Monday, March 23, 2009

Shillong,Where the clouds kiss Khasi Hills

Where the clouds gently touch the Jaintia hills, orchids blossom, khasi virgins dance in unison, caves meander furtherest, uranium deposits are found, smoke bellowing from Jhuming, Pineapples taste sweetest and Umiam lake is the deepest.

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Khasi Tradition and Morals :

The British divided the tribes of two hills into Jaintias and Khasis, to further their supremacy over the innocent tribals. Both the tribes are larger part of the Khasi community. The ethics and morals of Khasis have been subject of study which enshrines the following :

Tipsot : Know what is right and Just

Tipbriew : Know man and Know God

Tipkur : Know and respect your kinsmen

Tip Burom Know the etiquette of life

Khasis believe that one should earn by righteousness and hard work – ban kamai ia ka hok

Shillong is located on East Khasi hills at an average height of 4908 feet altitude. It remained the summer capital of Assam till 21st January 1972, when officially Meghalaya state was formed. Assam capital was moved to Dispur. Meghalaya is popularly known as abode of the clouds, with an outdated label of wettest place on the planet –cherrapunji.

In 1835, the British took over Meghalaya under their colonial rule from the Tribals. They offered them contracts for limestone and good return for their forest produce. Missionaries got into the virgin territory to spread the gospel of Jesus. The British legacy lingered with large populace even after their departure.

Tourism circuits in Meghalaya can be divided into the following sectors :

Khasi Hills : Shillong Circuit :

Lady Hydari Park which is in the heart of the city, Wards lake too is adjescent to the park. Cathedral catholic church is one of the oldest church in Shillong with a beautiful paintings on stained glass.

Don Bosco centre for Indigenous culture promoting the fusion of tribes in their exhibition centre. It is seven storeyed representing seven sisters, now Sikkim is included in the group. The exhibition has exquisite collection of artifacts, mannequin of tribes, costumes, jewelry, weapons, and all other interesting facets of tribal life of North. The best part of the exhibition is the film show on tribal dances, how I wish it were live shows. We particularly crave to witness the Hojagiri gymnastic display and gyrating of hips in Shakira style. Hips don’t lie.

Golf course is one of the wettest course spread over 18 holes. It is considered to be Gleneagle of the East. It was established initially as 9 hole course in 1898 and later in 1924 converted into 18 hole course by Captain Jackson and Rhodes.

Shillong Peak :
The entire landscape of Shillong Khasi kills are seen, if the skyscape is clear one can see the cheerapunji range and jaintia hills too. It is definitely a great Sunrise point and sunset point, when Jhuming is not practiced.

Water Falls : If there is rainfall, water falls emerge at every nook and corner of the mountain ranges. The prime water falls in the vicinity of Shillong are Spread eagle falls ( Shillong Cantonment ) Sweet Falls ( 8 kms ) Elephant Falls ( 8 kms on Cherrapunji route )

Tripura Castle :
Built in the early 1920’s by Maharaja Bir Bikram, who came to Shillong at the age of 10 for martial training. The Castle is built in Tripura style architecture unlike the British style, Castle is a misnomer in that sense. The palace signifies the collection of treasure trove of the Manikya dynasty which includes hunting tropies, tiger skin, autographed photo graphs of Rabindranath Tagore, Benito Mussolini, Franklin, Roosevelt and Adolf Hilter. Two works of Tagore are based on Manikya dynasty Rajarshi and Mukut.

Prominent items on display in the Heritage hotel are Buffet table in the restaurant, Statues, Oil Paintings, Caned sofas. The King died in 2006 and now his son Yuvraj Pradyot is staying put in the palace, which has underground bomb shelter too. If one wants to experience the “ Kings way of life “ visit during the off season. The hotel provides hot water from 6 am to 9 pm along with room heaters. There is no buffet breakfast in this hotel.

Birla Sadan :
A beautiful landscaped garden with guest house is maintained by Birla’s, wherein permission is restricted. The residents of Tripura castle are given complimentary tour by the hotel staff. The garden has plenty of collection of flora. Free Entry

Don Bosco Pastrol Centre : Adjescent to the Birla Sadan is the Pastrol centre of Don Bosco where religious congregation takes place. Seminars are conducted wherein Rs 450 is charged for entire stay with food and accommodation. Free Entry

Trekking route to Shillong peak : One can under 2 hour return trek starting from pastrol centre under the guidance of hotel staff of Tripura castle.

