Once the capital of Assam Province under British rule, Shillong has developed into a modern city that still retains its old-world charm and scenic beauty. It is one of the most richly adorned hill stations in India, well-known for its stunning landscapes dotted with lush hills, clean lakes, gushing waterfalls and thick pine forests. Therefore, one day in Shillong is bound to be quite magical.
What’s the best time to visit Shillong?
The best time to visit Shillong is from October to May. Summers (March-May) are ideal for sightseeing as the weather is pleasantly cool with the average temperature in the range of 15°C-23°C. Though winter months are chilly, it is normally sunny during the daytime. At night, the temperature dips significantly to as low as 6°C in December and January.
India International Cherry Blossom Festival is held in Shillong every year in the month of November. With the blooming of Himalayan cherry blossoms, the entire landscape gets painted in hues of pink. If you are planning to visit in November, do remember to check the festival dates beforehand.
Shillong experiences the monsoon season from June to September. In the months of July and August, there is heavy rainfall leading to flash floods in low-lying areas. Therefore, these months are not exactly suitable for fun outdoor activities.
A Few Facts About Shillong
Shillong is located in the north-eastern part of India at an average altitude of 1,495 meters (4,908 feet) above sea level. It became the capital of Meghalaya upon the creation of this new state in 1972. It also serves as the district headquarters of East Khasi Hills.
The capital city of Meghalaya is famously known as the ‘Scotland of the East’ owing to its striking resemblance with Scottish landscapes. The city gets its name from Lei Shyllong, a highly revered local deity.
One Day Itinerary in Shillong
Follow this guide and make the most of your one day in Shillong. These are the top sights and things to do in this enchanting hill station.
Start your day by visiting Ward’s Lake
Located smack in the heart of the city, Ward’s Lake is an iconic man-made lake from the colonial era. The lake is over 100 years old, but the allure is irresistible.
It is named after Sir William Ward, the erstwhile Chief Commissioner of Assam, who planned and initiated the construction of this lake. Encompassed by a lovely garden with umpteen flowering plants and orchids, it is an ideal spot in the city to spend time amidst nature.
The best way to soak up all the natural beauty is to take a peaceful stroll around the lake. Another highlight of this place is a quaint wooden bridge that is located in the middle of the lake. You can see panoramic views of the lake from there.
In addition, there is a boating facility for tourists with options of rowing boats and paddle boats to choose from.
Discover the Incredible Cultures of Northeast India at the Don Bosco Museum
Your next stop for the day should be the Don Bosco Museum. From Ward’s Lake, you can get a taxi or an auto-rickshaw to reach there.
The Don Bosco Museum is renowned as Asia’s largest museum of Indigenous Cultures. It boasts amazing architecture resembling a honeycomb. The museum spans over 7 floors comprising galleries with an extensive array of wonderfully curated exhibits.
It also houses some rare images and paintings that illustrate the socio-cultural lives of the native tribes. Explore the museum to find out more about the fascinating cultures and traditions of northeast India.
See the Gorgeous Elephant Falls
After visiting the museum, head to Elephant Falls. Located on the fringes of Shillong, the location is about a 30-minute drive away from the Don Bosco Museum.
Elephant Falls is an impressive three-tier waterfall, tucked away in the dense evergreen forests. It derives its name from a huge elephant-shaped rock that once existed there. The rock broke in an earthquake, but the waterfall retained its name.
From the entrance, a stone stairway leads you through various levels of the falls. Of the three tiers, the last (third) waterfall is clearly visible while the other two are partly hidden by foliage. The water cascades down from a significant height and forms a deep plunge pool at the bottom. Though taking a dip is not allowed here, you can spend some time absorbing the lush surroundings.
Have lunch at City Hut Dhaba
Now it’s time to relish a delicious meal at City Hut Dhaba. The restaurant name is a slight misnomer because this is actually not really a dhaba (roadside eatery)! City Hut features amongst the most popular fine dining restaurants in Shillong, and you will appreciate the welcoming atmosphere of the place.
It is conveniently located on the Oakland Road in Police Bazar, the main commercial hub of the city. You can choose from a full range of Indian, Chinese and Continental cuisine from appetizers to main courses. Tikkas and tandoori dishes are so super delicious that you simply won’t be able to resist trying them.
Head to the famous Cathedral Church of Shillong
After lunch, check out the most beautiful church in Shillong. Acclaimed as one of the finest edifices in the city, the Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians is perched on a hill near Don Bosco Square. It is also referred to as the Cathedral Catholic Church by locals. From Police Bazar, it is easily accessible by a shared taxi or an auto-rickshaw.
