HILLSTATIONS OF MEGHALAYA
Shillong (Khasi Shillong,Bengali: শিলং, Hindi: शिलांग) is the capital of Meghalaya, one of the smallest states in India. It is also the district headquarters of the East Khasi Hills District and is situated at an average altitude of 4,908 ft (1,496 m) above sea level, with the highest point being "lum shyllong" at 1965 m. The city has a population of approximately 260,520 according to the 2001 census. Shillong has steadily grown in size and significance in its own traditional way from a mere village as it used to be when it was made the new civil station of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills in 1864 by the British. It remained the summer capital of Eastern Bengal and Assam for many years. In 1874, on the formation of Assam as a Chief Commissioner's Province, it was chosen as the headquarters of the new administration because of its convenient location between the Brahmaputra and Surma Valley and more so because the climate of Shillong was much cooler than tropical India. Shillong remained the capital of undivided Assam until the creation of the new state of Meghalaya on January 21, 1972 when Shillong became the capital of Meghalaya and Assam moved its capital to Dispur.
Shillong is located at. It is on the Shillong Plateau, the only major pop-up structure in the northern Indian shieldThe city lies in the centre of the plateau and is surrounded by hills, three of which are revered in Khasi tradition: Lum Sohpetbneng, Lum Diengiei and Lum Shillong. Best time to travel : October to March Weather Conditions : Pleasant, pollution-free; Summers: The temperature varies from 23 degree Celsius; Winters: The temperature varies from 4 degree Celsius. Location : Shillong, the capital city of Meghalaya is just 56 km from Cherrapunji, the world's wettest place.
Due to its latitude and high elevation Shillong has a sub-tropical climate with mild summers and chilly to cold winters.Shillong is subject to vagaries of the monsoon. The monsoons arrive in June and it rains almost until the end of August. October-November and March-April are the best months to visit Shillong.
This is one of the few hill stations with motorable roads all around. Shillong has no railway lines. There is a small airport at Umroi, around 30 km from Shillong; most flights into Umroi are only on certain days of the week. The nearest major airport and railway station is at Guwahati. From Gawahati it's a 3 to 4 hours of hilly drive by road through NH-37. Near the Gawahati railway station , known as Paltan Bazar, one will find Cab services charging about 110 INR to 170 INR per seat and also Bus services, they are cheaper, price ranges from 40 INR to 100 INR per seat and services generally operates 24/7 .Assam approximately 120 km from Shillong. The tourist towns of Cherrapunjee (around 56 km) and Umiam Lake (around 15 km) are close to the city.
As of 2001[update] India census Shillong had a population of 232,946. Males constitute 50% of the population and females 50%. Shillong has an average literacy rate of 80%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 83%, and female literacy is 78%. In Shillong, 11% of the population is under 6 years of age.
Khasis make up the majority of the population though the percentage of Khasi people in the city continues to fall as a result of the large number of migrants from other Indian states. All the other northeast Indian tribes are represented here as well as significant numbers of Bengali, Nepali, Assamese, Biharis and Marwaris making it a fairly cosmopolitan city.
Christianity is the dominant religion in the city. Protestants make up three-fourth of the Christian population of Shillong and Catholics make up the remaining one-fourth . A sizable proportion of the population follow the original Khasi religion. Other religions found in India are also represented in significant numbers in the city.
Cherrapunji (also spelled as Cherrapunjee), is a town in East Khasi Hills district in the Indian state of Meghalaya. It is credited as being the wettest place on Earth. However, nearby Mawsynram has more rainfall nowadays.
It is the traditional capital of a hima (Khasi tribal chieftainship constituting a petty state) known as Sohra or Churra.
The original name for this town was Sohra, pronounced as "Churra" by the British before morphing into the present one. Despite perennial rain, Cherrapunji faces acute water shortage and the inhabitants often have to trek for miles to obtain potable water Irrigation is also hampered due to excessive rain washing away the topsoil as a result of human encroachment into the forests. Now the Meghalaya State government has decided to rename Cherrapunjee to its local name "Sohra".
Cherrapunji's yearly rainfall average stands at 11,430 ;mm (450 in). This figure places it behind only nearby Mawsynram, Meghalaya, whose average is 11,873 mm (467 in) and Mount Waialeale (USA) on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, whose average is 11,684 mm (460 in)
Cherrapunji receives both the Southwest and Northeast monsoon showers which give it a single monsoon season. It lies in the windward side of the Khasi Hills. Orographic precipitation results, and monsoon winds are forced to deposit much of their moisture
In the winter months it receives the northeast monsoon showers which travel down the Brahmaputra valley.
It holds two Guinness world records:
- For receiving the maximum amount of rainfall in a single year: 22,987 mm (904.9 inches) of rainfall between August 1860 and July 1861
- For receiving the maximum amount of rainfall in a single month: 9299.96 mm (366.14 inches) in July 1861.
Causes of High Rainfall:
Cherrapunjee receives rains from the Bay of Bengal arm of the Indian Summer Monsoon. The monsoon clouds fly unhindered over the plains of Bangladesh for about 400 km. Thereafter, they hit Khasi hills which abruptly erupt out of the plains to reach a height of about 1370 m above MSL within a short distance of 2 to 5 km. The orography of the hills with many deep valleys channels the low flying (150-300 m) moisture laden clouds from a wide area to converge over Cherrapunjee which falls in the middle of the path of this stream. The winds push the rain clouds through these gorges and up the steep slopes. The rapid ascendance of the clouds into the upper atmosphere hastens the cooling and helps vapours to condense. Most of Cherrapunjee's rain is the consequence of air being lifted as a large body of water vapour. Extremely large amount of rainfall at Cherrapunjee is perhaps the most well known feature of orographic rain in northeast India.
Occasionally, cloudbursts can occur in one part of Cherrapunjee whereas other areas may be totally or relatively dry depicting high spatial variability of rainfall. Atmospheric humidity is extremely high during the peak monsoon period.
The major part of the rainfall at Cherrapunjee can be attributed to the orographic features. When the clouds are blown over the hills from the south, they are funneled through the valley. The clouds strike Cherrapunjee in a perpendicular direction and the low flying clouds are pushed up the steep slopes. It is not surprising to find that the heaviest rainfalls occur when the winds blow directly on the Khasi Hills.
A notable feature of monsoon rain at Cherrapunjee is that most of it falls during the morning hours. This could be partly due to two different air masses coming together. During the monsoon months, the prevailing winds along the Brahmaputra valley generally blow from the east or the northeast. On the other hand, the winds over Meghalaya are from the south. The confluence of these two winds systems usually takes place in the vicinity of the Khasi Hills. Apparently the winds that are trapped in the valley at night begin upward ascent only after they are warmed during the day. This explains, partially, the frequency of morning rainfall. Apart from orographic features, atmospheric convection plays an important role during the monsoon and the period just preceding it.