Exploring “Scotland of the East”
August 29, 2018
Exploring Shillong in a Day:
Shillong, Capital of Meghalaya is a Eastern State located in India. Known as the “Scotland of the East”, It is one of the most beautiful hill station in India. It boasts of well tailored gardens, Amazing water falls and beautiful weather.
I recently went to Shillong and stayed there for 2 nights. I was only able to do a day’s worth of sightseeing. As on first day reached late, on the second day went for Cherrapunjee Sightseeing and finally on the third day enjoyed what Shillong tourism had to offer before heading back to Guwahati the same day.
How I Reached Shillong :
The Best way to reach Shillong is Through Air travel. Shillong have a airport situated at Umroi which is 30 km from it. I chose Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International airport in Guwahati as it was located in the center of my travel plan to Guwahati, Shillong, Cherrapunjee(Sohra) and Darjeeling.
I started my Travel in Rajasthan, I mostly like to travel by Jet Airways as they are always on time and there services are much better when compared to the other carriers in India . I started from Udaipur in the afternoon landed in Delhi, then from there had a connecting flight to Guwahati. Reached Guwahati in the evening so stayed at Ginger hotel for the night. After breakfast the next morning I started my journey to Shillong,
Pro tip use the Ola or Uber App to get to Shillong from Guwahati it is more convenient and cheap.
Almost, the whole journey to Shillong consist of four lane well maintained national highway. You can also do single day sightseeing of Guwahati and then start your journey to Shillong if you wish to.
How much does it Costs:
Travelling is expensive and time consuming. With all the stuff you have to pay and plan for travelling can be hectic. It also varies a lot according to the fact weather you are a luxury traveler or a Budget traveler. Here is a small round up from for both types of travelers.
a) The Luxury Travelers:
I will be frank with you. I love to travel luxuriously that does not mean I always want a private jet flight. But yes I do like traveling stress free. It ads to the cost of my travel but I am willing to shell some extra bucks considering the safety and serenity associated with it.
For some starters in this trip I mostly took flights between places situated at longer distances. Private taxis to reach my destinations at shorter distances and mostly stayed in five star hotels.
So, if you travel a bit luxuriously, here is a fare idea of the cost you might bare when you travel to the north east.
- Flight : I usually prefer flying Jet airways so I took a flight from Udaipur to Guwahati. Since it is not a direct flight I got a connection from Delhi to Guwahati. For all the International travelers travelling to this region. I don’t think you will have any trouble finding a connecting flight from all the major airports as Guwahati airport, itself is International. The Round trip ticket costed me Rs. 18000 (USD 260.51) but I always book well in advance for getting the best price.
- Hotel Stay: I could have easily taken a taxi on the same day to Shillong as it is not far from Guwahati. But I stayed back in a hotel and Enjoyed the night life of Guwahati a bit. Now a good hotel Like the one I stayed in Novotel Guwahati can cost around Rs 7000 (USD 101.31) per night. There is property Taj here as well and can cost around Rs.12000(USD 173) Per night. At Shillong I had a chance to stay for free in a guest house of a prominent college so it was a plus point. Shillong, do have good hotels like Hotel Center point and is really well located being a good comfortable choice. Try to stay as near to the center as possible so you can enjoy Shillong in the night as well.
- Food Cost: Breakfast is almost always free with the stay. For lunch there are variety of restaurants in Shillong. Try Deja vu either during lunch or dinner time. The food and the ambiance of the place is just amazing. The restaurants at good hotels like cloud 9 in center point has a good view but can set you back around Rs 1500(USD 27.71) to 2000(28.95) per person depending on whether you are drinking alchohol or not. Normally eating out is ok in Shillong with price ranging from Rs. 700(USD 10) to Rs.1500(27.71) per person for lunch or dinner.
- Personal Taxi: You can take personal taxis from your hotel for one day excursions to Cherrapunjee(Sohra) or Mawlynnong which can cost you around Rs 5000 (USD 72.36) per car. For a day’s sightseeing of Shillong including the drop to your hotel in Guwahati will cost you around Rs.5000( USD 72.36) per small car.
So you can say the whole trip with your visit to Guwahati, Shillong, Cherrapunjee, Mawlynnong for three nights four days including flights can cost you around Rs. 70000(USD 1015) per person if you want to travel a bit luxuriously.
b) Budget Travelers:
If time is not of any issue you can seriously cut down your cost of travel in India. Like instead of flights you can take trains they are way more cheaper. Instead of big chain hotels you can stay at guest houses and small hotels like OYO rooms have on offer. You can easily travel from Guwahati to Shillong by Ola or Uber they charge just Rs 2400 (USD 35) for the trip. I will give you a fare idea how much cost you can cut by travelling through cheaper transport and staying at affordable places.
- Flight vs Trains vs Buses: Flights in India are expensive but if you travel through budget airlines like Go Air, Spicejet Indigo you can significantly bring down the cost of your travel. If you book your ticket at right time then a round trip from Delhi to Guwahati by budget airlines can cost you only Rs 5000 (USD 72.36) per person. If you choose bus or train by second class these prices can further go down to mere Rs 1500(USD 27) per person. Provided you can spare 2 to 3 days to reach your destination.
- Hotels vs Guest house Vs Hostels: There are plenty of places to stay in Shillong and if you book at right time you can get hotels for as cheap as Rs1000 (USD 15) per night. If you are backpacker you can search for Isabella Hostel. As far as review goes it is really good. The stay cost around Rs 399 (USD 6) per night for a bunk bed which is damn cheap.
