To visit North-East India is a unique experience in itself; Many of our perceptions about the region, about the people change. My first and only visit to North East got materialized back in 2010. I went to Shillong, The capital of Meghalaya (The abode of Clouds). The trip was simply electrifying.
Shillong: The Place
The word Shillong is taken from a local deity Lei Shyllong which is based at the highest peak of the area. Shillong has European connection who gave it the sobriquet of ‘Scotland of the East‘ may be to get rid of some home-sickness, who knows?
Shillong: The Location
Situated at an average height of 4908 feet above sea level; it is the headquarter of East Khasi Hills district. It’s a hill station and weather is pleasant almost all round the year.
Shillong: The Journey
Since I myself come from a hill station, similar in many respects, a visit to Shillong gave very homely vibes to this mountain child. I am a basic traveler so I have this very nature of enjoying every little thing, every twist and turn during a Journey. Instead of flying, we chose AC Train tickets from Delhi to Guwahati. Reason, a hunger for more! In the back of mind, I had the planning to capture all the journey in my 6/6 visioned retina, and the goal was quite achieved. Moreover a journey by train is unique in itself; you get to see a different kind of India!
For a hill person like me, the long stretched rice fields were also a dazzling; I was habitual to the tiny terraced land, you see! It was unusual to meet countless sparkling water bodies of various sizes; ponds, lakes, rivers and ultimately the mighty Brahmaputra.
I stood near the door of the train all through a bridge which seemed like a kilometre long or so. It was September. Guwahati welcomed us with a mild shower. We didn’t mind as we hadn’t taken bath for like two days! And how to forget that helpless sitting time on Newspapers at the New Delhi Railway Station platform, when our train was supposedly late, and nobody knew the truth when it would arrive! All sophistication said buh-bye soon!!!
So, Shillong is some 100 km from Guwahati. An interesting man ‘Cocktail’ drove us to NEHU. It was dark. He told about the peculiar culture prevalent over there. The one which caught my attention was that the youngest daughter is the legal heir of the family; she gets it all! A…mazing.
Meghalaya Follows a matrilineal system where the lineage and inheritance are traced through women. The youngest daughter gets most of the wealth and also looks after her parents.
Later on I realized that these people were very advanced; They have adopted western culture in a way much better, preserving their own at the same time. Isn’t it commendable?
Shillong: When We Met
Every street seemed drenched in non veg and music there. May be because of the love for music, it is also known as ‘Music Capital Of India’. The Sun rose really early, and went down equally soon. We had prepaid mobiles which were therefore good for nothing. STD was used to call home in morning, just to wake our families from sleep. They were like,’ what has gotten into you? How you woke up so early?’ They forgot No matter what the clock says! We were in the Easter part of the country, and Sun rises first there!
Trip was memorable, visited many excellent places. Some pictures are being shared.
Ward’s Lake: Also known as Pollock’s Lake.
Located in the mid of the city. It is named after the then Chief commissioner Of Assam, Sir William Ward. Timings:
November-February: 8.00 am till 5.30 pm & March-October; 8.30 am till 7.00 pm
Shillong Golf Course:
One of the oldest, largest, and finest natural golf courses in the world. Entitled as GLENEAGLE OF THE EAST. Located at an altitude of 5200 ft, initially it was 9-hole course, but was made 18-holed in 1924.
Lady Hyadari Park: Japanese styled garden with a mini zoo.
Cathedral Catholic Church also Cathedral of Marry Help of Christians
This Church has a story that needs to be told.
If you see the pictures, there is a wish pool in front of Mother Mary. Though the church was closed on the day of our visit, something extraordinary happened that day. I admit I am little weird everywhere including while praying. Initially, I kept on thinking what to pray for. In fact, I opened my eyes to check if others are done with their business or not; they were still. Finally, I tried to talk to God. I started with normal stuff, slowly moved on to many other topics. Then I thanked God for bringing us to such a beautiful place…
When I opened my eyes everyone was looking at me, surprised! I gave them puzzled looks. They handed me a coin to be thrown into the wish pool. I did what they said! What happened next was surprising and mesmerizing.
All of a sudden, The Fountain came to life; A water stream started flowing from the feet of Mother Mary in our direction! We looked at each other Awestruck. But no words came out of our mouth…we were speechless…only thing I remember which happened at that moment was that I had tears in my eyes…
However, later we tried to give many rational explanations to the incident. I still want to believe that it was some miracle…that I was given a special treatment by the forces that are above us.
The church opens 7.00 am to 6.30 pm summers & 8.00 am to 6.30 pm winters
Elephant Falls: It’s a three-step water fall. some 12 km from the city.
We traveled back early in the morning, and The Umiam Lake was all covered by fog. We didn’t make a stop here.
Later, did some sight-seeing in Guwahati. Journey to North East culminated with the blessings at the Kamakhya Temple. Goddess was glad to have us there. May be that’s why she arranged for a shortcut. We were awestruck; the line was endless, otherwise.
One thing more. You can do a lot of shopping for exotic things like apparel, bags, shoes etc since the state shares international borders, and in November, Shillong also hosts the International Cherry Blossom Festival. Need more reason to go?
Visit previous Oriental Afterglow Travel Tale here: The White Desert Of India