Meghalaya CM Unveils Exciting Plans For A New Museum In Shillong

With an eye towards upscaling the state’s heritage tourism, high-ranking officials plan on installing a museum in the Old Assembly building in Shillong
A view of Shillong
A view of ShillongShutterstock

On November 21, the Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Conrad Sangma, announced plans to establish a small museum in a portion of the historic Old Assembly building in Shillong. The announcement came during the 11th International Tourism Mart, aimed to promote the state's tourism and heritage. Along with other officials, the CM also expressed interest in developing potential heritage sites across the state to boost heritage tourism.

The Old Assembly building was devastated by a fire in 2001 and has remained abandoned since then. However, officials are planning to move to a new assembly house, which is currently under construction and will be operational by next year. As a result, the Old Assembly building will be restored and given a heritage museum in a certain space inside.

When asked about the state's strategy to balance tourism and environmental protection, Sangma mentioned measures focusing on sustainable and ecotourism policies to avoid excessive pressure on heritage-tourism sites will be in place.

The Old Assembly Building

An old photograph of the Old Assembly building
An old photograph of the Old Assembly building@eclectictweets/twitter

The Old Assembly building of Shillong was a remarkable structure until 2001. Its foundation was laid by the second Governor of Assam, Sir William Sinclair Morris, on September 28, 1921. The building had a colonial style, featuring a blend of Burmese teak and Assam-styled houses. It was an architectural marvel with wooden structures, frames, and floors.

The building comprised around 26-27 rooms of different shapes and sizes for the ruling and opposition parties, such as the Speaker's and Deputy Speaker's chambers, chambers for the Chief Minister and Leader of Opposition, the Secretary's chamber, the Assembly reporters' room, and the officers' rooms, all connected to the two-storeyed session hall through a passage. As with all colonial structures, the building had vast lawns with a lamp pole adorning the centre stage.

The old Assembly building had an invaluable asset, which was its library. The circular-shaped room with an inverted cone-like rooftop contained a vast collection of books, including the proceedings and debates of the House of Commons and House of Lords.

Furthermore, the building was privileged to host the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) ministerial meeting in 1986. The assembly sessions were held at the state's central library auditorium and later at the arts and culture auditorium within the premises of Brookside after the fire destroyed the building in 2001. It was also the house where Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore began writing his "Shesher Kobita" in 1919.

The fire that broke out in 2001 started in Room No. 13, which then housed the personal secretary to the Speaker. The whole building was destroyed, except for the outer lawns that were saved.

Places To Visit In Shillong

Ward's Lake
Ward's LakeShutterstock

Shillong is often called the "Scotland of India" because of its beauty and charm. This capital city boasts picturesque scenery and cultural attractions that are a must-visit for any traveller. You can explore Ward's Lake, which is an artificial lake surrounded by gardens and the vibrant Police Bazaar, which is famous for local shopping and street food. Make sure you don't miss out on the Shillong Peak, which offers a panoramic view of the city, and the Elephant Falls, a stunning three-tiered waterfall. The Shillong Golf Course, one of the oldest in Asia, provides a serene and peaceful environment. Furthermore, the Don Bosco Museum offers insights into the indigenous cultures prevalent in the region. Finally, visiting the charming Shillong Cathedral and the serene Umiam Lake completes Shillong's diverse and enriching experience.

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