Tuesday, May 3, 2016

That Place Called Shillong

That is when you know Meghalaya has come
Few days back I was writing an article about my Meghalaya Trip and the entire time spent in Shillong kind of played in my head like some flashback. I had been to Meghalaya almost a year back but that trip is just as fresh as ever.

Roadside Pickle Farms
Silent sleepy Guwahati fades and you enter a busy dusty highway that is a single route access into the cloudiest state of India, Meghalaya. Roads fenced with pineapple farms and pickle stalls and construction sites keep you company till you enter a verdant canopied road about 2.5 hours later and cool breeze from the close by Barapani Lake formally greets you into this state that is close to nature in every sense. The transition in temperature is so drastic as you approach Barapani that you literally forget the hot humid weather of Guwahati the minute the canopied path commences.

Barapani
Barapani, formally known as Umiam Lake – is an artificial lake that was built for a hydroelectric project on the Umiam Lake in the 1960’s but over time it has become very important part of the eco system around and is pretty much the reason the area on the way to Shillong had low temperatures throughout the year. The close by area is densely forested and the lake itself has numerous small islands that become bird watching zones during winters and the sparkling blue waters of the lake surrounded by sylvan hills – the sight - is a treat to the eyes!

Shillong from Shillong Peak
While Barapani is the lowest point of Shillong, Shillong Peak is the highest one. Terraced farmed lands, hillocks turned into vegetable plantations, turns and slopes and you reach the air base colony of Shillong. Just as you cross this colony you see the point where you can see the entire city in one glance – this point is called Shillong Peak. The view of the city sandwiched between grey clouds and patches of green below is beyond words and cold winds and light showers on the peak just add to this amazing experience.

Shillong Peak
The way up there and back is equally amazing as the Shillong Peak point. You see acres of colourful farmlands painting the hillocks in earthly colours, colourful because this is Meghalaya’s Farmers Market Area! Everything that can grow in the region – vegetables and grains – is grown here. 

Look at the colours in the farms!
The hills around Shillong transition from the farmlands, to lush green forested area, to symmetrical tea gardens to verdant golf course – all standing next to each other but not overlapping. And somewhere between these there is a hidden 3 layered waterfall that gushes noisily all round the year.

One of the levels of Elephant Falls
Elephant Falls - locally called the Ka Kshaid Lai Pateng Khohsiew, is probably the most popular tourist spot of Shillong. Exploring the falls is all about a 170 steps walk around the 3 levels but it is totally worth it! A board at the starting point of the falls tells you that Britishers named these falls ‘Elephant Falls’ because there used to be a rock resembling an elephant at the bottom of the main falls. Though the rock was destroyed in an earthquake back in 1897, the name still prevails till date. This is also the place where people can click photos in traditional Khasi attire but if you want to see locals and not just dress up like them, there is no better place that Police Baazar to see Shillong as a local.

Police Bazar has a lot of buildings like this one!
Criss-cross, interlinked arrays of alley, packed with people and shops – this is police bazaar. Unlike other hill stations where a small road, mostly called as MG Road makes for shopaholic paradise, Shillong has a full-fledged market area that runs across interlinked major 4 alleys. From permanent stores, to temporary carts to number of street food joints – Police Bazaar has it all. 

I tried that weird looking white fruit
I did try some local fruits there but enjoyed momos more than anything. Also, if you love collecting traditional handicraft material, this is the place you need to go to! There is also a small alley here that has shops that only make and sell artificial flowers! And remember the key to shop here is - Bargaining, because, well Shillong is after all a touristy place.

Shopping anyone?
Shillong is a place that gives you the sense of a town, a hill station and a country side getaway all at once. Won’t say it is the best of the cities I have been to in North East India, because that is undoubtedly Gangtok, but Shillong has its own charm that you just can’t escape once you have experienced it!


See you again Shillong

17 comments:

  1. Beautiful photos from Shillong.
    Greetings

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  2. Ah Shillong. Your pictures bring back so many memories of my numerous trips to this lovely little place.

    And yes, about the 'busy dusty highway', you will be happy to know that it is now complete and is an absolute pleasure to ride or drive on. And if I have to give you the POV of a biker, I would not hesitate to say that it one of the best stretches in the entire country.

    Cheers,
    Rajiv

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    1. It is indeed a lovely place. And about that road, my cousin said the same thing...so hopefully now the only issue with this long drive is sorted forever :D

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  3. I have been there in 2000 and in 2001 . I found it a very beautiful place to visit . You have covered it very beautifully .

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    1. Thanks Yogi :) Glad you liked the post.

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  4. I feel there is a lot of natural beauty there (mentioned in your post too). Hope to see all of this one day (and even Gangtok).

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    1. Alok Ji next time you plan a trip to India either cover entire Rajasthan-gujarat strip or the North East :D

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  5. Such a beautiful pics and amazing......

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  6. stunning captures. They took me back to the time I spent in Shillong. It's such a gorgeous place and the people are so nice. Amazing post.

    Whimsical Medley
    Twinkle Eyed Traveller

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    1. Thanks a lot Rajlakshmi :D Glad you enjoyed the post and the pics :)

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  7. Beautiful pictures and well covered.

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  8. Great to see these refreshing pics early morning ☺️

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