Shillong (English pronunciation: /ʃɪˈlɔːŋ/; Khasi: Shillong) is the capital and hill station of Meghalaya, also known as "The Abode of Clouds", one of the smallest states in India. It is the headquarters of the East Khasi Hills district and is situated at an average altitude of 4,908 feet (1,496 m) above sea level, with the highest point being Shillong Peak at 6,449 feet (1,966 m). Shillong is the 330th most populous city in India with population of 143,007 according to the 2011 census. It is said that the rolling hills around the town reminded the European settlers of Scotland. Hence, they would also refer to it as the "Scotland of the East". The population density of the state of Meghalaya in the 2000s was 342 people per sq mile.
It has steadily grown in size and significances since it was made the civil station of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills in 1864 by the British. In 1874, on the formation of Assam as the Chief Commissioner's Province, it was chosen as the headquarters of the new administration because of its convenient location between the Brahmaputra and Surma valleys 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 21 January 1972, when Shillong became the capital of Meghalaya, and Assam moved its capital to Dispur in Guwahati. Shillong is also often called as "India's Rock Capital" due to its inhabitants' great passion for music.
Under Köppen's climate classification the city features a subtropical highland climate (Cwb). Its summers are cool and very rainy, while its winters are cool and dry. 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.
Although well connected by road, Shillong has no rail connection and a proper air connection. Umroi Airport located 30km from the city center has only limited flights.
Shillong is well connected by roads with all major northeastern states. Two major National Highways pass through:
- National Highway 40 (India) - Connected to Guwahati
- National Highway 44 (India) - Connected to Tripura & Mizoram(NH 44A)
Private bus operators as well as state transport buses from other states ply to and from Shillong daily. Taxi services are also available to destination like Guwahati, Agartala, Dimapur and other North Eastern towns and cities.
The Shillong Bypass (picture above) is a two lane road which stretches across 47.06 km connecting Umiam (NH-40) to Jorabad (NH-44) which then leads to other North-Eastern Indian states of Mizoram and Tripura. The project estimated to have cost around INR 220.35 crore (US$33 million) was completed in a span of two years (2011-2013).
Places of Interest: