My quest to discovery India took me to the northeast of India. During my week-long trip, I had visited some places in this part of India. I must admit that it was an amazing experience traveling to the Northeast. We traveled from Delhi to Guwahati by air and stayed there for a couple of days before I traveled from Guwahati to Shillong by Road.
I spent 2 nights in Shillong and 1 night in Chirapunjee. There are some beautiful places to visit in Shillong and it is worth spending 3 to 4 days there.
Travel from Guwahati to Shillong by road
I traveled with a friend and we rented a cab for our complete trip to Shillong from Guwahati. We started in the morning so that we can reach Shillong by afternoon and do some sightseeing in Shillong.
Guwahati to Shillong is 100 km and it takes around 3 hours by road. The journey to Shillong was totally mesmerizing on newly built four lane highway NH 40. It’s scenic drive with winding roads and lush green trees & small hills on both sides.
There were pineapple plantations on the slopes on the way. We stopped at one of the stalls next to a pineapple farm on the road selling cleaned pineapple for eating. I bought a pineapple and it was one of the sweetest and juiciest, I had till date.
The vegetation changed as we reached closer to Shillong. Few km before Badapani weather got pleasant and I can feel the cold breeze on my face coming car’s window. There were Pine trees and fern on sides of the road. These plants and trees grow in cold weather and I saw these in Hill stations of the north of India. These plants are a sign that weather will be cooler.
We stopped at Barapani for boating and lunch. This manmade lake is the main source of water for Shillong, its surrounded by hills and trees. It’s a popular picnic spot for people from Shillong as well as Guwahati. Barapani to Shillong is only 21 Km but it took us more than 50 minutes.
If you are on the budget then take Assam state corporation’s bus from Paltan bazaar or Khanapara bus stops at 7.00 AM and 8.00 AM.
There are two buses from Guwahati airport to Shillong at 2.00 PM and 4.00 PM.
Shared taxis are also available from Paltan Bazar in Guwahati to Shillong throughout the day.
The Assam State Transport Corporation buses leave from the Inter-State Bus Terminus at Beltola in Guwahati during the day. It is advisable to go to bus terminus and enquire about the next available bus for Shillong.
Helicoptor service is also available between Guwahati to Shillong. Though this service gets terminated in between due to bad weather or other reasons.
Also read Train travel in India
Places to visit in Shillong for sightseeing as a traveler
This is a man-made water reservoir, which was built to store the water for hydroelectric power generation from the water of the Umiam river. Now the Umiam lake serves as a major tourist attraction to people visiting Shillong. It is also referred as Barapani by locals.
The lake is also a popular destination for water sports activities like kayaking, water cycling, scooting, and boating.
I stopped at Umiam lake while going to and coming back from Shillong.
While going we went to the main lake area, where they have maintained a garden with sitting area and swings etc. Boating facility is also available in this area.
The Umiam lake set with the gorgeous backdrop of hills. During my visit, it was very windy and I came to know that it is usually windy here.
There is a small cafe in the garden area, where you can have basic food, snacks or Maggie. We went for the boat ride. The boating rate depends upon the number of people and type of boat.
While coming back from Shillong, we stopped at Orchid lake resort next to the Umiam lake. We had lunch in the restaurant of the resort. They serve vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. I ordered Khasi style non-vegetarian dishes, which were not as good as I had in Chirapunjee but they were tasty. Food prices are similar to any restaurant in the city of Shillong and Guwahati.
They have rooms with lake facing view and it’s a nice location to stay in beautiful surroundings. Though I didn’t stay there still I liked the location and the rooms.
This is another man-made lake is in the middle of Shillong city though it is much smaller then Umiam lake.
The Ward’s lake is surrounded by well-maintained gardens and a boundary wall is made to stop trespassing. There is a nominal entry ticket of 5 INR per person.
The pathways around the lake are comfortable for walking. I went during the day and I have come to know that it’s a popular place for morning walk among local people.
During the day this place is frequented by locals, couples, and travelers to enjoy the natural surroundings. There is a small bridge for crossing the lake and it makes a nice photo spot.
Boating facility is also available inside Ward’s lake compound and a cafeteria inside the compound serve food items.
Don Bosco Museum
Located in the heart of Shillong, this museum is a good place to understand the Northeastern tribes and their culture. Museum has some wonderful artifacts, photographs, and items used by tribal people. The photographs and mannequins are used to display the facial features & dresses of the various tribes in the area.
A bigger section of the museum is dedicated to religion, mainly Christianity. It is good but I am not sure if it’s attractive for a traveler.
