The word “Meghalaya” literally means The Abode of Clouds in Sanskrit and other Indic languages. The state is bounded on the north by Assam and by Bangladesh on the south. The capital is Shillong which is also known as the Scotland of the East. It was previously part of Assam, but on 21st January 1972, the districts of Khasi, Garo, and Jaintia hills became the new state of Meghalaya. During the British rule of India, the British imperial authorities nicknamed it “Scotland of the East”. Meghalaya stands to be one of the most picturesque destinations in Indian tourism. Major tourist spots found at this destination are Cherrapunjee, Dawki, Mawlynnong & many more to admit that you cannot get enough of a one-time visit.

Modern history

The British discovered Camellia sinensis in 1834 in Assam and later companies started renting land from 1839 onwards.[24][clarification needed]

The Khasi, Garo, and Jaintia tribes had their own kingdoms until they came under British administration in the 19th century. Later, the British incorporated Meghalaya into Assam in 1835.[11] The region enjoyed semi-independent status by virtue of a treaty relationship with the British Crown. When Bengal was partitioned on 16 October 1905 by Lord Curzon, Meghalaya became a part of the new province of Eastern Bengal and Assam. However, when the partition was reversed in 1912, Meghalaya became a part of the province of Assam. On 3 January 1921 in pursuance of Section 52A of the Government of India Act of 1919, the governor-general-in-council declared the areas now in Meghalaya, other than the Khasi states, as “backward tracts.” Subsequently, the British administration enacted the Government of India Act 1935, which regrouped the backward tracts into two categories: “excluded” and “partially excluded” areas.

At the time of Indian independence in 1947, present-day Meghalaya constituted two districts of Assam and enjoyed limited autonomy within the state of Assam. A movement for a separate Hill State began in 1960.[8] On 11 September 1968, the Government of India announced a scheme for constituting an autonomous state within the state of Assam comprising certain areas specified in Part A of the table appended to paragraph 20 of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution.[25] Accordingly, the Assam Reorganisation (Meghalaya) Act of 1969 was enacted for the formation of an autonomous state.[26] Meghalaya was formed by carving out two districts from the state of Assam: the United Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills, and the Garo Hills.[8] The name ‘Meghalaya’ coined by geographer S.P. Chatterjee in 1936 was proposed and accepted for the new state.[27][28] The Act came into effect on 2 April 1970, with the autonomous state having a 37-member legislature in accordance with the Sixth Schedule to the Indian constitution.

In 1971, the Parliament passed the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Act, 1971, which conferred full statehood on the autonomous state of Meghalaya. Meghalaya attained statehood on 21 January 1972, with a Legislative Assembly of its own.[8]


With the average annual rainfall as high as 12,000 mm (470 in) in some areas, Meghalaya is the wettest place on Earth.[29] The western part of the plateau, comprising the Garo Hills region with lower elevations, experiences high temperatures for most of the year. The Shillong area, with the highest elevations, experiences generally low temperatures. The maximum temperature in this region rarely goes beyond 28 °C (82 °F),[30] whereas sub-zero winter temperatures are common.

The Wild Frontiers

The Western Hoolock gibbon stirs in the thick canopies of western and southern Meghalaya while herds of Asiatic elephants rustle through the jungles, crossing gushing streams and steep hillsides with surprising agility. Somewhere a clouded leopard stalks the dawn, its long bushy tail and claws making it at home in the trees while a python slithers amidst the fallen leaves, sniffing out its next meal. Bird watchers come to Meghalaya to catch sight of some very rare species. Hornbills, blue-throated barbets, Verditer flycatchers, crimson sunbirds, crested serpent eagles, and baya weavers are just some of the hundreds of feathered residents that you can spot.

Meghalaya – A Bouquet of Many Identities

Meghalaya is inhabited by many distinct tribes, the most prominent being the Khasis, the Garos, and the Pnars. Other tribes include the Hajongs, the Karbis, and the Koch. The tribes are further distinguished into sub-tribes and clans – represented in different dialects, diets, and clothing. There are many residents of the state whose previous generations have migrated from nearby and distant regions, especially in the capital Shillong – adding a cosmopolitan charm to the town.
A visit to Meghalaya will be incomplete without some cultural experiences. The best time to observe traditional practices and imagery is during the main festivals. Shad Suk Mynsiem is a major event in the Khasi calendar, celebrated in the month of April as a showing of gratitude to nature and to celebrate the harvest and the sowing of new seeds. Highlights include a dance where the participants are dressed in rich traditional attire, laden with silk, gold, coral, and more.
Wangala is a harvest festival celebrated in the months between September and December across the Garo Hills. It is a great time to experience the old traditions of Meghalaya’s western-most tribe and indulge in the unique cuisine of the place.
Behdienkhlam is the biggest festival of the Pnars who practice the indigenous Niamtre religion. It is celebrated across the Jaintia Hills districts and the largest celebrations happen in Jowai town. One of the defining images of this festival happens during the Dad-iawakor ceremony, in which the local men play a game with a wooden ball, remotely similar to football.
These are just examples from a much longer list – many festivals and events are local in nature and unique to a particular region or village.

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