Shillong (शिलांग) is the capital and largest town of Meghalaya state.
Shillong was the capital of Assam, but after the state was split into Assam and Meghalya (meaning 'the abode of the clouds'), it became the first capital of the newly formed State of Meghalaya. Located in undulating pine covered hills, the city has a milder climate than tropical India. The city centre is 1496m above sea level and currently has a population of around 270,000. Home to several waterfalls, it is also known as the Scotland of the East. The British legacy is still visible in the architecture and food habits of the population. The Assam style houses with slanting roofs, large number of windows and wooden floors look like a piece of art (and happen to be a very good idea, considering Shillong lies in an area where rains and earthquakes are very common).
Shillong receives heavy rainfalls during monsoon and the rainy season usually lasts longer than in the rest of India. An umbrella is, therefore, a necessity when packing your bags. Although people avoid the rainy season, it is generally the time when the city is clean (rains wash the streets of all garbage) and waterfalls are in full strength.
Most of the Shillong population belong to the Khasi tribe, who are predominantly Christian. There are significant Assamese, Bengali and Nepali minorities. An interesting aspect of Khasis are that they are a matrilineal society - the mother's surname is passed on to the children and the youngest daughter inherits the ancestral property. The head of the family and clan is still the man and the system functions only to protect women from discrimination. However, this has evolved with time and cross-culture marriages where the definition of the society as a matrilineal one is also changing. This is not be confused with 'matriarchal' societies.
Shillong Airport (IATA: SHL) is in Umroi, about 40km from Shillong (also known as Barapani Air Force Base or Umroi Airport). It is a small airport with flights via Alliance Air (operated by Indian Airlines) to/from Calcutta on certain days of the week. A bus operated by M.T.D.C runs from Airport to Shillong market.Taxis are also available. However, flights to Umroi are only from Calcutta and generally are cancelled at the last minute due to inclement weather. Guwahati Airport, which is 3 to 3.5 hours from Shillong, is a much better option.
Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport (IATA: GAU) in Guwahati (104km from Shillong) is connected to rest of India with regular flights. Shared cabs (small cars from the airport, and larger Tata Sumos from Guwahati town centre) are available from outside airport connecting to Shillong. The rate (as of October 2016)is INR 500 per passenger from Guwahati Airport to Shillong and reportedly takes 3 hours. The cab drops you off at the police post in the Bazaar from where you can get a ride to almost any part of Shillong. En route from Guwahati to Shillong, you'll probably stop mid way at Nongpoh to freshen up and get some refreshments. Nongpoh is also a good place to pick up bamboo pickles and other condiments. Please note that the road from Guwahati to Shillong has been widen and are in a much better condition now. than it was few years back.
There are no rail lines in Meghalaya. The nearest railway station is Guwahati, 105km from Shillong (reportedly taking less than 3 and a half hours via taxi), and very well connected with all the major cities of India.
The main interstate bus stand is located right next to Guwahati railway station. Buses are run by Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) and Meghalaya Transport Corporation (MTC). Many privately run buses also run between two cities but they leave from Paltan Bazar area and cost around INR70. Private buses might be better built but are occasionally crowded and have more stops enroute. Buses usually take around 4 hours with a mid-way stop at Nong-poh.
Tata winger service is run by MTC from airport to Shillong (police station in the bazaar). The cost per head is INR400 as of January 2014. (Contact nos. Guwhati airport counter - 09085712619. Shilong counter - 09774009248 )
Shared taxis are available from Paltan bazaar area which is adjacent to the railway station. These are generally SUV sized vehicles (Tata Sumo & Mahindra Bolero) shared between 8 people. They take around 3 hours to reach Shillong from Guwahati. The cost for a SUV vehicle is INR170 as in October 2016 and midsize car like Swift desire is INR 300 as in October 2016
There are 2 exits from Guwahati Railway Station. The main exit is the North exit. To catch a bus or cab to Shillong, take the southern exit from the Guwahati Railway Station. To take the southern exit, first you have to take the northern exit and come out of the station. This will take you to the parking lot. From the parking lot you have to take a foot over-bridge. This over-bridge is built over the Guwahati station and will take you to the southern exit without entering the station again.
