6 Places To Visit In Shillong If You Are A Nature Lover

The capital of Meghalaya is a treat for nature lovers looking to soak in the splendour of the living world
Six places which will appeal to nature lovers
Six places which will appeal to nature lovers Photo by Angshu Purkait on Unsplash

Shillong blends ancient history with a modern verve that makes it one of the best places to visit in the country. It has quiet neighbourhoods, cosy cafés, a football-mad population, a burgeoning music scene and so many scenic sights that one visit is often not enough to experience them all.

If you’re embarking on a tour of this British-era hill station soon, here are six places which will appeal to nature lovers hoping to commune with the city’s living landscape.  

Umiam Lake

The placidity of Umiam Lake
The placidity of Umiam LakeProf. Vikramjit Kakati/Wikimedia Commons

Flanked by hills on all sides and lined by striking roadways and bridges, Umiam Lake is one of the reasons why the Guwahati-Shillong route is considered one of the most scenic in the region. The lake was formed when a dam was built over the Umiam River in the 1960s as part of a hydropower project. Since then, the lake has become a favourite picnic spot for many who come to admire the landscape.

The lake is a hotbed for water sports and boating. Visitors can choose from paddle boats, water scooters and speed boats to enjoy the serenity of the place. Sunrises from Umiam Lake are a treat for the eyes and there are many vantage spots around the lake from where you can take stunning photos.

Shillong Peak

The view from Shillong Peak
The view from Shillong PeakSUJAY KUMAR PAUL/Wikimedia Commons

Perched at an elevation of 1,966m, the Shillong Peak allows visitors to take in a panoramic view of the Himalayas, the city, and the plains of Bangladesh. The semi-circular peak resembles a crown placed on top of Shillong Hill and is often covered in fog. Tourists can either climb or ride to the top. It is believed that Shillong got its name from this peak and local lore says that the patron deity of the city, Leishyllong, has his abode in these hills. Hence, U Shulong is a sacred site. The place also has an airport base and radar station operated by the Indian Air Force.

Laitlum Canyon

The beauty of Laitlum Canyon
The beauty of Laitlum CanyonANKAN/Wikimedia Commons

Laitlum Canyon is the perfect place to get sweeping and picturesque views of the state of Meghalaya. It name translates to “end of the world” or “end of the hills.” Trekkers and adventure lovers can take advantage of the terrain—which is a little difficult to traverse—and go on long, rocky and lush hiking journeys where they will be greeted with splendid views. The long stairway on the side of the mountain with about 3,000 steps is the only route between Rasong village and the nearest market. The best time to visit the place is in the afternoon hours as mornings are usually foggy and the view cannot be enjoyed properly.

Elephant Falls

The Khasi name for Elephant Falls is “Kshaid-Lai-Pateng”
The Khasi name for Elephant Falls is “Kshaid-Lai-Pateng”Arindambasu2/Wikimedia Commons

This waterfall on the outskirts of Shillong is the result of a mountain stream which drops over multiple levels. The Khasi name for Elephant Falls is “Kshaid-Lai-Pateng,” which loosely refers to the three levels over which the falls plunge. The name is rather misleading today as the elephant-shaped rock after which it was named by the British was destroyed in an earthquake more than a hundred years ago.

The railed walkways to the waterfall begins at its head and continues to the bottom, ensuring that you not only see the magnificence of the falls from a close distance but also feel the spray of the cool water and the thunderous sound of the flow. The pool at the bottom of the falls is a tranquil spot so make sure you wade into its clear waters to refresh yourself.

David Scott Trail

The Sacred Grove of Mawphlang
The Sacred Grove of MawphlangDaniel Romanson/Wikimedia Commons

Named after a British administrator, the David Scott Trail is one of the oldest treks in Meghalaya. It brings visitors close to one of the most revered indigenous landmarks of the Khasi people—the Sacred Grove of Mawphlang. This primaeval forest is believed to be more than 800-years-old. It is the place where many rites of the erstwhile Khasi royals were practised. The trek is 16km long and winds through mountains, valleys, forests and rivers. You will see a plethora of flora and fauna on the way. Camping in this region allows trekkers to experience the glory of the night sky and have the opportunity to interact with Khasi locals.

The trek can be completed in a day and undertaken by people of all ages. It is best experienced after the monsoon season when the landscape comes alive and is bedecked in green glory.

Ward’s Lake

Feed the fish at Ward's Lake
Feed the fish at Ward's LakeANKAN/Wikimedia Commons

More than 100-years-old, the artificial Ward’s Lake is named after William Ward, the chief commissioner of Assam at the time. It has a charming wooden bridge and grassy slopes where visitors can relax in. A stone path encircles the small lake while flower gardens and big trees provide shade for visitors. Paddle boating in the calm waters is a popular activity. You can also stand on the bridge to feed the fish. A variety of events take place on Ward’s Lake throughout the year. Come autumn the cherry blossoms here will be in full bloom, providing memorable visuals and photo-ops.

Getting There

Fly into Shillong Airport from major cities like Kolkata or Guwahati. Alternatively, you can reach Guwahati by train or air and then take a scenic drive to Shillong, which takes around 3-4 hours. Buses and taxis are also available between the two cities.

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