Meghalaya means “The Abode of Clouds” in Sanskrit is a hilly state in North East India. Have you ever wondered how a vacation would look if you are covered by passing clouds? Meghalaya is a mystery destination with no recorded history until the reign of Khasi, who rebeled against British rule. Today, the tribes of Meghalaya are still with the roots of their culture; experiencing and enjoying life as a celebration. Well, pick the Meghalaya tour itinerary and you can experience it yourself. The local dance, music, and other cultural elements of the land, combined with the wettest ecosystem of the world will make your vacation, a fairytale experience.
History of Meghalaya
In the beginning of 19th century, the British Empire put efforts in constructing road which links Bengal and Assam because of which the treaty with the ruler of Khasi principality of Nonkhlaw came into existence in 1827. There were some people against the treaty. In 1829, they tried influencing the ruler to deny the existence of treaty. All of this led to Britishers initiating military operations against Khasis. The britishers had political control over the next century in Khasi and Garrow states. But these traditional tribes were successful in maintaining their way of life in seclusion.
In 1947, when India got independence, Jawaharlal Nehru came out with the policy to preserve the tribal people. This area was given special recognition under the Indian Constitution and came to be included under the state of Assam. But due to the emergence of Assamese as state's official language in 1960, agitation for self rule began. In 1970, Meghalaya became autonomous state within Assam and achieved full statehood in 1972.
If there is heaven on the eastern side of India, then it's Meghalaya. Tourists on stepping here will get to find beautiful white clouds, giant hills and waterfalls. It basically offers a complete package to the travellers. The capital city of Shillong is referred to as the 'Scotland of the East'. So do not forget to include this spectacular state in your travel itinerary for your next holidays.
Why visit Meghalaya
To begin your fresh travel hunt, Meghalaya is the right destination for you. If you are curious in knowing and exploring the beautiful landscapes around, then you should definitely pay a visit to this place. Boasting of the high waterfalls and rich rainforests, this wonderful state has both serene and exciting features for the travellers. The mysterious caves along with the clear river waters is a must thing to be included in your list. The splendid views of the high mountains of Meghalaya will leave you in awe.
Best time to visit Meghalaya
Meghalaya is covered with clouds all around for most part of the year which aids in presenting pleasant weather to the locals and travellers. Temperature here rarely goes beyond 30 degrees celsius. Therefore, it is a perfect summer package. The ideal time to visit this beautiful state is from October to June. Because at this time, one can enjoy the winter wonderland here and avoid the scorching heat present in other states. However, the advice would be to not visit this place during peak monsoon season from May to September. Some of the tourists choose to come here during the beginning and end of monsoon to enjoy the little drizzle on their faces.
How to Reach Meghalaya
This state stands well connected by roads to some major cities. Shillong can be reached by opting NH-37 from Guwahati (also named as Assam Trunk Road), followed by GS road, then towards NH-40 till you enter Meghalaya via Nongpoh. One can drive their ownselves or can go for private or government owned buses for the same purpose.
The nearest railway station to Shillong (capital of Meghalaya) is Guwahati. Taxi can be hired from the station to Shillong which is situated 100 kilometers away. And Guwahati railway station is considered to be well connected with other major cities around it.
Umroi Airport in Barapani is located 25 to 30 kilometres away from Shillong. This is the nearest one if you want to visit Meghalaya by travelling in the sky. This airport has limited connection to other cities. The major airport near to this state is Guwahati airport which is 125 kilometers away. Outside it, you can find taxis which can be hired to reach the capital city of Shillong.
Sightseeing to enjoy in Meghalaya
This is the place which receives the highest waterfall in whole India. Also, it is regarded to be one of the wettest places present on earth. There are some wonderful waterfalls which a traveller can find here namely Dain-thlen, Nohkalikai and Kynrem waterfalls. Other major tourist spots found at this destination are Mawsmai cave, living root bridges, eco park, garden of caves and splendid waterfalls.
Finding its place on every travel itinerary, Shillong, the capital city, is also known as Scotland of the East. Away from the hustle bustle of city life, it has pleasant climate, forests, hills, scenic beauty which calls for the tourists from around the world. The local tribes that can be found here are Bhowal, Langrim, Khyrim, Mylliem and many more.
Balpakram National Park
This national park is a paradise for the tourists. Balpakram National Park is also known as 'Land of Spirits' by the localites and travellers. Red panda, elephant, tiger, wild buffalo, marbled cat, deer, etc. can be easily spotted inside the park. Often getting compared to Grand Canyon of USA, Balpakram offers opportunities for the wildlife enthusiasts.
Meghalaya is popularly known for its mesmerising waterfalls. The major highlight among this category is Elephant Falls. Having elephant-like foot at the end of it, this is one of the most famous in the North East region. The grand Elephant falls is also known as 'Ka Kshaid Lai Patang Khohsiew' by the Khasi people. Its meaning is 'Three step waterfalls' because it falls in three progressive steps.
Falling from about 335 kilometres from some cliff to the tidal pool, this waterfalls has some extraordinary nature in it. It is some noteworthy place which one should visit on coming to the state of Meghalaya.
This is the cleanest village of Asia. It is located in the East Khasi hills. Right from the beautiful waterfalls to the root bridges, this village has everything to offer to the tourists. One will get a surprise on seeing the cleanliness of this place. There are some bamboo houses which can be found here where you can enjoy your stay.