The best way to go about in Shillong is on foot. The city itself is small and can be easily covered walking and exploring hills and people.
For places within city limits, city buses are good options. There are two kinds of buses that pass from Shillong - city bus and bazaar bus. City buses are what tourists should use. Bazaar buses are for villagers coming to Shillong to sell their products. Most of times they carry vegetables, fruit, poultry, etc, along with people. City buses are notoriously slow. Drivers move their buses from the bus-stop only when the bus gets packed or another bus arrives. Many times you will find that walking will take you earlier to your destination. Bus tickets are at most INR5 for one journey.
Black and yellow un-metered shared taxis ply within city limits. These are faster and are always shared; rates may vary from 10 to 20 INR 50-100 INR maximum. Being shared taxis, drivers often pick up additional passengers en route to the same destination, in order to make a better fare. If one decides to negotiate the "hire" of a taxi, however, the driver will not pick up any more passengers (or stop roadside to find more) but the fare will be significantly higher than if one had just hailed the taxi as it passed by.
For sightseeing it is a good idea to hire a taxi cab for full day. The fares should be fixed before travel. Local driver will be able to give you an idea of reasonable rate.
Much of the infrastructure is basic and many roads outside city are in bad shape due to heavy rains and poor maintenance, but within the city the roads are quite good. Although the city traffic ranks second in the country in terms to vehicles to population ratio, Mumbai being first, it is very slow and disciplined unlike most of India.
- Umiam Lake, meghalaya (north of shillong). A beautiful lake north of Shillong, which resembles the 'Lochs', or lakes of Scotland, and is a must-see for all tourists. This lake is man-made and is better known as 'Barapani' (big water) for its sheer size. There is a water sports complex. There is a garden ( Lum Nehru park) by the side water sports complex. edit
- Don Bosco Centre on Indigenous Cultures . Run by the Salesian order of the Catholic Church, the Don Bosco Museum is a truly amazing repository of information on the entire North Eastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Tripura. Located within the precincts of the Sacred Heart Theological College, Mawlai, the edifice itself is shaped like a spiral and its distinct form is discernible from quite some distance away. It has an amazing collection of tribal attires, accoutrements, weapons, ornamentation and rare photographs. This is also the largest cultural museum in the whole Asia. Fr Sebastian is the priest who has taken up the cause of preservation of art and culture with 'missionary zeal!
- Wards Lake. Wards Lake is an artificial lake surrounded by a fairly large garden. Boating facilities are available in the lake. It has a wooden bridge at the middle. Lots of lotus plants with leaves are there on either side of lake. One can find lots of colourful fishes in the lake. A cafeteria is there to provide refreshment.A fountain dancing to the tunes of song is also there.
- Lady Hydari Park. The park has variety of local flowering plants and orchids. It also has a small zoo within it. Children wiil like it as there are few swings, sea-saws, slips for them. It is a famous picnic spot for local population. This park is named after the Lady Hydari, the first lady of the state, wife of the Governor of Assam. This park has a mini zoo and a deer park, which is spread over more than one kilometre.
- Sweet Falls. Located in Happy Valley, it is a very steep fall. Extreme caution is advised as there are no barricades and rocks are nearly always slippery (due to rain or dew).
- Bishop & Beadon Falls. Located in Suna valley,these two are very beautiful falls. Suna is the home to wild animals such as deer, leopard,langurs,wild cats and numerous bird species.
- Elephant Falls. It is in Upper Shillong area which also houses the Eastern Air Command of Indian Airforce. The scenic fall is not continuous and more of collection of smaller falls. It has footpath leading to bottom fo fall where it reaches a small lake. Its name elephant falls was given by British. Because there was a rock by the side of fall which resembled elephant. The rock was destroyed in earthquake.
- Shillong Peak. Shillong Peak is the highest point in state of Meghalaya (1965 meters above sea level). There is a view-point where you can get breathtaking view of Shillong city. The city view during night is a scene to remember. It is host to a radar station for Indian Air force and tourists are advised to declare their cameras while reaching view-point and not to take pictures of radar facilities.
