The Lady Hydari Park is one destination in Shillong that no tourist would want to give a skip. A lush green garden that is adorned with colourful flowers throughout the year and an adjoining mini zoo that has a special deer park makes the Lady Hydari Park a place for fun and frolic. Tourists and locals enjoy spending hours in the park where the children can run in the open space, play in the special play area while the adults can sit in the well-manicured grass and enjoy the beauty of nature.
Shillong got this park thanks to the initiative of the nature-loving first lady of the state of Assam during the British rule, Lady Hydari, wife of the governor of Assam. The park is landscaped in the Japanese style with ample green cover apart from flower beds and the mini zoo. Other than the deer abode, the mini zoo also houses many species of birds, reptiles and mammals. Lady Hydari Park is maintained by the forest department. A special attraction of the park is the rose beds that see variety of blooming roses. Close to the park is the only public swimming pool in the city, the Crinoline Swimming Pool.
Elephant Falls is one of the most popular tourist destinations located about 8 kilometres from the heart of the city. The drive from the city takes you through some of the most scenic roads where one can experience the beauty that the state of Meghalaya has been blessed with. The local name for the falls is Ka Kshaid Lai Pateng Khohsiew, which translates to three steps water as the water falls in three steps. The British named it Elephant Falls after the rock that resembled an elephant. Part of the rock was destroyed in the great earthquake that rocked the region in 1897. The falls is characterised by milky water that flows over black rocks.
Elephant Falls is also a hotspot of biodiversity where you can witness different species of plants some of which are unique to this region. The spot also houses many local shops run by women, who sell some of the most exquisite handicrafts of the state and the region. As a tourist you must don the local attire and click a photograph of yourself. It is also a great place for trekkers, who can scale up the steep rocks around the falls.
Located in the heart of the city, Wards Lake is perhaps the most-visited tourist spot in the city. It is equally popular amongst locals who throng it during weekends and holidays. The lake was named after Sir William Ward, who was the chief commissioner of Assam when the lake was constructed during the days of the British Raj. This horseshoe-shaped lake was once a part of the Government House or the Raj Bhawan and offers a perfect setting for a scenic outing. Legend has it that the beautiful lake was constructed by a Khasi prisoner, who requested for work to get himself out of his cell. His initial work inspired the administrators to construct the landscape around. The locals refer to this lake as Nan Polok or Polok Lake.
Shillong was planned around this attractive lake with its beautiful ornamental bridge. The botanical garden adjacent to the lake offers visitors a glimpse of some rare plant species. The stone pathways and vividly coloured flowers on the landscape add to the charm. The light and sound that was added recently has become a major attraction in the evening. Boat rides is a must for anyone visiting the Wards Lake.
The Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures is the largest cultural museum in Asia which displays the rich cultural of the northeastern states. Tourists can see a wide range of artefacts, attires, handicrafts, ornamentation, weapons and rare photographs that have been collected from all the seven states of the region. Run by the Salesian order of the Catholic Church and situated in the Sacred Heart Church premises, the Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures is locally known as the Don Bosco Museum.
The artefacts in the museum are spread over a seven-storey building which has seventeen galleries. Each gallery is dedicated to a different aspect of the culture of the northeastern states and thus, tourists can visit galleries dedicated to weapons, costumes and ornaments, basketry, alcove and language. One of the main attractions of the museum is the skywalk which provides an enchanting and exhilarating view of the Shillong city.
Shillong Peak is the highest viewpoint in the beautiful hill station of Shillong. The Shillong Peak lies at a height of 1,966 metres above sea level and is a vantage point from where the entire city of Shillong can be seen. It is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the city and travellers throng the peak to get a kaleidoscopic view of the Scotland of the East.
Historians believe that the name of the city Shillong came from this hill. The local tribal people of the place believe that their local deity, Leishyllong, resides in this hill and oversees the city and protects the people from all evil. The spiritual pastor of Mylliem offers prayer at a sanctum that is located in this hill. Apart from the great view that Shillong Peak offers, the Indian Air Force radar is also situated here. The viewpoint is located within the premises of the Indian Air Force.
The Captain Williamson Sangma State Museum is a state-run museum that is situated in the State Central Library Complex. The museum is managed by the Art and Culture Department and provides an insight on the tribal lifestyles of the region laying special emphasis on the tribal culture of Meghalaya. There are several interesting things that are displayed on the museum, such as the ethnic handicrafts, animals and plants of the region.
Scholars and researchers highly regard the museum for its amazing collection. The Capt. Williamson Sangma State Museum is named after the first chief minister of the state of Meghalaya. Since the museum is situated in the premises of the state library, tourists can also visit the rich library. The museum and the library are housed inside a beautiful premise that has statues of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Indira Gandhi erected apart from rows of flower beds and a long driveway.
The beauty of Shillong is exemplified by the magnificent and beautiful Cathedral Catholic Church. Formally called the Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians, this is one of the most-visited tourist destinations of the Scotland of the East. Over 3,00,000 Catholics pay their obeisance in the cathedral. The cathedral is known for its architectural brilliance as well as its pious environment. There are 14 stations of the Cross that are painted with stories of the Christ. The stained glass windows are also painted in myriad colours. If one looks at the cathedral from the top, they can see that the church is shaped as a Cross.
