EAST INDIA

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Green Triangle of the Northeast

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.

Shillong being the capital city of Meghalaya has a good line of accommodation facility in and around itself. You may not too luxurious category of accommodation in Shillong. But, the accommodations available are good enough to provide you a perfect comfort.

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. Obeisance is paid to U Shulong at the sanctorum at the peak's summit every springtime, by the religious priest of Mylliem State. In the evening the city lights below appear like a star-studded.

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. The lovely town is also famous for its limestone caves and orange honey. Centre of Khasi culture and literature, it also has the oldest Presbyterian Church and also an establishment of the Ramkrishna Mission.

1,343 m, 20 km from Shillong, regarded as sacred by the Hynniewtrep people, is set amidst a beautiful scenic view against the backdrop of a sacred forest. This 'Navel of Heaven' as per Khasi mythology is a heavenly peak which offers to fill the spiritual void and emptiness, to those who seek and desire solace and peace of mind.

Cherrapunjee - the Rain Capital of the World

Cherrapunjee is a small town located on the southern edge of Khasi Hills, a dissected plateau at an altitude of about 4823 feet (1484 m) above mean sea level. The meteorological observatory is situated at 4267 feet (1313 m) above MSL. Cherrapunjee is locally known as 'SOHRA'. Khasi people of Mon-Khmer origin inhabit it. It is the headquarters of Sohra Civil Sub-Division and falls in East Khasi Hills District of the Indian State of Meghalaya. Meghalaya is one of the seven states of North East India with Assam to its North and sharing an international border with Bangladesh on its South.

Laitkynsew is a great place for birders. The landscape is diverse: deep valleys with forest and boulder filled streams, villages surrounded by cultivation, second growth and bamboo groves, eerie steep cliffs with waterfalls and, on top of it all, a barren plateau clad with grassland and pines. Since the altitude varies from 200 m a.s.l. in the valley bottoms to 1200 m on the plateau, the faunal composition is far from homogenous, the birds one encounters change with habitat and altitude.

There is an impressive list of 197 species, a high score reached through my effort to cover all levels (12 species were only seen in Mawmluh), and all types of habitat. There was, however, certainly more to be seen out there, and more species can be added in other seasons.

Guwahati is the commercial capital city of the northeastern state of Assam. Formerly known as Pragjyotishpur (the City of Eastern Light), Guwahati is the biggest city of Assam in India. Its etymological root is derived from two Assamese words, "Guwa," meaning areca nut and "Haat," meaning market. Fixed between the picturesque hills of the eastern flanks of the Himalayan mountain range, Guwahati houses the political capital of the state, Dispur. The gateway to the seven other northeastern states, also referred as seven sisters, Guwahati is a vital tourist base point, besides being an attraction in its own.

Guwahati is particularly famous for its Kamakhya temple located atop the Nilachal hill, at a distance of 10 km from the railway station. Known to be the most revered among the tantrik shrines of Shakti worship in the world, Kamakhya, was built in the 10th century by the Koch king, Naranarayan. Animal sacrifice is a common practice here to appease the Goddess. Above Kamakhya is another small temple, Bhubaneshwari, from where one can have a bird's eye view of the Guwahati.

A top a hill in east Guwahati is the Navagraha temple - the "temple of nine planets," - an ancient seat of astrology and astronomy. Housed in a red beehive-shaped dome, the central lingam is encircled by further nine representing the planets (graha) - Sun (Surya, Ravi), Moon (Chandra, Soma), Mercury (Buddh), Venus (Sukra), Mars (Mangal), Jupiter (Brhaspati) and Saturn (Sani). Two more were added, Rahu and Ketu, the dragon's head and the dragon's tail, or the ascending and descending nodes of the moon.

At a distance of 12 km from the railway station is the Vashistha Ashram (the abode of sage Vashistha), an interesting old shrine, with plenty of greenness and three beautiful streams, Lalita, Kanta and Sandhya. Several other temples like the Ugratara temple, famous for its golden idol and buffalo sacrifices, are also spread across the city.