five long months-from the month of May to September. Then the clouds are dark and menacing, full blown with rain, which descends earthwards
 with the stinging force of a whiplash.
 Surprisingly, this wettest place on earth where it rains every month 
also has an amazing amount of warm sunshine. When the clouds drift
away, there are a series of memorable views, and one can see as far as
Bangladesh. Orchids bloom a few feet away from patches otherwise 
devoid of vegetation. Dense woods are interspersed by rocky cliffs furrowed by erosion.
The hills around Cherrapunji do not have the lush green vegetation one normally associates with wet places. The vegetative covers are in the 
form of dense woods, and appear in patches. Nevertheless, the richness and variety of the flora in these areas is to be seen to be believed. 
An amazing variety of rare orchids, ferns, and moss convert each
 pocket into a botanist’s paradise. Cherrapunji produces the best quality of oranges and pineapples.

Cherrapunji has several comfortable private hotels. Staying at the Circuit House or at the Dak Bungalow requires prior permission from 
the local administration. The Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort is another 
good place for a pleasant stay. You cannot miss the resort because all 
throughout the road leading to Cherrapunji on every milestone the 
resort’s billboards are to be seen indicating it’s presence.

Tour of Cherrapunji
The “Winger” arrived at White Orchid at half past seven in the 
morning, and after crossing the pleasant cantonment area of Shillong, 
where the municipal limits end, we were on the road to Cherrapunji. 
There was a pleasant chill in the early morning breeze, and once we
 entered the forested areas we found the road well maintained. The 
entire area is surrounded by hills and at times covered by dense mist.

As mentioned above, because of the torrential rains in this hilly
 terrain, not much vegetation is possible. However, we did see some
farming activities in the valleys, where locals reportedly grow potatoes, lentils, green vegetables and pineapples; nature has blessed this region with some good quality coalfields.

The entire region from Shillong to Cherrapunji is sparsely populated. The road was almost free of traffic. Suddenly close to the midway, we saw a small time shop appearing as though out of nowhere.

It was called “Khasi Restaurant” and was a pleasant stoppage for the tourists. It was entirely run by Khasi women. Right from the reception desk, where the daily need products were kept, to the kitchen and the 
dining hall, it was all manned by women. We ordered some piping hot noodles, bread, egg – omelets and daal – roti. Some of the local travellers also joined us and we observed that the rice with pork was
 perhaps the staple diet of the region. I was surprised to see a middle-school–going girl sitting at the front desk, reading an issue of 
“Tinkle Digest”. I asked her if she knew English, to which she 
responded in broken English. As the Khasi dialect is written in Roman 
script, the students find it easier to learn English, though Hindi is 
widely understood. On the restaurant – wall we saw a poster inviting 
people to attend an evening – function to honour almost a dozen 
Meghalaya authors and poets. I found it to be a very heartening gesture.

73

Khasi Restaurant on the road to Cherrapunji

On the way to Cherrapunji, we passed through a huge three-story
 structure which was the “Ramakrishna Mission Math and Ashram”. The mission
 runs a higher secondary school, a vocational school for teaching,
weaving, tailoring and knitting and also provides hostel facilities for boy students. The mission also has a computer training centre. Near the Mowsmai village on the edge of a deep gorge, there is an awesome view of the 1000 ft. high “Nohnsnglthiang Falls”. There are many other falls in the adjacent hills, the most spectacular being 
“Nohkalikai”.

79

One passes many old war-time cemeteries on the way

Cherrapunji is a small town with a population of around 15,000. Tourists normally visit this high point in the region (I have forgotten the name), which gives an excellent bird’s eye view of the 
valley, the Brahmaputra river and the Bangladesh border. There is a very interesting rock formation at this point which has fables that go along with its existence. The picture explains that…

83

The giant mortar that powdered the ogre

85

And that’s the logic!

There is also a well maintained Botanical Garden close by. The entry ticket is Rs. 5 per person and one can have a good walk on the lush green lawns. There is a play area for children with some swings, slides and merry – go-rounds; we found some of the children in their 
neat school uniforms lined up awaiting their turn.

