Shillong, often known as the Scotland of the east, is a charming place in the state of Meghalaya. Surrounded by hills that are revered by the indigenous Khasi tribe, its scenery captivated the British, who used it as a retreat during the summer. Shillong today gets visitors from across the world, and is famous for its many religious and cultural festivals, its hospitality and amazing food.
A tiny city with a small population by Indian standards, it has good infrastructure, with many top-notch schools, colleges and hospitals and a vibrant culture and nightlife. Our list of the top things to do in Shillong includes breathtaking views of the Himalayas, animal-shaped waterfalls and impressive religious architecture.
Quick Facts about Shillong
- Nearest Airport: Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport
- Nearest Railway station: Guwahati Railway Station
- Best Time to Visit: Summers are when it’s most pleasant, but, if you enjoy cold weather, it can be pretty in December and January, too.
- Travel recommendation: A week is sufficient to cover most of Shillong’s beautiful sights and attractions.
Book Budget Hotels in Shillong
Best Lakes and Waterfalls in Shillong
1. Elephant Falls
As the waterfall rolls down the mountain in three different steps, it takes the shape of an elephant’s head and that’s how the fall got its name. There are steps carved out of the rock, making it easy to reach the waterfall. From the top of the falls, you can get a stunning view of the mountains and valleys.
- Location: Upper Shillong
- Travel Tip: Go here soon after the monsoons to witness breathtaking scenery.
2. Shillong Peak
Shillong Peak is a tourist spot that attracts thousands of visitors annually. The highlight of a visit to the peak is a sacred site dedicated to the deity ‘U Shulong’ situated on the top of the peak.
- Location: Shillong View Point, Meghalaya 793004
- Travel Tips: The best time to visit the peak is in the afternoon when the visibility of the skyline is at its best. Carry a valid government ID.
3. Ward’s Lake
A popular tourist attraction in the heart of Shillong, Ward’s lake is a popular man-made mass of water. Tourists can take a boat ride or stand on the bridge over the lake and feed the fishes. One can also walk around the lake gazing at the beautiful flowers in the garden.
- Location: Police Bazar, Shillong, Meghalaya
- Travel Tips: Go to the lake in the morning or early evening to get clear views of the scenery.
4. Mawsmai Caves
A fascinating sight, the Mawsmai Caves are a thing of beauty. Over 150 meters deep (the caves are deeper even, but tourists can access only up to here), the caves are popular for their beautiful rock formations.
- Location: Mawsmai Cave Road
- Travel Tip: Go to the caves in the morning as the region gets enveloped by dense fog by the evening.
5. Laitlum Canyons
Perched on top of a high mountain, the Laitlum Canyons overlooks some of the most beautiful mountains in the northeast of India. Among the many views, one can see the Mawlynnong Sacred Forest and Elephant Falls.
Laitlum Canyons is a great place for photography and trekking. Many vendors sell food and water on the top of the canyon.
- Location: East Khasi Hills
- Travel Tip: If you plan to trek up to the canyon, travel light.
Best Cultural Places to Visit in Shillong
6. Wankhar Entomology Museum
The Wankhar Entomology Museum is a privately-owned museum dedicated to moths and butterflies. The museum also displays samples of different species of rhinoceros beetles, stick insects, and pinned butterflies. The museum is located inside a private bungalow.
- Location: Riatsamthiah
- Travel Tip: It’s located close to the Police Bazaar, but cabbies may try to convince you not to walk.
- Timings: Monday to Saturday 11 am to 4 pm
- Entry Fee: Rs. 50 for Indian nationals and Rs. 100 for foreigners
7. Air Force Museum
Learn about India’s military and air force at the Air Force Museum in Shillong. The museum is a treasure trove of facts and has iconic aeroplanes and fighter jets. The museum also has pictures from India’s wars against China and Pakistan. It also has a gift shop where you can buy souvenirs.
- Location: Sohra Road
- Travel Tip: If you’re a history buff, block at least three to four hours here, as the collection is pretty extensive.
- Timings: 9 am to 2 pm; 2.30 pm to 5 pm. Closed on public holidays.
- Entry Fee: Free
8. Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures
Explore the rich cultural heritage of India’s northeast region at the Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures. The museum houses artefacts and sculptures that depict North East’s rich history. The museum also has a mini kids section, an eatery, and a special audio-visual room.
- Location: Mawlai Phudmuri, Shillong
- Timings: Monday to Saturday. Summer 9:00 am to 05:30 pm. Winter 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.
- Entry fee: Indians Rs100. Students Rs.50. Foreign Nationals Rs.200. Students Rs. 150.
9. Captain Williamson Sangma State Museum
Visit the Captain Williamson Sangma State Museum to get a deep understanding of the local culture and traditions of Meghalaya and the different tribes of the state. The museum also houses sculptures of India’s iconic figures as well as artefacts and ethnic handicrafts.
- Location: Secretariat Hills
- Travel Tip: A nice place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city
- Timings: Summer 9.30 am to 5.30 pm, Winter 9.30 am to 4.30 pm
- Entry fee: Rs. 20
10. Ever Living Museum
The Ever-Living Museum is a tribute to the culture and history of the tribal folk that belong to India’s northeast. On display here are traditional items of the Khasi and Garo tribes, coins, driftwoods, musical instruments, as well as replicas of huts that early tribal folks used to live in.
