“When the heat of summer could not be met even with fans and softdrinks, I rushed to the hills of Shillong” --Rabindranath Tagore’s Shillonger Chithi (Letter from Shillong)
Such was his love for the misty and romantic hills of Shillong that Tagore recounted his most celebrated love story, that of Labannya and Amit (in ‘Shesher Kobita’/ The Last Poem) amidst the pristine mountains of Shillong.
Amply blessed by the rain god, this capital city of Meghalaya is defined by majestic hills and plateaus, lavish pine forests, and gorgeous waterfalls on crystal streams, meandering through misty mountain roads.Tucked away amidst the magnificent Khasi hills, Shillong boasts of abundant natural beauty, best-possible civic infrastructure among all the north-eastern cities, and most notably, the extremely warm and hospitable residents.
About 100 kilometers by road from Guwahati, the drive to Shillong is surprisingly smooth compared with the road conditions that one faces in other parts of North-East India. Shillong is well connected by buses and private cars from any major city of Assam, Guwahati being the closest, and this sublime journey through winding lush green hilly roads, with gurgling waterfalls and streams at close intervals, is sure to transport any traveler to a whole new level of magical reality!
If you really want to experience the local essence of any city in the world, walking is the best option, and Shillong is no different. Rather, unlike many other cities I have been to, this place offers neatly marked pedestrian routes throughout the town for the ease of unknown travelers.
While local guides offered with popular tourist destinations such as the busy Police Bazar, the three-storied Elephants Falls, the picturesque Ward Lake, the old-school Pinewood Bar built in a British bungalow, and a day visit to both Cherapunji, the wettest place on earth, and Mawlynnong, the cleanest city in the world,a little in-depth research among the locals brought about for fairly untraveled locations such as the Shillong Burra Bazar, marked by its crisscrossing alleys; the bustling Laitumkhra, with its cafes and young crowd; or the famous Mawsmai caves.
In fact, only a walk through the undulating hills surrounded by breathtaking greenery and being occasionally hugged by a group of errant clouds will endow you with a lifetime’s worth of memories that will haunt you to visit the Shillong over and over again.