130

Thangkharang Park

90

Kids from a local school having a day-out

87

The park where we collected branches of bay leaves from

Mawjymbuin Caves
It was around lunch time, when we headed for Mawsynram, a small village, located at a distance of around 15 Kms. Each year this 
village is visited by large number of tourists and devotees owing to
 the Mawjymbuin Caves that are famous for stalagmite whose shape is 
similar to that of Shiva lingam.

101

The caves of Mawjymbuin

112

Little girls walking out from the dense, long caves

Right outside the caves, there is a small complex housing some eateries 
and the usual trinkets shops. Though North Indian food as available at one of the restaurants, we preferred the Khasi food served to us.

115

The ladies at their best

Elephant Falls
Post lunch, it was time for us to head for viewing the spectacular Elephant Falls, one of the most popular tourist sites of Shillong. It 
is located at a distance of 12 km from the city and is easily 
accessible by auto rickshaws, chartered taxis and comfortable buses
starting from the Meghalaya Tourism’s office. The waterfall is 
located in Upper Shillong area within the Eastern Air Command of 
Indian Air Force.
From the car park one has to climb down 120 steps to reach the serene
three stepped fall, which is a collection of three smaller falls that
 combine together to form the stream that falls over fern-covered
rocks. There are two other waterfalls in the same region.

119

At the Elephant Falls – no pun absolutely!

Unfortunately, we did not take any pictures of the three-stepped falls.

There are a few shops in the complex selling souvenirs and beverages.
 Sipping a cup of tea at one of the stalls, I coaxingly asked the 
owner, a good looking girl in her twenties, the role of male folks in
 this matrilineal society. Smilingly she said “when they get time off
 their booze and tobacco, they help us in the fields, rear the cattle
and at times work in the coalmines. The educated lot goes to the 
larger towns and look for some good jobs”.

After savouring the beauty of the Meghalaya and meeting its wonderful people, it was time to say good bye to our friends in Meghalaya and 
move on to Kaziranga National Park in Assam to see the rare great 
Indian one-horned rhinoceros, the wild elephants and the leopards,
 about which we shall talk in the next part of the story. Till then, 
have a great travel time in the ensuing summer holidays.
 Thank you all for being with me on this journey to one of the seven
-sister states of the North-East, Meghalaya.

About Ram Dhall

Ram Dhall has written 22 posts at Ghumakkar.

(vo) Puchhte Hain Kii Ghalib Kaun Hai, Koi Batalaye, Ke Hum Batalaayen Kya. An avid book lover, a passionate traveller (always looking for the next destination) and a lover of Indian and Western classical music - that's what Ram Dhall is all about.

25 Responses to “Shillong, Meghalaya – the abode in the clouds”


  1. SilentSoul says:

    Bade dino baad darshan huye Dhall sahib… that too with a splendid log on a lesser known place. The post was very interesting and eye catching fotos. some more photos would have done wonders.

    did you feel any security issues there ? the main reason for tourist neglecting this beautiful part of India

    • Ram Dhall says:

      Thanks for your kind rememberances and liking the post.

      We didn’t find any security issues, whatsoever. The state of Meghalaya appeared to be very peaceful and people were very co-operative and helpful. As a matter of fact, one evening during a “happy session”, we ran out of aerated soda water and walked to the market at around 9.00 P.M. and found the place bustling with activity.

      I must place on record my grateful thanks to Nandan for encouraging me to write this post and providing the photographs taken during the trip.

  2. RETURN OF DADA FALKE WITH NOICELESS STEPS
    It is great to find the blessings of His Highness Dr. Ram Dhall once again on the screen of ghumakkar.com
    A ghumakkari of one of the seven sister states with the floating & well designed words-carpet, thank you very much for excellent write up and fabulous pics.

    • Ram Dhall says:

      Arre baba, kyaa kyaa likh diyaa hai aapne, Tridev ji.

      Nevertheless thanks for your very sweet words and liking the post.

      May God bless you and thye family.

