Stationed at an altitude of 1,495 meters amid Khasi hills, the capital city of Meghalaya boasts a unique blend of irresistible natural beauty and ancient cultural heritage. It packs an assortment of cascading waterfalls, scenic lakes, lush valleys and dense forests. Shillong is truly a paradise for nature lovers. Here is a list of the 12 most stunning tourist places in Shillong that are a visual treat to the eyes.
- Elephant Falls
- Ward’s Lake
- Shillong Peak
- Umiam Lake
- Bishop Falls
- Lady Hydari Park
- Don Bosco Museum
- Airforce Museum
- Laitlum Canyons
- Mawphlang Sacred Forest
- Lumpongdeng Island
- David Scott Trail
1. Elephant Falls
Located at a distance of 12 km from the city center, Elephant falls is one of the prominent waterfalls in Shillong. It was referred to as ‘Ka Kshaid Lai Pateng Khohsiew’ by the local Khasi people, meaning three steps waterfall.
The first falls is quite broad and surrounded by dense trees. The second one flows down like a narrow stream and becomes almost invisible during drier months. The third falls is the most spectacular and accessible to visitors.
With the crystal clear water gushing over the dark rocks and verdant surrounding in the backdrop, this place looks absolutely marvellous.
Britishers named it as Elephant falls during their regime owing to the presence of a rock on one side of the falls resembling an elephant. The rock got destroyed later in an earthquake.
Elephant falls is a popular stopover on the way to Cherrapunji from Shillong. You need to walk down through a narrow staircase with almost 150 steps to reach the plunge pool.
This tourist attraction is open on all days from 10 am to 6 pm. There is an entry fee of Rs 30 per head for the visitors.
2. Ward’s Lake
Located right in the heart of Shillong city, Ward’s lake is purely an artificial water body teeming with bountiful greenery all around.
The lake is named in honour of Sir William Ward, the erstwhile Chief Commissioner of Assam who started the construction of this lake.
Take a walk around the horse-shoe shaped lake to enjoy the mesmerising beauty of the lake and colourful flower beds in the garden. A wooden bridge in the middle of the lake adds to the scenic beauty of this place.
Another prime attraction of the park is paddle boating in the lake. In case you want to get clicked in the traditional Khasi attire, there is a shop beside the lake providing it on rent.
You can also feed the fishes in the lake and watch anglers sitting with their fishing rods waiting to catch fishes.
Angling requires prior permission and some kind of license from the park authorities and is not permitted for normal visitors.
Check out this small video capturing the serene beauty of Ward’s lake.
3. Shillong Peak
Perched at an altitude of 1965 meter, Shillong Peak is amongst one of the prime tourist places in Shillong.
It is the highest point of Shillong and offers a panoramic bird’s eye view of Shillong city and the Bangladesh plains on a cloudless day.
Trek up to the peak, enjoy the breathtaking views of the rolling hills and soak in the stunning vistas of the surroundings.
There is a sacred site on top of the peak known as U Shulong and it is said that the city of Shillong gets its name from Shillong peak.
Entry to the peak is through Airforce Base which has strict security checking. You need to submit an identity proof before moving further to the peak.
It is open for tourists on all days from 9 am to 5 pm and there is no entry fee.
4. Umiam Lake
Surrounded by lush green Khasi hills, Umiam lake is a man-made reservoir formed after a dam was built on the lake for hydro-electricity generation.
The picturesque lake is located 15 km north of Shillong and is also known as Barapani lake among the locals. The mesmerising views of sunrise and sunset at the lake is a treat to your eyes.
Here is a small video capturing the splendid beauty of Umiam lake.
Boating is one of the most popular activities in this serene lake. Adventure seekers can enjoy water sports like kayaking and water skiing.
The Water Sports Complex at the lake offers such adventure sports and remains open from 8 am to 5 pm all days of the week.
Angling is another popular activity here as the lake has a rich population of many types of fishes, like catfishes and carps.
5. Bishop Falls
Cascading down from the emerald green Khasi hills, Bishop falls is the highest waterfall in Shillong and 22nd highest waterfall in India.
Bishop falls along with Beadon falls are referred to as twin brothers as they plunge into the same deep gorge of the Umiam river.
It is accessible through a narrow road at Mawlai and you can get breathtaking views of the twin falls together.
6. Lady Hydari Park
Located right in the heart of the city, Lady Hydari Park is named after the nature-loving first lady of the state and wife of the erstwhile Governor of Assam, Lady Hydari.
The park has beautiful stretches of flower beds, a mini zoo and children play area making it a perfect place to spend some quality time with family. A small pond in the center of the park just adds to the charm of this place.
There is a paved walkway to take a stroll around the park and admire the dazzling beauty of this colourful garden. It is open from 9 am to 5:30 pm on all days except Mondays.