Horticulture Breeding farm : A govt. farm breeding plants and flowers for sale and exhibition. It is just located outside the perimeter of the Tripura Castle. Free Entry



AIRFORCE MUSEUM
: One of the restricted areas, but with entry permission is allowed only for visiting tourists. They do not charge any fees for the wonder display of Air force heritage. One can witness freighter plane Caribou which was used in Indo-Pak war 1971 wherein Gen Niazi was captured and transported by this plane. Please don t forget to buy souvenirs as donation to the Air force society. This museum is situated enroute to Cherrapunji just 8 kms from the city.

RHINO MUSEUM : It is a small exhibition once again with a free entry.

UMIAM LAKE :
Enroute to Shillong from Gauhati is the deepest fresh water lake in India, the normal depth of this lake is 3318 feet, currently the level is 100 feet below normal. Water sport is available and there is an island where meetings and conferences are held. The danger in drowning, it is said there is no chance of recovery of the body, because of the under current. If at all you all venture, do wear your life jackets securely for it may be a remote chance of survival in case of mishap. The drinking water to the city is supplied from this lake plastics are totally banned.


SHOPPING :


One can undertake shopping of artifacts from Bara Bazaar, Jail road and Police Bazaar. There is a huge parking complex for vehicles opp. Centre Point. Meghalaya Tourism Office is located just by the side of Centre point.

Cuisine :

Meat of different kinds are available cooked in Khasi style. One can have different preparations including Chowmeen, Momo, etc. Vegetarian options are few and far. Delhi Chaat counter serves vegetarian dishes.

There is army patrolling the streets of Shillong, and even escort services on the highway is prevalent. Once in a way trouble erupts in terms of agitation. It is better to avoid late night roaming on the streets, markets in general close by 7.30 pm. Share taxis are available for tourists. The locals don t take appreciate some outsider running taxis with white board. So check while booking your taxi whether it is yellow or white board.

JAINTIA HILLS CIRCUIT :


Nartiang : The remanents of the summer palace is just 2 kms away from the market place. Nartiang is 65 kms away from Shillong. There is a Hindu durga temple located in the vicinity of the palace. This temple was built by the Jantia king upon his conversion to Hinduism. Initially the temple was built on Khasi residential style with thatched roof but later converted to Corrugated Tin roof to protect from water seepage. During the Jantia kings reign Human sacrifice was in vogue which were rolled down into a tunnel which lead to the Mytang river bed.

NARTIANG MONOLITHS :


Monoliths & Megalithic Menhir exist throughout the length and breadth of Meghalaya. The largest collection of Dolmens and Menhirs are found in Nartiang. The tallest Menhir is erected U MAR Phalyngki in commemoration of his victory in the battlefield. They date back to 1500 AD to 1835 AD. Even the British graves followed the style of these Menhirs with a slight twist.

UMLAWAN CAVES :
These caves are located 60 km east of Jowai. The total length of the caves totals to more than 21 kms with 100 meters depth. Till today very few caves are explored, it would be an adventurers delight, with lot of precaution. The Mawswami caves near Cherrapunji is a poor replica of the Belum Caves in Andhra. The Umlawan cave is inter-linked to two other caves Kot-Sati and Umskor caves.











KIANG NONGBAH MONUMENT :

On banks of Myntdu river stands a historic monument dedicated to the Jaintia patriot who died as a Martyr for cause of Liberation. He was hanged in public on 30th DEC 1862. His final parting prophetic words were “ If my face turns eastward when I die, we shall be free within 100 years, if it turns westwards, we shall remain enslaved forever “

GARO HILL CIRCUIT :


Garo Hill circuit is full of mystic, convenient to be covered from Assam via Goapara or Bok, travel in hilly terrain within Meghalaya could be exhausting. With no proper inter-linkage or alternative one may have to check out routes through Bangladesh if plain could be most Ideal.

South Garo Hills :


Balpakram :
This place is declared a NP and resembles the Grand Canyon, where the spirits of the dead dwell as per legend. Even Lord Hanuman seems to have visited this area to fetch the curative herb for injured Lakshman.

Siju Cave : This cave is know as Bat cave and located close by is the bird sanctuary. The are exquisite limestone formation along with water pools, further a DI chamber will make one fill with awe. Outside on the hillock there is a fabulous rock formation.

NengKong Cave
: It measure 5.33 kms in length, one of the longest cave in the Indian Sub-continent. The other cave is Dobakkol which is 2 km long. Get Ready to explore.

Baghmara Reserve Forest : It is inhabited by Elephants, Langurs and bird species.


Acknowledgement : Don Bosco Museum, Meghalaya tourism website

Don Bosco Musuem




1 comment:

Abstract Paintings said...

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