Meghalaya: Explore The Unexplored


Have You Heard Of A Place Called Mawlynnong? It Is Popularly Known As The Cleanest Village In Asia. Or Of A Bio-engineering Bridge Made From The Roots Of Trees At Nongriat Village? And Does Sohra (formerly Cherrapunjee) And Mawsynram Sound Familiar To Your Ears? If You Did Then It Is Because You Have Been Or Heard Of Shillong A Hill Station Situated In North East India. Shillong Is The Capital City Of Meghalaya Which Is One Of The Seven States In The North Eastern Region. 

Meghalaya Attained Separate Political Identity From Assam In 1972.  Meghalaya In Sanskrit Means The ‘abode Of Clouds’. It Is Not Hard To See Why It Suits The Hilly And Picturesque State. Most Part Of It Is Constantly Covered In Thick Clouds And Dense Fog. When It Rains It Pours Is The Common Refrain For Those Living In Meghalaya. 

Shillong The Capital City Is Often Regarded As The ‘Scotland Of The East’. The Labelling Of Shillong As The Scotland Of The East Was A Colonial Legacy. The British Were So Fond Of Shillong And Liked Its Weather That Resembles The English Weather. It Became One Of Their Favourite Hill Stations. The British Aptly Called It The Scotland Of The East After It Became Their Administrative Centre.

Meghalaya Is Famous For Many Other Things Including Tourism. However Tourism In Meghalaya Is At A Nascent Stage. For A Very Long Time, The Tourist Industry In Meghalaya Was Confined To Shillong And Its Adjoining Areas. The Tourism Scene Today Is Markedly Different From Say 10 Years Ago. It Cannot Be Denied That For A Long Time The Lack Of Development, Absence Of Infrastructural Facilities And Basic Communication Services Have Hindered Meghalaya’s Tourism Sector. In Addition The Period From The 70s To Late 90s Was Troubled Period In The State’s History And They No Doubt Obstruct The Growth Of The Sector. 

Meghalaya’s Tourist Sector Started To Pick Up When Insurgency Was Quelled In The Early Part Of 2000. With Law And Order In Control The State Government Started Taking Pro-active Measures In The Promotion Of Brand Meghalaya As A Tourist Destination. The Brand Itself Came Much Later. Given Credit Where It Is Due The Government Did Manage To Promote Tourism Through Different Programmes And Festivals Such As The Famous ‘Autumn Festival’ That Were Regular Scene In The 90s. Unfortunately This Festival Has Been A Non-starter For The Last Few Years. Meanwhile The Government And Other Stakeholders’ Attempts To Enhance Meghalaya’s Image By Promoting Non-conventional Programmes Such As CALM Festival, 18 Degrees, Monolith Festival Etc.

Most Of These Events Are Urban Centric And They Failed To Disseminate Information About Meghalaya’s Interiors. So There Are Some Questions Worth Asking. Have These Ventures Make Any Difference To Meghalaya’s Tourism? Has Meghalaya’s Visibility In The Tourism Map Increased? What Is The Roadmap Of Meghalaya Tourism Via-a-vis Staging Events That Cater Mostly To The Urban Crowd? These Are Pertinent Questions That Requires Serious Introspection If Meghalaya Is To Look At The Tourism Sector As An Alternative Revenue And Employment Generation Sector.

The Growth Of The Internet And Mobile Connectivity Has Indeed Contributed To Brand Meghalaya. Social Media Have Played An Important Role In Spreading And Creating Awareness Of Hitherto Unexplored And Inaccessible Places That Are Yet To Declared Tourist Spots Or Where The Natives Have No Scope Or Capability To Develop Such Areas Into Tourist Destination. For Instance Mawlynnong Became Famous Not Because Of The Government’s Initiative But Because Of The Collective Interest Of The Community In The Village.

Meghalaya Still Lacks Behind In Terms Of Infrastructural Facilities, Communication Services, Hospitality, Marketing Etc Via-a-vis Other States Such As Kerala. However It Continues To See Growing Tourist Footfalls. The Geographical Isolation From Mainstream India And The Lack Of Basic Facility Such As A Functioning Airport Have Not Deterred Tourist From Visiting The Place. It Can Be Imagined The Kind Of Tourist Flow To Meghalaya Had There Been A Well Functioning Airport Close To The City Of Shillong.

Enterprising Young Men And Women Have Taken To Tourism In A Big Way And This Is Encouraging And A Good Sign That All Is Well. Some Of Them Have Ventured To The Interiors And Established Restaurants, Cafes, Guest Houses Etc With The Majority Of Investment Coming From Their Own. But This Is Not Enough. Infrastructural Bottlenecks Are Clearly State Responsibilities And If They Are Missing Private Ventures Can Only Do So Much To Cater To The Guests And Foreign Travellers.

More Needs To Be Done So That These Entrepreneurs And Independent Ventures Can Break Margin And Earned Something Extra For Themselves While At The Same Time Ensuring That Their Services Meets Their Clients Expectations. The Best Option For Tourist Wishing To Travel To Meghalaya Is To Check On Different Websites That Provide Detailed And Exclusive Information On Tourist Spots, Hotels, Transport Etc. However There Are Not Many Of Such Travelling Websites. Is One Such Website That Caters To Tourist And Traveller Travelling To Meghalaya.

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