From a sprawling resort by the lake to a historic hotel with an underground bomb shelter, Shillong has a plethora of accommodation options to suit every kind of traveller.
Replete with green valleys, coniferous forests, waterfalls, and other natural treasures, Shillong is a wonderland waiting to be explored.
Ward’s Lake lies glistening in the centre of the city, with small isles and a whitewashed wooden bridge over it. Lush gardens rise up its banks, and cobblestoned paths meander around it. Boating and feeding fish are top pastimes here. Elephant Falls is a sight to behold, especially in the rainy season. The shallow pool below the cascade makes for a fun swim. The twin falls of Beadon-Bishop tumble down the forested hills into a yawning ravine of the River Umiam. The Umiam Lake, 15km north of the city, stretches for miles on end, its blue waters amidst dimpled hills.
Tales of Dales
Called the ‘Gleneagles of the East’, the 18-hole Shillong Golf Course is an enchanting meadow of undulating green. Set amidst it, against a backdrop of thick pines, is the Golf Club which still retains its colonial charm. The Lady Hydari Park is a favourite among tourists and locals alike. A small zoo, an aviary, and a deer park are housed among tall pines and cedars. While here, take lazy strolls or simply lie on the grass and read a book. Mawphlang Sacred Grove is a 192- acre forest protected by the natives since ancient times. Nothing is allowed to be taken out of this sacred grove, ‘not even a leaf, stone, or a dead log’. But a walk here is highly recommended to appreciate the beauty of wilderness.
The most popular trekking trail in Shillong, the David Scott Trail, is a beautiful 16-km trek from Mawphlang to Ladmawphlang. It’s part of the historic horsecart track built by the British administrator of the same name, which stretches from Cherrapunji to Bangladesh. The trek takes you through forests, grassy meadows, and villages. Providing a bird’s eye view of the hill town and its surroundings is Shillong Peak – the highest point in the area.
Shillong is a short drive away from many other tourist attractions. A couple of hours away are the towns of Cherrapunji and Mawsynram, both famous for alternately holding the crown of the ‘wettest place on earth’. Peppered with majestic waterfalls, the towns are home to several resorts and homestays, ideal for a weekend getaway. About three hours from Shillong is Mawlynnong, ‘the cleanest village in Asia’. It features unique attractions such as a living root bridge and balancing rock. Another hour or so away, Dawki, near the Bangladesh border, attracts many with the crystalclear River Umngot. Enjoying a colourful boat ride on its calm, beautiful waters is a must-do.
Built by a Swiss couple in the late 19th century, Pinewood Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in Shillong. Spread over eight acres of landscaped lawns, the stately property features elegant cottages, suites, and rooms built in the local ‘Assamtype’ architectural style with sloping roofs. Constructed entirely out of seasoned red pine with Burma teak panels, the rooms here have carpeted wooden floors and fireplaces that lend a warm, cosy, old-world touch to your stay. Presently managed by the Meghalaya Tourism Development Corporation Ltd, it offers a health club, saloon, billiard room. and even a doctor-oncall service.
Address: European Ward, Rita Road; starts from Rs 5,800
Located an hour from Shillong and spread across 45 acres of lush land by the magnificent Umiam Lake, Ri Kynjai makes for the perfect escape in the midst of nature. Literally meaning ‘serenity by the lake’, the sprawling resort offers luxury cottages inspired by traditional Khasi thatch hut designs. The resort also houses a textiles emporium displaying unique handicrafts of the region. Besides, guests can indulge in a traditional Khasi massage and other herbal treatments at the spa here, and also attend folk music and dance sessions held in the evenings.
Address: Umniuh Khwan, UCC Road, Ri Bhoi District; starts from Rs l0,000
Royal Heritage Tripura Castle
Housed in the premises of the Summer Palace of the Royal Family of Tripura, this heritage hotel is an epitome of royalty and understated luxury. Complete with elaborate woodwork and traditional castle furnishing, the hotel is a blend of European and Oriental architectural influences, exuding an air of oldworld charm. Besides plush rooms, the Tripura Castle complex also boasts some very interesting features, including tiered gardens with a collection of orchids as well as an underground bomb shelter and a tunnel opening into a rose garden, both dating back to the Second World War.
Address: Cleve Colony, Tripura Castle Road; starts from Rs 7,000
The Centre Point, Shillong
One of the best addresses in the city, Centre Point affords panoramic views of the surrounding hills and green vistas of conifers from its 31 wellappointed rooms. The building is divided into two wingsClassic
and Club, where the former exudes the charm of old heritage Shillong, while the latter wears a more modern look. As the name suggests, Centre Point is located in the heart of the city in the bustling Police Bazaar
area, with shopping arcades and malls, a range of restaurants
G Royal Heritage Tripura Castle as well as a taxi stand, travel
agents, and more.
Address: Khyndailad, Police Bazaar; starts from Rs 4,000