Shillong, known as the 'Scotland of the East', is a popular tourist destination in northeastern India. Located in Meghalaya, the city is known for its breathtaking natural beauty, pleasant climate, rich cultural heritage, and a long list of beautiful places.
One of the major attractions in Shillong is its picturesque landscape which plays the perfect role in nestling a plethora of offbeat places. The city is surrounded by hills, waterfalls, and lush green forests, offering visitors stunning views and the opportunity to explore the outdoors. Some popular natural attractions include Umiam Lake, Shillong Peak, and Laitlum Canyon, Secret Forest Shillong.
The traditional and cultural heritage is a celebrated aspect of Meghalaya. The Khasi tribe, one of the largest ethnic groups in Meghalaya, has a unique culture and tradition in the city's architecture, food, and festivals. Visitors can explore the traditional Khasi villages, learn about their unique way of life, and try the local cuisine, which includes dishes such as jadoh (rice with meat or vegetables) and tungrymbai (fermented soybean).
The city is also home to several historic and religious sites. The Shillong Cathedral, one of the largest churches in Northeast India, is a popular attraction for visitors. Other notable sites include the Don Bosco Museum, which showcases the culture and traditions of the Northeast, and the Mawphlang Sacred Grove, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In addition to its natural and cultural attractions, Shillong is also a hub for music and art. The city has a vibrant music scene, with several local bands and musicians making a name for themselves nationally and internationally. Visitors can catch live performances at Cloud 9 and Cafe Shillong. The city also hosts several art and cultural festivals, including the Shillong Autumn Festival and Khasi Hills Music Festival.
10 offbeat places in Shillong to experience the breathtaking beauty of Meghalaya
1. Mawlynnong Village
A hidden gem located about 25 km from Shillong, this serene village is known for its lush green surroundings, picturesque landscapes, and tranquil ambience. The village is home to the Khasi tribe and offers a glimpse into their unique culture and traditions.
Visitors to Mawlynnong can take leisurely walks through the village and explore the quaint houses and traditional architecture. The village is also surrounded by scenic hills and valleys, making it a perfect spot for hiking and trekking. Mawlynnong is also known for its unique living root bridges, which are formed by the roots of rubber trees woven together over many years. These bridges are a marvel of natural engineering and are a must-visit attraction in the village, an excellent place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and experience the beauty and tranquillity of rural Meghalaya.
2. David Scott Trail
The David Scott Trail is a historic trekking route that runs between the towns of Mawphlang and Lad Mawphlang in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya. The trail is named after a British administrator, David Scott, who created this route in the early 1800s to expand trade and commerce. Today, the trail is a popular trekking route that offers stunning views of the surrounding hills and valleys, as well as the opportunity to explore remote villages and learn about the local culture.
3. The Mawphlang Sacred Grove
A dense forest located near the village of Mawphlang is about 25 kilometres from Shillong. The grove is believed to be over 800 years old and is considered sacred by the local Khasi tribe, who have been its custodians for generations, making it one of the most iconic places to visit in Shillong.
The grove is a biodiversity hotspot and is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, including rare orchids, ferns, and medicinal plants. Visitors can take a guided tour of the grove, which offers insights into the Khasi culture and their reverence for nature.
4. Lum Sohpetbneng Peak
Located around 20 km from Shillong, Lum Sohpetbneng Peak is one of the most sacred sites for the Khasi people. According to Khasi mythology, this peak is the navel of the earth and is believed to be the place where the Khasi people originated from. Visitors can hike up to the peak, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, as well as visit the nearby U Lum Sohpetbneng, a sacred grove with fables of local deities protecting it.
5. Laitlum Canyons
Laitlum Canyons, also known as Laitlum Grand Canyon, is a scenic destination located around 45 km from Shillong. The name Laitlum means "end of hills" in the local Khasi language, and the canyons are named after the stunning vistas that they offer of the surrounding hills and valleys. Visitors can hike down to the bottom of the canyons, where there is a small village, and enjoy the breathtaking views of the landscape and revel in the beauty of one of the most treasured and hidden places in Shillong. The canyons are also known for their misty and ethereal atmosphere, which adds to the mystical charm of the place.
6. Umiam Lake
Umiam Lake, also known as Barapani Lake, is a serene and picturesque lake on the outskirts of Shillong. The lake is surrounded by hills and lush greenery, making it a popular spot for picnics, boating, and other water activities. The tranquil ambience of the lake and its scenic beauty attract visitors throughout the year to these places to visit in Shillong.
7. Shillong Peak
Shillong Peak is the highest point in Shillong, offering a panoramic view of the city and the surrounding hills. One of the most frequented Shillong sightseeing places, this peak is located at an altitude of 6,449 feet and is a popular spot for trekking and hiking enthusiasts. Visitors can also visit the Shillong Peak Observatory, which houses a telescope for stargazing and offers a breathtaking view of the night sky. The peak is surrounded by dense forests, making it an ideal spot for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts.
8. Arwah Caves
Arwah Caves are located in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya and are one of the lesser-known attractions in the state, one of the must-visit offbeat places in Shillong. The caves are known for their unique rock formations, stalactites, and stalagmites. Visitors can explore the caves with a guide and marvel at the natural beauty.
Shnongpdeng is a small village near Dawki in Meghalaya known for its crystal-clear waters and picturesque surroundings. Visitors can go kayaking, swimming, and camping, and enjoy the serene beauty of the river to experience the thrill and tranquillity in one of the most beautiful places in Shillong.
10. Risa Colony Hills Forest
The Risa Colony Hills Forest is located in the West Garo Hills district of Meghalaya and is a haven for nature lovers. The forest is home to flora and fauna, including rare orchids, birds, and butterflies. Visitors can go trekking, hiking, and bird watching, and enjoy the scenic beauty of the forest.
Shillong is a must-visit destination for natural beauty, culture, and adventure lovers. With its pleasant climate, a plethora of the best places to visit in Shillong, exploring local cuisine in the best cafes in Shillong, friendly locals, and diversity in Shillong's sightseeing places, the city is sure to leave visitors with unforgettable memories.