- FLORA AND FAUNA
- AGRICULTURE & ECONOMAY
- Shillong Peak
- MOWLYNNONG VILLAGE
- The Living root bridge
The State enjoys a temperate climate. It is directly influenced by the South-West Monsoon and the northeast winter wind. The four seasons of Meghalaya are: Spring – March and April, summer (Monsoon) – May to September, Autumn -October and November and Winter – December to February.
The Monsoon usually starts by the third week of May and continues right to the end of September and sometimes well into the middle of October. The average rainfall in the State is 12,000 mm. The town of Cherrapunji in the Khasi Hills south of capital Shillong holds the world record for most rain in a calendar month, while the village of Mawsynram, near the town of Cherrapunji, holds the distinction of seeing the heaviest yearly rains.
In summer, ranges from 15°C to 25°C; in winter, it is much colder, with temperature ranging between 4°C and 16°C. The hills are also often covered by fog during this season.Meghalaya is an all-year-round tourist destination, where even the monsoon provides the exhilaration and experience of being on the wettest place on the planet.
About 300 of the world’s species are found in die rich forestland, gardens and nurseries of Meghalaya. Amongst its rare species are the insect-eating Pitcher Plant, Wild Citrus and Pygmy Lily. The highest numbers of orchid species are located in Mawsmai and Mawmluh. En route to Cherrapunjee, the forest at Sohrarim is a botanist’s paradise.
Blessed with different climatic conditions, Meghalaya boasts a variety of plants, from the Rhododendron forested Shillong Peak to the insectivorous pitcher plants found both in the Jaintia Hills and the Garo Hills. Different varieties of ferns including the tree fern lend beauty and grace to their surroundings.
Meghalaya is home to about 300 known varieties of the 17,000 species of orchids found in the world. Also found in Meghalaya, in abundance are a number of medicinal plants that are used in traditional medicine. Fruits such as plums, peaches, pears, oranges, pineapples, bananas, cashew nuts as well as spices like ginger, pepper, turmeric, cinnamon and bay leaf are also grown extensively in Meghalaya.
Meghalaya is considered by many biologists to have been the gateway through which many species of Indo-Chinese origin, particularly mammals migrated to Peninsular India. It is said that about 50% of the total number of mammal genera found in the entire Indian sub-continent can be seen in Meghalaya and its adjoining states in the Northeast. Out of the above, nine genera of mammals, such as Tupaia, Rhizomys, Cannomys, Chiropodomys, Micromys, etc occur only in Meghalaya and its adjacent areas.
Some of the most interesting animals found in Meghalaya are: Hoolock – the only tailless ape in India, Leopard Cat, Jungle Cat, Golden Cat, Large Indian Civet, Himalayan Black Bear, Barking Deer, Pangolin. Meghalaya’s butterflies are world famous, among which are Blue Peacock, the Karserhed, the Orange Oak Leaf, the Dipper, and the Bhutan Glory.
In the forests of Meghalaya, specially in lower altitudes, multifarious species of birds can be seen in abundance. Some of the common birds found in Meghalaya include Hoopoe, long tailed Broadbill, Scarlet Minivet, Burmese Roller, Blue Throated Barbet, red veted Bulbul, Himalayan black Bulbul, Himalayan whistling Thrush, Spotted Forktail, black-breasted Kalij Pheasant, red jungle Fowl, Mynas and Turtle Dove. Besides, Hornbills including the Great Indian Hornbill, Florican, Owl, Black Drongo and many other birds are also found.
Religion in Meghalaya is closely related to ethnicity. Close to 90% of the Garo and nearly 80% of the Khasi areChristian, while more than 97% of the Hajong, 98.53% of the Koch are Hindu. Religions of Meghalaya are highly influenced by the cultural background of the state. The maximum quantum of Khasi and Garo people are practitioners of Christianity in Meghalaya. The people who belong to the Hajong tribe are mostly Hindus and are estimated to be around 97 percent in number.
The Garo people have their own religion known as Songsarek but, are followed by a very small population. Some Garos are Hindus whereas, others follow Buddhism. Khasi people too have their own religion followed by a large group of people and is known as Niam Shnong or Niamtre. There is also a small population of Khasi people who practice Islam. Kuki-Chen people are mostly Christians while Rabha and Koch tribes include a majority of Hindu practitioners.
Meghalaya has predominantly an agrarian economy with a significant commercial forestry industry. The important crops are potatoes, rice, maize, pineapples, bananas, papayas, spices, etc.
