Shillong, Nov.2 : The State Government of Meghalaya is taking initiatives to promote the State as an attractive tourist destination for visitors from across the country and world.
The State government is presently giving top priority to infrastructure development for tourism purposes. Special measures are being taken to develop the West Khasi Hills and Garo Hills Districts that have been facing neglect in the past.
"Meghalaya is called the Jewel of North East in context of tourism. Inspite of lack of all the amenities tourists arrive here from outside. Our Department has chalked out a programme which the experts have advised to develop as a master plan on tourism," said T. D. Kar, Director of the Tourism Department for Meghalaya.
Many wonderful places and landmarks are being developed as new tourist places. For instance, two of the longest caves in Asia, located in Meghalaya, are being developed for tourist attraction.
The inflow of the tourists (domestic as well as international) has witnessed a growth rate of 10 to 15 percent with each passing year.
In 2007, Shillong alone had 187,000 tourists visiting this fascinating State capital.
"When I come to see Shillong I feel very nice. It is neat and clean. I enjoy the weather, it is cold," said P. T. Heni, a Manipuri tourist.
As part of developmental projects, the Tourism Department of Meghalaya has set up five new resorts and constructed several canopies for panoramic viewing. Besides, several other projects have been initiated in different parts of the State for promotion and development of tourism.
Apart from Shillong, the other famous tourist spots of Meghalaya are Cherrapunji, which until the late '60s was famous as the place with highest rainfall in the world. Now it is at Mawsynram, also located in Meghalaya, the abode of clouds.
Known as the Scotland of the East, Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya has been a popular tourist destination in the north-eastern India.
Located in the pristine evergreen hilly terrain, Meghalaya means abode of clouds in Sanskrit language and is also described as the Jewel of the North East.
During the British Raj, Shillong had become a second home to scores of Englishmen stationed in Assam and Bengal with many settling down here instead of returning to Britain.
Spread over an area of 22,429 square kilometres, Meghalaya has retained its natural scenic beauty, thanks to the low density of population which is just 78 per square kilometre.
Mainly three tribes, the Khasi, Jaintias and Garo are the indigenous people of the State.
As for Shillong, it boasts of fascinating waterfalls in and around the city, a beautiful lake with boating facilities, over a dozen scenic picnic spots and a sprawling golf course.
"I have seen many beautiful places but I have never seen a place like Shillong and this is the place where one must come and see the fascinating scenes, waterfall and enjoy the pleasant weather here," said Bobita Chetia, a tourist from Assam.
The people of Meghalaya are well known for their warm hospitality and friendly nature. Another added asset of Meghalaya is its diverse cultural heritage.
The State has more then 17 currently notified tourist hot spots. By Hempi D. Henpilen