Shillong is a hill station in the northeastern part of India and the capital of Meghalaya, which means “The Abode of Clouds”. It is the headquarters of the East Khasi Hills district. Shillong is the 330th most populous city in India with a population of 143,229 according to the 2011 census. It is said that the rolling hills around the town reminded the British of Scotland. Hence, they would also refer to it as the “Scotland of the East”.
Shillong has steadily grown in size since it was made the civil station of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills in 1864 by the British. In 1874, on the formation of Assam as the Chief Commissioner’s Province, it was chosen as the headquarters of the new administration because of its convenient location between the Brahmaputra and Surma valleys and more so because the climate of Shillong was much cooler than tropical India. Shillong remained the capital of undivided Assam until the creation of the new state of Meghalaya on 21 January 1972, when Shillong became the capital of Meghalaya, and Assam moved its capital to Dispur in Guwahati.
Shillong was capital for composite Assam during the British regime and later till a separate State of Meghalaya was formed. David Scott, the British civil servant of the East India Company, was the Agent of the Governor-General North East Frontier. During the First Anglo-Burmese War the British authorities felt the need for a road to connect Sylhet and Assam. The route was to traverse across the Khasi and Jaintia Hills. David Scott overcame the difficulties his administration faced from the opposition of the Khasi Syiems – their chiefs and people. Impressed by the favourable cool climate of Khasi Hills, they negotiated with the Syiem of Sohra in 1829 for a sanatorium for the British.
Places to visit
At a distance of 10 km from the city and at a height of 6449 ft (1965 m) above sea level, this is the highest point of Shillong. It offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the entire city, the Himalayas, its waterfalls as well as of the Bangladesh plains. A beautiful place to spend a day.
LADY HYDARI PARK
A very popular tourist spot in Shillong, the park is dedicated to the first lady of the province – Lady Hydari. This sprawling park, located in the heart of the city encompasses a wide variety of flora along with a mini zoo housing 73 species of birds and over 100 reptiles. The beautiful bed of flowers is the highlight of the park.
Just before reaching Sohra, a road to the right leads one to the falls which are 5 km away. The waterfall derives its name from a Then or a snake of gigantic size which dwelt in a cave. Legend has it that the people destroyed the snake to rid themselves of its reign of terror. Adjacent to the very spot where the Thlen was slaughtered lies the Dainthlen Waterfalls. Natural rock carvings of the episode draw visitors to see the image of the Thlen, the symbol of greed, corruption, and evil.
Named after an Elephant like stone at its base, the Elephant Falls are amongst the most popular falls in the North-East, situated close to Shillong. It is a tourist attraction with three layers of the falls accessible from different vantage points.