Shillong: Scotland of the East

Tucked away at an elevation of 1496 m, Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, is set amidst thick pine covered hills. This magnificent hill station is also known as the ‘Abode of the Clouds’. It is said that Shillong’s beautiful lakes, waterfalls and rolling hills of conifers reminded the European settlers of Scotland, hence it had also earned the sobriquet ‘Scotland of the East’. The British legacy is still visible in the architectural design and food habits of the locals.

Getting there (Connecting with the rest of India):

Shillong airport (also known as Barapani Air Force Base or Umroi Airport) is a small facility with flights connections operated by Alliance Air from Kolkata on certain days of the week.

There are no railways in the entire state of Meghalaya. The nearest railway station is Guwahati. Shared cabs/taxis to Shillong are easily available right outside the station.
Bus services from Guwahati are also easily available for as low as Rs. 70!

You could also try out the helicopter service from Guwahati to Shillong if you want to try something different. It takes a mere 20 minutes but I guarantee you that it would be a very memorable 20 minutes!

My favorite way of getting to Shillong is by road. A pleasant 3.5 hours’ picturesque drive from Guwahati, the hours just seem to melt away as you soak in the natural beauty around you. NH40 (which connects Guwahati and Shillong) is a well maintained all weather road, a bit windy given the hilly terrain but definitely smooth.

Tip: Don’t forget to pick up the famous bamboo pickle at Nongpoh on your way.

Getting around:

The best way to get around Shillong is on foot. The city is small and can be easily covered by walking. Of course there are buses to take you around or black and yellow unmetered shared taxis which ply within city limits.

If you want to spend the day sightseeing hire a taxi. Your hotel will gladly do it for you at very reasonable rates.

Oh! Don’t worry about driving around in Shillong as the infrastructure in the city is very well maintained. Also, even though the city ranks second vehicle to population ratio in the country (Mumbai ranks first), the traffic itself is very disciplined unlike most India.

What to see:

Umiam Lake (or ‘Barapani’) is a beautiful manmade lake north of Shillong built to resemble the ‘Lochs’ of Scotland is a must-see for every tourist.

Elephant Falls is a trio of scenic waterfalls. Walking down a steep flight of steps to the most impressive falls of the three is an adventure on its own.

Lady Hydari Park with its collection of orchids is a famous picnic spot for the locals. The mini zoo and deer park within also makes it a favorite with the children

Besides there is the Ward’s lake, the Shillong Peak, the Butterfly museum to name a few of the many places you can see in Shillong.

Cherrapunji (famous for recording the highest rainfall) is an easy drive away. You should also definitely drive down to Mawlynnong to find out why it has been dubbed Asia’s cleanest village.

Fun Fact: Shillong’s population is mostly from the Khasi tribe. Its interesting to note that the Khasis are a matrilineal society - it is the mother's surname that is passed on to the children and the youngest daughter inherits the ancestral property.

Shillong, is my favorite city in India. Don’t forget to check out this impressive #madeofgreat city if you happen to find yourself on this side of the country.


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UPDATE: This entry was awarded a Flipkart voucher worth 1315 INR