Meghalaya 'The Abode of Clouds' | Inspiring Vacations
Updated: Apr 7
Meghalaya is one of the Seven Sister States of northeast India and best for holiday vacations. The state of Meghalaya is mountainous, with stretches of valley and highland plateaus, and it is geologically rich. The name means "the abode of clouds" in Sanskrit. During the British rule of India, the British imperial authorities nicknamed it the "Scotland of the East". Meghalaya tourism is one of the most important ecotourism circuits in India. It has 2 National Parks and 3 Wildlife Sanctuaries.
With average annual rainfall as high as 12,000 mm (470 in) in some areas, Meghalaya is the wettest place on earth. The western part of the plateau, comprising the Garo Hills region with lower elevations, experiences high temperatures for most of the year. It has predominantly an agrarian economy with a significant commercial forestry industry. The important crops are potatoes, rice, maize, pineapples, bananas, papayas, spices, etc.
The practice of creating Living root bridges can be found in Meghalaya. Here, functional, living, architecture is created by slowly training the Aerial roots of the Ficus elastica tree. About 70% of the state is forested, of which 9,496 km2 (3,666 sq mi) is dense primary subtropical forest. The Meghalayan forests are considered to be among the richest botanical habitats of Asia. These forests receive abundant rainfall and support a vast variety of floral and faunal biodiversity. A small portion of the forest area in Meghalaya is under what are known as "sacred groves". These are small pockets of an ancient forest that have been preserved by the communities for hundreds of years due to religious and cultural beliefs.
Meghalaya, along with the neighbouring Indian states, have been of archaeological interest. People have lived here since Neolithic era. Neolithic sites discovered so far are located in areas of high elevation such as in Khasi Hills, Garo Hills and neighbouring states. The limited archaeology done in the hills of Meghalaya suggest human settlement since ancient times.
Earlier, foreign tourists required special permits to enter the areas that now constitute the state of Meghalaya. However, the restrictions were removed in 1955. Meghalaya is compared to Scotland for its highlands, fog, and scenery.
Meghalaya also offers many adventure tourism opportunities in the form of mountaineering, rock climbing, trekking, and hiking, caving(spelunking) and water sports. The state offers several trekking routes, some of which also afford an opportunity to encounter rare animals. The Umiam Lake has a water sports complex with facilities such as rowboats, paddleboats, sailing boats, cruise-boats, water-scooters, and speedboats.
Cherrapunji is one of the popular tourist locations in north-east of India and places to visit in meghalaya. It lies to the south of the capital Shillong. A rather scenic 50-kilometre long road connects Cherrapunji with Shillong.
The popular waterfalls in the state are the Elephant Falls, Shadthum Falls, Weinia falls, Bishop Falls, Nohkalikai Falls, Langshiang Falls and Sweet Falls. The hot springs at Jakrem near Mawsynram are believed to have curative and medicinal properties.
Meghalaya rural life and villages offer a glimpse in northeast mountain life. The Mawlynnong village located near the India-Bangladesh border is one such village. It has been featured by travel magazine Discover India. The village is geared for tourism and has a Living Root Bridges, hiking trails and rock formations.
Meghalaya has an estimated 500 natural limestone and sandstone caves spread over the entire state including most of the longest and deepest caves in the sub-continent. Krem Liat Prah is the longest cave, and Synrang Pamiang is the deepest cave. Both are located in the Jaintia Hills. Cavers from the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Ireland, and the United States have been visiting Meghalaya for over a decade exploring these caves. Not many of these have however been developed or promoted adequately for major tourist destinations.
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