Travel to Scintillating Shillong Last Winter
The end of December marks the starting of vacation. The time is to escape from the busy schedule from school to office. There is Christmas in the air, followed by New Year to Bhogali Bihu and Picnic. But there shall be winter rush everywhere. Parents are being forced to take holiday to care for their children. There is time to meet relatives. Most importantly, the idea is to have fun while exploring new places, interact with locals, eat and enjoy culture. But the real difficulty is to choose a right destination for a leisure vacation. When it comes to holidays, people from North East have inclined view of going outside. Rich people have natural tendency to plan for aboard.
But North East has plenty of lesser-known unexplored destinations. National Highways have opened up dimension for tourist inflow. Assam being the gateway to North East is not very popular either. Its only hill station Karbi Anglong is yet to be explored. Only Kaziranga could carry its name. Come what may it quickly gained momentum now after Namami Brahmaputra / Barak festival and Awesome Assam Campaign. Nagaland has contributed significantly through Hornbill Festival. The other geographically isolated NE states are facing difficulties to attract visitors. Tourists rarely find history amid the natural beauty of Arunachal to their checklist. Mizoram and Tripura are largely inaccessible by road. Manipur has been crippled by economic blockade of Naga until recently. But neighbouring Meghalaya capitalised the opportunity for their tourism industry. So does Sikkim, she proved travellers’ expectation.
Last Christmas holidays, our family set off the silence of the wee hours of the morning at GS Road, curving through some of the most magical moments at Jorabat, the place is sandwiched between south Brahmaputra valley and the northern part of East Khasi Hills. As we went through the outskirts of the city, the landscape started taking on a new appearance. There are Pineapple plantations in the cool rolling hills. It is beautiful Shillong, often referred to as the “Scotland of the East” due to its striking similarity with the Scottish highlands. It is the most preferred destination as it is easily accessible through incredible road from Guwahati. After an hour-long smooth driving, a generous menu for breakfast at Jiva felt very pampered and refreshed for begin of the day. And suddenly we woke up after a glimpse of the vast scenic reservoir of beautiful lake Barapani (Big Water) surrounded by hills. It is a favourite place to witness boating there to carry beautiful memories of that serene lake while Orchid Resort offers facilities for motorboat rides. The Umiam River was the first hydroelectric project in North East India.
While entering the city, we found serpentine queue from AS Series Number Plate vehicle. Being weekend, it was painstakingly slow for an hour drive. Kudos goes to Shillong Traffic that put the road discipline in order. We saw huge Radar at the top of a mountain at a distance that monitoring air and terrestrial traffic of Bangladesh border. Strategically it has a great importance of air surveillance to control enemy airspace. It is Shillong Peak, the highest point of Shillong. A great view of Shillong is visible from the Peak View Point, Laitkor, which is often surrounded by dense fog. The only cumbersome was to wait long for entry pass from the Radar unit of IAF. There were fresh potato, tomato and green vegetables sold from the street shop along the way.
The cool breeze caressed our face. The Pine trees swayed in the breeze. Down the mountain shadow, Eastern Air Command of Indian Air Force stands tall as an epitome of India’s defence establishment. Shillong golf circuits are one of the oldest and natural in the world. The entire valley is dotted with thick vegetation. There are old Churches embracing Catholicism. The people were in festive mood. Visitors were mesmerised by the steep hills, glittering waterfalls and stunning green canyons at Cherrapunji border. It is mind-blowing view of Bangladesh there. Meghalaya houses many unexplored natural caves that still waiting to be discovered. Indian Navy organizes caving expedition every year. It was treasured hunt inside Mawjymbuin cave there. Being isolated, the villages are scattered near Cherrapunji. Finding an eating joint is a thorny task there. But boiled rice and fish curry somehow appeased our hunger. Visiting Elephant Falls, Rooth Bridge, Ward’s Lake are just a short picturesque drive away. The untouched natural beauty of the Blue Mountains presents it most fascinating. The Don Bosco Centre Indigenous Cultures is a place to explore the vast culture and tradition of the North East.
As time crumbled away, the dark was surrounding us and we felt a bit scary moments at upper Shillong. Very soon, however, we realized that city began approaching. Despite the heavy downpour, it was sparkling brightly at Saturday night hangout. The heritage buildings still hold the legacy of the bygone British era. The famous shopping haunt at Police Bazaar was crowded and found no way moving even at late night. The Hotels including Home Stay are all booked out during the festival. People are really passionate about their music. There is no dearth of local talent and Tipriti Kharbangar of Soulmate, Lou Majow is from this Rock capital of India. We come across good drink-dinner cum entertainment at Polo Towers. Surely it was an inspiring and memorable trip that could inspire everyone to visit again to this spectacular view of Khasi hills. The Jaintia and the Garo are other communities that add colour to this romantic city. Can train route be introduced to this pristine valley for the treasure hunt to witness whistling, steam-clacking on the misty, foggy track like Nilgiri? Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) may be operational for Air Traffic in the future. Shillong airport at Umroi required operational fully for cargo / large aircraft. Meghalaya may provide ready accommodations at fairly affordable prices that could open up new vistas for tourism. It was summer rush in Scintillating Shillong! It was truly amazing!