This giant rock finds its location around 78 kilometers away from the city of Shillong. It is made out of red stone. It is in the West Khasi hills of Meghalaya. The climb to the highest point of this rock lets you enjoy the scenic view.
Situated in Garo hills, Tura provides one of the most serene environments in Meghalaya. It is a heaven for wildlife and travel enthusiasts. You can see rich biodiversity, greenery and giant mountains all around. Siju caves and Nokrek National park are some of the significant places which you should not forget to visit when on your trip to Tura.
Culture of Meghalaya
The people of Meghalaya can be largely distributed in tribes namely Khasi, Garo and Jaintia tribes but they are binded together by some elements. All of them find music and dance as an important element of life. Carving and weaving are some of the skills which are boasted about by both the Garo and Khasi communities. The Khasi tribe specializes in extracting iron ore and crafting domestic tools.
Fairs and Festivals to Enjoy
Shad Suk Mynsiem
Celebrated in the month of April, Shad Suk Mynsiem is a festival where individual family clans of the Khasi state perform ceremonies. Some dance is performed by the unmarried girls dressed up in traditional wear, while the men carry swords around them. This dance signifies that the man protects the honour of a woman and is performed in the Weiking grounds near the capital city of Shillong.
Jaintia people celebrate this festival in the month of April or May. It marks the beginning of the sowing season. One can find rituals, dances, drums, flute, everything in this grand festival. Both men and women take part in it decked in gold ornaments. To enjoy it, one needs to go to Jowai town which is at the west Jaintia hills. It is situated around 64 kilometers away from the city of Shillong.
Among the Khasi community, Nongkrem Festival is one of the most significant one. It is celebrated every year at Smit which is 15 kilomteres away from Shillong. The rituals during this festival are performed by the Syiem (head of the Khasi state) and Ka Syiem Sad (head priestess). It is celebrated to attain peace, prosperity and good harvest. People from all over the country come to experience the rich culture and tradition during this festival.
Garo people celebrate this festival at the end of the agricultural season. It is a kind of thanksgiving festival. It is also known as The hundred drums festival. It is celebrated during the months of September and December across the Garo hills. If any traveller wants to explore the traditional way of celebration by Garo people, then Songsarek villages like Sadolpara in west Garo hills can be visited.
It is one of the most important festivals of Jaintia people which is prominently celebrated by the people of Niamtre religion. It finds its celebration during the month of July before the sowing season. Rituals are performed by the priests which are followed by dance and flutes. This festival is enjoyed every year at the Jowai town and other villages of Jaintia hills.
Best Food to Try in Meghalaya:
- Jadoh- Made with rice and pork. Mixed with the best spices, vegetables and garnished with eggs or fried fish on top.
- Dohkhlieh- Boiled pork with lots of chillies, onions, spices and salt.
- Nakham Bitchi- Delicious soup made out of boiling vegetables and fish.
- Pumaloi- Kind of powdered rice.
- Momo- Round shaped filled up with bolied vegetables, chicken or pork.
- Bamboo shots- Marinated pork in soy sauce with vegetables and spices on the top.
Where to Eat in Meghalaya
City Hut Family Dhaba
The interiors of this place give it a traditional rural look. Chinese, Indian and Asian cuisines can be found here at some affordable prices.
Location- Earle Holiday Home Oakland Road, Shillong
Bamboo Hut Cafe
This cafe in the capital city provides both Chinese and Indian cuisines to the visitors. The best food items which one can order here are American Chopsuey, Mughlai food and chicken momos. The staff here is well trained and ensures that they provide the best possible services to the customers.
Location- GS road, near Kacheri, Shillong
Chicken dum biryani is one of the delicious food options which you can find at this place. This cafe has some peaceful environment and both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food can be ordered from here.
Location- On top of Lila brothers, GS road, police bazar, Shillong
It is considered to be one of the oldest yet popular restaurants in the state of Meghalaya. Indian, Chinese and Asian cuisines can be tried from here. Not just the tourists, but the local people also visit this place to get some change from home made food. The prices are also affordable.
Location- Police bazar, Shillong
If you are someone who eats only vegetarian food, then this cafe is the right place for you. It specialises in South Indian cuisines. Dosa, idli, medhu vada, paneer, momos and other food items can be tried from this place.
Location- Jail road, opposite MTC building, police bazar, Shillong
This cafe serves shawarma which is unique dish found in Shillong. They also serve Italian and American cuisines to the visitors. Chicken and bacon burgers can also be tried. Live music along with delicious food make this cafe an ideal place for food.
Location- Laitumkhrah, Shillong
Meghalaya is the place to enjoy a panoramic view of Bangladesh plains, explore the Khasi district for souvenirs, trek to the living root bridge, or more. This is the land of unique beauties and awe-inspiring elements in each turn. Are you up for some adrenaline-pumping activities amidst marshlands and forests? Do you want to forget your 9-5 job stress and become one with the nature? Meghalaya is the right destination for you. Here are some of the interesting Meghalaya holiday packages to experience Meghalaya, just the way you want.
Are you looking for a natural paradise to rejuvenate? Pick Meghalaya Tour Packages
and explore the regions of Cherapunjii, Shillong, Mawsynram, and
others. While most of the Meghalaya’s geography is filled with thick
green forests and fresh waterfalls, Shillong stands as a colonial