Meghalaya is a small state in north-eastern India. The word “Meghalaya” literally means “The Abode of Clouds” in Sanskrit and other Indic languages. Meghalaya is a hilly strip in the eastern part of the country about 300 km long (east-west) and 100 km wide, with a total area of about 8,700 sq mi (22,720 km²). The state is bounded on the north by Assam and by Bangladesh on the south. The capital is Shillong also known as the Scotland of the East. The principal languages in Meghalaya are Khasi and Garo with English as the official language of the State.About one third of the state is forested. The Meghalaya subtropical forests ecoregion encompasses the state; its mountain forests are distinct from the lowland tropical forests to the north and south. The forests of Meghalaya are notable for their biodiversity of mammals, birds, and plants.
The climate of Meghalaya is moderate . With average annual rainfall as high as 1200 cm in some areas, Meghalaya is the wettest state of India. The western part of the plateau, comprising the Garo Hills Region with lower elevations, experiences high temperatures for most of the year. The Shillong area, with the highest elevations, experiences generally low temperatures. The maximum temperature in this region rarely goes beyond 28 degrees, whereas winters temperatures of sub-zero degrees are common.
The town of Cherrapunji in the Khasi Hills south of capital Shillong holds the world record for most rain in a calendar month, while the village of Mawsynram, near the town of Cherrapunji, holds the distinction of seeing the heaviest yearly rains. The best time to visit Meghalaya is during the months of March to July.
Tourist Attraction :
Meghalaya is considered to be one of the most picturesque states in the country. It has enough tourism content to attract tourists of many different interests.It has some of the thickest surviving forests in the country and therefore constitutes one of the most important ecotourism circuits in the country today. The Meghalayan subtropical forests support a vast variety of flora and fauna. Meghalaya has 2 National Parks and 3 Wildlife Sanctuaries.
Meghalaya also offers many adventure tourism opportunities in the form of mountaineering, rock climbing, trekking and hiking, water sports etc. The state offers several trekking routes some of which also afford and opportunity to encounter some rare animals such as the slow loris, assorted deer and bear. The Umiam Lake has a water sports complex with facilities such as rowboats, paddleboats, sailing boats, cruise-boats, water-scooters and speedboats.
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 located in the Jaintia Hills. Cavers from United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Ireland and the US 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.
Important tourist centres of the state are Shillong also known as Scotland of east,Cheerapunji the wettest place on earth,Nohkalikai Falls fourth highest water falls,Mawsynram receiver of highest rainfall in world,Siju Caves,Jakrem the Health resort center,Monoliths in Khasi Hills etc.
The state of Meghalaya is believed to be the home of dances and music. The festivals of Meghalaya are associated with their different dance forms and hence they are to be enjoyed throughout the year. Most of the festivals of Meghalaya revolve around agriculture, which is the prime occupation of the state people. Although some religious and spiritual sentiments are interwoven into secular rites and rituals, the pre-dominant themes of the festivals is to offer prayers to the Supreme Being.
This is one of the most popular festivals of Meghalaya. It is celebrated during the monsoon season in the month of July at Jowai and Tuber in the hills of Jaintia. This grand festival is characterized by religious ceremonies and dancing at a pool called `eit nar` and also includes a football game called `datlawakor`. This festival is essentially celebrated to seek the blessings of the Almighty for a bounteous yield of crops in the following year and also to chase away various kind of diseases and plague.
Shad Suk Mynsiem
This colourful festival of Meghalaya is in fact a thanksgiving festival celebrated during the season of spring all over Khasi hills. The beautiful maidens adorn themselves in traditional finery and men-folk in vibrant coloured costumes participate with much enthusiasm in the traditional dance to the accompaniment of drum beats and other musical instruments.
Wangala Festival is the annual harvest festival held in the state of Meghalaya. The festival is celebrated in honour of Saljong, the Sun-god of fertility. The festival signifies the onset of winter as well as it marks the end of a period of toil, which brings good output of the fields.It is also known as â€œ100 Drum Festivalâ€, which mainly includes tribal groups offering sacrifices to please their main deity, the Sun God.
Ka Pomblang Nongkrem
It is one of the most famous festivals of Meghalaya. This much-awaited festival takes place at Smit, the capital of Kheyrem Syiemship, near Shillong in the state of Meghalaya. This is usually a harvest festival and is considered to be the most eminent festival of the `Khasi` community of Meghalaya.
This is one of the most special festivals of Meghalaya and is grandly celebrated in the months of April/May according to the Christian calendar. It commences on Sugi Lyngka with a ceremonial sacrifice of a goat and two cocks before the supreme deity of the Khasis-Lei Shyllong. After the prayers are offered to establish the person-to-person contact between the finite and infinite, male dancers dance to the rhythmic beats till sunrise. Public worship is done and fish from the Umran River are offered as special gifts.
This is a post harvest festival of the Attongs celebrated around September/October. It is also a thanksgiving festival but does not involve the extreme merriment as of the Wangala festival.
Doregata Dance Festival
This is a very popular dance festival held in the state of Meghalaya. In this dance the female members try to knock off the turbans of their male counterparts. While dancing if the women are able to knock off the turbans successfully it is followed by a peal of laughter.
Lahoo Dance Festival
This dance festival in the state of Meghalaya is performed with much excitement and exuberance with the sole purpose of entertaining the locals. It is performed by both males and females. Both the men and women folks are dressed in vibrant colored outfits. In this dance two young men on either side of a woman hold arms together and dance in step. Lahoo dance festival is thus one of the most famous festivals of Meghalaya.
Chambil Mesara or Pomelo Dance Festival
This is one of the very popular dance festivals of Meghalaya. This solo dance form requires great skill. In this dance the performer hangs a pomelo on a cord tied to his waist and then makes a thrusting forward movement without any perceptible motion of the hips.
Shad Beh Sier
This deer hunting dance festival is solely dedicated to occupational merriment and is one of the most cherished festivals of Meghalaya. During the season of off-harvest, the male folks wander about the dense forests to prey for deer. When one or two deer are killed it becomes a local celebration. The youth of the village mount the slain deer on a bamboo pier and parade it through villages. The very hunting adventure turns out to be a stunning spectacle.