Khasi Hills

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Khasi Hills, Shillong Overview

Named after the Khasi tribe of Meghalaya, the Khasi Hills are part of the Garo-Khasi range, and a part of the larger Patkai hill range, a series of hills found across the Indo-Myanmar border in the northeast region of India. With deep lush valleys and conical peaks, these hills are famous for housing the Sohra or Cherrapunjee scarp, one of the regions with the highest annual rainfall in the world. The Nongkhum island, the second largest river island of Asia, is also located within this spectacular area. The dense forests mingling with tributaries that eventually drain out into the holy Brahmaputra, combined with the rich biodiversity of the region has earned Khasi Hills the title of 'Scotland of the east'.

The Khasi hills were divided into the East Khasi Hills and West Khasi Hills in 1976, with the Ri-Bhoi and South West Khasi Hills Districts being formed afterwards. The picturesque capital of Meghalaya, Shillong, is the district headquarters of the East Khasi Hills district, and the most developed town of the region. The Khasi Hills are a great convergence of lush forests, endless verdant grasslands, majestic hills surrounded by playful clouds, waterfalls and rivers flowing through the creeks, and ancient monoliths loaded with mystical caves. Complemented with the abundance of diverse wildlife seen throughout the area, the Khasi Hills region is world-famous for being a prime ecological hotspot.

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The best time to visit the Khasi Hills is from October until April. During this period you will be able to enjoy the natural beauty of the land with waterfalls brimming with life due to the recent monsoon rains, and the flora & fauna will be soothing to the soul. The winters can be chilly, so adequate coverage is required. Avoid going during monsoons, as they are marked by heavy showers, proving to be highly inconvenient for travellers.

With its rich ecosystem comprising of various natural components, one is never short of places to visit around the beautiful Khasi hills.

Shillong: As Meghalaya literally means abode of the clouds, the capital town of Shillong, located in the East Khasi Hills district is situated at an altitude of 4,908 feet above sea level, where one can see the clouds roll by around this picturesque little town. The highest peak of the hills, Lum Shyllong is situated close to the town. Shillong is home to museums, natural parks, lakes, forests, waterfalls, viewpoints, and caves, making it a gold mine for nature-loving and culturally adventurous tourists. The lovely Umiam Lake, comprised of clear blue water fringed by green hills is located on the outskirts of the town.

Cherrapunjee: A visit to the Khasi Hills would be considered moot if the famous town of Cherrapunjee is not touched. Often referred to as the wettest place on earth, this region receives one of the highest annual rainfall, and still holds the global record for the most rainfall received in a year. The area is abundant with beautiful waterfalls like the Seven Sisters Falls, populated by the scenic beauty brought by the green forests and interesting caves. One may also find the large double-decker living root bridge in this region.

Mawlynnong: The pristine village of Mawlynnong is another place you must visit when in the region. Situated 90 km from Shillong, this charming village is known for being the cleanest village in India, loaded with an abundance of natural treasures around every turn. This village is also home to the Mawlynnong cave, the Mawlynnong waterfall, and the Jingmaham living root bridge. The Nohwet viewpoint offers a beautiful panoramic view of the magnificent Khasi hills.

Nongstoin: The West Khasi Hills is not shy of places filled with natural beauty and places of interest. The town of Nongstoin combines the finest qualities of imposing hills, vast grasslands, impressive monoliths, and breathtaking waterfalls. Asia's second largest river island, the Nongkhum Island, is situated here, where one can find an amplitude of natural beauty, making for a perfect road trip.

The Khasi hills are an adventurer's fantasy come to life, with countless caves, peaks and viewpoints spread across its entirety.

Trekking: Private treks are organised all across the Khasi hill range, exploring the quaint towns like Mawlynnong, Cherrapunjee, Langkawet, and Nongkriat. These treks are rich with the thriving greenery infused within the glorious sight of the hills, accessorised by the ever-present lakes and waterfalls of the region.

Cave exploration: With Meghalaya housing one of the largest cave networks in the world, the labyrinth of rock formations is a sight to behold, with years of mineral deposits from the tributaries of the Brahmaputra creating incredible stalagmites.

Rock Climbing: The excess of impressive structures like monoliths and mighty hills offers tourists a chance to engage in the sport of rock-climbing, where one can get a surreal view of their surroundings from the top. The giant monolith Kyllang Rock is a favourite amongst rock-climbers and trekkers.

Boating: The abundance of lakes offer tourists the rare opportunities to enjoy a nice relaxing picnic as well as boating services to immerse oneself in the tranquillity of the area.

Nature walks: With its amazing ecological diversity, the region is home to numerous natural parks, where one can marvel at the lush greenery which has been so beautifully maintained by the locals.

While there are well-constructed roads to most towns, many of the tourist sites require a little trekking and involve a fair amount of physical activity.

  • Air: The Shillong airport only operates scheduled flights to Kolkata and Agartala at the moment. The closest airport is in Guwahati, situated 100 km from Shillong, which is connected to many major Indian cities. There is a helicopter service available from Guwahati to Shillong.

  • Rail: The closest railway station is situated in Guwahati, 100 km from Shillong.

  • Road: There are many buses that move between Shillong and Guwahati during the day. Private taxis may also be hired for movement within the hills.

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