- Butterfly Museum. There is a huge collection of different types of butterflies. Students of zoology will find them interesting. This place is also attractive for adults where they can see the natural beauty and play with the beautiful and colourful butterflies. This museum presents some of the finest and rarest species of butterflies.
- Golf course Shillong golf course is located at an altitude of around 5200 ft. This is the first golf course of India which has 18 holes in it. This place is like a dream come true for the putters. This golf course is so beautiful and located at the unique location that sometimes it is compared with the Glen Eagle Course” of the United States.
- Visit the State Central Library - it was started at the time of British Raj and holds many rare books and almanacs. For British searching for clues about ancestors in this area, it is a gold-mine. Unfortunately with time and poor management many books are being lost.
- Explore the forest around Shillong peak - There are no large or dangerous animals and forest is full of rare and exotic plants - orchids, pines and others including the famous insect eating pitcher plant (Nepenthes khasiana).
- Visit Cherrapunjee, an easy drive through the rambling, undulating roads.
- Catch a movie at the Gold Cinemas. Located at the end of the Police Bazaar street, it is the best cinema hall in Shillong. Decent food options, and neat and clean bathrooms.
There are many naturally beautiful caves in Shillong, Meghalaya. Tourists can explore the caves, where they will have to pass through dark and murky interiors.
Iewduh is the largest open street market in north-eastern India. It has large sections dedicated to local fruits, vegetables, honey, fish etc. As a tourist, one can get a very nice picture of local life in here.
Traditional bamboo handicrafts and woollen handmade shawls are most popular buys. Additionally art-crafts made of wood and bamboo funitures are popular. Bamboo shoot pickles are quite favourite of the tourists. Please visit the Meghalya Govt. Handicrafts Showroom "Purbashree" located in police bazar.
Shillong is one of the fashion capitals of India,it has innumerable number of shops selling top quality brands from India and abroad. The well known ones are RAPs Apparel in Raps' Mansion MG Road,Style Craft, Uncle Shop, In-Fashion, Broadway Collection, Selection Centre, in Police Bazar,and also the glory plaza which is famous for foreign clothes.
- Buy the Wild Orange tea from the Polo Towers Gift Shop which features dried orange peels from the famous Cherrapunjee oranges.
There are a variety of restaurants. Most of the better ones are in Police Bazaar area. Chinese, Indian and Tibetan foods are popular and even khun ksew. Service is poor in most places except those that are professionally managed. Besides, most eating places close early (before 9PM) so don't be caught hungry.
Bamboo Hut in RAPs' Mansion MG Road is one of the famost hangout and also the CITY Dhaba near Earl Holiday Home.
One should definitely try Momos (steamed Tibetan dumplings filled with cabbage and pork) They come as small momos and big momos and are very popular snacks.
Shillong has a pre-dominantly Christian population. While pork, chicken and fish are easily available in restaurants run by local Khasis, beef isn't as abundant in restaurants. Cleanliness also remains a issue in smaller food-outlets.
Khasi and Tibetan recipes use very little spices (including salt) unlike cooking style of rest of India and emphasis is on boiling or roasting rather than frying in oil.
For Indian snacks, one can try Delhi Mistaan Bhandar in Police Bazaar which some think has the best jalebis in the world. It should be mentioned though, that Delhi Mistan has been in the local news several times in hygiene related incidents, notably when a patron found a cockroach in her food. The staff are also notoriously lethargic, so be prepared to wait up to half an hour just to be able to place your order. In short, stick to the freshly made jelibis since they are worth it, but avoid anything else here.
Apart from these, the hotels mentioned below have restaurants that have their own charm. Ginger and Sky Grill at Hotel Polo Towers Shillong, Kenmore at Hotel Knight Inn Shillong serving delectable craft cuisine, Royal Heritage has a nice restaurant. Sip & Dine at Hotel Alpine Continental have excellent restaurant.