Shillong is the capital and Hill station of Meghalaya, one of the smallest states in India. It is the headquarters of the East Khasi Hills district and is situated at an average altitude of 4,908 feet (1,496 m) above sea level. Shillong is the 330th most populous city in India with population of 143,007 according to the 2011 census. It is said that the rolling hills around the town reminded the European settlers of Scotland. Hence, Shillong is known as “Scotland of the East”.
The Shillong peak is the highest point in Meghalaya. It is located 5 km to the south of Shillong and is 6,433 feet in altitude. From here, one can enjoy the spectacular bird’s-eye-view of the city and the countryside.
Cathedral Of Mary Help Of Christians
With Christianity being a dominant religion in the city, there are many beautiful churches in Shillong. Among them the most popular is the Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians, which is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Shillong. The cathedral is earthquake resistant and on a clear day one can see the River Brahmaputra and the peaks of the Himalaya Mountains from here.
The Shillong Golf Course located at an altitude of 52000 feet, this is India’s first 18 hole golf course. Owing to its beautiful location, this golf course is sometimes compared to the Glen Eagle Golf Course in the United States.
The Umiam Lake, located in the north of Shillong, combines beauty and adventure facilities. It is also famous as Barapani or Big Water. It is an admired tourist destination for water cycling, kayaking and boating.
The lake also provides a number of ecosystem services, like storing water for electricity generation and downstream irrigation.
Don Bosco Centre For Indigenous Cultures
Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures is a famous museum that is known for preserving the culture of the various tribes and communities of Northeast India. This place is run by the Salesian order of the Catholic Church and has a gigantic archive of information on the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura. There are numerous galleries dedicated to various categories and groups of artifacts. From the Language Gallery and the Photo Gallery to the Agriculture Gallery and the Musical Instruments Gallery, the list seems endless. Apart from all these, the museum organises exhibitions from time to time and it also has a library, known as the Otto Hopfenmueller Library, which houses different books and resources related to the various aspects of Northeast India and its indigenous people. With so many artifacts related to the tradition and the culture of this unique part of the country, you are bound to soak in their history and heritage too. And before you leave this amazing museum, make sure you visit the Skywalk, which will give you a mesmerizing view of the city of Shillong.
Cherrapunjee in Meghalaya has several reasons to claim. It is the second wettest place on the planet and the only place in India to receive rain throughout the year. The town of Cherrapunjee is nestled in the East Khasi Hills about 50 km southwest of state capital Shillong. The town is also known as Sohra and Churra. Cherrapunjee held the record for the wettest place on earth. However, Mawsynram, also in Meghalaya, holds the distinction of being the wettest place. Cherrapunji has a mild subtropical highland climate (Köppen Cwb), with monsoonal influences typical of India. The city’s yearly rainfall average stands at 11,777 millimetres (463.7 in) Cherrapunji receives rains from the Bay of Bengal arm of the Indian summer monsoon. The monsoon clouds fly unhindered over the plains of Bangladesh for about 400 km. Thereafter, they hit the Khasi Hills which rise abruptly from the plains to a height of about 1370 m above mean sea level within 2 to 5 km. The geography of the hills with many deep valleys channels the low-flying (150–300 m) moisture-laden clouds from a wide area to converge over Cherrapunji. The winds push the rain clouds through these gorges and up the steep slopes. The rapid ascent of the clouds into the upper atmosphere hastens the cooling and helps vapours to condense. Most of Cherrapunji’s rain is the result of air being lifted as a large body of water vapour. The extreme amount of rainfall at Cherrapunji is perhaps the best-known feature of orographic rain in northeast India.
Nohkalikai Waterfalls, located at a distance of 5 km from Cherrapunjee, is the fourth highest waterfall in the world. Falling from a height of 1,100 ft., the legend associated with these falls is as popular as the attraction itself.
A local woman, Kalikai, who remarried discovered that her new husband did not like her daughter and was not in favour of the child living with them. His discomfort turned to jealousy when he realised that his wife’s affection towards the little girl was more than what he felt he deserved. Driven to despair, he decides to kill his step daughter.
Upon reaching back and not finding her daughter at home, Kalikai plans to search for her outside. Her husband asks her to first have her lunch before going out. After completing her meal, she is shocked to find her daughter’s fingers in the basket. Realising the gory act committed by her husband and her own unintentional part in the death of her beloved daughter, she rushes out and, in her profound grief, leaps off a tall cliff. It is this “fall of Kalikai” that has lent to Cherrapunji one of its prime attractions.
Mawsmai Falls, the fourth highest waterfall in India, is located at a distance of few kilometres from Cherrapunjee. Located at a distance of 2 km from the monument of David Scott at Sohra, the height of this waterfall is 1,035 ft. This waterfall is also famous by the name of Nohsngithiang Falls.
