Shillong is a popular hill station and capital of the Indian state of Meghalaya. It is also known as “Scotland of the East” because of its impeccable climate and striking resemblance of the rolling hills surrounding the town to the Scottish landscape. Shillong, in addition to its natural beauty, serves as a gateway to Meghalaya, a state known for its heavy rainfall, caves, tallest waterfalls, beautiful landscapes, and amazing people and culture.
Shillong is a nature lover’s paradise and a popular summer destination in Northeast India. Shillong has an 18-hole golf course, making it a golfer’s paradise. Adventure seekers are drawn to the Shillong because of the fantastic hiking routes and water activities available at the Umiam Lake resort, such as motorboats, water scooters, skiing, and sailing.
Shillong, the home of the Khasi, Jaintia, and Garo hill tribes, is an ideal location to witness the vibrant way of life and cultural traditions of the tribes of northeastern India. Shillong was chosen as the region’s administrative centre during the British era due to its favourable climate and location between the Brahmaputra and Surma rivers. Shillong is also quickly becoming a regional education hub for the entire northeastern region.
Here are 14 interesting things to do in Shillong to make your journey memorable:
1. Shillong Heritage Walk
The Shillong Heritage Walk is a three-hour guided tour of the city’s ‘European Ward’ that will introduce you to the city’s rich heritage and history through its buildings, architecture, and parks. Earle Sanatorium, Khyndailad, the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly secretariat, Brahmo Samaj, Presbyterian church, legislative council building, Shillong Club, Secretariat Hills, Centenary Monument, PWD quarters, All Saints’ church, Raj Bhavan, Pinewood Hotel, and Wards Lake are among the heritage sites.
Lumpyngad bungalow, Brightwell bungalow, Crabtree bungalow, Bracken Hill bungalow, Lake House bungalow, Lake Side bungalow, Rupshi bungalow, Inverniel bungalow, Greenview bungalow 1 and Greenview bungalow 2 are also on the list. All Saints’ Church, Presbyterian Church at Khyndailad, Tripura Castle, Brookside (Tagore House) at Rilbong, Jeet Bhumi, and Shillong Club are among the private structures.
It also provides for the conservation and protection of environmentally sensitive areas.
2. Shillong Peak
Shillong Peak stands at 6449 ft or 1965 m above sea level. This peak provides a panoramic view of Shillong and the surrounding lush greenery. The peak offers a mesmerising 360-degree view of Shillong, the surrounding waterfalls, the Himalayan Range, the Bangladesh Plains, and the lush greenery. A high tower with a telescope is located at the peak. The location is also home to an Indian Air Force radar station, making it an ideal getaway for visitors. Because of its high altitude, the Shillong peak is frequently enveloped by fog. The peak is not steep and is semi-circular in shape.
The peak’s summit also has a sacred site dedicated to the U Shulong. Every spring, a tradition in honour of U Shulong is also organised here. Mylliem’s spiritual pastor offers prayers. Shillong is believed to have gotten its name from this very peak.
3. Umiam Lake
Umiam Lake is a reservoir in the hills 15 kilometres north of Shillong in the Indian state of Meghalaya. It was formed in the early 1960s by damming the Umiam River. It is now a well-known tourist destination surrounded by lush forest. Water sports and adventure facilities such as kayaking, water cycling, scooting, and boating are also popular. The combination of all of these activities makes it an amazing travel destination worth visiting.
Elephant Falls, located on the outskirts of the state capital, Shillong is a three layers waterfall before plunging into the pool at the bottom of the falls. The name originated during the British era when they spotted a huge rock near the fall that was shaped like an elephant.
From the head of the water, there is a railed walkway that continues to the bottom which ensures that you not only get to have close look at the magnificent falls but also get to feel the spray of cool water and hear the thunderous sound. This spectacular fall is known as Kshaid-Lai-Pateng in the Khasi language. This fall is perhaps the most visited fall in the entire Northeast.
5. Lewduh (Bara Bazar)
Shillong’s Iewduh Bara Bazar is a local market for household items, local food, and fresh vegetables. It is one of Shillong’s oldest existing markets. Because the market is always crowded, Barabazar is a photographer’s dream. Visitors can buy unusual souvenirs such as hand-woven shawls, other handicrafts, and hats, as well as bamboo mats, at very low prices. Seasonal fruits and vegetables native to this region are also available.
Barabazar, as one of the largest, is as rich in history as it is in the local economy. The market has everything and anything, whether it’s cane furniture, meat, groceries, fish, clothes, or even a kitchen sink. This market should not be missed while in Shillong. It is preferable to go early in the morning because it becomes crowded later in the day.