If you are interested to know more about India’s most spectacular gardens, check this post: the most beautiful gardens in India.
7. Don Bosco Museum
Hailed as the largest museum of Indigenous Cultures in Asia, Don Bosco Museum gives a glimpse of the rich cultural heritage of North East India.
Standing tall at 7 storeys, the museum has many galleries housing the beautiful artifacts, paintings and figurines to depict the diverse native culture of all the north-eastern states.
A very well managed museum with staff on every floor to guide the visitors, it is one of the major tourist places in Shillong.
An additional attraction is the excellently built skywalk from where you can get a panoramic view of Shillong city.
The museum is open from 9 am to 5:30 pm on all days except for Sundays and public holidays. During peak winter season (1st Dec – 31st Jan) it closes at 4:30 pm.
Entry fee – Adult (Indian): Rs 100, Adult (Foreigner): Rs 200, Student: Rs 50
8. Air Force Museum
Located in the upper Shillong area, Air Force museum showcases a great collection of miniature models of aircraft, missiles, rockets and other exhibits related to the Defence Forces.
It is an amazing place to visit for those interested to know about armed forces. You can also buy some souvenirs from the gift shop inside the museum.
It is open on all days except for public holidays and no entry fee is charged.
9. Laitlum Canyons
One of the most offbeat tourist places in Shillong, Laitlum Canyons is just an hour’s drive away from Shillong bus stand.
Laitlum literally translates to ‘end of hills’ and true to its name it offers spectacular views of the rolling green hills and scenic valleys.
A perfect place for those seeking solace and solitude in nature’s lap, Laitlum Canyons is irresistible with its unspoiled natural beauty and panoramic vistas of the surroundings.
You will feel a sudden drop in temperature once you approach the Laitlum village. It is around 10 minutes’ drive from the village to Laitlum Canyons. There is no entry fee but only a parking fee of Rs 50 per car.
10. Mawphlang Sacred Forest
One of the must-see tourist places in Shillong, Mawphlang Sacred Forest is a nature lover’s delight.
Sprawling more than 75 hectares of land, the sacred grove comprises a wide variety of flora and some of them are even as old as 1000 years.
You can’t take anything outside this sacred grove, not even a leaf. Resident tribes believe that the forest is protected by the local deity – Labasa.
It is located about 25 km away from Shillong and takes almost an hour to reach here by car.
11. Lumpongdeng Island
Surrounded by emerald green waters of Umiam lake and coniferous trees, this is a small picturesque island known as Lumpongdeng Island.
It is a perfect place to spend some ‘me-time’ basking in nature. You can book a wooden boathouse by the lakeside for overnight stay.
Rent out a boat from the Water Sports Complex at Umiam lake to reach the island. Don’t forget to carry drinking water and some eatables with you.
You may also like: 10 of The Most Beautiful Islands in India
12. David Scott Trail
Named after a British officer David Scott, it is one of the most popular trekking routes in Shillong.
An adventurous trail of about 16 km, David Scott Trail stretches from Mawphlang to Ladmawphlang.
You can trek from both sides but a relatively descending route starting from Mawphlang makes it easier to trek. Not a well-marked trail but locals can help out with the directions.
While trekking, enjoy the breathtaking landscape encompassing lush green hills, cascading falls, vast expanse of forests and quaint bridges connecting the two villages.
How To Reach Shillong
Umroi airport in Shillong is the nearest domestic airport but connects only to Kolkata.
Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi Airport in Guwahati situated at a distance 118 km from Shillong is the major domestic and international airport. You can hire a private taxi or shared taxi to reach Shillong from the airport.
The nearest railway station to Shillong is in Guwahati which is well connected by train network to other large cities of India.
Places Near Shillong
Head straight to Cherrapunji after visiting Shillong which is around 2 hours drive from there. It is famous for a host of charming waterfalls like Seven Sisters falls, Nohkalikai falls.
Another place of interest close to Shillong is Jowai located at a distance of 66 km. You can visit the scenic Krang Suri falls in Jowai, an ideal place for those looking for a nature retreat.
- You can visit Shillong during any time of the year as the weather is pleasant throughout the year.
- Remember to check the weather forecast for the day before leaving for sightseeing. If it is too cloudy you may not be able to capture the best shots on your camera.
- Clouds literally play hide and seek there and it may start to rain anytime. Don’t forget to carry an umbrella with you.
- Get some warm clothes in your backpack. It could be sunny during the daytime but the air feels much cooler in the evenings.
- Cold weather can make your skin dry, don’t forget to carry a moisturising lotion.
Over To You Now…
Shillong offers magnificent landscapes with the backdrop of verdant Khasi hills and the environs of dense forests and gorgeous valleys. It should be at the top of every nature enthusiast’s must-visit list.
Have you visited these amazing tourist places in Shillong? Share your experiences with us in the comment section below.
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