- FOODPLUS, Laban Last Stop Taxi Stand (Opp AXIS Bank ATM). Fast Food Restaurant edit
- Chef's Multi Cuisine Restaurant, M G Road- Opp SBI (5 minutes from City centre on foot), ☎ +919436332977, . Great food at reasonable prices edit
- Sesame, Laitumkhrah. Serves South-east Asian cuisine including traditional tribal food. Newly opened and offers an interesting menu including the Jaintia thali. edit
- Madras Cafe (Police bazar). 7AM to 10PM. This small but busy place in polica bazar serves some authentic south Indian dishes like idlis, dosas, vada etc. Dosas are their favourite and are crispy and hot. They also serve some south Indian rice dishes. 100 for a meal. edit
- Munchies, laitumkhrah (near don bosco square), ☎ 8974087724/ 7308565613. 11:30 Am - 9:30 PM. Munchies Cafe Awesome location & outdoor eatery with parking space.Friendly setting for some truly good comfort food. Lively, chilled out atmosphere with music. Everything is simple, homemade & fresh. edit
- Sharma Bhojanalaya, Near Police Bazaar (Enter from Iewedeh, near roop kala sarees). For all those who look for vegetarian food. Serves decent food, marwari thali priced at Rs.80. Good food for veggies edit
- Hotel Boulevard (Bistro), in Police Bazaar (on the top of Dominos near Bijou Cinema). Best for vegetarian dishes! In shillong getting a veg hotel is boon for veggies so go for it. Mouth watering dishes with good service. edit
- Bombay Bites, near SBI evening branch Police Bazar. edit
- Delhi Mistan Bhandar, Police bazar. Vintage sweet shop, famous for its jalebis. edit
- Lamee Rastaurant, G.S road, police shillong, ☎ 03642501277. Fantastic place for casual and fine dining with a tasty multicuisine menu edit
- Cinnamon Kitchen, Mawlonghat ,near Anjalee Cinema (Nearby Anjalee petrol Pump(opposite MUDA parking)), ☎ 0364 2545561/2545660, . 24. A pure vegetarian restaurant with mouthwatering delicious veg food at reasonal prices 40. (100,200) edit
- Milano, Polo Towers, . Shillongs Only Italian Restaurant edit
- Polo Cafe Shillong Airport. The only Airport Cafe at Shillong Airport. edit
It is a drinker's paradise. Because of the tax structure on alcohol in this state, you will be hard pressed to find cheaper drinks anywhere else in India, if you are the type who buys liquor from a shop and drink in your hotel room.
If you like pubs and clubs, then Shillong has quite a few of them.
- Polo Irish Pub, Hotel Polo Towers. Shillong`s only Pub
- Cloud 9, Centre Point.
- Milano (Italian Restaurant), Hotel Polo Towers.
- Tango at Police Bazar in O B Shopping Mall.
- Cocktails at Hotel Alpine Continental.
Nightlife is generally at its peak on Fridays and Saturdays. Sundays are very, very dull.
- Swish, laitumkhrah. Swish Cafe which is opening soon after undergoing renovation, is the first cafe in Shillong and is a favourite haunt of youngsters and anyone who wants a good cup of coffee and some tasty snacks. Its a cute little coffee shop with a lot of character! edit
- MOT (Matter of Taste), Laitumkrah (turn left at the junction). Matter of taste, MOT is an amazing coffee shop which serves pastas, sandwiches and pizzas too. Irish coffee is a must try. After a hard day of travelling around shillong, it refreshes you like anything edit
- Sky Grill, Polo Towers, ☎ 0364 2222341, . Shillong`s only Al Fresco Dining Venue. Good Kebabs and very nice ambience. edit
Shillong has options for all kind of travellers. Most of the hotels are located in and around the Police Bazar which is the noisy, crowded city centre of Shillong. Hotel Polo Towers and Royal Heritage have locations that are more relaxing. Backpackers might want to check the Youth Hostel near Office of Chief Telecom Officer (CTO Complex). Internet reservation is available only in few starred hotels.
