Meghalaya, the seventh sister of the seven sisters of North East India, is often known as the ‘home of clouds’. The mountain state of Meghalaya is a cool, often wet, state which is set on dramatic horseshoe cliffs. Home to the wettest places on earth – Cherrapunjee and Mawsynram – most of the rainfall is during the months of June to September, resulting is magnificent waterfalls and carving out some of the largest caves in Asia.
The population in the state majorly comprises the Jaintia, Khasi, and the Garo tribes, who occupy the eastern, central, and western part of the state, respectively. The four day Wangala Festival (a harvest festival held in autumn) celebrated in the Garo Hills between October and November is usually considered a good time to visit the state. You can expect to witness tribal dancing and some fascinating traditional drum recitals.
Once the capital of Assam, Shillong is now the state capital of Meghalaya and has rapidly developed into a modern town since this change. It has still retained some of its colonial-era charm though which is reflected via some of its architecture. Overhauled cars are quite the rage here.
Sights of Importance in Shillong:
Perched on the edge of Himalayas, Cherrapunjee is famously known as the ‘wettest place on earth’. The drive from Shillong to this famous town of Meghalaya is a scenic one that becomes more dramatic near the Dympep viewpoint where a V-shaped valley gashes deeply into a plateau – amazing photographic opportunities and setting! The town of Cherrapunjee is locally known as ‘Sohra’.
Sights in Cherrapunjee:
This is what we travellers call the ‘off-the-beaten-path’ experience. If you have a few days to spare, head over to the plush green hills of Garo in the far far west of Meghalaya and you won’t regret a moment of it. Accessible easier from Guwahati than Shillong, the main urban hub near the hills is in the small settlement of Tura, where the warm and welcoming staffs at the tourist office can help you with arranging local guides. The office is open Monday to Friday 10:00 A.M. to 04:00 P.M. Most people visiting the hills often pay a visit to the Nokrek Biosphere Reserve to see the endangered Hoolock gibbons, a cuddly and friendly species of primates which live in the forests in the reserve. The second important highlight of the visit to the hills is an excursion to the tribal villages located deep within the mountains. If you are lucky enough to have a reliable local guide, they may as well take you for a visit to a traditional Garo village where you can sit around in a traditional kitchen and see their daily kitchen activities. Remember to leave a tip for their hospitality and generousness.
The nearest major airport to Meghalaya is the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati (Assam), which is well-connected by air with other major cities of India such as New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai. A cab or a rent-car facility is available at the airport and takes about 4 hours to Shillong. There are no bus services between the airport and Shillong.
The nearest railhead to Meghalaya is in Guwahati as well which has train connectivity to other major cities in the country such as Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Bangalore.
The NH 40 connects New Delhi and other major cities in India to Meghalaya. The roads are in good condition and are well-frequented with traffic movement in and out of the state. However, if you decide to drive to Meghalaya yourself, be careful of the roads during monsoon.