The Scotland of the East
Just as you expect to see yet another beautiful hillock at one of the many bends of the G-S road (Guwahati - Shillong), the road suddenly opens up to the bridge across the magnificent Umiam lake aka Barapani when you are only about 14kms away from the "Scotland of the East". This is how Shillong gives a sparkling, spellbinding welcome to its visitors. You will then be left curious till reaching the city of what all is in store.
Shillong - the beautiful capital of Meghalaya is one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the North East. Shillong has its landscape dotted with picturesque cottages which are most reminiscent of the British era gone by when it was the summer capital of Assam. It is now a major tourist hub for domestic as well as international tourists and also a major Educational centre of the North East. Shillong boasts of many elite schools and colleges where many significant personalities have completed their education. To name a few, St. Edmund's School, St.Anthony's College and School, Loreto convent, IIM, NIFT, and NEHU are all present in Shillong.
MUST-SEE PLACES IN SHILLONG
Shillong Peak: Although the name compels one to imagine that it is an unscalable peak like most other mountain tops usually are, it has a motorable road in good condition connected from the city right to a viewpoint. It is about 10 km from the main city. It offers a panoramic view of the city below. The area is maintained and occupied by the Indian air force as it has its Eastern Command located there. However, there are no restrictions to visiting the peak although on special occasions a visitor may be asked to produce his / her identification. So it is wise to carry one. Refreshments are available at Shillong peak. Forests of fir, birch, and pine cover the area below the peak.
Elephant Falls: Not far away from Shillong peak, it is one of the many waterfalls that dot Shillong's landscape. A trip can be planned where one can visit Shillong peak and Elephant falls at the same time. The road from Shillong peak to Elephant falls passes through the eastern command of the Indian air force which in itself makes it a memorable experience.
Sweet Falls: About 8 km away from Happy Valley, Sweet Falls is the highest waterfall in Shillong with a height of 96m. It is a great picnic spot and the area around it is also beautiful and peaceful. The view of the falls is breathtaking.
Ward's Lake: It is a manmade lake in the heart of Shillong not far from the main market. It is named after William Wards, the chief commissioner of Assam under British rule. It offers a refreshing break in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city, where one can enjoy boating and the beauty of the well-maintained gardens. You can just feed the fish from the bridge built over the lake or take a walk around it. An eerie story goes around that Lady Wards is sometimes seen boating in the middle of the lake at midnight. It adds to the charm of the lake.
Hydari park: Another place to unwind in Shillong is the Lady Hydari park and zoo. An ideal place to go for a day out with family, it is thronged by locals and tourists alike, especially on weekends. It houses many species of animals along with an array of flowers in the gardens maintained. Refreshments are available outside the park.
Umiam Lake also known as Barapani, gives a striking impression with its brilliant view that is especially mesmerizing at sunrise and sunset. It is a picture of spellbinding beauty. Apart from the breathtaking view, it also has gardens and boating facilities and makes a perfect picnic spot, especially during the springtime i.e., March-April which is the best time to visit the place. The lake can be visited as part of a day trip from Shillong. It can also be visited on the way from Guwahati to Shillong. The great lake is fed by the Umshyrpi and Umkhrah rivers.
The Shillong golf club is the second largest in Asia. It is also called Gleneagles. It was a 9-hole golf course when it first opened in 1889. It was later developed into an 18-hole in 1924. It makes a pretty sight on a sunny day. Apart from the places listed above, Don Bosco Cathedral, Crinoline falls, Capt. Williamson Sangma museum is another place to visit in Shillong.
PLACES TO HANG OUT AND GRAB A BITE:
Laitumkrah is ideal for chilling out and getting something good to eat within the budget. The area is popular amongst the young school and college-going crowd as most of the colleges and schools are located around there. Fast-food joints and cafes are aplenty. Swish café and Matter of Taste are two of the many popular hangouts there. Apart from that confectionary shops are also aplenty that serve authentic European confections like the éclairs with sour cream and others.
Police Bazaar, on the other hand, houses the very famous Delhi Mistaan Bhandar which is more than 45 years old. It serves the best Gulab Jamuns, Papri Chaat and Jalebis prepared in pure ghee. Bombay bites and Café coffee day around the same area are also good.
If you are looking for a good hearty meal with a classy ambience at Shillong then Broadway restaurant, Bamboo Hut, Yalana restaurant and Pinecone are some renowned ones which will serve your purpose. These are located in and around the Police Bazaar area. Kimpao also located in Police Bazaar and "The Wok" at Lachumiere, Laitumkrah serves the best Chinese.
If one is keen on tasting the local cuisine like Jadoh, a popular dish of rice and pork, they can head to Tratoria at Police Bazaar and Neolith at Motphran. However, it should be noted that these are mostly non-vegetarian fare. The best way to end these meals is to have a 'gua-paan' or betel nut and leave.
How to Reach Shillong:
Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi airport at Guwahati is the nearest airport at 128kms that connects Shillong to the rest of the country by airways. However, a daily flight service from Guwahati airport to Umroi airport near Barapani in Shillong is also operated by Air India.
The nearest railhead is the Guwahati station. Sumo and bus service are readily available at the station.
The Guwahati - Shillong road connects the two cities.