X-mas : Night of lights

Kamal Baruah
Surely it was inspiring and memorable Christmas night that could inspire everyone to witness again and again to this spectacular view of this romantic city. And Shillong, the abode of the clouds always made a special effort during Christmas.
The last week of December marks the starting of vacation. There is Christmas in the air.  The time is to escape from the busy to-do list. Also there shall be winter rush everywhere. A Christmas holiday break is a perfect way to celebrate the festive season with your loved ones. There is time to meet relatives. Most importantly, the idea is to have fun while exploring places, interact with locals, eat and enjoy culture. Last Christmas, my family and I had been to scintillating Shillong.  We set off the silence of the wee hours of the morning at Guwahati Shillong Road, curving through some of the most magical moments at Jorabat, the place is sandwiched between south Brahmaputra valley and northern part of East Khasi Hills. As we went through the outskirts of the city, the landscape started taking on a new appearance. There are pineapple plantations in the cool rolling hills. It’s beautiful Shillong, often referred to as the “Scotland of the East” due to its striking similarity with the Scottish highlands.
It’s the most preferred destination as it’s easily accessible through incredible road. After an hour-long smooth driving, a generous menu for breakfast at Jiva felt very pampered and refreshed for begin of the day. And suddenly we woke up after a glimpse of vast scenic reservoir of beautiful lake Barapani (Big Water) surrounded by hills. It’s a favourite place to witness boating there to carry beautiful memories of that serene lake while Orchid Resort offers facilities for motorboat rides. The Umiam River was the first hydro electric project in North East India. While entering city, we found serpentine queue of vehicles from AS Series Number Plate. Being weekend, it was painstakingly slow for an hour drive. Kudos goes to Shillong Traffic that put the road discipline in order. We saw huge Radar at the top of a mountain at a distance that monitoring air and terrestrial traffic of Bangladesh border. Strategically it has great importance of air surveillance to control enemy airspace. It’s Shillong Peak, the highest point of Shillong. A great view of Shillong is visible from the Peak View Point, Laitkor, which is often surrounded by dense fog. The only cumbersome was to wait long for entry pass from the Radar unit of IAF. There’re fresh potato, tomato and green vegetables sold from the street shop along the way.
The cool breeze caressed our face. The Pine trees swayed to the breeze.  Down the mountain shadow, Eastern Air Command of IAF stands tall as an epitome of India’s defence establishment. The Don Bosco Centre Indigenous Cultures is a place to explore the vast culture and tradition of the North East. Shillong golf circuits are one of the oldest and natural in the world. The entire valley is dotted with thick vegetation. There’re old Churches embracing Catholicism. The people were in festive mood decorating their houses. Visitors were mesmerised by the steep hills, glittering waterfalls and stunning green canyons at Cherrapunji border. It’s mind blowing view of Bangladesh there. Meghalaya houses many unexplored natural caves that still waiting to be discovered. Indian Navy organizes caving expedition every year. It was treasured hunt inside Mawjymbuin cave there. Being isolated, the villages are scattered near Cherrapunji. Finding an eating joint is a thorny task there. But boiled rice and fish curry somehow appeased our hunger. Visiting Elephant Falls, Rooth Bridge, Ward’s Lake are just a short picturesque drive away. The untouched natural beauty of the Blue Mountains present it most fascinating.
As time crumbled away, the dark was surrounding us and we felt a bit scary moments at upper Shillong. Very soon, however we realized that city began approaching. After partly cloudy light rain, the city was sparkling bright at Christmas night hangout. It was winter rush in this pristine valley of Scintillating Shillong!  The heritage buildings still hold the legacy of the bygone British era. The famous shopping haunt at Police Bazaar was crowded and found no way driving even at mid 24th night. Children visited Santa at the mall. (To be contd)