Khasi monoliths, located in proximity to Mawsmai Falls Tourists visiting the destination can see several Khasi monoliths, which are stones standing in the memories of the ancestors, scattered all around. In addition, the place is ideal for amateur and experienced explorers.
Situated around 6 Kms from Cherrapunjee, the Mawsmai Caves are a major crowd puller that leaves tourists spellbound. These limestone caves have the distinction of being the only caves in Meghalaya that are lit enough to enable tourists to enjoy the natural formations in awe.
Though the caves are long, only a distance of 150 meters is open for tourists, while the other section is closed. The stalactites and stalagmites caves have innumerable forms, shapes and sizes inside leaving one to imagine as many life forms as possible. This magnificent natural wonder is the handiwork of years of natural abrasion and underground water.
Mawlynnong Village has earned the distinction of being the cleanest village in India. It is situated 90 kms. from Shillong and besides the picturesque village, offers many interesting sights such as the living root bridge and another strange natural phenomenon of a boulder balancing on another rock.
Mawlynnong nestled in the pristine hill state of Meghalaya, is along the Indo-Bangla border. This cute and colourful little village is known for its cleanliness. The main occupation of the villagers is agriculture. They mostly grow betel nut. About 82 households live in Mawlynnong. Keeping the surrounding environment clean is an age old tradition. Discover India magazine declared the village as the cleanest in Asia in 2003.
A dustbin made out of bamboo is found all along the village. Every one makes it a point that dirt and waste are not thrown everywhere. All the waste from the dustbin is collected and kept in a pit, which the villagers use as manure. The villagers are now on a mission to ban plastic. The village with cent per cent literacy is conscious and they are spreading the message of conservation and protection of the forest. Locals plant trees to ensure that the virgin forest is kept intact and also replenished.
Meghalaya’s double-decker and single-decker root bridges are unique in the world and are a sight to behold. The bridges are tangles of massive thick roots, which have been intermingled to form a bridge that can hold several people at a time. Khasi people have been trained to grow these bridges across the raised banks of streams to form a solid bridge, made from roots. The living bridges are made from the roots of the Ficus elastica tree, which produces a series of secondary roots that are perched atop huge boulders along the streams or the riverbanks to form bridges.
The root bridges, some of which are over a hundred feet long, take ten to fifteen years to become fully functional, but they’re extraordinarily strong – strong enough that some of them can support the weight of fifty or more people at a time. The bridges are alive and still growing and gain strength over time.
The village also offers a sight of natural balancing rock, a strange natural phenomenon of a boulder balancing on another rock.
Sky View is a bamboo and cane structure that offer a bird’s view to the Mawlynnong village and Indo-Bangladesh Border. The structure is 80 feet tall and magnificently architectured by Rishop Khongthongreh, a local school teacher.
The lower reaches of the southern slopes of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills are humid and warm and are streaked by swift flowing rivers and mountain streams. A specie of rubber tree flourishes alongside these rivers and streams. The tree usually perches on rocks and reaches out to the soil for nourishment. Thus, they have adapted themselves well to high soil erosion, caused by these fast flowing rivers and streams. The exposed roots grow strong and reach out over long distance from the tree trunk.
The early War-Khasis had noticed these qualities of these trees and had adapted it to serve their need for bridges to cross-rivers and streams. In order to direct the roots in the desired direction, they use hollowed out areca nut tree trunks. The thin and long tender roots are then passed through the hollowed out areca nut tree trunks, which are positioned as per the requirement of the proposed bridge. The roots start growing towards the directed end. When they reach the other end of the stream or river they are allowed to take root in the soil. Where required, the roots are redirected back to the side of the river or streams where the tree stands. The bridges usually have base spans numbering more than two. There are also two protective railing spans. Stones are used to fill any gaps in the base span roots. Some of these bridges have roots brought down from the tree branches joining the middle of the bridge from the top as support spans. These root bridges are so strong that some of them can carry 50 or more people at a time. The roots of one of these bridges are about 18 inches broad and about 6 inches thick. These bridges are being used daily by the villagers of these places (near Cherrapunjee).
These bridges probably take 20 to 25 years to become fully functional. They keep growing in strength by the day. Perhaps their life span is 200 to 300 years after the bridges are well formed. These bridges are eloquent testimonies of man living in harmony with nature. A unique Double Decker Root Bridge in the vicinity has one deck 70 feet long and another 56 feet long. This must be the only one of its kind in the entire world.