Guwahati, Shillong and Cherrapunji
Posted by Balachandran on July 26, 2009
Hello folks, this is a post long long over-due. A post about a trip that I made in the first week of May. And, the delay is much more manifested when I announce that it was the first ever air trip that I had made :-) . In the first week of May, I went on a journey to the gateway of North East India, Guwahati. A rare opportunity that I got since my father is now working there. I visited Guwahati, Shillong and Cherrapunji during that trip.
I have only heard about those places from my friends from North-East at college and I was happy to go on a vacation there. More so because, for the first time I boarded a flight. A direct one from Bangalore to Guwahati, with a stop at Calcutta. Guwahati welcomed me with a fierce thunderstorm and after that day, it was scorching days until I left the place. Again, on the day I left, there was heavy rainfall .
In all, I spent about 10 days there with my parents. Before I dump a heap of information on the places I visited, I wish to share a piece of infoMay be I might be a little late in knowing this, but just to let others know, the NE India has a great many beautiful places to be visited, and only a few of them are popular outside of those states.
Guwahati, the capital of Assam, is the most popular city in the North East and the last Rail link in that direction. It is as much developed as any other city and has everything from Mainland China and Cafe Coffee day to a nice Cricket stadium. Guwahati sits on the banks of river Brahmaputra, the fierce river, being a perennial one, always quenches the water needs of the city. The city and the state as such is popular for its tea and you can find every other shop selling good quality tea. Academics and It professionals might be interested to know the existence of an IIT and TCS in Guwahati.
Places of tourist importance are mostly religious. The Kamakhya temple being the most important. May be people of TamilNadu can compare it with MelMaruvathur(near Chennai) or Samaya puram(near Trichy). It is a very important temple dedicated to Goddess Shakthi. And as is common with many important shrines, it has a story attached to it. The other important temples are the Uma Nandha temple, located right in the middle of Brahmaputra. You will have to take the ferry available there. Cost per ticket is Rs.10. Bashista is another place of religious importance. Apart from these, a stroll along the banks of the river is also enjoyable. More so now, since the river is at its maximum level now.
Then, I visited Shillong and Cherrapunji. Shillong is about 3-4 hrs drive from Guwahati. There are lots of shared cars/Gypsies available from a place called “Khana-Para”. Also, it is worth noting that Guwahati houses the inter-state bus stand of the seven states of NE India. We hired a cab and went on the journey. All along, the route was surrounded by hills, since the NE India is a part of the sub Himalayan terrain. May be some thing of a custom, every body going through that route(apart from the regulars) stop at a place called Jorabat to offer a a prayer to lord Ganesha there. Jorabat is at the Assam-Meghalaya border. From there, we reach Shillong, capital of Meghalaya, via Nongpoh, the major town en route. Also, mid-way, we stopped to take a few snaps of “Bara Pani“(Should be understood as Bada Pani in Hindi. And it essentially is a sort of very large lake)
The moment we enter Meghalaya, we can realize why it was named so(Meghalaya => Megha(clouds) + Alaya(abode) => Abode of clouds). Though it was officially the peak of summer, the temperature was about 25-27 *C. And there was always an occasional drizzle. No wonder why the British choose Shillong as their HQ for Air Force. Even now, the Govt. of India has its Eastern Air Command(EAC) at Shillong. Actually, it is not an overstatement to mention that EAC forms half of Shillong. And not really surprisingly, found a Trichy guy running a hotel providing pure Madras style food. Learnt from him that there is considerable size of Tamil population in what he calls the Upper Shillong, where my father heads a BSNL office at Lite Kor.
Places to see at Shillong are mostly “View points”. The view point at Lire Kor, which you would reach by driving along the entire EAC region, is the highest point of Shillong. There is always a mild drizzle thre and from that point, you can practically view the whole of Shillong. For those interested in geography, the state of Meghalaya has three major hills, with one maor city atop each of them(IIRC). Shillong is at the East Khasi hills; Then we have the Gharo hills and Jaintha hills, with WilliamNagar/Tura and Jowai as the major places. Other places at Shillong are the Air Force Meuseum, en route from Shillong city to the litekor peak and the lake at Shillong. Went for boating there.
Then, visited Cherrapunji, officially called Shora. It was the place with highest rainfall untill recently. Now, that record is held by Mawsynram, a place a few kilometers from here. Cherrapunji also has a great deal of view points, one being very famous for you can see the villages of Bangladesh from there. All along from Shillong to Cherrapunji, there are lots of places with breath taking scenic beauty. The govt. of Meghalaya has done a good job by creating/constructing “view points” where ever possible.
A few places of importance en route Shillong to Cherrapunji and in and around Cherrapunji are: “The elephant falls” and the “Mawsmai caves“. A visit to the Mawsmai caves will really test the flexibility of one’s body, if we are to take the 100 m walk inside the circular cave. The beautiful sight of the Elephant falls where we can see the water rushing from the heights of mountain peaks and falling into the abyss of the gorges is really breath-taking.
Over all, it was a great trip that I really enjoyed. Also, at the same time we should think something really serious. At least, in these parts of India, we still have the nature and its resources intact and undisturbed(They have already started to bulldoze some parts of hills to lay roads). We need to preserve them. In these days, where there are equally loud cries both for infrastructure development and for “Going Green”, we need to be very careful. Natural resources are really a gift and we should preserve them for an eternity.
Will upload pictures soon. :)