- Location: Mawshbuit
- Travel Tip: Located about 9 kilometres away from Shillong, so plan ahead.
- Timings: Open daily
- Entry fee: Rs. 25
The Mahadev Khola Dham
Located about 5 kilometres from Upper Shillong, the Mahadev Khola Dham is a Hindu temple built in honour of Lord Shiva. A popular attraction, the temple is surrounded by scenic greenery and the river Umshyrpi flows around the temple. The temple contains holy texts and inscriptions on all its walls. Mahadev Khola Dham is ideal for those seeking divine intervention.
- Location: NH 40, Lawsohtun
- Travel Tip: No footwear allowed inside the temple.
- Distance from the city centre: 5.9 km
- Timings: 7 am–7 pm
- Entry fee: Free entry
The All Saints Church
The All Saints Church in Shillong is one of the most beautiful structures in this part of India. Beautifully constructed in colonial-style architecture, it is a haven of peace and tranquillity. The best time to visit the church is during the Christmas season when it’s all lit up.
- Location: Kacheri Road
- Distance from the city centre: 4.2 km
- Travel Tip: Head over around mid-morning when there’s no crowd.
- Timings: 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians
Perched on a hill, the Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians has a beautiful structure that is typical of Roman architecture. Inside the Cathedral premises lies a pilgrimage centre and a lovely chapel.
- Location: Lachumiere
- Distance from the city centre: 2.3 km
- Travel tip: Photography is not allowed inside the church.
- Timings: Open every day of the week
The Grand Madina Masjid
The largest mosque in India’s northeastern states, the Grand Madina Masjid is well known for its imposing structure and glass minarets. A work of marvel, the mosque stands at a height of 120 feet and a width of 61 feet. It is one of the only mosques in India to be made of glass.
- Location: Lachumiere
- Distance from the city centre: 3.2 km
- Travel tip: Head over at night, when it’s all lit up.
- Timings: Open every day of the week
The Laitumkhrah Presbyterian Church
The Laitumkhrah Presbyterian Church stands in the centre of the Laitumkhrah area. The church is constructed with a modern and practical design. The church looks beautiful during the month of December when it is lit up for Christmas.
- Location: Laitumkhrah
- Distance from the city centre: 2.1 km
- Timings: All through the year.
- Entry fee: Free entry.
Places to Visit in Shillong at Night
Shillong has a lot of clubs and pubs for tourists to enjoy the nightlife. You can visit places like Cloud 9, Platinum, Deja Vu, Piccadilly, and Tango. Apart from that, you can visit a few places like museums, parks, and lakes which are open in the evening.
Best Places to Visit in Shillong in Winter
If you like to enjoy a chilly winter, Shillong is the best place to visit. In the winter season, you can head to the parks and museums rather than the waterfalls. December is the coldest month in Shillong with temperatures dipping as low as 6°C.
Best Places to Visit in Shillong in Summer
During the summer season, the weather is pleasant in Shillong. From April to June, the weather stays between 24 to 15-degree celsius. It is the best time to visit the waterfalls and lakes. June is the time when rainfall starts and you can visit Elephant falls during this time. September is the ideal time to visit Shillong to avoid rain and visit all the tourist attractions.
There are plenty of places to visit in Shillong. As we have mentioned above, you can visit the places of worship, explore the hills, caves, or even learn about the history and culture of Shillong.
Have you been to Shillong or do you plan to go there soon? Do let us know about some of the places you liked from our list of places to visit in Shillong.
Frequently Asked Questions about Shillong
1. What are the places to visit in Shillong in October?
Shillong is generally cool during the month of October. You can visit Elephant Falls, Shillong Peak, Umiam Lake, Don Bosco Museum, Laitlum Canyons, Ward’s Lake, Mary Help for Christian Cathedral, and Mawsmai Caves.
2. What are the best places to visit in Shillong in December?
If you like to enjoy cold weather, Shillong is the best place to visit during the winter. Waterfalls won’t be the perfect place to enjoy during the winter season. You can visit the temples, museums, and other tourist attractions in Shillong like Mahadev Khola Dham, Ever-Living Museum, Captain Williamson Sangma State Museum, Air Force Museum, Laitlum Canyons, Wankhar Entomology Museum, Don Bosco Museum, and Mawsmai Caves.
3. What are the best places to visit in Shillong in April?
During the month of April, the weather is generally pleasant. You can enjoy most of the tourist places in Shillong during this month. Like, Shillong Peak, Umiam Lake, Don Bosco Museum, Laitlum Canyons, Ward’s Lake, Mawsmai Caves, and Mary Help for Christian Cathedral.
4. What are the best places to visit in Shillong in May?
During May, the summer season starts in Shillong. The temperature will be between 21-15-degree Celsius. You can enjoy places like Elephant Fall, Shillong Peak, Umiam Lake, Ward’s Lake, Laitlum Canyons, Mawsmai Caves, and Mary Help for Christian Cathedral.
5. What are the best places to visit in Shillong in June?
The monsoon season starts in the month of June and you can enjoy the waterfalls and lakes during this time. During the monsoon season, you will get the best view of the forests in Shillong. You can visit places like Elephant Falls, Mawphlang Sacred Forest, David Scott Trail, Shillong Peak, Umiam Lake, Ward’s Lake, Laitlum Canyons, and Mawsmai Caves.