The most romantic city in the North East, Shillong is one of the standout tourist destinations in India. Often referred to as the “Scotland of the East” for its highlands and charming natural beauty, tourists from India and abroad get attracted to Shillong’s cascading waterfalls, tranquil lakes, winding roads, precarious bridges, rolling hills, and fascinating indigenous culture.
This place is also known as the “Abode of Clouds”. Its natural beauty, centered in the exquisite Garo and Khasi hills, is breathtaking. In the entirety of the Indian subcontinent, this is the only hill station which is easily accessible from all the sides and is located 103 km away from Guwahati. Moreover, there are many mesmerizing places to visit in Shillong which make it the perfect destination for spending holidays. The natural scenery of this alluring hill station lets you witness nature at its best.
If you genuinely intend to explore Shillong to its fullest, you can also go for a Shillong tour guide.
Best Time to Visit Shillong
Shillong is blessed with pleasant weather throughout the year. That means you can visit it at any time of the year. However, summer is the best time to visit Shillong for sightseeing and other activities. Other than this, if you are looking forward to enjoying rainfall, greenery, and stunning waterfalls, then June to September are the perfect months. And if you love chilly weather, then you must visit this place in winters when the temperature reaches as low as 2°C.
List of places to visit in Shillong
Here’s a list of the most popular tourist places to visit in Shillong:
1. Shillong Peak
Shillong Peak is the highest viewpoint of Shillong and one of the best places to visit when here. Located at a height of 6449 ft and 1965 m above sea level, it offers a 360° bird’s-eye view of the entire city, the Himalayas, waterfalls, and the plains of Bangladesh. Covered with fog almost all the time, this is one of the best places to see in Shillong that cannot be ignored. There is a belief that the patron deity ‘Leishyllong’ who protects the city from all evils resides in these hills. In fact, Shillong got its name from Shillong Peak. The U Shulong site located at the top of the peak is considered sacred where a ritual is organized every year during spring. Shillong Peak is perfect for nature lovers and trekkers alike.
2. Elephant Falls
Elephant Falls is situated 12 km from the main city and is counted among the most attractive places to see in Shillong. These spectacular waterfalls were named by the Britishers after the huge adjoining rock that resembles an elephant. However, this rock was destroyed in an earthquake.
This place is one of the most visited tourist places in the entire North East where you can enjoy mesmerizing views of lucid water and verdant greenery. You can feel the coolness of this refreshing waterfall with your own hands from the barrier built close to it. To date, many local movies, documentaries, and TV ads have been shot here. You can dress up in local Khasi attire available on rent at the shops near the Elephant Falls. These dresses are very colourful and attractive.
3. Ward’s Lake
Ward’s Lake is a very popular tourist spot in Shillong that one must never miss out on. It is also known as Pollock’s Lake. Situated just opposite Raj Bhavan, this is an artificial water body encircled by an extensively lush garden and a cobblestone walkway. This place is ideal for enjoying natural beauty, having picnics, and relaxing. The wooden bridge on the lake and sprawling lotus beds on both sides give it a scenic look.
The best time to visit this astonishing lake is the early hours of the day and evening. You can enjoy boating in this well-maintained lake which is also perfect for photography. People from various regions visit this lake during the month of November when the Orchid Festival is organized here. Some of the famous restaurants in this area that serve delicious food can be reached from the lake in just a few minutes.
4. Sohpetbneng Peak
Located about 25 km away from the main city and 7 km from Umiam Lake, Sohpetbneng Peak offers the most thrilling views of the city. This peak is popular for its tranquility, peace, and aura which make this place one of Shillong’s most popular tourist spots. Standing at an altitude of 1343 m, this place is regarded as the ‘Naval of Heaven’ by the Khasi tribe of Shillong and is associated with various mythological tales of the Hynniewtrep community. In that sense, Sohpetbneng Peak is not only a scenic getaway but also holds historic as well as spiritual significance. On the first Sunday of February, an annual tribal function is performed here by Seng Khasi people. If you happen to be someone who is keen to experience local culture, you must add this place in the list of places to visit in your Shillong tour package.
5. Umiam Lake
This lake is a mesmerizing man-made reservoir that is located at a distance of 15 kilometers to the north of Shillong. Umiam Lake was made after the construction of a dam to produce hydroelectric power. It is encircled by lush greenery that is spread over an area of 222 square kilometers. The view of sunrise at the lake is an excellent visual treat. Umiam Lake also has a park adjoining it. For all these reasons, this lake is considered a preferred spot for picnics and is frequently visited by people to take a break from their busy schedule. Here, one can also take a long boat ride on the lake and explore various water-sports like kayaking fishing, water skiing, etc. Therefore, make sure you visit this place during your trip to Shillong.
Beyond the city
Shillong is blessed with so many unique places that you can easily spend a month exploring the natural beauty of this state. All of these northeastern states are abundant in beautiful tourist sites that you simply cannot afford to miss out on. On your trip, if you have the time to travel from the main city, you can also explore the mind-blowing Nohkalikai Falls and Wakaba Falls, and see the living root bridges if you head towards Cherrapunji which is nature’s own creative piece.
If the idea of being in the lap of nature connects with you, then Shillong can very well be your place of catharsis.
Cover image courtesy: Travel Triangle