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Meghalaya Introduction


"The abode of clouds", south of Assam, was previously part of that state. It became a separate state of the Indian union in 1972. it is a hilly region very foggy in winter.

It is inhabited by three tribal groups, the Garos in the west, the Khasis in the center, and the Jaintias in the east. The three tribes have a matrilineal and matri local family system. A major dance festival, the Shad Suk Myasiem, the festival of joyful heart, is held in Shillong in April. 

For long a summer retreat of the British, the beautifully kept golf course and several English country cottages testify to another influence besides the local one. Beautiful lakes and falls, hillside cottages, a large university, and the popular Bara Bazar are quaint aspects of this town. 

General information 

Population 2,306,069
Area 22,429 sq km
Capital Shillong
Languages Spoken Khasi, Garo and English
District 7
People Per Sq. km 103
Literacy 63.31%



Fairs and Festivals

Nongkrem Dance 
This festival is celebrated during Autumn at Smit, the cultural centre of the Khasi Hills, to essentially commemorate the evolution of Khasi indigenous democratic states called HIMA, which are still functioning today under the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution when these states, earlier acceded to the Indian Union by signing the Instrument of Accession during 1947-48. 

Shad Suk Mynsiem 
Celebrated during springtime all over Khasi Hills, is colourful thanksgiving festival. Virgins dressed in traditional finery and menfolk in colourful costumes participate in the dance to the accompaniment of drums and pipes called tangmuri, the queen of musical instruments. 

Behdienkhlam 
Celebrated during monsoon in July at Jowai and Tuber in Jaintia Hills. The festival features religious ceremonies and dancing at a pool called 'eit nar', including a football game called 'datlawakor'. The ball in this case is a wooden ball. The festival is essentially to invoke the blessings of the Creator for a bountiful harvest and to chase away disease and plague. 
 
Wangala 
A major festival of the Garos, celebrated during Autumn, after the harvest season. The festival includes propitiation ceremonies to the deity Patigipa Rarongipa, held in every village. It is followed by other elaborate rituals for four days and nights, accompanied by dancing and merriment. It culminates in the warrior's dance-the Dance of a Hundred Drums, on the final day which is a spectacular and delightful sight. 

Doregata Dance 
It is another interesting dance where , while dancing the women try to knock off the turbans of their male partner using their head. If the women succeed, it is followed by peals of laughter. 

Lahoo Dance 
The Lahoo Dance is performed by both male and female for entertainment. Attired in their best finery, usually two young men on either side of a woman, holding arms together dance in step. In place of the usual drum and pipe, a cheer leader, usually a man gifted with the talent of impromptu recitation, recites couplets to the merriment of the audience.

Art and Handicraft 
The main shopping areas are Police Bazar, Bara Bazar and Laitumkhrah. At Bara Bazar one can have an interesting experience of seeing people of different tribes in colourful traditional attire. For handwoven shawls, handicrafts, orange flower honey and cane work, you can visit the emporia namely - the Meghalaya Handicrafts, Khadi Gramodyog and Purabshree. 


Places of interest

Shillong
The capital of Assam until 1972 and of Meghalaya since then lies 100 km south of Guwahati, a three hour drive through hills covered with pineapple and betel plantations, and pine forests. It passes along the Umiam Lake, formed by a recently built dam.

Shillong has been called the 'Scotland of the east' because of its climate and its location at an altitude of 4,900 feet.

General Information 

 
Altitude 1496 meters
Best Season Throughout the year
STD Code 0364

 

How to get there 


Air
Nearest airport Borjhar (Guwahati), 129 Km from Shillong, is connected with Calcutta. Umroi Airport, 31 km from Shillong. 

Rail
Nearest Railhead is Guwahati (103 Km).

Road
Calcutta-1184 Km, Darjeeling-690 Km, Gangtok-692 km, Guwahati-103 Km, Kaziranga-294 km, Aizwal-430 km, Siliguri-578 Km, Manas-273 Km, Agartala- 499 Km, Kohima-469 Km, Itanagar-481 km 


In and around 

Bara Bazar 

Selling Nepali silver and Khasi gold jewelry, spices and textiles. Shillong Peak 10 km, offers a view of the neighbouring hills.

Ward's Lake 
Located in the heart of the city, popular for short garden walks and boating, celebrated its centenary recently.

Botanical Garden 
A secluded but captivating spot with plethora of indigenous and exotic plants, is located just below the ward's lake.

Lady Hydari Park 
A popular charming tourist draw, the adjacent mini zoo is an added attraction. 

Elephanta Falls 
On the outskirts of the city, the mountain stream decends through two successive falls set in dells of fern-covered rocks. 

Bishop & Beadon Falls 

Both cascade down the same escarpment into a deep valley, the mass of water dissolving into misty sparks.

Shillong Golf Course 
The third oldest golf course in India, developed in 1889 as a nine hole course, was later converted to 18 holes in 1924 by Captain Jackson and C.R. Rhods. 

Umian Lake 
Offers water sports facilities including sailing, water skiing, water scooter etc. The orchard lake resort and the adjacent Lum Nehru Park is an ideal quite holiday resort.

Cherrapunjee 
56 km, to the south, is reputedly the world's wettest place with 45 inches of rain each year. The most interesting spot however is Mawphlang, 24 km further south, a barren and windy plateau covered with monoliths.

Entry Formalities
Foreign Tourist does not need Restricted Area Permit to visit Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura.

 

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