Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya The Abode of Clouds, is also known as “Scotland of the East“. Being situated from Guwahati at just 3 hours drive away, is a hotspot for tourists along with Cherrapunjee. Though personally I feel, one can see real Meghalaya, if you step out of common touristy circuit of Shillong and Cherrapunjee. However Shillong being the heart of Meghalaya, is very crowded and a bit expensive. Still one can’t resist the vibe of Shillong specially because of it’s Market and Cafe’s. Cafe’s I felt are the main reason I loved Shillong. Live Music and Lip Smacking Food is a perfect recipe for a relaxing holiday.
This post is a continuation from Offbeat Meghalaya – Mawlynnong – Dawki – Jowai
For those, who landed up here, we are on our 2 weeks long trip to Meghalaya and Manipur following the below itinerary
24th Sep : Reach Guwahati. Halt at Guwahati
25th Sep : Guwahati – Mawphlang. Halt at Mawphlang
26th Sep : Mawphlang – Mawlyngbna. Halt at Mawlyngbna
27th Sep : Mawlyngbna – Mawphanlur. Halt at Mawphanlur
28th Sep : Mawphanlur – Sohra. Halt at Sohra
29th Sep : Sohra Sightseeing. Halt at Sohra
30th Sep : Nongriat Trek. Halt at Nongriat / Sohra
1st Oct : Sohra – Mawlynnong – Dawki – Shnongpdeng. Halt at Shnongpdeng
2nd Oct : Shnongpdeng – Amlarem – Jowai – Ialong. Halt at Ialong
3rd Oct : Ialong – Shillong. Halt at Shillong
4th Oct : Shillong sightseeing. Halt.
5th Oct : Shillong – Guwahati – Imphal. Ima Market & Local Sightseeing
6th Oct : Andro Village & Loktak Lake
7th Oct : Moreh Border
8th Oct : Deperture
Day 9 – 3rd Oct : Ialong – Shillong. Halt at Shillong :
In the evening, we proceeded towards Police Bazaar. Although staffs at our Hotel El Dorado Guest House, informed us that a cab to Police Bazaar (generally reffered as PB by the locals in short) would cost us Rs. 10/- per head, but no one was agreeing on that rate. Well this is another issue with all well known touristy towns. No cab will ever agree to ride you on local rate. They hike their fares whenever they spot tourists. We had no other option instead of paying Rs. 100/- for 5 pax which is just the double of local rate.
The police bazaar is really overcrowded with various restaurants, hotels, roadside shops and Shopping Malls. After having a delicious cup of tea at Hotel Shillong Center Point (which is really situated at Center Point of Police Bazaar and can use used as mark to directions) we went ahead to hop through the market. We thought of buying some gifts / souveniours for our family back home. Though generally we don’t do this, but it becomes a coutesy to maintain when others follow the same. We spotted one mid-aged smiling lady, who seemed to be with whom we can continue our bargaining. Well this is a quality of Bengali’s and various other communities too, without bargaining you just can’t buy it. It’s in your genes! We were noway different. But although we opted to buy a lot of items, it worked!!
The main plan for the day was to meet Karikor. But he was stuck in office due to some important meetings. Finally we got a green signal that he’d be able to join us and we were more than happy. As always we choosed Kari for choice of his restaurant and we decided City Hut Family Dhaba. But Kari reached early than us and found there’s a marraige reception going on there and we outsiders are not allowed for the day. Kari’s next choice was Dejavu at Laitumkhrah which is just 10-15 minutes walk from our hotel. Well Laitumkhrah is the place for Cafe hoppers with lots of Cafe’s around. Me and Akash choose to take a cab while Kari drove my family members there on his own.