- Pine Suites Hotel, GS Road (About 20m off centrpoint traffic island, opposite centrpoint hotel,), ☎ +91-0364 25009 81. Free WIFI and hot showers in rooms. No windows but if you stop anywhere central it is a bonus due to noise. Friendly staff. Single 600, double 1200. edit
- Marwari Basa Hotel, GS Rd, Police Bazar (At the right corner of Bijou cinema, near center point), ☎ +91-9863063743. Classic 1920ies style house tucked away from the buzz of the streets, with small, tidy and sunny rooms overlooking the neighbourhood, shared bathroom only. Hot water will be provided on request. Comes with generator and 2 friendly but very under-exercised german shepherd dogs. If you like, take them for a walk to the forested army compound nearby, the staff readily hands over the leads. I used to do it early morning, when the garbage heaps still yield breakfast (for the dogs). edit
- Hotel Knight Inn Shillong, Demseniong (Opposite Neepco Shillong), ☎ +91-9402594025, . Also includes Kenmore Restaurant, which serves mouth-watering food from Chinese, Indian and other cuisines. (25.581272,91.897159) edit
- Shaurya Inn Police bazaar Great Rooms, Free Wifi 
- Hotel Rainbow Shillong,GS road Police bazar Tel :+91-9436731482 
- White Orchid Guesthouse,Lachaumiere Shillong Tel :+91-9774012129 
- B&B, Rosaville Cottage,
- The Majestic Hotel, Polo Road, 
- Lake View Inn, MG Road, 
- Shillong Club Guesthouse near Police bazaar
- Rohit Guest House, Near Shillong Times Building, Tel:+91-9864506161
- Hotel Yalana, Laimukhra, Tel:+91-9954364952 
- Hotel Centre Point (+91 364 222 0272/ 222 0480 Email: [email protected])
- Royal Heritage Tripura Castle (+91 364 250 1111/49 Email: [email protected])
- Hotel Alpine Continental,3 Star, email: [email protected]
- Hotel Polo Towers,Free Wifi. Shillong`s Only 4 Star Hotel. Winner of World Travel Brands Award. (+91 264 2222341) 
- Luxury, Ri Kynjai Resort, (+91 98624 20300/01 Email:[email protected]), 
- Hotel Barbareek Inn, Barabazar Mawlonghat near Anjalee Cinema (Nearby Anjalee Cinema opposite MUDA parking), ☎ 0364 2545561/2545660, . 500. (,4000) edit
There are many interesting places for outing from Shillong.
- Cherrapunji (or Sohra as called locally) is around 60 km south of Shillong. It holds the world record for the highest rainfall ever in a calendar year. It is famous for its various waterfalls (most famous of all Noh Kalikai Falls) and limestone caves. The Monsoon is the best time to enjoy thundering waterfalls. Limestone caves are full of stalactites and stalagmites and you will find many adventurous souls venturing deep into them.
- Nongriat, 70km from Shillong, is Surrounded by beautiful Waterfalls, exotic thick forest, man made bidges including the famous " Double Decker Living Root Bridge".
- Umiam is a water sports complex, developed upon the reservoir of the Umiam Hydro Electric Project, around 20 km north of Shillong. The campus consists of a lake resort and a park. It also offers many water sports activities.
- Sacred Forest (or Mawphlang as called locally) are groves around 25 km away from Shillong. These are considered sacred by Khasis and people were forbidden to enter them earlier. This ensured protection of a dense growth of several kinds of trees including the Khasi pine. The heavily covered grounds around the forests facilitating growth of ferns and orchids most of them endemic.
- Mawsynram is 56km from Shillong and is known for the Giant Stalagmite formation shaped into a "Shivalinga" and found inside a cave known locally as Mawjymbuin. It also gets the heaviest rainfall in world in recent years.
- Mawlynnong, 85km from Shillong, is Asia's Cleanest Village. Surrounded by beautiful waterfalls and landscape including the famous "Living Root Bridge".
- Jakrem, 64km from Shillong, is a hot-spring of sulphur water, believed to have curative medicinal properties.
- Jaintia Hills This is not a hot tourist spot but one can find a beautiful lake, a 700 hundred years old Durga temple and a rock garden.
- Shnongpdeng (Dawki)* This is located near India- Bangaladesh border area, following the route to Jowai Jaintia hills
For visiting these places, cab are available at Police Bazaar. It is recommended to negotiate before hire. (police bazaar).
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