Clouds had always liberated the soul and stimulated the idealistic mind of the great Tagore, since he was a child. This is probably one of the reasons behind his occasional retreat to the “Abode of Clouds”, Meghalaya. Located in the north east of India, Meghalaya is one of the Seven Sister States in India. Geographically, the sate covers an expanse of 300 kilometers in the lengths and approximately 100 kilometers in its breadth. The capital of Meghalaya is known as Shillong, often dubbed as the “Scotland of the East”.
Is it only because of his fantasy running wild for clouds that the maestro poet sought and longed to be in this place? This might be up for debate, but if one visits this place, he might find take this point to a different realm altogether. Meghalaya is just not about clouds, it is also about its people, their ethnicity and their puritan culture.
Music, dance, rhythm, food and immaculately beautiful nature soak into the hearts, minds, souls and most importantly the lifestyles of their people. But of course people here are mostly of the tribal lineage because the average educated common men have deserted their own place for want of job opportunities. Nonetheless, Meghalaya continues to be one of the most beautiful and romantic destinations for love-locked sojourners, illuminated minds and leisure travellers and this can mostly be attributed to its culture and there can be no two minds about this.
The main tribes in Meghalaya are the Khasis, Garos and the Jayantias. One of the best features of the state is that, the lions’ share of the tribal population follows a matrilinear system, whereby property inheritance and lineage follow to the hands of the girl child. This is the most progressive part of their culture, one might say. Where the rest of the country cannot assure the safety and security of their daughters, Meghalaya stands tall and proudly boasts of their women demographics and workforce. Notably, most of the shops are run by women, most of the workforce comprises women who singlehandedly take care of their family as well as contributes to the overall GDP.
Once in Meghalaya, one must check out for the tribal handicrafts. The “Dakbanda”, a kind of saree mostly worn by the women folk there, are hand woven with intricate designs. The Garo women are expert pro weavers. Those not interested in 12 yards wonder, can also have their fill; for Meghalaya offers a wide range of handcrafted cane and bamboo works. Their intrinsic design would take away your heart if you are a connoisseur in hand made art and crafts.
As I have said earlier, Meghalaya is a staunch advocate for celebration of life. Festivals occupy an important place in the pages of its cultural heritage. Song, dance and rhythm make up for a Khasi soul and speak profusely of their life. Blended with rich repertoire, dances are often performed as a part of “rites de passage”- the life cycle of a human being in a society or the cycle and transformation of seasons one after the another. The dance form melded with the regional flavours and colours adds different hues to the Khasi folk culture and brings variation. Jaintias, on the other hand celebrate the spirit of unison and cohesiveness existing or that should exist among men and brotherhood. The main festivals of the Garos are Den Bilsia, Wangala, Mangona etc. Call them different names, but the cornerstone of all these festivities drive home the same point – maintaining a balance between man, culture and his ecosystem.
Meghalaya serves you a delectable cuisine comprising mostly of dried fish and pork. If you are there, you must savour the local best “Jadoh” which is mostly made of rice and pork. Also, donot forget to dig deep into the seasoned fish chutney. If you are “spirited” enough, “Kyat” (a locally brewed rice beer) would surely give you a new high!!
Still wondering what to do? Just book your flight to Guwahati and drive down the highway to Shillong. Book a cab from Guwahati to Shillong and experience an exotic road trip.
To know more about Car Booking
The Guwahati Airport or the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport is connected directly to major domestic cities like Chennai, Delhi, Imphal, Jaipur, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore, Agartala and Hyderabad whereas international cities like Paro and Bangkok. One who is travelling from across the border can book a direct flight from New Delhi to Guwahati, Kolkata to Guwahati, Bangalore to Guwahati and Chennai to Guwahati flight.