The North East of India has always intrigued me. The people, the environment and above all, the lack of high volume of tourists means the North Eastern states offer an experience that no other place in India can. Last month, I had the unique opportunity of taking a couple of back to back leaves and decided to put them to use in making a trip to Meghalaya.
Over the course of 3 days, I was able to cover most of the places of interest in and around Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya. I have broken the whole thing down into 3 separate posts in order to keep them to reasonable length.
You can also read the Day 2 and Day 3 of the trip here.
Kolkata – Guwahati
Meghalaya, unlike most of India, is not connected by railways. As a result, mostly people travel to Guwahati and from there, get to Meghalaya by road. There is excellent connectivity between Guwahati and Shillong and the whole journey takes around 3-4 hours.
Being based in Kolkata, travelling to Guwahati was not an issue at all. Flights run throughout the day between Guwahati and Kolkata and it takes roughly an hour to an hr and 15 mins to cover the distance by air. Guwahati, for your information, is also pretty well connected with Kolkata by rail. The time taken to travel from Howrah to Guwahati is slightly on the higher side with journeys taking anywhere between 18-23 hours.
Given the amount of time a rail journey would have taken, I decided to fly to Guwahati on a Jet Airways direct service between Kolkata and Guwahati. Taking the early morning flight means you are able to reach Shillong easily by mid-day and can use the rest of the day for sightseeing activity in Shillong.
You can use SkyScanner to find the best price for flights.
Cost of Flight : ~ 2,000 Indian Rupees (Kolkata – Guwahati)
Guwahati – Shillong
In order to visit Meghalaya, Shillong is the most obvious choice for a base location. Located almost centrally, Shillong has transportation facility to all the interesting places in Meghalaya. Additionally, Shillong has an amazing climate and has plethora of options when it comes to accommodations and food.
Right at the exit of the Guwahati airport, you will see a bee-line of taxi drivers willing to take you to Shillong. Inside the airport, there is a Meghalaya tourism office where, if you want, you can book seats in government run cabs or buses or even take a ride on a chopper to Shillong. Prices at the tourism office are a bit lesser compared to the private stuff outside but the conveyances run only at particular times in the day. As a result, most people opt for the privately run cabs.
The cabs are usually Maruti Suzuki Swift DZire and one seat is going to cost you 500 Indian Rupees. The drive to Shillong is pretty smooth. The national highway connecting Guwahati with Shillong, being arterial to the state, is really well maintained. The drive or close to 120 KM can take anywhere between 3-4 hours depending on the traffic condition on the Shillong approach road.
Cost of Cab : 500 Indian Rupees/Seat
Halt In Shillong
Police Bazaar is the central area of Shillong, Meghalaya. The place is always crowded and has some really good restaurants and shopping places. Being the center of the city, it’s very well connected to the different parts of the state and hence is a very good place to stay in.
However, I chose to stay a bit farther from the center of the city in order to spend some quiet time away from the noise and commotion. Thanks to OYO, finding a room in Shillong was a breeze and at extremely competitive prices. I opted to stay in Lachumiere which is about 2 KM from Police Bazaar.
Please note that most of the accommodations in Shillong wont have heating or cooling solutions. They don’t even have fans which is fine most of the year but in Summer months, it can get a bit sultry at times.
Cost of Accommodation : ~1200 Indian Rupees/Night
Sightseeing in Shillong
Private cabs are the most frequently used mode of transport for tourism. The private taxi stand is located in Police Bazaar and one can easily rent taxis for sightseeing both for Shillong as well as other parts of Meghalaya. Alternatively, the hotel owners have contacts but make sure you do some study before booking a taxi because they tend to quote astronomical figures at the beginning.
Places of interest in Shillong:
The private taxis usually charge somewhere around 1500 Indian Rupees to cover all the points of interest in and around Shillong including the above.
Cost of Cab : ~1500 Indian Rupees
Key Advice :
- Don’t try to cover all the points of interest in Shillong, Meghalaya. Most of them are useless and nothing compared to what the other parts Meghalaya have to offer. So, conserve your energy and money.
- Make sure you carry your Address Proof and ID card when you visit Shillong View Point. It is located inside the Indian Air Force base and requires ID cards at the entry point. Also, if you are a foreigner, don’t bother travelling as entry foreigners are not allowed entry
- While distances in KM inside the city might seem small, don’t try and walk too long as its a hilly area and walking is exhausting
- Never pay the taxi guy the amount that he first quotes. They try to fleece tourists by quoting astronomical figures. Try and negotiate.
I will now leave you with some photographs from my Day 1 in Shillong. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any queries.
The day 2 of the trip can be found in the Part 2 of this series.