Meghalaya, known as Abode of the Clouds, justifies the tag completely as you may never know when it starts raining there. One of the Seven Sisters of North East India, Meghalaya seems inviting for a memorable trip. If you have never been to the place, imagine a place with tropical rainforests, roaring high waterfalls, crystal clear rivers and mountains under dramatic clouds.
I know the visuals in your mind made you excited enough to visit the place. But before that get familiar with the history, climate of the state and what place you must see in this Meghalaya Travel Guide.
Located in the northeastern part of India , Meghalaya is bordered by Assam in the north and Bangladesh in the south.
With its state capital as Shillong, this Indian state was formed out of two districts of Assam. The population here dates back to the Neolithic era. The Neolithic sites are located in areas of high altitude such as in Khasi Hills, Garo Hills and neighbouring states.
The Khasi, Garo and Jaintia tribes had their own kingdoms until the 19th century when the British administration was introduced. In 1835, British consolidated Meghalaya into Assam.
It was during Indian independence in 1947, Meghalaya constituted two districts of Assam and had limited autonomy. The Assam Reorganisation (Meghalaya) Act of 1969 came into effect on 2 April 1970, and a self-governing state of Meghalaya was born.
Meghalaya being a hilly area doesn’t have the same altitude all throughout the place. This is why the climate differs as and when the altitude changes. Neither too warm in summer nor too cold in winter, Meghalaya witnesses a pleasant climate during the year. However, over the plains of Garo hills, the climate is quite warm and humid except the winters. The sky is always full of clouds adding to the beauty of the place and it receives an average annual rainfall of about 1,150 cm.
Meghalaya is mainly covered with lush forests that are rich in orchids. It is known as the land of rain clouds and is among the wettest places on the earth. So if you don’t want to get drenched, plan your trip to Meghalaya to winters.
The climate of Khasi and Jaintia hills stays quite pleasing throughout the year. Summer is there only for a period of 5 months with torrential rains that also vary with altitude. Rainfall is on the heavier side in the areas of Cherrapunji and Mawsynram.
The Meghalaya Map occupies a small part of the Indian map but is equally important as the other states of the country. A hilly strip in eastern India, the place covers a total area of 22,429 sq.km.
Meghalaya is divided into 3 divisions that are further divided into 11 districts as listed below:
Khasi Hills Division
East Khasi Hills (Shillong)
West Khasi Hills (Nongstoin)
South West Khasi Hills (Mawkyrwat)
Garo Hills Division
North Garo Hills (Resubelpara)
East Garo Hills (Williamnagar)
South Garo Hills (Baghmara)
West Garo Hills (Tura)
South West Garo Hills (Ampati)
Jaintia Hills Division
West Jaintia Hills (Jowai)
East Jaintia Hills (Khliehriat)
Top Tourist Places to See in Meghalaya
Shillong, The Charming Capital City
The capital city of Shillong, is undoubtedly the gem of Meghalaya. It is a paradise for nature lovers, and a must-visit for all those who want to get close to the culture of the land. Settled amidst hills and valleys, the capital city exudes an innocent charm.
- Shillong Peak: It is the highest point in Shillong. Stand on the top, and you have the entire city at your feet. You can get thrilling views of the city, surrounded by hills and valleys, and even the farther plains of Bangladesh are visible from the top of the peak. It calls for the perfect way to spend an evening, romancing the city and its vibes.
- Don Bosco Museum: For those of you who are curious to know about the life of tribes of the north-east, this is the place. The museum displays collections of weapons, artefacts, and attires used by different tribes of the north-east. Skywalk on top of the building is the icing on the cake. If you have some thirst for adventure, go for it, and admire the beauty of Shillong.
- Umiam Lake: This lake is the quintessential tourist spot of Shillong. Umiam Lake is a man-made water body surrounded by the picturesque landscape of Khasi Hills. There are lots of activities for tourists, like boating and other water-sports. A relaxed evening spent here will surely rejuvenate your spirits.
Dawki, the land of ethereal beauty
Dawki, located around 113 kms from Shillong, is a place in Meghalaya that has to be an inevitable part of your trip. A short drive from Shillong will take you to this stunningly beautiful locale. December is the best time to visit this place.
There are many things to amuse you in Dawki:
- Umngot River: The crystal-clear water of this river gets the attention of many tourists. When viewed in photographs, it seems too good to be true. The water is so clear and transparent that you will see the depths of the river. Go for a boat ride, and you will feel as you are gliding over a sheet of glass. To make the ride more magical, choose an early afternoon for your visit to Umngot. Sun rays directly fall over the water, illuminating the whole world below the surface. There is a pretty suspension bridge over the river, giving you enough scope for a photoshoot.
- Go Fishing: Umngot River being a hotbed of tourist activities, there are many things, apart from boating, to tempt tourists. The locals can be seen with fishing nets and baits, from dawn to dusk. If you are ready for some fishing, you can try out your skills there. You might be lucky enough to get one or two in your bait.
- Bangladesh border: Dawki is a place sandwiched between India and Bangladesh. So here you get the unique opportunity to be in a border town. To view, or rather, have your feet planted in, two countries at the same time. One foot in India and one foot in Bangladesh! However, trespassing into a foreign land is not advisable.
Mawlynnong, The Cleanest Village
When you go to Meghalaya, never miss a chance to visit the village with the title of ‘the cleanest village in Asia.’ Go there, and see yourself how well deserved the title is. The villagers have taken it upon themselves to keep their surroundings clean. Bamboo dustbins are kept in every corner, and from young to old, every villager is a part of the cleanliness mission. No litter can be seen in any place!
Mawlynnong has enough for you to spend a few hours, soaking in the serenity and simplicity of the place. You can also try some delicious local food. A charming village with warm people, paved rustic roads, and flowers and shrubs on both sides of the road, Mawlynnong gives us a lesson to take home.
Though I was there during my road trip to Meghalaya and it is included in my Dawki video, I missed out on taking a good picture at the place. However, Mawlynnong is obviously among the amazing places to visit in India during December.
Living Root Bridge of Riwai
Root bridges of Meghalaya, made out of roots of rubber trees, have captured the attention of the world as it is the most eco-friendly way to build a bridge. While some of these bridges require arduous treks to reach, the one in Riwai, 70 kms from Shillong, is easily accessible. A ten minutes’ walk is needed to reach the place. With huge trees to give you shelter from the sun, you can enjoy a pleasurable walk down the narrow stairs. The bridge has been made by intertwining sturdy roots. So much skill is used that you will be amazed!
Deep Dark Valley, Rngain
The name suggests what to expect from the place. Deep Dark Valley or Rngain Canyon, is a spectacular destination, especially when you go in December. Green hills and valleys stretched out on all sides. You will not see anything except rows of hills and valleys! And yes, the valleys look deep and dark indeed. If you have enough time in hand, go explore the valleys a little. Due to rain and mist, the place remains hidden for most part of the year. So when you go in winter, the Deep Dark Valley is open to give you a magnificent view.
Cherrapunji, The Abode of Rains
Cherrapunji is definitely most famous for its abundant rains. The place that once used to be the wettest place on earth, is surely a fascination for all. When going in December, you cannot expect those torrential rains. But whether it’s showering or not, Cherrapunji has a lot of attractions including the Mawkdok Valley, Mawsmai Caves, Ramakrishna Mission, Nohkalikai Falls.
I think I have mentioned all the major attractions that you must not miss if you are lucky enough to get a chance at Meghalaya Tour India.