HISTORY OF MEGHALAYA
Meghalaya’, is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Megh’ meaning Cloud and ‘Alaya’ meaning home.
Meghalaya is divided into three hill zones, i.e. Khasi hill, Jayantia hill and Garo hill – named after the major tribes of the area. It is known that the said tribes had their own kingdoms, till the arrival of the British in 19th century. The former two originated from the Khasis where as the Garo is a sub tribe of Bodos. The Jaintia kings were influenced by the Hindu culture during 16th century. In 1872 the British had ‘put their feet’ in the Garo Hills and established tribal district councils. It was during the British rule that Meghalaya saw the signs of improvements in the field of roads, education and healthcare. After independence, Meghalaya was initially empowered with semi- autonomous status under Assam. Later it attained the statehood on 21 January 1972.
The Capital of Meghalaya, Shillong is one of the major tourist destinations in North East India. The British loved this place so much that they had established it as the Capital for Eastern Bengal and Assam. For its climate and unique topographical features the British referred to Shillong as the “Scotland Of The East”.
Places of interests:
Shillong Peak:It is the highest point of Shillong, located in the upper Shillong Hills at an altitude of 1961 meters (6,433 feet). The name Shillong originated from “Leishyllong”, the god who is believed to live on the Shillong peak, overlooking the city. It is located 5 kilometers away from Shillong and on a clear day one can enjoy the beautiful view of the entire city.
Elephant Falls: Located in the Upper Shillong 10 kms away from the Shillong town, it is one of the truly majestic waterfalls of Meghalaya. The water of this ‘three-step cataract comes down in flows from different levels over the fern-covered rocks and falls into the canyon down below. In the morning it forms a wonderful sight when the sun’s rays fall on the cascades of water creating the colours of the rainbow. The best time to visit the waterfalls is during the monsoon when it offers a breath-taking scene. The forests covered with ferns and thick bamboo grooves are also worth visiting as nature lovers will find there many species of butterflies, birds and orchids.
Barapani (Umiam Lake): As per the legends, two heavenly sisters decided to make their way to Meghalaya. However, only one of them reached the agreed destination, while the other, for some unknown reason, could not. So the former could not trace her sister and started crying with her broken heart. She cried so much that and a lake was formed with her tears. Locally known as Umiam Lake, Barapani means vast waters.
Today it becomes a hub for the water sports activities such as speed boats, sailboats and water scooters. Adjoining to the lake, the Nehru Park offers an aviary and a collection of orchids and butterflies.
Wards Lake: Wards Lake is located in the heart of the Shillong City adjoining to the Governor’s Residence. Shaped like a horseshoe, it is one of the prominent ‘hang-out’ spots in Shillong. This century old lake was built by an engineer named Mr. Pollock. Hence it is also known to be as "Pollok's Lake". One can opt for boating and pleasant walks on the cobbled sand stone pathways covered with varieties of flowers. The lake also has an arched bridge from where one can feed the fish.
Butterfly museum:: It is a very interesting place for the nature lovers based in the home of Mr. Wankhar, in Riatsamthiah . Started in 1939 this unique farm has an extensive collection of butterflies and moths.
Cathedral of Mary Help of Christian: Situated in At Laitumkhrah, it is the largest Cathedral in Meghalaya and attracts thousands of devotees. The colourful glasses of the skylight window along with the paintings of the Jesus spreading the messages of God are influenced by European art and architecture.
Shillong Golf Course: Shillong Golf Course is termed (by the United States Golf Association), the "Gleneagle of the East". The Golf Course is situated in a valley covered with thick groves of pine and rhododendron trees at an altitude of 5200 ft. Previously it was a nine hole course and later converted into a eighteen hole course in 1924 by Captain Jackson and C. K. Rhodes. It is the third oldest Golf Course in India. The Golf Course is situated in a valley covered with thick groves of pine and rhododendron trees at an altitude of 5200 ft. Previously it was a nine hole course and later converted into a eighteen hole course in 1924 by Captain Jackson and C. K. Rhodes. It is the third oldest Golf Course in India.
Archery in Shillong: Archery is one of the main traditional sports of the Khasi people. In Shillong it is a legalized traditional gambling game! Every day the game takes place near the Polo field. The campus has a small open ground about the size of a tennis court.
There are about 10 huts which represents one team per hut. Each team consists of a small group of archers. Before starting the game they clean their arrows made of pine trees and polish them with care and fondness. They sit in the semi-circle and wait for their chance to shoot the target. Each one of the team has to shoot about 25 shots within five minutes. When the action is over they all collect the arrows from the target for counting. They add up the total and calculate: For example, if the final count is 537, the betting will be for numbers 1 to 9: and the winner in this case will be no.5, as only the first number counts.
Cherrapunjee is a small hamlet, situated at an altitude of about 4823 feet (1484 m). Locally known as ‘SOHRA’. Cherrapunjee is located in the southern most point of Khasi hill sharing the border of Sylhet district of Bangladesh. Cherrapunji offers a panoramic view of the hilly terrains, deep gorges and valleys with its spectacular waterfalls. It was once having the record of being the wettest place on earth, with an average rainfall of about 1150ms. However, this record has been overtaken by a nearby place Mawsynram.
Places of attraction:
Nohkalikai falls: This waterfall is located 4 kms away from Cherrapunjee and is somewhere between 1500 and 2000 feet tall. Known to be the fourth longest fall in the world it carries a pathetic legend behind its name. A woman named Ka Likai had an illegitimate child. After marriage the husband became jealous of her love for her daughter. One day Ka Likai was out for work and her husband killed the daughter, cooked her flesh into a meal. When the woman enquired about her daughter, her husband showed the sign of ignorance. Before she went to look for her daughter, she thought of eating something and had the meal that her husband prepared for her. After having the meal she found both the wrist of her daughter in the betel-nut basket. Then she realized what had happened, killed her husband with a dagger and threw herself off this cliff over the falls. This is how the falls got its name which means "Fall of Ka Likai."
Mawsmai Cave: This 250m long cave is a major attraction for the tourists in Cherrapunjee. This cave is located 6 kms away from Cherrapunjee near to Mawsmai village. This natural limestone cave is wide enough for a person to walk comfortably, and one can see the myriads of stalagmites and stalactites all over the caves and all of which are growing gradually. The caves are dark inside and electric torches are installed for the convenient of the tourists.
Thangkharang Park: Thangkharang Park is situated 12 km from Cherrapunjee. The park is the home of various orchids and birds. One can see the 180 degree view of the plains of Bangladesh on a clear day.
The Living Root Bridges: These exclusive bridges are found only in Cherrapunjee. Some of these bio engineering wonders are 53 feet, some 70 feet, some 100 feet long. The ‘Double Decker’ Root Brides have two levels and can carry many people at a time. These bridges are not reachable by road and one has to walk in order to reach these living wonders.
Reportedly the wettest place on the earth, Mawsynram is situated 56 kilometers from Shillong. Mawsynram experiences an annual rainfall of 11.872 meters (about 39 feet). The major attraction in Mawsynram is a cave named Mawjymbuin. There is a massive stalagmite shaped into a Shiva linga inside the cave.