Best places to visit in Shillong
The capital town of Meghalaya has beautiful natural and manmade attractions which can easily keep you engaged for a couple or more of days. The day hike and day trip options are especially tempting with the chance of experiencing some unique indigenous aspects of Meghalaya.
Shillong has a romantic aura about it that will make even normal attractions like a lake or a waterfall seem like a fascinating and magical experience.
Umium Lake (Bara Pani)
15 km to north of Shillong town
The Barapani Lake is a beautiful reservoir that is located amongst the hills about 15 km to the North of Shillong in Meghalaya and on Shillong - Guwahati route. The Lake was created after damming the Umiam River in 1960 and the lake catchment area spreads to more than 220 sq. km. Besides being a place of great scenic beauty, the Barapani Lake is a popular water sport hub and has great adventure facilities. Tourists can opt for boating, water cycling and scooting along with a host of other activities.
Umium (Barapani) Lake
Shillong Peak (Shillong View Point)
10 km away from Shillong Town, Best visited before evening
Shillong Peak is the highest peak in the Himalayan Mountain range surrounding Meghalaya with the staggering total altitude of 1966 meters. Naturalists would easily name the Shillong peak as the best attraction in Shillong. Some say that the town Shillong was named after the peak.
View from Shillong Peak
Incidentally, the radar system of the Indian Air Force is also present in the Shillong Peak area. Surprisingly, the peak is just 10 km away from the city and takes about 20-25 minutes by taxi.
Named after Sir William Ward, the former chief commissioner of Assam... the Wards Lake is amongst the most popular tourist destinations in Shillong. Alternatively, locals refer to the Wards Lake as Pollock’s Lake and it is actually a manmade water body that is surrounded by a largish garden. The Lake is shaped in the form of a horse shoe and has a quaint cobble stoned path running around it, surrounded by beautiful flower beds. The Wards Lake is bang at the centre of Shillong town and is a social hub.
Shillong Ward's Lake
12 km away from Shillong Town
Best visited before evening
This magnificent three tiered falls seem to emerge out of nowhere in the hills and stun the world with its force and dynamism. The elephant falls is the British name that was inspired by an elephant shaped stone near the base of the fall and that substituted the original Khasi name 'Ka Kshaid Lai pateng Khohsiew' or the 'three tiered falls'. The falls are 12km away from Shillong town and the nearby ground is filled with food stalls and souvenir shops.
Lady Hydari Park
Open from 9.00 A.M to 8.00 P.M
Inside Shillong Town
Lady Hyadari Park is a tribute to the erstwhile First Lady of the province... the gracious Lady Hydari. This huge park is one of the principal attractions of Shillong and it contains a range of gorgeous flora along with a small mini Zoo with 73 types of birds and more than 100 reptiles. Though named a Park, this is actually a lovely Zoo and nature observation center worth at least an hour of your time.
100 km from Shillong Town
Along the Indo Bangladesh Border
A day trip to the Mawlynnong Village is one of the best things you could do while visiting Meghalaya. The Village has stunned the world with its impeccable and wonderfully innovative practices of maintaining cleanliness and environmental friendliness. It was awarded the “Cleanest Village of Asia” in 2003 by the Discover India Magazine.
As of now there are more than 100 households staying in Mawlynnong and many of them offer homestay accommodation options. The beauty of the village is enhanced by the warmth and friendliness exuded by the residents.
Don Bosco Museum
Open from Monday to Saturday
9.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.
Mawlai Phudmuri, Shillong
Arguably one of the most well developed and informative museums in the entire North Eastern region of India, the Don Bosco Museum (actually known as Don Bosco Center of Indigenous Cultures) is a must visit when you travel to Shillong. You will get a beautiful opportunity to learn about the culture, lifestyle and practices of the North-Eastern inhabitants. The museum is frequently visited by writers, researchers and even royalty. The annual footfall to the museum in 2016 crossed 1 lakh. There are more than 15 galleries; each with their own different sub sections.
Cathedral (Mary Help) Catholic Church
Lachumiere, Shillong, Meghalaya 793003
Phone: 096137 86126
The Cathedral of Mary is one of the most gorgeous churches in this part of the world and its location on a hill top adds to its beauty. On a clear day you can see the Brahmaputra river and the snow ridden Himalayan Peaks from a point in the church premises.
Catholic Mary Help Church, Laitumkhra
The Cathedral has lofty arches and beautiful stained glass windows. Its importance as a tourist pilgrimage was enhanced after 1980 when the late Archbishop Rev Hubert D Rosario declared it as a place of spiritual pilgrimage. This is the main worship place of more than 300,000 staunch Catholics of the Shillong Archdiocese who dwell in the Eastern Khasi Hills and the Ri Bhoi.