- Restaurant Vs Street Food: Street food in India can be really cheap but if you have the guts for it. I cannot guarantee the cleanliness of the preparation of the meals. But you do get one of the best tastes you can experience in Indian street food. I would recommend street food which is thoroughly cooked at high temperature so you don’t fall ill or have food poisoning. As far as restaurants are concerned you do have cheap restaurants, like the one with thali systems you get a home cooked style meal in a big steel plate with 2 to 3 dishes. It is like a all you can eat buffet. So, to sum up breakfast, Lunch and Dinner on a budget can cost you as low as Rs 300 (USD 5) per day.
- Public Transport: To travel around Shillong there are small yellow taxis running around. They charge you on per person basis and can be really cheap for getting from one point to other point. It costs just Rs. 20 ( 30 cent) for smaller distances but it can get crowded inside the small car. The three wheel autos in Shillong can also be a cheap alternative to private taxis to travel around.
Now you can say if you are travelling on a budget to the North East part of India. A three night four day trip to Shillong(With cheap flights) can cost you around Rs. 15000 (USD 220).
Shillong Tourism Guide
On the third day of my travel after visiting Cherrapunjee (Sohra). I planned a day sightseeing tour of Shillong which took me to the following places of interest.
1) Shillong View Point:
Shillong View point is atop a mountain peak with esplanades & observation towers offering sweeping vistas of the Shillong City. It is a must visit place during your Shillong trip as the view this point offers is just spectacular.
The only problem with this view point is that you have to reach via air force base thus entry to this spot is very controlled and limited . You have to wait in long lines before passing through. I would recommend to be there as early as possible because during the tourist season the lines can be 2 to 3 hours long.
I waited for about 2 hours before my chance came and was able to go inside. It was worth the wait as it is a very scenic place that Shillong tourism has to offer with amazing view and lovely breeze blowing on your face at the top of the peak. The total excursion time here depends on your interest. If you are on the go then 30 minutes will be more than enough for all the walking, viewing and photographing you will need to do of the place.
2) Elephant Falls:
The elephant falls is a three step waterfall and is situated very near to the Shillong peak. My next spot in exploring the Scotland of the east was these falls. The taxi stopped at the parking lot at the falls where lots of souvenir shops are located. I went inside and after paying a nominal entry fee at the entry gate.
The original name or you can say the Khasi name of the waterfall is ‘Ka kshaid lai pateng khohsiew’ (three steps water falls) because of the fact the water falls in three steps. Britishers during there rule of India named the falls elephant falls because of a rock that resembled an elephant but was destroyed by an earthquake in 1997. The name was never changed after the incident and till date remains the same.
I will not say this was the best waterfall. But I do think it was a perfect diversion due to its accessibility. It allowed me to be closer to the falls unlike the other tall waterfalls I saw in Cherrapunjee(Sohra).
You have to take a steep flight of stairs down to get to the third waterfall step. It is worth the trip. It can be a bit troublesome for small kids and elders as the stairs are really steep but one should go all the way to enjoy the immense beautiful experience this fall has to offer.
The excursion time to be spent here can be around 30 to 40 minutes. During which you can cover the three waterfalls easily including the walking and photographing time.
3) Lady Hydari Park:
The Beautiful park lies almost in the middle of Shillong. For what I was able to make from outside the park (As we came to know the Park remains closed on Tuesday’s) that it was really well maintained. The park had a good Japanese style theme with round shaped hedges having circular design elements, numerous small pounds and willow trees. It was really a great site.
The park is named after First lady of Assam(Wife of the Governor of Assam). She was a great nature lover and Shillong was under the administration of Assam when britishers ruled India.
Overall, a gem in the hands of Shillong Tourism. A must visit place specially if you are travelling with the kids. It is quiet beautiful with a play ground for the children and a small zoo inside of the park for the kids to enjoy as well.
4) Police Bazaar :
Police bazaar acts as a main Bazaar for most parts of Meghalaya. It is well located in the heart of Shillong and is really crowded through out the day. The bazaar circle has 7 roads leading from it to almost all parts of the city with some roads being one way to control the traffic.
It is also one of the must visit places in your Shillong trip. You can see lots of stuff which you will not get anywhere else in India on the streets. The streets are full of bamboo, winter wear, shawls and artifacts which Meghalaya is famous for. You can even try Meghalaya tourism govt. emporium shops which is also situated in the police bazaar
the police bazar is as crowded at night as it is during the day. It feels good to just roam around with cold breeze blowing on your face. Try there street food it is one of a kind. Mostly, the shops are situated in the basement of the buildings surrounding the place with hotels on top of them. So it is also a nice place to stay whenever you are visiting Shillong.
5) Don Bosco Museum:
The Don Bosco is more of an institution rather than a museum. It has its handful in lots of cultural activities, its own publication and its very own research wing. The museum has seven floors and is a cultural as well as architectural marvel for Shillong Tourism.
Lots of competitions for lyricists, musicians and writers are held in there premises. Researchers love this place for its large display of indigenous culture of North East India.
The museum is designed in hexagonal shapes. Each floor of the building having different galleries depicting the life and culture of North East India. It is a must visit place. If you are really into cultural knowledge you need at least half a day to thoroughly see this place. Mostly, tourists spend 2 to 3 hours to go through the museum. Keep in mind it is not the kind of museum you can rush in 15 minutes. Give your time and understand what this place is really about. Overall, it was a good, knowledgeable day and worth every penny.
This was the last stop in our one day tour of Shillong. I also wanted to see the air force museum but my fellow travelers were not so keen in visiting more museums. So we started our journey back to Guwahati.
Shillong, is truly “Scotland of the East”. It is beautiful, clean, people are really nice, helpful and the place in itself is really calm and serene. You can really be away from your hectic schedule and relax here. Do visit Shillong if you get a chance it is a place worth visiting.