Saturday, December 15, 2012

Shillong- Scottish delight at East

Cheimatophobia , the fear of cold. If you have this phobia, better do not venture here in winter as temperature here may touch zero sometimes. If not, come and visit Shillong, The Scotland of the East.
Shillong was the capital of Assam, till 21st Jan, 1972, when the state of Meghalaya (the abode of clouds) was sliced out from the Southern Part, where lies the Garo, Khasi and Jaintia hills. Hemmed by hills and wrapped by mists almost throughout the year, this city is best visited after monsoon when fog infringes the least, cloud doesn't clout with the weather to impede your outing.
living root bridge Mowlynnong
Our plane landed at the Gopinath Bordoloi Airport at Guwahati , from where we took a cab for the four hour journey to Shillong. Once we crossed Barapani, the reservoir of a Hydel project, locally known as Umiam Lake, we knew that Shillong is not far behind. The cab dropped us at Police Bazar, a chowk from where the main market was located. We checked into a hotel and freshened up before strolling around gathering information about sightseeing in the local Taxi stand.  We learnt that a minimum of three days were needed to roughly complete all the spots.  We decided to cover the far off places first leaving the local spots for the last day.
Day I : Destination Mowlynnong , Asia’s cleanest village. In the entire 90 Km stretch cloud made the surrounds play hide and seek with our Maruti 800. The knolls carpeted with bluish green vegetation, the bamboo cottages or Rawais, the green valleys played the game in tandem. The road took numerous turns in the forest in the last leg and all of a sudden we reached the village. A hamlet as clean as one can be as littering is a crime over here.  From a 5 year old to an octogenarian, all busy in sweeping off twigs and dead leaves with obsessive zeal  and dumping them in bamboo baskets . A stream cuts through the village and across it stands the famous ‘natural root bridge’.  Crossing over is an experience in itself, where you are enveloped by roots on three sides and the canopy above. Next we were escorted to the watch tower, resembling a tree house, from where vast expanse of grassy plains of Bangladesh could be seen. Soon the cloud played a spoilt spot,  drawing the curtains over the feast. We climbed down.  Before leaving Mowlynnong , we had our lunch in a villager’s living room turned into a makeshift restaurant .  The desi chicken preparation has left an indelible mark on our taste buds. 

Wahkaba Falls 
Day 2: Next day was for Cherrapunjee ( 55 Km south of Shillong) which is locally called Sohra,  receives the highest rainfall in the planet just next to Mawsynram, 16 Km west. Our first break was at Wahkaba  Falls. We descended a few hundred steps to first see a small spring followed by the huge rumbling falls splashing into a pool below  amid foams and froth.  The mountain greens with its varied shades dive hundreds of feet down to touch the spring below.  We stood engrossed.
‘Chaliye saab aaj bohut kuch dekhna hai’,  said Vaisyaji  our driver.  We climbed up panting all the way. Heart patients should not venture down at Wahkaba.
Next, we headed for Mawjimbuin Cave, where we had to squeeze through the dark entrance of the watery cave. Rounded stalactites  and stalagmites oozes water making the short stint adventurous. We went to The Ramakrishna Mission which houses a big school, a hospice ad a temple. The Khashi tribesmen are in debt to this organization for their help.

Finally, we went to the Nohkalikai Falls, one of the heighest in the country. Fog, here, played spoilt sport again. We heard the roars but thick fog obstructed our vision. We returned after seeing the seven sisters falls, which is a cascade of the broken stream that falls parallel down into Bangladesh.  The cloud cover restricted our view though Vaisyaji said that vast part os Shylet could be seen from here on a clear day. We spent some time in the adjoining garden, helped ourselves with some snacks and started our journey back.

Day 3. The third day was scheduled for local sight seeing. We started with the golf course, one of the oldest in the country, set up by the British in 1898. At 5200 feet above the sea level, the lush green undulating turf is a treat for the eye.
wards lake

Botanical garden was next, which is a repertoire of both flora and fauna. Wards lake, situated at the heart of the city, was near by where we crossed a wooden bridge and went to the point from where boats are hired for boating. The flowers and the garden around were striking.  If you love photography, here is your hunting ground. Shoot.

Elephant Falls
Shillong Peak was our next destination. We climbed the watch tower to pan around for the whole city down below. Up came the wide angle lenses for the adults while the young ones drape in the hired Khashi clothes brandish blunt toy sword and pose before the loitering cameramen. Locals here make quick bucks. The Elephant Falls was not far from here. It is a three stepped falls and was named such by the Khashi people. The British later named it to Elephant Falls as a rock resembling the animal was found on the left side. sadly, an earthquake in 1897 destroyed it, but the name remained.

We came down to the city and next in our list was Don Bosco Museum, the seven storied house which is the repertoire of the indigenous culture. Artifacts  weapons, dresses of Meghalaya and the sister states displayed under one roof. At the top one can have a 360 degree view of the city.
W didn't have time for the museum of Entomology ( study of the insects) and a couple of nearby falls  ( Beadon, Bishop and Sweet), as it was dark already.

The next morning we had to go down to Guwahati to catch our flight back.  While crossing the Barapani again, I was missing the mist draped green, undulating expanse of rounded hills, sparsely dotted with monoliths and occasional epitaphs reminding the frugality of our existence to nature, yet the time we spend in her lap is so precious, so meaningful in our lives.

Text : Courtesy Orissa Post 

 For more infos:-
Tourist Information Centres,
New Delhi

Meghalaya House,
9 Aurangzeb Road,
New Delhi – 110001
Ph no: +91-11-23014417
Tourist Information Centres,

Meghalaya House,
120, Shanti Pally,
Rash Behari Connector
Kolkata – 700107
Ph no: +033-24412159
Fax: +91-33-24411930

Meghalaya Tourism Development Corporation
Polo Road,
Shillong – 793001
Meghalaya, India
Ph no: +91-364-2222731/ 2224933/ 2505012/ 2224471
Tirot Singh Road,
Shillong – 79001
Meghalaya, India
Ph no: +91-364-2225632