  3. Harish Bhatt says:

    Sir,

    What a pulsating description of Shilong! I had been there long time ago during my school summer vacations as my uncle was posted there (in BSF) and had quarters in upper Shilong near Mopat. It indeed is an extremely beautiful place. If you might have noticed (not sure if it still continues) almost all the shops in PB and have slates hanging outside with one or two numbers in scripted on it. Archery is the local sport of Shilong and is extremely popular amount men. There is a competition held every evening amongst the top contenders and the highest number of arrows that hit the target is mentioned on the slates I just mentioned. It’s a (or perhaps was) a big time lottery in Shilong.

    As you have rightly mentioned that Khasi women folks in Shilong are very enterprising and hardworking and most of the shops and small business are run by them. The men on the other hand are mostly lethargic and sink into intoxication before sundown.

    Thank you for bringing those school time memories again…
    Harish

  4. Ram Dhall says:

    Thanks for liking the post.

    During my next visit to PB, I would certainly look for the archery competition about which you have mentioned.

    May God bless you.

  5. Smita Dhall says:

    Superb, very nice! A few more pictures should have been taken keeping your log in mind :-)

    Thanks to the crazy sale that these airlines (this time Spicejet) come up with. Travel to far off destinations is made simpler for a large family when tickets are bought at huge discounts. This was the fourth trip we could avail off the sales (Goa, Pondicherry, Sikkim and now this one).

  6. Nandan Jha says:

    Ram , long time. Its a joy to see this story in print and I take the blame for sitting on your draft for a very very long time.

    I think of all the destinations which we went to during this trip, Shillong stands tall. Those long walks on all the days, the PB, the evening wind-down time. Sincerely hope that we are able to do at least one such trip once every couple of years.

    • SilentSoul says:

      Nandan Smita you owe a lot of logs to Ghumakkar your Europe Trip, and many more…. so when are we going to see that

      Shri Ram dhall has written many magnificent post in past when there was not much of recognisation of authors. I strongly recomend Shri Dhall should be given a featured Author’s title soon, to recognise his contribution to Ghumakkar.

      • Smita Dhall says:

        :) about the logs that are overdue… well, the Jha has to control his urge to travel all the time and take some time to write a real story, not the editorials. Far as I am concerned, I can barely manage to write a para of comments, writing a story requires more discipline than that :)

        We have been discussing reviving old stories by bringing them to notice… this is surely good idea. Especially for the authors who wrote when Ghumakkar was new (how many friends we’ve pestered for writing! they stopped telling us about their travels!!). And surely, the quality of content has evolved many generations from where we started, so it is nice to look back and see. Though am not sure how relevant it is for the big chunk of readers who land from searches.

  7. ashok sharma says:

    A very good detailed,quite informative post.This post reminds me of our trip to this heavenly place way back in 2002.

  8. AUROJIT says:

    Hello Ram Dhallji,

    Its really nice seeing you here after a long long time – ‘Ghumakkar’ bug’s ticks and tickles are difficult to ignore :)

    The post is all encompassing, as usual. We were there last summer and must say that you have painstakingly covered almost everything. There are so many unique things out there, living bridges for one (suppose they deserve far more recognition than being accorded), matri-lineal system ( we are convinced, having observed the society there, that this system is the perfect panacea for the ills that are increasingly plaguing the country), the cleanest village, etc.

    Our best take-away was the experience that whenever we called or got a call while in Cheranpunji, first thing our friends/relatives asked is – ‘is it raining there ?’ Cherrapunji may have lost its place in the history books, but is deeply etched in our minds as the wettest place. Another revelation was that when we were wondering aloud about how come the Christian missionaries and British forces chose that far flung place to be the regional headquarters (coming all the way from Calcutta), our host reminded us that those days route to Shillong was not through Assam – it was a short uphill route from Northern Bangladesh, which was a part of India !! Out there, we also happened to see for the first time, trees of bay-leaf (tej patta) and got to knoe that bark of bay-leaf is nothing but cinnamon (daal-chini).

    Thanks for the lucid, informative article. Looking forward ……

    • Ram Dhall says:

      Aurojit Da,

      What a joy hearing from you. Thanks for your kind words.

      Thanks for reminding us all that there was a short uphill route from the present Bangladesh, which was once a part of India, that gave easier access to the British soldiers and the missionaries.

