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Meghalaya - Quick Facts

Area: 22,429 Sq. Km
Altitude: 1496 meters
Capital: Shillong
Altitude: 1496 meters
Rainfall: 241.5cms
Climate:Summer- Max:230C, Min:150C
              Winter-Max:150C, Min: 30C
Languages: Khasi, Garo, Jayantia,hindi
Best Time To Visit: July To January

Carved from the erstwhile State of Assam, Meghalaya became a full fledged State on January 21, 1972. Bounded on the North and East by Assam and on the South and West by Bangladesh, Meghalaya is spread over an area of 22, 429 square kilometers, and lies between 20.1° N and 26.5° N latitude and 85.49 °E and 92.52 °E longitude. Meghalaya lies between 25o and 26.15o North Latitude and 89.45o and 92.47o East Longitude.

It is bounded on the North and East by the State of Assam and on the South and West by Bangladesh.

Meghalaya is inhabited by three tribal groups namely the Khasis, the Jaintias and the Garos. The Khasis reside in the centre of the State, the Jaintias in the east and Garos in the west. Khasis, Jaintias, Bhois, Wars collectively known as the Hynniewtrep people are of Austro Monkhmer race and Garos who prefer to call themselves as Achiks are of the Tibeto-Burman race. All the three tribes follow the matrilineal system of society where the lineage and ancestral property pass down from mother to daughter. According to scholars, the Hynniewtrep (seven huts) people are known to be the earliest settlers in the undivided state of Assam and one of the earliest ethnic groups of settlers in the Indian sub-continent.

By Air
The state has no airport. Guwahati is the nearest airport from Shillong (128Kms). But a helicopter services is operated by Guwahati and Tura for Shillong.

By Rail
The state has no railway station. Guwahati is the closest railway station.

By Road
The state has a good Road Network which encompasses the state conveniently. NH 40 connects the state with Guwahati and other cities of the country.

Meghalaya's main ethnic communities, each having its own distinctive customs and cultural traditions are the Khasis (of Mon-Khmer ancestry), the Garos (of Tibeto-Burman origin) and the Jaintias said to be from South East Asia. The common trait binding all three communities is its matrilineal system in which the family linage is taken from the mother's side. The people of Meghalaya are known to be hospitable, cheerful and friendly. The Jaintias and Khasis have the same religion, although the Jaintias are more influenced by Hinduism. They have a superstition that the Jam, like the Khasi Then, is an evil spirit bringing riches to its owner and disease or death to its enemies or victims.

The Garos believe in one supreme Creator, Rabuga, who is the sustainer and commander of the world. The other spirits are the representatives of the supreme Creator. The spirits connected to the Garo's agricultural life, are appeased by sacrifices but never worshipped. The headman is an integral part of the village and acts as religious head. However, many members of the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo communities have converted to Christianity and one can see a number of churches as well as temples, mosques, gurudwaras and monasteries in Meghalaya.

The staple food of Meghalaya is Pork. This north eastern state basically has all the non-vegetarians dishes in the cuisine. The Garo cuisine is simple to cook with small variations that bring in a rich flavor. One of the important ingredients in preparing 'Nakham Bitchi' (a hot spicy soup) is the special dry fish (Nakham).Preserved fish or meat is widely used in a variety of cooking methods. Fish or meat is preserved either by drying in the sun or smoked over the fire. A typical Garo meal would consist of rice, one or two meat/fish dishes and of course the relishing dry fish soup. The Khasi taste buds are different from the traditional Garo way of cooking. To begin with, there are different varieties of rice to choose from.

A special cuisine of Khasi people 'Jadoh' which is red hill rice cooked with pork and is something similar to biryani. 'Jastem' is plain hill rice cooked with pork gravy, onions, ginger and turmeric thus giving it a characteristic yellow colour. 'Mylliem chicken' is famous in these parts and gets its name from the vil1age where it was first prepared The chicken is cooked with different condiments, most notably, the small round Khasi peppers which gives distinctive taste and flavour. 'Dohkhlieh' is a type of pork salad made with boiled pork and onions with a sprinkling of chillies as desired.

Weaving is an ancient craft of the tribals of Meghalaya.The Khasis are famous for weaving cane mat, stools and baskets. They make a special kind of cane mat called 'Tlieng', which guarantees a good utility of around 20-30 years. The Garos weave the material used for their costumes called the 'Dakmanda'.

Shad Suk
Mynsiem Dance In every religious ritual of Khasi tribe, the grand finale is the performance of a dance, a Thanks Giving Dance called 'Shad Phur', which is now called "Shad Suk Mynsiem." The religious rituals or ceremonies might concern certain families, clans, villages, raijs, or the state (Hima).

Nongkrem Dance
To the first time visitor the experience of driving through undulating hills and narrow roads to Smit, where the famous Nongkrem Dance is held at the courtyard of the Syiem of Hima Khyriem (chief of Khyriem), is thrilling and full of fun. For the "serious traveler" and students of culture and history there is a lot to learn and store from this dance of the Khasi tribe which is held every year at Smit which is 15 Kilometers from Shillong.

Khasi Festival
The Khasis, Jaintias and Garos of Meghalaya celebrate several festivals which are directly and indirectly connected with religion. They are full of joy and happiness which is expressed outwardly in the form of dance, feast and worship.

Other Fair & Festivals celebrated in Meghalaya are-
•        Wangala
•        Shad Suk Mynsiem
•        Behdienkhlam
•        Nongkrem

Enjoy your shopping in Meghalaya while being patient enough to explore the local chattels. The absence of multiplexes and malls gives you the pleasure of traversing through local markets and haggling with the shopkeepers for a good deal. The main feature of the shopping in state includes handicrafts, wooden materials, Bamboo and Cane articles, Jewelery, Pottery, Carpets, and Yes! fine silk textiles. As weaving is the main occupation of Garo women, you will find wonderful silk and cotton cloths.

•        Khasi Bamboo Comb
•        Khasi Locks
•        Khasi knives
•        Spices like Black Pepper
•        Honey
•        Megam Khok
•        Khasi Bows and Arrows
•        Baskets
•        Small Storage Baskets
•        Large Storage baskets
•        Winnowing Trays and fans
•        Open Weave Carrying Basket
•        Shield Made of Bamboo Splints
•        Pineapple Fiber Articles
•        Carpets
•        Traditional Ornaments
•        Waist Coats / Jackets
•        Shawls / Sarees / Mekhela
•        Endi, Mulberry Silk Cloths
•        Mats and Khasi Umbrellas etc.

Tura | Balpakram | Siju | Shillong | Jowai | Cheerapunjee | Mawsynram.

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