It was our turn to taste Chinese and Mongolian Cuisine at Shillong now!! Karikor warned us beforehand that not to order a lot, as the quantity served here can easily serve 3 people. Although I can’t remember what all we ordered, but it was definitely as per suggestions by Kari and I must admit, the food was heavenly. We enjoyed a lot with Kari and discussed various things regarding our tour, culture and traditions. Well this treat of ours was just a way to show an affection. We can never repay the debt over a dinner for what he did for us. We’ll always be thankful to him for all his help 🙂
Finally he drove my family members back to our hotel while me and Akash choose to take a walk. He choosed to wait for us till we reached. Finally after bidding him good bye, we hit the bed and called off the day.
Well, I’m not sure if I can express my feeling truely, but I’ll always remain debtful towards Kari for what all he did for us. Over the forums, I’d get such a good lifetime friend, is something I never thought of.
Day 10 – 4th Oct : Shillong sightseeing. Halt. :
We started at around 8 o’ Clock in the morning, a bit late than usual, as most of the Sightseeing in Shillong was covered on Day 1 and Day 9 itself. Bimal Da first drove us to Lady Hydari Park which is actually a Zoo.
He drove us a bit further to show Jitbhumi, the house where Tagore used to stay, but now it’s been bought by some other family.
Unfortunately while proceeding towards Shillong Peak, we came to know, a new rule has been started from today onwards, stating that Shillong Peak will be closed on Every Wednesday from now on. Well unfortunately we had to return from mid-way.
As Day 1 being Monday, we found Airforce Museum to be closed. So we decided to proceed towards Airforce Museum instead. Well I must say, it is a must visit while in Shillong. Various aircrafts, missiles and parts of figher planes are being displayed here along with uniforms and medals of Indian Airforce at various stages. One can also spot a Python’s skin being displayed inside the museum.
Then we proceeded towards Wards Lake. Frankly speaking, it didn’t really impressed us. Specially after experiencing the high hill lakes of Mawphanlur!! Well this is what happens when you visit a touristy spot after breathtaking remote regions.
And finally driving past Golf Course we reached Don Bosco Museum. But the Entry Fee raised our eyes which is Rs. 100/- per head and another Rs. 100/- per mobile and Rs. 200/- per DSLR. Which would be whopping amount of Rs. 1400/- for us for a single spot. Upon enquiring we came to know, it showcases tradition and culture of North Eastern States. We decided to return back and instead thought of planning for experiencing the North Eastern States on our own!!
We were back to our hotel by 12:15 PM. We still had our whole day to enjoy our last night at Meghalaya and Shillong.
Me and my wife thought of using this opportunity to hop some Cafe’s instead. Most of the Cafe’s were at walking distance from our hotel. We choose to start with Dylan’s. On our way to Dylan’s we met Pradeep Da and chit chatted for a while and came to know that Kari’s office is just on the opposite of Dylan’s!! Ahh I forgot to mention, Pradeep Da is also a friend of Kari by co-incidence.
Dylan’s is situated on the 2nd floor of the building and upon entering we just fell in love with the decor. The cloudy sky, gentle chilled wind, lip smacking food and Dylan (Yeah I mean Bob Dylan) was just perfect!!
But unfortunately we were so full by then, we couldn’t even thought of hopping into another Cafe today. I must narrate a funny story here. We have been travelling through North Eastern states for last few years and specifically noticed, people from these states have very good dressing sense. Defintiely their hair and skin glows a lot due to the weather, but that’s a different thing. One specific thing to notice (or should I say smell insetad?) is that they all smells very good, specially the girls!! I always wished to know what perfume they actually use, which I never could. Well not only the perfume, they all use some specific body lotion and shampoo’s which you can easily point out throughout North Eastern states.
This time was no different and the girl serving us the food at Dylan’s smelled beautiful!! But this time I took the oppurtunity of being with my wife and made her the victim to ask the girl about this thing shamelessly!! The shy girl smilingly replied, it’s nothing but the normal products like Axe, Shot etc. Well we didn’t stretched the conversion much, as we guessed, she might not be interested to reveal her secret. Because we all used common products like Axe, Shot etc, but never found products which smells like this.
