Look up, down, straight, behind, sideways!! Whenever you look, you’d only see clouds. It’s so cloudy here. Such would be your words when you are at “Shillong Meghalaya – The abode of clouds”, generally in the monsoon season. It’s a hidden gem located in the Meghalaya state of India.
On route to Shillong Meghalaya
After the split of the state of Assam into Assam and Meghalaya, Shillong was declared the capital city of the newly formed state of Meghalaya. Standing at an altitude of about 1500 meter above sea level, Shillong is a home to numerous waterfalls and a dense forest area covers the amazing city.
How to reach Shillong
The cheapest and most preferred way to reach Shillong is via railways and bus/shared taxis. The nearest railhead is Guwahati which is nearly 100 kms from the city. Guwahati is well-connected to major Indian cities (New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata etc.) via railways. For train bookings visit IRCTC.
Outside the Guwahati station, you can catch a bus/shared taxi for Shillong. The bus services are run by Assam State Transport Corporation(ASTC). The fare is around INR 80 and usually takes around 4 hours to reach Shillong.
Buses are generally very crowded. In order to avoid the same and reach Shillong quicker (approx. 2 hours), you can catch a shared taxi. The fare for SUV vehicle is around INR 200 and that of a midsize car is INR 300.
Note: You need to take the southern exit at Guwahati railway station in order to catch a bus/ shared taxi for Shillong.
Getting around Shillong
Shillong is a small city and the best way to experience is on foot. Walking around the city, exploring its food and culture, talking to the locals could be life time memories for you. Few must visit places are at a distance and can be covered either by shared taxis or city bus.
Beautiful garden at Shillong Meghalaya
My curiosity to visit “Cherrapunji – The second wettest place on planet earth” and Shillong being a gateway to the same, is what brought me to this majestic hill station.
St Joseph’s Catholic Church Shillong Meghalaya
The road journey from Guwahati to Shillong is mesmerizing. On your left side is the state of Assam and on the right is Meghalaya. It’s just the borders drawn by mankind separating these two states.
Almost the entire way is covered by dense jungles and the mountains are dotted with numerous waterfalls. It’s the experience rather than the destination which would leave you spellbound.
On way to Shillong Meghalaya
After a breathtaking journey of around 2 ½ hours, I reached Shillong. The city is similar to the other Indian cities in most terms, but the freshness of the air is quite unique. I had a day to spend in Shillong, before moving further to Cherrapunji.
You can cover the must-visit places of Shillong in a day. But to experience more in the culture, food, and lifestyle of people, I would suggest staying for few more days.
To cover must visit places you can start from Umiam Lake and end at Elephant falls or vice versa. Check out the below map for reference.
How to traverse in Shillong Meghalaya
Located 15 Kms North of Shillong, it is definitely one of the most beautiful lakes in the North East region. You can enjoy various activities like kayaking, scooting, boating and water cycling. If you just want to catch the glimpse of the lake, take a halt while going or coming from Guwahati.
Umiam Lake Shillong Meghalaya
Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures
It is a 7 storey building and a must-visit place for History lovers. One can entirely experience the charm of North East India through this museum. Don’t miss the skywalk on the roof, from where you can get a glimpse of Shillong city. Check out official site Don Bosco Centre for more details.
Note: It closes at 5:30 pm in summer and 4:30 pm in winter. Also closed on Sundays.
Shillong Golf Course
It is one of the largest golf course in Asia and also being natural, makes it a must visit place when in Shillong. Sad to say that it is poorly maintained with garbage piling up at few corners. I would recommend you take a gentle stroll to the end of course, from where you can enter dense jungles.
Golf Course Shillong Meghalaya
It’s the main market area of Shillong city where you can find numerous hotels, restaurants and shops, lodges and taxis. It is heavily crowded and seems like the entire city has congregated to police bazaar.
Police Bazaar Shillong Meghalaya
Lying in the middle of the city, this 100-year-old lake is encircled by extensive lush green gardens. Watching the lake and its beautiful surroundings from Shillong café (located near the lake) is a moment to remember.
Ward’s Lake Shillong Meghalaya
The place gives some stunning views of Shillong town but you need to be lucky, as the place is cloudy and foggy most of the times.
View from Shillong viewpoint
Due to the resemblance of a rock (located just at the foot of the falls) to the elephant, Britishers named the falls as Elephant falls. The rock was later destroyed in an earthquake. The unique thing about the falls is that it is a three-tier waterfall. It is a great stop point before one head for further journeys into Meghalaya.
Elephant Waterfalls Shillong Meghalaya
Stay options in Shillong Meghalaya
Being a capital city and a gateway to other cities of Meghalaya, Shillong has many stay options. Mainly the hotels are nearby to Police Bazaar. Travelers looking for budget hotels can try at Youth Hostel, Marwari Basa Hotel, Lake View Inn, Rohit Guest House and Majestic Hotel. Just inquire at the reception of 5-6 hotels to find a cheap stay. I stayed at Marwari Basa Hotel and charges was INR 400 per room/per night. It’s a classic 1930’s style hotel with very neat and clean rooms and shared bathrooms.
Food options in Shillong
There are ample food options available to choose from. Police Bazaar houses many food joints but be aware of the cleanliness of the roadside stall. Do try the local Momos from a roadside joint and the famous jalebi from Delhi Mishtan. If you want to try something crazy then try Paan or Betel leaf which is sold almost everywhere. What I loved most here was eating Pineapples (my favorite fruit) as the ones you get in Shillong are like no other. Café Shillong is another good option to dine.
Best Time to visit Shillong
October to March is the best time to visit Shillong as the monsoon is relatively less after September. But if you are ready to experience the heavy monsoon of Meghalaya give July to September a try. I visited Shillong in the month of October and weather was simply awesome.
As Shillong is a gateway to other cities of Meghalaya, so on your trip to Shillong you can explore the nearby Cherrapunji (second wettest place on Earth), Dawki (close to Bangladesh border), Mawlynnong ( the cleanest village in India) and Mawsynram (wettest place on Earth).
Sadly, I was short of time and could just visit Cherrapunji, but I am definitely going to visit the other places very soon. To get details on Cherrapunji you can visit my earlier post Cherrapunji – The Second Wettest Place on Planet Earth
The freshness in the air of the entire Meghalaya made me fall in love with the state. Wish I could have settled there for my entire life.
Do follow me on Instagram as I am regularly posting travel posts and stories over there. Also, you can message me on Instagram if you want to join me on my next trip.
Are you looking for some essential travel gear? Check out my post on What’s in my Backpack.
Hope you have enjoyed reading this blog post on Shillong. To get regular updates on upcoming blog posts from On a Cheap Trip, please subscribe by entering your name and E-mail address in the Newsletter below. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest as well as on Twitter.