There are two stairways leading to the church, which add to the grandeur of the surrounding. The cathedral holds service every Wednesday and Sunday. Service is conducted in both English and the local language, Khasi. During the centenary celebrations in the year 1980, the then archbishop, late Rt. Rev. Hubert D’Rosario, had declared the Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians to be a pilgrimage centre. On the area opposite to the cathedral stands an open statue of Jesus Christ with his disciples. The cathedral stands as a reminder of the strong missionary and Christian influence found in the city.
Chrysalis Gallery is a local art gallery that is run by a local artist, Jaya Kalra. The art gallery is one of its kind in the small hill station of Shillong as it caters to photographers, sculptors, artisans and painters. The large gallery hall has ample and flexible spacing that can be used to display numerous paintings, photographs, handicraft items and sculptures.
The gallery is situated at the heart of the city in Police Bazaar. Jaya Kalra is a renowned artist who resides in Shillong. In fact, Kalra is the first artist from the northeast who has held a solo exhibition in Paris. She is also a representative of the northeast in the Lalit Kala Akademi. Her paintings are so well accepted that they can be found in the prime minister’s office in New Delhi, the president’s office and many such places.
Motphran is a monument built by the British to commemorate the sacrifice of the Khasis during the First World War. The area surrounding Motphran, known as Iewduh (or Bara Bazaar), is the indigenous and largest market of the city. Apart from being a local hub, Motphran has a celebrated history that places it as an important tourist destination in Shillong. Motphran literally translates to the Stone of France. Motphran is a monument dedicated to the porters of the 26th Khasi Labour Corps who had carried arms, ammunitions and other essential items for the British soldiers during the First World War.
The memorial was built by the English to honour the death of all the 67 porters who had died in the war. There is a famous inscription in the monument that is written in Latin by Horace and it reads, ‘Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori’. The phrase translates to, ‘It is sweet to die for one’s country.’ The British had originally named it Mot France, but since the locals could not pronounce it so, it came to be known as Motphran. Today Motphran has become a busy traffic junction that sees chock-a-block thoroughfare throughout the day.
Spread Eagle Falls is one of the widest falls in the city of Shillong. Located just 3 kilometres from the Polo Grounds, the Spread Eagle is a steep falls. The waterfall softly gushes out of the hills and slowly gains force and roars downstream with humongous force. The lake is serene and loud at the same time and is quite an imposing sight. The gushing water breaks out on rocks. The waterfall is called so because it looks like an eagle which spreads out its wings.
Locally the indigenous tribe, the Khasis call the Spread Eagle Falls the Urkaliar falls and it is believed that is it where Ka Liar had slipped. The waterfalls is still counted amongst the most dangerous and perilous waterfalls in the city owing to the slippery edges. There is another name to the Spread Eagle Falls and it is also known as the Sati Falls. Till a few years back there was no proper road connectivity to the Spread Eagle Falls and it was not a famous tourist destination. However, now the tourism department has taken the initiative to popularise the waterfall. Better roads are being constructed and safety measures are underway.
The Sweet Falls is one of the steepest and most beautiful falls in Shillong. The Sweet Falls is locally called the Weitden. The steep falls dives down a height of 96 metres gushing and breaking into black rocks below. During the monsoon season, the water gains momentum and falls with full force. The sight is breathtaking and spectacular. The irony of the name of the falls is that there is probably nothing sweet about the waterfalls apart from its magnificent sight.
It is dangerous during the monsoons as the edges become wet and slippery. The Sweet Falls is located at Happy Valley in the outskirts of Shillong and can be easily reached. Local taxis can be booked to reach this tourist destination. Locals regularly visit the spot and revel in the lap of nature. Recently the Meghalaya tourism has beautified the area around the falls and made it easily accessible to tourists.
The Shillong Golf Course is located about 3 kilometres from the heart of the town and is a huge crowd-puller. Popularly known as Golf Links amongst the locals, this was laid in the year 1898 by the British Civil Servants and the English Golfline Buddies. The golf course stands amidst pine groves and rhododendron trees at an altitude of 5,200 ft above sea level and is one of the highest courses in the country.
Initially laid as a 9-hole course this was converted into a 18-hole course in the year 1924 and it continues to hosts annual tournaments. The Shillong Golf Course boasts of being the second largest natural golf course in Asia and holds annual tournaments where golfers from around the country display their skills. The Shillong Golf Club, which stands near the 18th hole of the course, is an attraction in itself displaying the best of Assam-type architecture.
The Butterfly Museum is the only known museum in India that is dedicated to moths and butterflies. The museum that is privately owned has a huge collection of butterflies and moths. The Butterfly Museum is situated at Riatsamthiah about 2 kilometres from Police Bazaar, the main shopping destination of Shillong. The Butterfly Museum has a collection of the some of the rarest species of butterflies and moths.
It is quite a sight to see the colourful butterflies on display in the specially designed Butterfly Museum. The museum is also known for initiating a butterfly breeding program. What started as a mere commercial program has today become a full-fledged butterfly and moth anthology centre. Apart from preserving many rare species of butterflies and moths, the museum is also known for providing a rare insight into the life cycle of these fragile species. Tourists can take a local taxi to the Butterfly Museum.