25 km from Shillong town (45 minute drive)
Preferably visited before evenings
Nothing can prepare you for the view that you get to experience from the Laitlum Canyons... you are sure to be swept off your feet. The Canyons are situated on the top of Eastern Khasi Hills and this is the point from where most of the Meghalaya Vista is available for view. The climb to the Laitlum is rather exerting but is targeted by nature lovers and hikers and photographers in equal proportion. It remains one of the most visited spots in Meghalaya.
Mawphlang Sacred Forest
Eastern Khasi Hills
25 km from Shillong Town
A virtual treasure trove of the precious bounty of Nature... you are not allowed to bring out a single leaf from inside the sacred forest of Mawphlang. Also known for its spiritual potency and the rare Rudraksh trees, the forest is beautiful par imagination attracting hordes of spiritual seekers, travellers, ornithologists, botanists and photographers. The humus laden grounds and the profusion of pipers, ferns, orchids and fern allies make the forests a rare specimen of heterogeneity of flora.
Khasi Heritage Village
Synrang Kaban, Meghalaya
The model Khasi Heritage Village is spread across almost 8 acres in the Mawphalang district and is the signature project of Congress led Khasi Hills United Democratic Alliance (KHUDA). There are a variety of native houses, huts, weapons, ornaments, utensils etc. on display which will appeal to you strongly if the cultural aspects of the tribes interest you. The Monolith Dance and Music festival that is held every year in the Khasi Heritage Village is a major attraction.
Khasi Heritage Village just before Mawphlang sacred forest
Air force museum
Sohra Road, East Khasi Hills District, Shillong
Open on all days except Public Holidays
A very good place for airplane and air force lovers... on any given day you will find lots of families with kids inside the museum. If you want to know about the Air Defense Force of our country or teach your kids about this then this place is a must visit. Check out the Indo Pakistan and Indo China War pictures on display... this will send shivers down your spine. On display are miniature air craft and rocket models along with air force uniforms.
Spread Eagle Falls
6 km away from Shillong Town
The Spread Eagle Falls is alternatively known as Sati Falls or Umkaliar and is one of the most popular picnic spots/ tourist destinations around. The Spread Eagle name is inspired from its width... this is actually the widest waterfall in Meghalaya. The Waterfall dominates three sides of the pool and creates a wild splashing sound when it hits the ground. An excellent destination for photography.
Mawsynram, 60 km away from Shillong
You must have heard of Mawsynram replacing Cherrapunjee as the wettest place on Earth recently. Well, a visit to the Mawjymbun Caves will take you to the wettest places on earth and also expose you to a completely organic 209 meter high cave that will surely stun you. Completely made of stalagmites, calcareous sandstones that are weathered down along with calcium carbonate deposits and mineralised illiquid drips... this is a Geological heaven.
It will take you about 2 hours of drive along the Mawsynram Shillong Road to reach the spot from where is a detour for the caves. One particular Stalagmite is shaped like a Shiva Lingam and commands a lot of respect from Hindus who regularly visit the caves. There are many side entrances and passages to the cave... with varying degrees of accessibility.
5 km from Happy Valley
Also known as the Kshaid Wetden, this 96 meter high waterfall has often been termed as “the lethal beauty”. A record number of suicides and accidental deaths have happened here and it’s said that groups go there in odd numbers and return in even numbers. The surrounding area is filled with pine and other evergreen trees and carries a lot of photographic value. Right now, tourists are not allowed to approach the falls due to the difficult path and slippery stones around.
Photo: Meghalaya Tourism
Besides Umshyrpi Stream
The charming Brookside Bungalow in Rilbong is primarily known as one of the summer residences of the Bengali Noble Laureate winning author... Rabindranath Tagore. The poet, bard and Novelist stayed in this Bungalow in the summer of 1919 during which time he penned one of his most iconic novels “Shesher Kavita”. Almost 13 of the chapters of this Novel have Shillong as the backdrop.
If you are familiar with Rabindranath’s work then a visit to the Brookside Bungalow will be well worth your time. According to latest reports the Bungalow will be renamed as Tagore Art Gallery and will now acquire the status of an Art museum.
More Great Attractions in Shillong
Apart from the main attractions in Shillong, there are several other beautiful places Shillong that would interest you. They are ideal to explore if you are planning a vacation in Shillong for more than a couple of days. There are lovely churches, museums, waterfalls and natural attractions in & around Shillong.