Sinlung /
21 February 2014

Meghalaya A Domain of Clouds and Hills

Saifur Rahman Tuheen
Shillong Peak
Shillong Peak
Nature lovers who have already visited the popular tourist spots of Bangladesh and are thinking of travelling abroad to an affordable place should definitely think of visiting Meghalaya. Shillong, the capital city of the north-eastern state of India which shares borders with Sylhet and Mymensingh, is commonly known as the Scotland of the East for its breathtaking landscapes and cool weather. Meghalaya is also home to Cherrapunji, which holds the world record for the most rainfall in a calendar month and in a year.
The geographical structure of the state is very similar to Darjeeling of West Bengal, Gangtok of Sikkim and Shimla of Himachal Pradesh but for Bangladeshis, Shillong would definitely be the most accessible and affordable choice. Bounded with lush green forests, hilly terrain, beautiful lakes, river valleys and exotic wildlife, the monsoonal beauties of Meghalaya is worth cherishing.
How to go
The best way to travel to Meghalaya from Bangladesh is by travelling from Sylhet to the Tamabil border, as that would be cost-effective, and you'd get the chance to enjoy the sights of this beautiful city. You can hire a car or microbus from the city which will take you to the Tamabil check post, which is about 45 kilometres from Sylhet. Wake up early in the morning to start your journey, as customs and immigration offices of both countries are relatively free at that time. If you are lucky, the formalities of the Bangladeshi immigration office will take you around half an hour. Once you are done with the formalities, you can just walk down the road to reach the Indian Customs and Immigration Office. Rest assured, you will be able to complete all the formalities and procedures at the Indian office in a much more efficient and faster manner than you would at the Bangladeshi immigration office.
You can then hire a taxi or a car which will take you to Shillong city. Public transport is also available until 11 am in the morning, but you might not find the commute to be very comfortable. Shillong is just 83 kilometres from the Dawki border and it will take you about two and half hours to reach the city. The journey in itself is a treat, as the uphill road is covered in lush green hills, waterfalls and magnificent valleys. Markets line up the road and you might even find a friendly face smiling and waving at you, silently welcoming you to their land.
Elephant Falls
Elephant Falls
After You Get There
Make sure that you start from the Dawki border before noon so that you can reach Shillong by afternoon. The Dawki to Shillong road is extremely unsafe for travellers after sunset. Before you embark on this journey, do remember to reserve a hotel room in Shillong online.  Most of the affordable hotels are located in Police Bazar, the heart of the city. Hotel Centre Point, Hotel Mikasa, Hotel JK International, Hotel Boulevard, Eden Residency, Hotel Embassy, Hotel Pine Borough are the reasonably priced and popular hotels of Police Bazar. If you are in the mood for something more comfortable and are not worried about the cost, you could opt for Hotel Pinewood, Hotel Orchid, Hotel Polo Towers, Hotel Pegasus Crown, and Hotel Alpine Continental, which are situated around the city. Many hotels provide package tour facilities with a guide and a reserved cab at affordable rates. To enjoy the beauty of the place, spare at least two to three days to visit all the breathtaking places in and around the city.
Places You Can Visit
Shillong Peak and Sohbetbneng Peak: The peaks are located 10 and 20 kilometres respectively from Shillong city.  Shillong Peak is the highest point in Meghalaya with a height of 1,961 meters above the sea level. On a clear, sunny day, you get a bird's eye view of the entire city from the Shillong peak.
The Sohbetbneng Peak is situated at a height of 1343 metres above the sea level. The peak is regarded as a place of religious importance for the tribes of Khasi, Jainita, and Bhoi. It offers a feeling and essence of spirituality, and is ideal for those seeking a bit of solace from the chaos of everyday life.                         
Ward's Lake and Umiam (Bara Pani) Lake: Ward's Lake is an artificial lake within the city. You should visit the place if you have kids with you, as they will enjoy the boat rides and the flora of the 100-year old lake.
Umiam Lake, which is more popularly known as Bara Pani, is 17 kilometres away from Shillong. If you are interested in riding in a speedboat or want to go for a quiet picnic with friends and family, then Bara Pani is the place for you.
Waterfalls: Sweet Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Meghalaya situated in the Happy Valley. Rengthiam Falls is another cascading waterfall situated at a distance of 15 kilometres from Shillong. Bishop and Beadon falls are two other magnificent waterfalls located in Suna Vally. But if you are pressed for time, and can only visit one waterfall, then do not miss the Elephant Falls, which is within boundaries of the city and is an experience in itself.
Shillong Golf Course: The third oldest golf course of India, the Shillong Golf Course is considered to be the 'Glen Eagle of the East' by the United States Golf Association and Museum. Developed in 1889 as a nine-hole course, it was later converted to an18-hole course in 1924 by Captain Jackson and C.K. Rhodes. It is set in a heaving valley covered with thick groves of pine and rhododendron trees at an altitude of 5,300 feet.
Cherrapunji: Located at an altitude of 4,500 feet above sea level, Cherrapunji has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as a place where the rainfall can be recorded in feet rather than in millimetres. Stunning valleys and rivers elevate the charm of Cherrapunji. The town is located some 60 kms from Shillong city, and you can take a car or bus to Cherrapunji in the morning and still get back to Shillong by afternoon.
Caves: The caves of Khasi Hills, Garo Hills and Jaintia Hills are special attractions for tourists visiting Meghalaya. Mawsmai Cave, Krem Mowmluh and Krem Dem are the notable caves of Khasi Hills while Jaintia Hills is home to Krem Kotsati and The Cave of Eocene Age, which offer a sense of adventure and mystery. Bok Bak Dobhakol, Siju-Dobhakol and Terengkol-Balwakol caves are some of the longest and intricate caves of the Garo Hills.
When to Visit: March to October, particularly March and April, and September and October are the ideal months to visit Meghalaya.
Published: 12:00 am Friday, February 21, 2014


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