Glimpses of Shillong
Shillong the capital city of Meghalaya, which was planned by the British as a hill resort, has undergone substantial change – both in character and form. A tiny administrative unit has now become a vibrating city with commercial activity overshadowing the hill resort. Population of Shillong which in 1872 was 1368 persons now stands at around 2.50 lakhs. With the rapid growth of urbanisation, Shillong now faces shortage of water, inadequacy of sanitation and civic services that are strained to the limit. Shillong at present has the problem of a big city including long and unending queues of cars, a long line of kerosene consumers and degraded urban environment.
Shillong like any other towns has developed principally as an administrative and commercial centre employing a large number of workers in these sectors. With the growth of commercial activity and with the sustained increase in population the city infrastructure has been utilized to the limit. Shillong means the area for the time being comprises within the Municipality of Shillong.
Shillong under the Shillong Municipal area with its institutions is a proud heritage of the public who inherit its culture and character. As on today, Shillong being the heart of education the important and well recognised colleges and schools like
- St. Anthony’s College
- Shillong College
- St. Mary’s College
- St. Edmund’s College
- Lady Keane College
- Commerce College
- Synod College
- Sankardev College
- Women’s College
- Seng Khasi College
- Raid Laban College
And schools like
- St. Anthony’s Higher Secondary School
- St. Edmund’s School
- St. Mary’s Higher Secondary School
- Khasi Jaintia Presbyterian School
- Loreto Convent School
- Government Schools
- Khasi Pnar School
- St. Dominic School and many more colleges and schools enrich the knowledge on educational live.
Meghalaya especially Shillong under the Municipality limit has high potential for the development of tourism. Ideal climate and other factors make Shillong an area of tourists attraction, hundreds and hundreds of tourists visit shillong. Recently the Government has declared some places and churches like the Catholic Church, Khasi Jaintia Presbyterian Synod, All Saints Catheral and others as tourist spots.
The presence of Wards Lake, Lady Hydari Park, Botanical garden attracts the beauty of Shillong. The public are very much interested to spend their evenings and holidays in these beautiful places.
Apart from Iewduh which does not fall within the Shillong Municipal Area, the Laitumkhrah market has been considered as one of the big markets in Shillong.
People from within and outside the state are in full satisfaction when they come from long journey to see that they can easily relax themselves for the nights and days in Pinewood Hotel, Polo Towers Hotel, Pegasus Crown Hotel, Centre Point Hotel, Broadway and other hotels.
Lastly the Government needs to steer the wheel of administration for the interest of public and developments in every nook and corner and thereby many big offices such as Main Secretariat, Additional Secretariat, 3rd Secretariat, Urban development, etc. exist in the State of Meghalaya are within the Shillong Municipal area.
Ward's Lake: Ward's Lake is century old picturesque lake also known as Polok Lake. Located in the heart of the city, popular for short garden walks and boating. The local people however prefer to call it Nan Polok (Polok's Lake) after an executive engineer named Mr. Pollock. It has a most pleasant, winding walk-a-way all around its parameter set in cobbled sand stones, in the midst of picturesque, rolling flower beds and fairyland lighting. The lake has a striking arched bridge over it.
Places of Interest
Botanical Garden: A secluded but captivating spot with a plethora of indigenous and exotic plants and is located just below the Ward's Lake. It also houses a mini-aviary with rare and colourful species of birds. The secluded setting of the Botanical Garden with its well-laid paved walks makes it a favourite resort for city dwellers as well as tourists who desire to exercise their limbs.
Lady Hydari Park: Lady Hydari Park, stretching over a km is replete with roses and blossoms of exquisite hues and colours, is a feast to eyes. Owes its existence to Lady Hydari, the wife of an erstwhile Governor of Assam. It has an excellent mini zoo cum deer park.
State Museum: The Meghalaya State Museum, established in 1975, is considered as one of the center for studies into our history and culture as well as for preserving our rich cultural heritage that is now undergoing tremendous pressure in the face of contacts with various cultures both from the East and the West. The main activities of the State Museum are in the field of acquisition, exhibition, conservation, publication and education.
More Galleries have been set up in the State Museum ( now known as Williamson Sangma Museum).Artifacts like traditional tools used by our people, traditional musical instruments, arts and crafts have been acquired in order to enrich the Museum collections. The Museum collections have also been enriched by the acquisition of replicas of Ashoka Pillars and others from the National Museum, New Delhi, Dinosaurs model from the Geological Survey of India, Kolkatta and Anthropological life size model from Gauhati.
Khasis make up the majority of the population though the percentage of Khasi people in the city continues to fall as a result of the large number of migrants from other Indian states. All the other northeast Indian tribes are represented here as well as significant numbers of Bengali, Nepali, Assamese, Biharis and Marwaris making it a fairly cosmopolitan city.
Dress: The traditional Khasi male dress is ‘Jymphong’ or a longish sleeveless coat without collar, fastened by thongs in front. Now, the Khasis have adopted the western dress. On ceremonial occasions, they appear in ‘Jymphong’ and dhoti with an ornamental waist-band.
The Khasi traditional female dress is rather elaborate with several pieces of cloth, giving the body a cylindrical shape. On ceremonial occasions, they wear a crown of silver or gold on the head. A spike or peak is fixed to the back of the crown, corresponding to the feathers worn by the menfolk.
Food & Drinks: The staple food of Khasis is rice. They also take fish and meat. Like the other tribes in the North-East, the Khasis also ferment rice-beer, and make spirit out of rice or millets by distillation. Use of rice-beer is a must for every ceremonial and religious occasion.
Social Structure: The Khasis, the Jaintias and the Garos have a matrilineal society. Descent is traced through the mother, but the father plays an important role in the material and mental life of the family.
In the Khasi society, the woman looks after home and hearth, the man finds the means to support the family, and the maternal uncle settles all social and religious matters. Earlier in the conservative Jaintia non-Christian families, however, the father only visits the family in the night and is not responsible for the maintenance of the family.
Religion: Christianity is the dominant religion in the city. Protestants make up three-fourth of the Christian population of Shillong and Catholics make up the remaining one-fourth . A sizable proportion of the population follow the original Khasi religion. Other religions found in India are also represented in significant numbers in the city.
Festival (Shad Suk Mynsiem): One of the most important festivals of the Khasis is Ka Shad Suk Mynsiem or Dance of the joyful heart. It is an annual thanksgiving dance held in Shillong in April. Men and women, dressed in traditional fineries dance to the accompaniment of drums and the flute. The festival lasts for three days.