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Indian States

Meghalaya - Meghalaya is a small state in north-eastern India. The word "Meghalaya" literally means "The Abode of Clouds" in Hindi and Sanskrit. Meghalaya is a hilly strip in the eastern part of the country about 300 km long and 100 km wide. About one third state of Meghalya is forested. The forests of Meghalaya are notable for their biodiversity of mammals, birds, and plants.

History - Meghalaya was formed by carving out the two districts of the state of Assam: the United Khasi and Jaintia Hills, and the Garo Hills on 21 January 1972. Prior to attaining full statehood, Meghalaya was given a semi-autonomous status in 1970. In 1971, the Parliament passed the North-Eastern Areas which conferred full statehood on the Autonomous State of Meghalaya. Meghalaya attained statehood on 21 January 1972, with a Legislative Assembly of its own.

Culture - The main tribes in Meghalaya are the Jaintias , the Khasis and the Garos. One of the unique features of the State is that a majority of the tribal population in Meghalaya follows a matrilineal system where lineage and inheritance are traced through women. The tribal people of Meghalaya are therefore a part of what may be the world's largest surviving matrilineal culture. According to India's National Family Health Survey, Meghalaya is the state where parents have shown the least interest to have a male child - 73% less than the national average.

Geography - The State of Meghalaya is also known as the "Meghalaya Plateau". It consists mainly of archean rock formations. These rock formations contain rich deposits of valuable minerals like coal, limestone, uranium, silimanite etc. Meghalaya has many rivers. Most of these are rainfed and are therefore seasonal. The important rivers in the Garo Hills Region are Daring, Sanda, Bandra, Bhogai, Dareng and Simsang, Nitai and the Bhupai. In the central and eastern section of the plateau the important rivers are Umkhri, Digaru, Umiam, Kynchiang , Mawpa, Umiew or Barapani, Myngot and Myntdu. In the southern Khasi Hills Region, these rivers have created deep gorges and some of the most beautiful waterfalls.

Main Cities / Towns

Shilllong , the capital city of Meghalaya

Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, is a hill town, situated in the north eastern part of India. Shillong in Meghalaya is situated at an altitude of 1496 m above sea level. Shillong remained the capital of Assam, before the formation of Meghalaya in the 1974. The place, the people and the climate all combined together to create an amiable atmosphere, to make Shillong Meghalaya an ideal holiday destination throughout the year. Cherrapunjee, the wettest place on earth is only 56 kms away from Shillong. Shillong has beautiful lakes and waterfalls, and is set in pine forests and green mountains. It is a popular hill-station which the British used to call the Scotland of the East.

Tourist attraction in Shilong

 

Shillong Peak - It is an ideal picnic spot, 10 km. from the city, 1965 m above sea level offers a panoramic view of the scenic country side and is also the highest point in the State. In the evening the city lights below appear like a star-studded abyss.

 

Cherrapunjee (Sohra) - It is located 56 km from Shillong, situated in one of the rainiest rain-belt in the world, 1,300 m above sea level. A pleasant drive to see roaring water falls leaping into deep gorges including the famed Nohsngithiang falls.

Ward's Lake - It is located in the heart of the city, popular for short garden walks and boating. The lake was built by Chief Commissioner William Ward in 1893-94 is a picture book lake complete with a white wooden Japanese like bridge and fishes that throng to feed on Channa.

Umiam Lake - Umiam Khwan (Barapani) is 17 km from Shillong offers water sports facilities including sailing, water skiing, water scooter.

Lady Hydari Park - There is a mini zoo and Butterfly museum with colourful species preserved for sale and posterity in lady hydari park. There is also the perfectly landscaped Lady Hydari Park ablaze with roses and flowers of almost every variety even as weeping willows bend into water bodies.

Botanical Garden - Botanical Garden is a secluded but captivating spot with plethora of indigenous and exotic plants and is located just below the Ward's Lake.
 

Festival of Meghalaya

 

Festivals in Garo Hills - Among the Garos, the most important festival is the Wangala or the Hundred-drum Festival held from Nov. to Dec. This is a harvest festival celebrated in honour of Saljong, the Sun-God of fertility. The festival marks the end of the period of toil in the fields, bringing a good yeild of crops. Everybody - young & old joins in the festivities. The men beat the drums and move forward in rhythmic union. Doregata Dance Festival is another interesting dance. In this dance, women try to knock off the turbans of their male partners, using their heads. Another dance that requires exquisite skill is the Chambil Mesara or Pomelo Dance. This is a solo dance form, in which the performer dangles a pomelo or any other fruit on a cord tied to his waist and then hurls it round & round.

 

Festivals in Khasi Hills - The Khasis have two important festivals - Nongkrem Dance held in Oct. / Nov. and Shad-Suk Mynsiem, held in April. Nongkrem Dance is held annually for five days together. It is a religious festival for thanksgiving to God Almighty for good harvest and to pray for peace and prosperity in the community. It is celebrated in the month of November. An important part of this festival is 'pomblang' or decapitation of the goats, offered by the subjects to the Syiem of Khyrim. The Syiem is the administrative head of the state. Offerings are made to the ancestors of the ruling clan.


Festivals in Jaintia Hills -

Behdienkhlam is the most important dance festival of the Jaintias. It is celebrated after the sowing period is over. At Jowai town, this festival can be seen being celebrated in July. Youngmen make a symbolic driving away of the evil spirits by beating the roofs of every house with bamboo poles. The climax of the celebrations is the tussle, as seen in a tug-of-war, for a large undressed beam of two groups of people opposed to each other. The Jaintias have also another Dance festival for entertainment called the Laho Dance, where young men and women dance to the merriment of the audience.


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