The church is famed for its unique Gothic style architecture featuring imposing arches and big stained-glass windows. The interiors have lovely artwork depicting the life of Jesus. You can also visit the grotto chapel which is located right below the main church.
Wander through the Lady Hydari Park
The next stop on this list is Lady Hydari Park – a charming Japanese-style garden. It is named after Lady Hydari, wife of erstwhile Governor-General of Assam. Locally, it is also called Phan Nonglait Park.
The garden showcases an assortment of colourful flowers including roses and orchids. Within the park, there are well-maintained lawns, a beautiful pond and a mini zoo. You can see a lot of waterfowls like ducks and geese dabbling in the pond. Stroll around to admire the scenic vistas of the garden.
Do some shopping at Police Bazar
Police Bazar is one of the major shopping hubs in Shillong for locals and tourists alike. In addition to big shopping complexes, the market is teeming with street stalls selling winter wear, jackets, footwear, bags and souvenirs.
If you want to check out local artefacts, visit Megha Emporium and Khasi Emporium. Situated right in the centre of Police Bazar, both shops have a massive collection of local artefacts made using bamboo and cane. Moreover, you can also visit government owned emporiums where prices are fixed.
End the day with a great dinner
After spending a wonderful day sightseeing and shopping in the city, you will possibly be looking around for a nice place for dinner. Luckily, there are numerous restaurants in the Police Bazar market to cater to a range of palates including North Indian, South Indian and Chinese.
If you are craving authentic North Indian food, QZine restaurant is the place you should be heading to. The restaurant is within a five-min walking distance from Megha Emporium.
Madras Café is one of the best places nearby that serves up South Indian delicacies. If momos (dumplings) are your thing, get to Barbeque Restaurant. And, you always have a choice to head back to City Hut Dhaba for dinner if you enjoyed your lunch there.
Where To Stay in Shillong?
Rockski Boutique Bed & Breakfast
House No. 372, Ward 1, Opposite Sonathan, Nongrimbah, Laitumkhrah, 793003 Shillong
Rockski Boutique Bed & Breakfast offers an affordable stay close to the city centre. The Cathedral Catholic Church is within walking distance of this place. Impeccably neat and well-kept, the staff are very helpful and always at your service. Guests can enjoy free wifi, plus the accommodation comes with free on-site car parking.
Lumheh, Umpling Shillong, 793006 Shillong
Windermere Inn is a great place to stay if you’re looking for accommodation away from the city centre. The place has loads of parking space and a very peaceful location, so you really should be able to get some rest here. A nice restaurant, a beautiful garden, and excellent staff will also help you feel welcome and satisfied. Very clean, cozy and comfortable!
Dew Drop In
Upper Lumparing, Lumsohphoh, 793004 Shillong, India
One of the most picturesque accommodations in the city, Dew Drop In is an incredibly charming place with wonderful views of the city. A great vibe permeates the place as the host do their absolute best to make sure you’re comfortable. Great beds, free wi-fi, free parking, coffee- and tea-making facilities in every room… Definitely, a fantastic way to enjoy your visit to Shillong.
Quinton Road, 793001 Shillong, India
If you’re looking for a place in Shillong city centre, look for Quinton Enclave. It’s an exceptionally charming place, with complimentary slippers, free wi-fi, and excellent breakfast (you can choose continental or a la carte). Thanks to its location, this place is an ideal starting point if you want to get out and explore the city. Have fun!
Day trips from Shillong
Staying in Shillong for more than a day? There are some amazing places close by that you can explore on a day trip from the city!
A short 45-minute drive from Shillong gets you to Umiam Lake, one of the most picturesque lakes in Meghalaya. It was created after the construction of a dam on the river Umiam. Besides enjoying the immaculate landscapes, you can indulge in activities like boating, angling, water-skiing and kayaking.
Famous as one of the wettest places on earth, Cherrapunji is about a 2-hour drive from Shillong. Nohkalikai Falls, Seven Sisters Falls, Double-decker Living Root Bridge and Mawsmai Cave are some of the popular attractions in Cherrapunji.
Asia’s cleanest village, Mawlynnong is known for its cleanliness and eco-friendly living. The village is brimming with greenery and most houses in the village are made of bamboo. Apart from taking a tour of the village, you can trek to the single-decker living root bridge.
Extra tips for visiting Shillong
– Shillong has cool weather throughout the year. So, remember to pack warm clothes. In winter, you must pack heavy woollens like jackets and pullovers.
– Carry a comfortable pair of running or walking shoes for sightseeing trips. Avoid flip-flops and sandals as you may need to hike a bit at some places.
– Always keep an umbrella in your backpack because rains are totally unpredictable.
– Don’t shy away from bargaining when buying from street vendors.
– Check local travel guidelines properly before planning your trip.