While we were about to leave, upon paying the bill, she came to us and smilingly informed “try out the Hallmark Mall at PB, you’ll get everything you need“. We were glad that she pointed out the source atleast!! But even after waiting for more than 15 minutes, we couldn’t find a cab who’d agree to go PB. So we choose to take a Bus to Police Bazaar instead. Our family members were there too for some shopping.
With the help of Google Maps, we could spot the Hallmark Mall on the busy streets of Police Bazaar. We went past through that mall several times since last night, but never noticed due to it being stuck within various other shops!! She was right indeed!! We could spot exactly the same product and various others which smelled awesome. And surprisingly those were of common companies that we also get here in Kolkata. But the only difference is that those specific products are not available in Kolkata. Now we understood the reason behind the same.
Finally by the evening, we choose to take a cab back to our hotel. Luckily we got hold of one Bihari person, who quoted us the local fare of Rs. 10/- per pax. We were really glad we met him but we knew this being our last night at Meghalaya and Shillong, we won’t have any opportunity coming up to use him further for our rides.
After reaching our hotel back, we walked to Don Bosco Cathedral, as it was just on the opposite to our hotel.
Later Pradeep Da and Bimal Da came for our feedback and we chit-chatted for a while. Finally after collecting the payment towards vehicle, they left for the day.
We were tired anyway, but more than tiredness, a feeling of sadness gasped us for this being our last night at Shillong and Meghalaya with an indication of our tour being coming to end.
Day 11 – 5th Oct : Shillong – Guwahati – Imphal. Ima Market & Local Sightseeing :
The morning was bit different than last few ones we spent in Meghalaya. The long planned holiday was finally coming to an end. There was no excitement of moving towards next destination. But then we realised, we still have 3 more nights left. Although we tried a lot to cheer up for our upcoming destination, but still somewhat, we fell in love with Meghalaya and it’s abode of clouds.
With a heavy heart, we started our day at around 6:30 AM as we need to reach Guwahati Airport by 10:00 for our flight at 12:30. We made a brief halt at Kong Da again, to rejuvenate our memories. On Day 2, while coming to Shillong, we stopped by the same place for our breakfast. We tried to remember the excitement back then which is clearly missing today.
Bimal Da made it in time and we were at Guwahati Airport by 10 AM. After a brief hug with promises to be in touch, Bimal Da left for the day. Ahh…sorry…till the next time we meet again.. 🙁
Try to stay away from Meghalaya, it can make you fall in love with Meghalaya badly.
This post is continued at Trip To Manipur – The Jewel of India
Points To Remember :
- If you want to experience real Meghalaya, plan for some more days and choose the destinations out of common touristy circuits of Shillong and Cherrapunji.
- I noticed few people accommodating Sacred Forest and/or David Scott Trail as a day trip from Shillong. Day Trips from Shillong won’t give you real feel of the place. Instead plan to halt a night or two out of Shillong – Cherrapunji at these remote, off the grid villages.
- If you are a food lover, try to hop through some of the various Cafe’s at Shillong.
- Always hire a local Khasi driver or a Khasi speaking driver whenever venturing out to remote villages.
- Try to hire a Guide wherever required / possible to be a part of Sustainable Tourism and support the local livelihood.
- While at remote villages, don’t expect the service to be like hotels at Shillong / Cherrapunji.
- Try to keep the natural balance. Don’t disturb the nature at remote villages.
- Most locals from remote villages speaks little bit or no Hindi / English. Try to co-operate with them as like you too, they are trying hard to make you understand what they want to say. Smile a lot and things will turn out to be just fine.
- Meghalaya follows Matrilineal culture. Here, youngest daughter gets the ancestral properties. Husbands needs to move to Wife’s home post marriage.
- Try out the local cuisine wherever possible
- If interested in water sports keep around half a day or full day for activities at Shnongpdeng.