6. Laitlum Grand Canyon
The Laitlum Canyons, which literally means “The End of Hills” or “The End of The World,” is one of the most amazing and picturesque tourist destinations in Shillong, perched atop the East Khasi Hills. Laitlum Canyons is a lesser-known but stunning tourist and trekking destination in Shillong. The canyons are about 21 kilometres south of Shillong, about a half-hour drive away.
This exotic viewing location offers the finest panoramic views of Meghalaya, surrounded by majestic hills and valleys. The location is secluded and serene, making it ideal for quiet and peaceful retreats. It can be visited by families, groups of friends, and couples. Visit Laitlum Canyons at sunrise or sunset to experience it at its best.
7. Ward’s Lake
Ward’s Lake is a man-made lake in the heart of Shillong. A lush garden with flower beds, cobblestone footpaths, and a captivating fountain surrounds the lake. In the middle of the lake, there is a wooden bridge where one can feed the fish. Boating is another activity that can be done on the lake. There is also a cafeteria where you can get a variety of refreshments and beverages. It is popular among both locals and tourists alike.
8. Police Bazar
Shillong’s main market, Police Bazaar, extends in all directions from the Center Point. There are a variety of shops, tailors, restaurants, and local craft works down each lane. It’s busy, bustling, and a great way to meet new people and get everything you’d need as a tourist. Traffic is congested, taxi services are available, and local authorities keep order.
Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures (DBCIC), or Don Bosco Museum as it is popularly known, is a major tourist attraction that provides a glimpse of the rich and multi-cultural lifestyles, history, and traditions of the indigenous peoples of North East India. It has been acclaimed as one of the finest museums in Asia for the promotion of indigenous and tribal cultures. The museum, with its many galleries, provides an insight into the beautiful and diverse cultural richness of India’s North East under one roof. The Salesian of Don Bosco Museum, run by the Catholic Church, houses and documents the various indigenous cultures, arts, and crafts of North East India.
10. Lady Hydari Park
Lady Hydari Park is a public park in Shillong, Meghalaya, located in the heart of the city. It is the only park in Shillong with a zoo and one of the best places to experience Shillong tourism. It is also known as Phan Nonglait Park.
The park also includes a mini zoo with 73 bird species, 140 reptiles, and other mammals. In addition, the park contains a deer abode. A small house within the park also houses a museum that displays the state’s rich biodiversity, including images of rare animals from the region, elephant skulls, stuffed leopards, and more. On the park grounds, there is also a children’s park with swings.
11. Shillong Golf Course
Shillong Golf Course is located in Meghalaya’s Shillong. Shillong Golf Course is one of the best places to visit in Shillong and one of the best golf courses in India.
The course is set in a picturesque valley surrounded by pine and rhododendron trees, which is also home to numerous bird species. The United States Golf Association and Museum has named it the ‘Gleneagle of the East’ due to its lush greenery and scenic beauty. Shillong Golf Course, known for its scenic views, hosts annual tournaments where golfers from all over the country compete.
12. All Saints Cathedral
All Saints Cathedral, located near Barik Point, is one of the oldest churches in Shillong built during the British era. One of the best things to do in Shillong is to visit this church. This church was rebuilt in 1902 after being damaged by an earthquake in 1897. All Saints Cathedral, Shillong’s main church, is known for its wooden colonial-style architecture. Only the Holy Bible and the baptismal font survived the 1897 earthquake at this church.
The All Saints Church is easily accessible by any mode of local transportation, as it is located opposite the State Central Library and close to the Police Bazaar.
13. David Scott Trail
David Scott Trail, one of Meghalaya’s oldest trails, is an adventure-filled ride through history. This 16-kilometer trek winds through the Eastern Khasi Hills, passing through mountains, valleys, forests, and rivers. It is one of Meghalaya’s rare preserved beauties, dating back to the early days of British colonialism in India.
The path winds through picturesque Khasi villages, ancient sacred groves, lush green meadows, sparse fields, rolling mountains, rushing streams, stone bridges, and natural pools. The trek’s beauty is that it can be done by people of all ages simply as a wonderful nature hike. Even beginners, children, and the elderly can do the David Scott trek on a shorter route.
14. Sweet Falls
Located just outside of Shillong, Sweet Falls is one of the steepest yet mesmerizing falls in Meghalaya. Sweet Falls consists of a single-tiered fall unlike the other falls in the state, it is often considered the “most beautiful” yet “most dangerous” waterfall in Meghalaya. The thick gush of water dropping from the great height makes it impossible to stand or take a bath beneath the falls.