Soon after starting off with WheelsOnOurFeet in March this year, I had written a post on My Favourite Places in Shillong. This post has gone on to be one of my most popular posts. While the number of hits on this post makes me very happy, it also made me think – it is a post for someone who has been in Shillong many times and wants to do/see something that is away from the usual tourist stuff. But what about those people who are visiting Shillong for the very first time, and need some genuine information/feedback on the usual ‘must-see’ places? I, therefore, sit down to fill that gap today.
Dear First Visitor to Shillong, Shillong is a very beautiful city. It used to be even more beautiful about 15-20 years ago when ‘development’ had still not touched it. The city had more Pine trees, more Cherry Blossoms, more Spanish Chestnuts. A whole lot of them are gone today. Chopped off to make way for houses, school buildings, shops….sigh. Well, isn’t this tale of development, nay destruction, true for every city in the world today? And hey, if you are coming from the bigger cities of India, you might still find it very green. I will be very happy for you if you do…
Assuming that you will be staying in the heart of the city, Police Bazar, know that Shillong is a very small city. In our childhood, we’d joke that we could drive from one end to the other in 45 minutes. But that was when we could see the hills on all four sides standing in any point in Shillong. Now, however, there is the famous Shillong traffic to take care of!! School and office hours can be a nightmare on the streets.
Within the city, you can pretty much cover some of our favourite landmarks within a day. I’d say, have a quick breakfast and start off early – you never know when it starts raining in Shillong. Also, the sun sets early in this part of the world – around 6-6.30pm in summers and 5 -5.30 in winters. Hence, makes sense to get out of you hotel as early as possible. Don’t forget to wear your walking shoes.
Ask your cabbie to take you to Golf Links. If you can manage to reach there by 7.30-8 am (or earlier, if you can), you will be mesmerised by the serenity, the greenery there. There is no entry fee there. So simply loiter around the meadows and take some good pictures. Walk up to the nearby village if you want to have tea.
Around 10 o’clock, go to Wards Lake. It is quite close from Golf Links and hopefully you’d have beaten the school traffic by then. And although it’s office time, ask your cabbie to take you from the new Municipality road. Wards Lake is as beautiful as it used to be. Filled with fishes, flowers, trees, you are sure to love it here. Buy a few chana packets from the Khasi ladies sitting at the gates. You could feed these to the fishes and rejoice at how many ‘turn up’ to eat them.
• Have a quick lunch nearby and go down to Lady Hyderi Park. On your way, ask your cabbie to point out the Shillong bench of the High Court and the All Saint’s Church. In fact, why don’t you walk up to the Church and see the insides? It won’t take much time. Lady Hyderi Park is just 10 minutes from Police Bazar if there is no traffic. The zoo at this park isn’t great and you could give it a miss. Walk around the beautifully laid garden, spend some time at the little museum inside the park and stop by to gush at their lovely collection of roses.
If it is evening by now, suggest you get back to Police Bazar and do some shopping. Read my post on — What To Buy When In Shillong
Outside Shillong’s main city, there’s Cherrapunjee, Mawlinlong, Elephant Falls, Laitkor Peak, Umiam Lake. Cherrapunjee and Elephant Falls make for a full day’s trip (Read my blog — Plan A Day-Trip To Cherrapunjee When In Shillong ). Similarly, Mawlinglong and Laitkor Peak takes another full day. As for Umiam Lake, you would have seen it on your way to Shillong. It takes about half a day. Suggest you schedule it either on your way to Shillong or while you are going back. But if your itinerary allows you, spend a lot of time there. We would carry our picnic hampers and spend an entire day at the park adjoining the lake.