The rolling hills and picturesque beauty of Shillong earn it the name ‘Scotland of the East’. The capital city of Meghalaya is known for its cascading waterfalls, exciting mountain peaks, clear lakes, and lush greenery. And what better time than the summer to pack your bags and take a trip to this city? Here are some of the best offbeat places to visit in Shillong.
1. Elephant Falls
Elephant Falls is a three-step waterfall in Shillong and one of the best offbeat places to visit when you are there. The locals of Shillong call it ‘Ka Kshaid Lai Pateng Khoshiew’ which translates to ‘The Three Step Waterfall’. It is named so because of the elephant-shaped rock at the foot of the falls. Elephant Falls has three layers that can be seen from different vantage points. The first waterfall is tucked between trees and is quite broad. The second set of waterfalls are thin strands of water and the third waterfall is the most visible with clear water flowing through the rocks. It is also the tallest and most frequented waterfall of the Elephant Falls.
Elephant Falls is located 12km away from the city of Shillong and should be on every tourist’s itinerary.
2. Mawphlang Forest
Mawphlang is the soul of Khasi culture and one of the most sacred groves of Meghalaya. It is known as ‘Nature’s Museum’ and is one of the oldest groves in the state. The forest is situated in the village of Mawphlang and is considered to be the home of the Khasa deity Labasa. Since Mawphlang Forest is a bit out of the way, a lot of tourists skip this scenic beauty. You can choose to go for a trek in this forest with a guide.
Mawphlang Forest is located about 27km away from the city of Shillong and is a great spot for all nature lovers.
3. Arwah Cave
Arwah Cave is a hidden treasure in Shillong. This cave is known for its limestone formations and fossils, especially crustacean shells and fossilised fish bones. The entrance to Arwah Cave is a large sunken chamber leading to a complex set of caverns. The walk through the cave is quite picturesque and will show you some of the beauty Meghalaya has to offer. There is a point where the cave’s pathway passes through the side of Lawshynna Hill giving you amazing views of the waterfall and the surrounding valley.
The offbeat Arwah Cave is located right outside the town of Cherrapunji and is 52km from Shillong.
4. Umiam Lake
Umiam Lake, or Bara Pani, is a human-made lake on the Guwahati-Shillong route. It was formed when a dam was built over the Umiam River in the 1960s to store water for hydroelectric power generation. There is also an Orchid Lake Resort adjoining the lake which is run by the government. So, if you are looking to stay by Umiam Lake, the resort is a good choice. And if you are a water sports enthusiast, Umiam Lake has options for paddle boating, water scooting, kayaking, and water cycling.
Umiam Lake is about 21km away from Shillong and is the perfect destination for those who enjoy water sports.
5. Laitlum Canyons
Laitlum Canyons, which literally translates to ‘The End of the Hills’, is a picturesque destination perched atop the East Khasi Hills of Shillong. This is not as commercial and crowded as other tourist spots, making it one of the best offbeat places in Shillong. The serenity of Laitlum Canyons is a balm to the soul and ideal if you’re looking for peace. The Canyons are blanketed in clouds and provide splendid panoramic landscapes.
Laitlum Canyons is located about 24km from Shillong and is the best place to capture beautiful sunrises and sunsets.
6. Shillong Peak
The highest point of Shillong, Shillong Peak is around 1,965 metres above sea level. The city of Shillong derives its name from this peak and offers a breathtaking view of the entire city. The peak also provides a view of the Himalayas, its waterfalls as well as the plains of Bangladesh. Since the Shillong Peak is at a high altitude, it is often covered in heavy fog. Trekking through this semi-circular Shillong Peak is recommended to see the best views, but do be careful.
Shillong Peak is located 10km from the main city of Shillong.
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