After visiting this 7 story museum from the basement to top, we went up onto the Skywalk for a panoramic view of Shillong and its surrounding area.
The view from the top was the highlight of our visit to the Don Bosco Museum.
Lady Hydari Park
This park is named after the first lady of the Assam’s first governor during British rule. This beautiful garden is designed in Japanese style and very well maintained.
The garden is landscaped nicely with small pools, rhododendron plants, and willow trees. In the open area around pools, we saw ducks and pelicans enjoying the pleasant weather of Shillong.
There is a mini zoo inside the park where they have kept some local birds like mynah, hornbills etc and animals like Jackal, Himalayan black bear, and porcupine Leopard. This is a very tiny zoo with few animals in cages and one should compare it with a zoo.
There is a small museum in one hall inside the park, where they have displayed a few stuffed animals, some items related to animals and photographs. The museum gives a glimpse into the rich biodiversity of Northeast India.
It is a good place to enjoy some time in beautifully made and maintained the garden.
Mary Help of Christians Cathedral
This cathedral is little away from the busy part of the Shillong and situated on a slightly elevated area. A church was first built here by the first missionaries in this area.
The new cathedral of Mary Help was built in 1936. This area of northeast around Shillong has a strong missionary presence. This cathedral is the main area of worship for 300,000 Catholic Christians in the area.
The inside of the church is beautifully made and there are scenes depicting the life of Christ from birth till the death. Some of the decorations used inside is believed to be bought here from Munich in Germany.
The beautiful stained glass windows add to the beauty of the cathedral. Photography is not allowed inside so I clicked photographs of the exteriors. It is painted in greyish blue color, which is different from most churches or cathedrals I had visited.
Shillong View Point
It is also known as Laitkor Peak. Shillong peak is in the military area and they stopped our car briefly at the checkpFhillaoint, which was just to note the registration number. There is no public transport available to visit the peak and it’s advisable to book a vehicle if you wish to visit this place.
This is the highest point in Shillong and from the top, I was able to see the whole city. It was a bit smoky but still, I got a decent view of Shillong.
There are a couple of watchtowers on the peak for a better view. These places most remain busy with visitors. I have come to know if the weather is not clear then you can’t see anything from here. So make sure you go to Shillong viewpoint when the weather is clear.
If you want to get yourself clicked in traditional costumes then these are available on rent for photography purpose.
There are some shops and food stalls at the top. I had some freshly made fritters from a shop run by a woman.
This fall is named so due to the presence of an elephant-shaped rock on one side of the fall but this rock disintegrated and washed away during an earthquake in 1897.
Elephant waterfall is a three Step Waterfalls and is surrounded by trees. The first part of fall is quite broad but it becomes thin as it falls from first to second and then to the third part.
The third part of the waterfall is most popular among visitors for clicking photographs.
The best time to visit Elephant waterfall is in monsoon months when it’s full of water. I visited in the winter months and there was very less water in the waterfall. It is recommended to wear comfortable shoes with better grip as steps are uneven at some places.
Best time to visit Shillong
Summer months from April to June are the best time to visit Shillong. Temperature range from 25 degrees during the day to 15 degrees at night. This is the best time to visit Shillong to escape the heat of Indian plains.
Months from June to September are the best time of the year to visit Shillong for people who love to watch waterfalls. The waterfalls around Shillong and on the way to Chirapunjee are full of water. Just keep in mind that it rains heavily here and sometimes it’s very difficult to go out during the rains.
Winter starts from October and it remains cold till March. December and January are coldest months. To see the natural beauty of the area October and November are a good time to visit because it is green after the monsoon though a bit cold but still nice.
Tips for visiting Shillong
* If you have road sickness then take the medicine while traveling from Guwahati to Shillong or it’s surrounding areas.
* Book your hotel in advance because Shillong is a popular tourist destination.
* It remains cold throughout the year, so always pack some woolen.
* Food in Shillong is very mildly spiced and easy on the palate.
* Non-vegetarian food especially Pork is most commonly available and it’s served with green vegetables.
* Rice is a staple food and chapatis are not very popular.
* Most shops and food stalls are managed by women.
* Don’t wear a lot of jewelry and expensive items.
* Shillong is rock capital of India and most cafes or restaurants have live bands on weekends.
* Buses and Unmetered yellow top taxis can be used for traveling in the city of Shillong. They charge a nominal fixed price of 10 to 20 INR depending upon the route and destination. These are shared taxi’s so they pick up passengers on the way.
* For full day tour hire a taxi after negotiation and confirm inclusions & exclusions. Also, confirm the start and end timing for the full day tour.