  9. Amitava Chatterjee says:

    Wonderful travelogue Sir.

    A complete post with all the relevant details for all travellers. A beautiful place described so beautifully through this post.

    The way you covered everything about the life of 9the people of Khasi and the state of Meghalaya is commendable. I heard a lot about you and read your previous stories. I also went there long time ago and have no memory. Visiting these places along with Changu, NEFA are in my wishlist for a long time.

    Thank you for this story and will look forward to your trip to Kaziranga National Park.

    • Ram Dhall says:

      Amitava Babu,

      Thanks for liking the post and for your very kind words.

      I have been keenly following your brilliantly written posts and would endeavour to comment on some of these separately.

      May God bless you.

  10. Surinder Sharma says:

    Very informative post and good photos. Thanks

  11. Dear Sir,

    A detailed & informative post , thanks for refreshing our memory.

    I have written a post on Shillong , Cherrapunjee & Guwahati. I don’t know wheather you have gone through it or not.

    http://www.ghumakkar.com/2009/10/13/shillong-scotland-of-east-india-part-%E2%80%93-i/

  12. Subhash Gupta says:

    Dear Ram Bhai,

    What a beautiful way in which you have described the beauty of legendary beauty. ENLIGHTENED. Could feel as if I was with you throughout. Kahate hai no ki “yeh ehsas ki bareekiyan hain”.

    Subhash

  13. Avtar Singh says:

    Hi Sir

    What a beautiful description ! very pacy and juicy style…. with your writing the places become alive in front of the readers…
    Thanx for sharing such a nice post….. God bless!!!

  14. Aditya says:

    Fantastic post! Very nicely captured all the details of trip along with related historical facts. Thanks for the travelogue.

    Hope to get more deals from airlines and do many more such trips together.

  15. Pat says:

    A true feast after a long time. Thanks a lot, Ram, for deciding to take up the ‘pen’ again.

    Shillong is a real beauty and definitely not a ‘lesser known’ place. Wonder why there’s scarcity of drinking water at the wettest place.

    It seems the space-bar of your keyboard is a bit too short. However, you are mighty enjoyable, as always.

  16. Nirdesh Singh says:

    Dear Ram ji,

    Nice to have you back and describing the wonderful state of Meghalaya.

    I heard of Mawsynram for the first time and two days later there was a cover story in HT’s Brunch about Mawsynram and its ongoing rivalry with Cherrapunji on who gets more rain!

    http://www.hindustantimes.com/Brunch/Brunch-Stories/The-raining-champion/Article1-1112261.aspx

    The article mentions the archery contests like Harish mentioned.

    Then there is Patrick who has written nice posts on Khasi Hills and its people –

    http://evenfewergoats.blogspot.in/2013/02/across-khasi-hills-sunday-getting-back.html#more
    The guy seems to be everywhere!

    All in all a great post with all the details of the friendly people of Meghalaya. It is ironical that these places have acute water shortage during winter months. It is supposed to be all rocky few inches below and all the water flows to Bangladesh. But then they should be doing rain harvesting and that can be done at the local level without the involvement of the govt.

    • Nirdesh Singh says:

      Yes, it seems the matrilineal society extends from this part of India all the way to South East Asia.

      I think it is a fashion now to indulge in male bashing or misandry – and it is sad especially when men do it. Men should take pride on who they are – doting fathers, proud brothers and protective sons. We are the providers and protectors of the society and the country, so please stand up for yourself because no one else will. Animals have their ministry but there is not a single agency who looks after us men’s interests. We are dispensable whether at the border or deep in the mines. We are made to look fools in most ads where a child actor is more intelligent but when it comes to insurance selling we are made to feel guilty about our family. So guys please stop male bashing because when you do it, you are ignoring all the contribution of our fathers in making us who we are today.

  17. Shaguna says:

    I know much more about Shillong now than from the trip itself :) Thanks for the recap and interesting facts about places that we (atleast I) missed out!
    As always, an interesting and detailed piece, written from the heart. Waiting for rest of the trip in here …

  18. Nandan Jha says:

    @ SS – Noted. We would do a mix of old-n-new and hopefully catch-up. Thank you.


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