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Wednesday, 19 October 2011

A Romance and Poetry with Shillong Peak- Day 4


I woke up around 4 am and saw only one or two vehicles on the road. Then around 6.30-7 am, again when I peeped through the window in the dining hall, I could see a truck with gas cylinders and people sitting in queue waiting for their turn. Then around 8 am we had yummy puris, aloo parathas with chickpea curry for breakfast, and left the hotel around 8.45 am for local sightseeing.
The hotel had arranged a Bolero for us. The driver, Ganesh, was a Nepali. Shillong is full of peaks and one can see them in every direction. Ok, the driver first took us to the Shillong Peak. On the way, we saw some old bungalows in the town. Though there were many concrete buildings coming up, I was fascinated by the quaint cottages with wooden floors and smoking fireplaces radiating a warm and rustic atmosphere. The houses were raised on stilts and looked like they have come right out of the storybooks. The sloped roofs had a wooden staircase reaching the front door giving the house an exotic appeal.

One thing I noticed was almost all houses had a little garden with a variety of colourful flowers. The windows were large and had blinds made with lace or net. Houses scattered over the hills looked like a fairyland in children’s story book!

As the car rounded the curvy roads, it offered us the sight of water bodies and tall pine trees and we couldn’t help letting out loud sighs of appreciation. The 20 minutes uphill drive from Shillong was nothing short of a venture into Utopia. Seeing the tall pine trees that dotted the skyline juxtaposed with woolly tufts of clouds that floated above them. It was all romance and poetry. Numerous waterfalls gushing from the rocky terrain, and the mysterious winding roads added to the romance of the place.

Just before reaching the spot, we collected pass at the Air force base, where photography was strictly prohibited, and then paid some fee at the next stop for parking.

U Shulong or Lei Shyllong is worshipped at the sanctum at the peak’s summit during springtime by the spiritual priest of Mylliem town and the Hynniewtrep tribals consider this Peak as sacred. Located 10 km from the main town, the peak stands 1,965 metres above sea level making it the highest point in the state, offering a panoramic view of the entire Shillong valley.

A view from Shillong Peak

Shillong Peak





The peak, which is open between 9 am and 4 pm, was quiet with its quaint beauty. The sedate place, the serenity, and the lush misty expanse of greenery made an indelible mark on our mind and soul. It was amazing to take a walk on the peak looking into the mysterious wooded hillside for a heart stopping view of the valley. The Peak offered us a breathtaking view of the city and the scattered villages around. When the city glows in the night maybe it would look like a star-studded abyss from the Peak. I wish there was a telescope house like Doddabetta in Ooty enabling us to get a better view of Shillong.



After looking around, I just went to see the shops selling local handicrafts, pineapples and vegetables, and bumped into some Tamil tourists. When Vij talked in Tamil, tourists from Tamil Nadu got excited and exchanged pleasantries. One guy even took photos with Vij and gave his phone number and address!





Traditional jewellery of Khasis

Traditional jewellery of Khasis
Coral necklaces

Khasi jewels

The Khasi women, identified by their beautiful smiles and the chequered cloth tied over the left shoulder, were busy with their chores. No doubt, every tourist falls in love with the scenic beauty of this beautiful city. But to make it even more memorable by getting a chance to step into the shoes of the Khasi tradition or to show a short of respect to the place and the people during short visit, is no small thing. I saw one can take back beautiful memories of being in Shillong and that also in a traditional Khasi attire. I saw a Tamil guy posing for photograph in full traditional Khasi attire.




I saw a stall allowing visitors to try the traditional Khasi dress. When enquired, the lady at the shop said it costs Rs 100. In a stall, a humble Khasi lady was helping a Tamil tourist in putting on the dress that took just a few minutes. The dress was so attractive and majestic that tourists will not afford to miss the chance to wear it and pose for photographs and maybe that’s the reason that Tamilian posed continuosly for the photographs! He looked so excited and requested me to send him the photos.
Tourist gets help from a Khasi woman

While returning we saw women carrying agricultural produce in large conical wicker baskets. Some women had tied their infants on their backs. Covered by the chequered cloth, mother and child looked like a single entity. 
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Fresh vegetables...



We stopped to see shops with fresh organic vegetables that dotted the sides of the road at regular intervals. Then we made our way to the Elephant Falls.

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