Earth : Asia : South Asia : India : North-Eastern India : Meghalaya
Meghalaya (Abode of Clouds in Sanskrit) is one of the seven Northeastern states of India. It is bound by Assam in north and east and by Bangladesh in the south. River Brahmaputra (or Luit as called locally) forms the border in the west. It comprises of erstwhile Khasi-Jaintia hills and Garo hills districts of Assam. Most of the terrain is hilly and experiences heavy rainfall during monsoons. Meghalaya is home to three major tribal population - Khasis, Garos and Jaintias (in order of population).
The British came to Sylhet in 1765. At that time the Khasis used to come at Pandua on the border of Sylhet to trade in silk, cotton goods, iron, wax, honey and ivory in exchange for rice, salt and dried fish. Limestone from the Khasi hills used to fulfill the demand in Bengal then. Soon British officials of the East India Company began trading in limestone and thus came in contact with the Khasis. In 1824, the Burmese invaded Cachar and also appeared at the border of the Jaintia Hills. The British sent a small force to reinforce the Jaintia Rajah’s troops. On 10th March 1824, a friendship treaty was signed by the Rajah accepting the protection of the British. Other Khasi chiefs also allowed the passage of the British troops through their territories. After the Burmese invasion was over, the British demanded a corridor through the Khasi and the Jaintia Hills to connect Assam valley with Surma valley. Most of the Khasi chiefs agreed, and the road was completed in March 1829, but only after quelling an upheaval by U Tirot Sing. The story that followed after putting down the uprising by U Tirot Sing was the signing of several treaties with different Khasi chiefs. In 1862 the Jaintias revolted under U Kiang Nongbah. By virtue of these treaties, the British gradually took control of the mineral deposits and side by side subjugated the chiefs and also took control of judiciary.
Garo, Khasi & Jaintia are the major languages spoken in addition to English. English is spoken all over the state in all urban areas.
Umroi airport, located around 35 KM from Shillong is the only airport in Meghalaya where commercial flights operate from. A limited number of Air India flights (ATR42 type) are available from Kolkata per week.
Guwahati airport (GAU), aka Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in neighboring Assam has many more scheduled flights to the region and may make for a more flexible, cheaper airport itinerary. It is about three hours away from Shillong by car.
Pawan Hans Helicopter service is available between Guahati airport and Shillong Helipad.
There are no railway lines in Meghalaya. Guwahati is the nearest railway station located around 104 KM from Shillong.
Shillong is connected with Guwahati by NH 40. Various modes of transport including Shared taxis, Buses and private cabs ply on this route. The roads are good, it will take 2.50 hours in an automobile.
Visa and Restricted Area information
No Inner Line Permit or Protected Area permit is required to enter Meghalaya. Meghalaya government maintains a very useful site  which contains a lot of resources for tourists
The Khasi, Garo and Jaintia have a rich craftsmanship and art heritage. In the Jaintia and Khasi districts, Artistic weaving, wood-carving and cane and bamboo work are major crafts. While carpet and silk weaving and musical instruments, jewelry and pineapple fibre articles are minor but popular crafts. Popular handicrafts of the Garo hills district are artistic weaving, cane and bamboo work including poker work( in which designs are burnt into the bamboo with a red-hot pointed rod),wood carving, jewelry and as well as clay toys, dolls and musical instruments.
Rice is the staple food and different varieties from the red rice to the sticky glutinous rice are grown and eaten in Meghalaya. The red rice from the Sung Valley is known to be particularly delicious. Pork in every form is enjoyed by all three communities. The Khasi and Jaintia cuisine are similar and use black sesame seeds to add a distinctive taste to the pork and other dishes. A cold salad of shredded pork with onions and ginger is also very popular.
During the early monsoon, different varieties of mushroom sprout all over the Jaintia and Khasi Hills and these make their way to the local markets. The mushrooms are either cooked in combination with the meat dishes or just fried lightly on its own Rice is cooked either plain or in combination with onions, ginger and turmeric, giving it the characteristic yellow colour this is known as 'jastem'. Another variation is the 'jadoh' which is rice cooked with meat, (namely pork). Rice cakes called 'putharo and the drier flaky 'pumaloi are prepared from rice flour. Another variety is the deep fried jaggery sweetened pukhiein and steamed pusla usually eaten as snacks with tea.
The Garo cuisine is simple to cook with different variations adding richness to the flavour. One of the most popular dishes among the Garos is the Nakham Bitchi dish, which is prepared from special dry fish, chillies and a pinch of soda. This is a hot spicy soup and is usually served with rice, together with some other fish or meat dish, usually boiled with yam, pumpkin, gourd, chillies and a dash of bamboo ash water. These dishes are sometimes cooked wrapped in leaves or in fresh bamboo cylinders over an open fire, thereby infusing the food with the flavour of the leaves and green bamboo. Also popular among the Khasi, Jaintia and Garos is fish and meat preserved either by drying in the sun or smoking over fire. A variety of chutneys prepared from different types of herbs, fermented soya bean and fermented fish always accompany the meals.
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