Shillong, often referred to as the "Scotland of the East" due to its striking similarity with the Scottish highlands, is one of the important tourist destinations in the northeast. The city derives its name from "Leishyllong"-the Superpower or God who is believed to reside on the Shillong peak, overlooking the city. It is lying in the cradle of the tall pine conifers and pineapple shrubs.
It was the capital of the erstwhile British provincial state of Assam, and remained so even after independence. When Meghalaya attained Statehood, Shillong remained the capital. Situated at an altitude of 1,496 meters above sea level, Shillong is perhaps the only hill station with motorable roads leading to every corner. Shillong derives its name from the peak of the same name and there are many legends surrounding this name. One says that it came from a handsome youth called ‘Shyllong’, who was born in mysterious circumstances to a virgin human mother in Bisi, a village near Shillong. It is believed that he was the Shillong deity and the phrase, “Kot Shillong”, which means “To bring peace in time of catastrophe, danger or personal misfortune” originated in the legend.
Shillong was a small village until 1864, when it became the new civil station of the Khasi and Jaintia hills. It remained the summer capital of Eastern Bengal and Assam for many years. In 1874, on the formation of Assam as a Chief Commissioner's Province, it was chosen as the capital of the new administration. An earthquake destroyed the city in 1897, necessitating its complete rebuilding. In January 1972, Shillong became the capital of the newly formed state of Meghalaya.
By Air: Shillong airport at Umroi connects to only Kolkata. Guwahati is the nearest major airport, which is nearly 100 km away from Shillong.
By Rail: Nearest railhead to Shillong is Guwahati which is well connected with all the major railheads of India.
By Road: The State Road Transport Public buses and the private tourist bus providers operate bus services from Shillong to the many cities in Meghalaya and the neighboring state. The bus stand is located in the heart of Shillong.
Good buys in Shillong include mounted butterflies, hand-woven shawls, orange honey, black mushrooms, Khasi-style jewelry and handcrafted bamboo objects.
Bara Bazaar (Iewduh Market): The Iewduh market or the Bara Bazar, as many old timers still prefer to term it, is one huge colourful jamboree. Generally recommended to every newcomer as the first place to be visited upon arrival the Lewduh market sees an influx of peddlers across Meghalaya advertising and trading their wares. The market becomes the hub of a million activities on the Iewduh (the very first day of the Khasi week) when populace from the entire spectrum from Meghalaya arrives in vibrant bunches and enhances the festive atmosphere. The vendors offer some of the best Meghalay products for the most reasonable prices. A quick bargain purchase of some of the handwoven goods and natural resources can be one of the best clinched deals of your life.
Shillong being the capital city of Meghalaya has a good line of accommodation facility in and around itself. You may not too luxurious category of accommodation in Shillong. But, the accommodations available are good enough to provide you a perfect comfort.
Hotel Polo Towers , Royal Heritage Tripura Castle , Lake View Inn , Hotel Alpine Continental , Shillong Club , Orchid Hotel , Orchid Lake Resort , Pinewood Hotel , Hotel Centre Point , Rosaville Heritage, Bo-Ville Homestay.
One the other hand, if one is into water sports, the Umiam Lake resort serves up motorboats, water scooters, skiing and sailing facilities backed by the comforts of the Orchid Lake resort. Angling is another activity that one can delve into here, but Ranikhor is truly the angler's dream come true! For the less adventurous, Ward's Lake right in the heart of Shillong, has row boats and paddle boats a-plenty.
A Golfer's Paradise
For those seeking to combine their holiday with a dash of sport, there is the golf club and the 18-hole golf course. It is the third oldest course in the country, termed "the Gleneagle of the East" by the United States Golf Association Library and Museum. The club is a throwback to the old world charms reminiscent of the British.
Teer - The Local Sport
If it is local sport, one is looking for, try "Teer". The ancient martial art of Archery has now been allowed to develop into the addictive Teer or legalized betting. Betters go on waging their money on how many arrows the archers will shoot at the end of the day. And those who hit the bulls-eye go home richer.
Shillong has very recently joined the Adventure Tourism bandwagon. The Project Division of Meghalaya Tourism Development Corporation has identified two trekking Trails and backed them up with exclusive photographs, maps, trekking equipments and tents; all available at the MTDC Office at Polo Road.
The five-days part-trek and part-bus trip to Cherrapunjee and the seven days trek to Umlyng (extendable to ten days if one wants to press on upto Mawlyndep) exposes the trekker to dense pine and mixed forests, bamboo groves and interesting rock formations, exotic ferns and tree creepers, a pride of wild orchids and wild flowers.