Jaintia Hills is the easternmost part of the state of Meghalaya. The mountainous region derives its name from the Jaintia Kingdom and the local Pnar people who are also known as the Jaintias. The area is divided into two districts – West Jaintia & East Jaintia. Jaintia hills attract tourists for its spotless lakes, grand waterfalls, mammoth caves and nature at its pristine best.
Tourism in the Jaintia area is still at its nascent stage. The West Jaintia district witnesses more tourist activity than the East Jaintia area. There are a large number of tourist attractions in the area such as the Krang Suri waterfall, touted to be the most beautiful waterfalls in India. The beautiful village of Nartiang is also situated in this fascinating area where one can find the remnants of the summer palace of the Jaintia Kings. The Nartiang Monoliths, a large collection of mighty stones are regarded as one of the tallest in the world. Jowai, the headquarter of West Jaintia District, is the most developed town in the region and is well connected to other towns outside and within the hills.
One can reach West Jaintia Hills by taking a flight to Shillong airport (nearest) or Guwahati airport / Guwahati railway station. Jowai is the town one needs to reach from there which is well connected by road with both Shillong and Guwahati. Tourist’s vehicles are regularly moving from Shillong to Jowai through National Highway (NH–40). From Guwahati, tourists can also proceed directly to Jowai through Shillong bypass (NH-44) and get connected to National Highway NH-40 at Mawryngkneng. For East Jaintia Hills, the connecting airport and railway stations remain the same but the road is connected by National Highway 44 which is a two-lane all-season motorable road.
Krang Suri Falls – It is one of the most appealing waterfalls in Meghalaya. It is almost 90 km from Shillong & takes about 4 hrs to reach. It is a must-watch for nature lovers.
Nartiang Village – The beautiful village is located in the West Jaintia district where one can find the ruins of the Sumer Palace of Jaintia King, biggest collection of Monoliths along with the Durga Temple.
Thadlaskein Lake – It is a manmade lake located in West Jaintia, popular as a picnic spot. It is also considered to be holy by the people of Raid Mukhla who worship & offer sacrifices near the lake.
Khim Moo Sniang – This is a popular place among the locals of West Jaintia District. A pig-shaped rock lies here and worshipped by the Jaintia community. It is believed that the stone has the power to protect them. The place is full of food joints & one can enjoy the local dishes over here. There are also small shops where one can buy local products.
Tyrshi Falls – This beautiful waterfall is located about 5 km from Jowai in the Shillong – Jowai road (NH44).
The ideal time to visit Jaintia hills is during summer as the climate is moderate with little or no rainfall. March to June would be the best time to visit. One must avoid winters as it is very chilling & monsoons deliver heavy rainfall.
Local People & Culture
The Jaintia people (also known as the Pnar), are rich in culture and heritage. They are a subtribe of the Khasi people and there is a strong similarity between their culture, language and tradition. Their culture reflects the tradition, music, dance, art and crafts of their tribe. They are famous for artistic weaving, wood carving, cane and bamboo work along with making musical instruments, weaving of carpet and silk, jewellery and pineapple fibre articles. The Pnar people are fond of music and through it, they praise their rivers, hills, valley, land etc. Rice is the staple food along with meat and vegetables. There are many traditional festivals among the tribe which includes Tuber, Chad Shukra, Chad Pastieh, Shad Khla etc. The religion of the local people is known as Niamtre, however, Christianity entered the region through the British missionaries and today most of the local people have adapted to Christianity.
Flora and Fauna
The entire Jaintia hills are full of forests and wildlife. It is in the culture of the local tribes to preserve nature. According to Khasi mythology, there used to be a heavenly ladder connecting the earth with heaven and people could travel freely. The ladder was lost one day when the people were tricked into cutting a divine tree. This mythology tells the story of how important nature is to the local people. No wonder the entire area is blessed with a variety of animals and birds including some rare and endemic variety. Animals such as Indian Elephant, Stump Tailed Macaque, Leopard, Gaur, Sambar, Barking Deer, Sloth Bear, Himalayan Black Beer, Hoolock Gibbons etc. are found here.