MEGHALAYA
The abode of clouds
MEGHALAYA
The abode of clouds

Endowed with incredible natural beauty, Meghalaya is one of the most beautiful states in Northeast India. Meghalaya has great tourism potential, which is still untapped and unexplored. Meghalaya Tourism Department has formulated many plans and tourism policies, to attract more domestic and international tourists, which would lead to the economic development and generation of ample employment opportunities in the state. Meghalaya tourism is focused on developing infrastructure and public facilities at all tourist spots, along with the development of various areas of tourism in the state such as Nature based tourism, Cultural tourism, Health resort tourism, and Art and Craft tourism. Meghalaya tourism is also emphasizing on adventure tourism in Meghalaya that include trekking, caving, and water sports. Rock climbing and Hand gliding will be promoted with recognized adventure and sports associations.

This state is bounded to the south and the west by the People's Republic of Bangladesh and the north and the east by India's Assam state. The capital is Shillong, known as the "Scotland of the East". Meghalaya was previously part of Assam, but on 21 January 1972, the districts of Khasi, Garo and Jaintia hills became the new state of Meghalaya. English is the official language of Meghalaya. The other principal languages spoken include Khasi, Pnar and Garo. Unlike many Indian states, Meghalaya has historically followed a matrilineal system where the lineage and inheritance are traced through women; the youngest daughter inherits all wealth and she also takes care of her parents.

The state is the wettest region of India, recording an average of 1200 cm of rains a year. About 70% of the state is forested. The Meghalaya subtropical forests ecoregion encompasses the state; its mountain forests are distinct from the lowland tropical forests to the north and south. The forests are notable for their biodiversity of mammals, birds, and plants.

Meghalaya has predominantly an agrarian economy with a significant commercial forestry industry. The important crops are potatoes, rice, maize, pineapples, bananas, papayas, spices, etc. The service sector is made up of real estate and insurance companies. Meghalaya's gross state domestic product for 2012 was estimated at 16173 crore (US$2.6 billion) in current prices. The state is geologically rich in minerals, but it has no significant industries. The state has about 1,170 kilometers of national highways. It is also a major logistical center for trade with Bangladesh.

Established: 21 January 1972

Population (2011): 2,964,007

Literacy: 75.84%

Official language: English (Khasi and Garo are additional)

Flora and Fauna

About 70% of the state is forested, of which 9,496 km2 is dense primary subtropical forest. The Meghalayan forests are considered to be among the richest botanical habitats of Asia. These forests receive abundant rainfall and support a vast variety of floral and faunal biodiversity. A small portion of the forest area in Meghalaya is under what are known as "sacred groves" (see Sacred groves of India). These are small pockets of ancient forest that have been preserved by the communities for hundreds of years due to religious and cultural beliefs. These forests are reserved for religious rituals and generally remain protected from any exploitation. These sacred groves harbour many rare plant and animal species. The Nokrek Biosphere Reserve in the West Garo Hills and the Balaphakram National Park in the South Garo Hills are considered to be the most biodiversity-rich sites in Meghalaya. In addition, Meghalaya has three wildlife sanctuaries. These are the Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary, the Siju Sanctuary and the Bhagmara Sanctuary, which is also the home of the insect eating pitcher plant Nepenthes khasiana.

Meghalaya also has a large variety of mammals, birds, reptiles and insects. The important mammal species include elephants, bear, red pandas, civets, mongooses, weasels, rodents, gaur, wild buffalo, deer, wild boar and a number of primates. Meghalaya also has a large variety of bats. The limestone caves in Meghalaya such as the Siju Cave are home to some of the nation's rarest bat species. The Hoolock gibbon is found in all districts of Meghalaya. Common reptiles in Meghalaya are lizards, crocodiles and tortoises. Meghalaya also has a number of snakes including the python, Copperhead, Green Tree Racer, Indian Cobra, King Cobra, Coral Snake and Vipers.

Weather & Rainfall

Summer: 23°C-15°C and Winter:15°C-03°C

Meghalaya experiences high rainfall and humidity. Very heavy morning fog in winter is also common.

How to reach

By Air:The nearest major airport is located at Guwahati in Assam, which is about 128 Kms from Shillong. Guwahati is well connected to Kolkata, New Delhi, Baghdogra and Bangkok by regular flights. Taxis can be hired from Guwahati Airport to Shillong. There is a helicopter service from Guwahati Airport to Shillong.

By Rail: The nearest railhead is at Guwahati, which is located at a distance of 103 Kms from Shillong

By Road: Meghalaya Transport Corporation and Assam State Transport Corporation buses are available, that frequently ply from Guwahati to Shillong.

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