- Shnongpdeng is best enjoyed during summers and winters when the colour of Umngot is crystal clear
- As once mentioned by Karikor “Waterfalls in Meghalaya are rain-fed not snow-fed“. So if waterfalls is your main interest behind visiting Meghalaya, plan during monsoons when it looks vivacious. November onwards water starts to dry up otherwise.
Local Cuisine :
Jadoh – It’s rice cooked with either meat pieces or meat stock
For Meat, the various meats are…
Doh Syiar is Chicken
Doh Sniang is Pork
Doh Blang is Mutton
Doh Masi is Beef
Doh Kha is Fish
For Rice too, there are various forms…
Ja – Plain rice
Jastem – Rice cooked with haldi
Janeiiong – Rice cooked with black sesame seeds
Jashulia – Sticky rice (mostly eaten as a snack)
Jasnam- Rice cooked with blood of meats
As for meat preparations there are few basic cooking styles…
Dohkhleh – Meat boiled and then shredded into pieces mixed with onion and ginger and served as salad
Dohsyrwa – Meat cooked as a soup along with potato and few vegs
Dohkylla – Meat cooked as curry with minimum spices, like turmeric, pepper, onion and ginger
Dohthad – Smoked meat either deep fried or cooked as a curry or with dal
Dohshain – Minced meat, most of the time rolled into balls
Tungrymbai – Fermented fish cooked with black sesame and pork
Tungtap – Dried fish mashed into a chutney
Eldorado Guest House, Shillong : One of the budget hotel in Shillong and thus it was an obvious choice for us. Our stay at Eldorado was really enjoyable and exciting. The rooms were really clean and well maintained. The staffs were very friendly. The hotel have in-house restaurant which serves awesome Chinese Cuisine. Sorry we didn’t tried anything else, so can’t comment on that. Being situated at Dhan Kheti, Police Bazaar is a 15 minutes drive away, whereas Laitumkhrah, the street of Cafe’s is around 15 minutes of walking.
ElDorado Guest House, Shillong : 0364-2500132 / +91-7085490515
Bimal Modak (ML 05P 2532) : +91-96137-75855. Bimal Da drives white Enjoy. He’s actually Pradeep Modak’s brother. Pradeep Modak is very well known in Meghalaya specially for offbeat circuits, but as he drives a small vehicle himself, he handed over this tour of us to his brother and assured us his full assurance!! Bimal Da is a very jolly person and quickly can be a great friend of yours. He has great experience in cooking. On three instances he cooked himself for us and it was finger licking. I must say, without Bimal Da and Pradeep Da, our trip wouldn’t have been such enjoyable.
Pradeep Modak : +91-98630-87418 / +91-82599-64634. Pradeep Modak is the person you need if you are venturing out to Meghalaya, specially any offbeat circuits. He being an explorer himself, keeps exploring various destinations. He’s the one who keeps exploring places and guides his brothers. Above all, the person is very honest and speaks his heart out. Money is not the first thing that matters to him. On various instances we found his responsibility for his guests is something to salute for. Believe me, with him around, nothing can go wrong. They are in total 6 brothers, but 3 of them are in this driving line and without him his other brothers wouldn’t have been what they are now.
Wards Lake : Entry Fee – Rs. 10/- per head. Camera Fee – Rs 20/- per camera
Accommodation at Eldorado Guest House : (Rs. 1680/- x 2 Rooms x 2 Nights) + (Rs. 300/- per Extra Person x 2 Rooms x 2 Nights) = Rs. 7920/-
Food Bill at Eldorado Guest House : Rs. Rs. 1433/-
Vehicle (Chevrolet Enjoy) : Rs. 4000/- x 12 = 48000/-
NOTE : I have omitted costs of personal nature for easy interpretation.
Special Thanks To :
- Karikor from TripAdvisor Forums and Indiamike Forums. Without him this trip would not have been possible.
- TripAdvisor Meghalaya Forums
- Indiamike Meghalaya Forums
This post is continued at Trip To Manipur – The Jewel of India