Meghalaya is a state in north-eastern India. The word "Meghalaya" factually means the residence of Clouds in Sanskrit and other Indic languages. Meghalaya is a hilly strip in the eastern part of the country about 300 km.The populations numbered 2,175,000 in 2000. The state is surrounded on the north by Assam and by Bangladesh on the south. The capital is Shillong also known as the Scotland of the East, which has a population of 260,000.
Meghalaya is one of the Seven Sister States.About one third of the state is forested. The Meghalaya subtropical forests eco region covers the state; its mountain forests are distinct from the lowland tropical forests to the north and south. The forests of Meghalaya are notable for their biodiversity of mammals, birds, and plants. It was previously part of Assam, but on January 21, 1972, the districts of Khasi, Garo and Jaintia hills became the new state of Meghalaya.
Meghalaya is predominantly an agrarian financial system. The significant crops of the state are potatoes, rice, maize, pineapples, bananas etc. The service sector is made up of real estate and indemnity companies. The state has also become a hub of illegal mining activity. Meghalaya's gross state domestic product for 2004 is estimated at $1.6 billion in current prices.Shillong, the capital of the state, is a popular hill station. There are a number of falls in and around Shillong. Shillong Peak is highest in the state and is first-class for trekking. It is also known as the "abode of the gods" and has excellent views. If one is not in a mood for camping, the state also offers many good hotels and lodging facilities.
The principal languages in Meghalaya are Khasi, Pnar and Garo with English as the official language of the State.
Khasi is one of the principal languages of Meghalaya. Khasi, which is also spelled Khasia, Khassee, Cossyah and Kyi, is a branch of the Mon–Khmer family of the Austroasiatic stock; and is spoken by about 900,000 people residing in Meghalaya. Many words in the Khasi language have been borrowed from Indo-Aryan languages such as Nepali, Bengali and Assamese. Moreover, the Khasi language originally had no script of its own. The Khasi language is one of the very few surviving Mon–Khmer languages in India today.
The main tribes in Meghalaya are the Jaintias, the Khasis and the Garos. One of the exclusive features of the state is that a majority of the tribal population in Meghalaya follows a matrilineal system where lineage and legacy are traced through women. The Khasi and Jaintia tribesmen follow the customary matrilineal norm, wherein the "Khun Khadduh" (or the youngest daughter) inherits all the possessions and acts as the caretaker of aged parents and any unmarried siblings. However, the male line, particularly the mother’s brother, may indirectly control the ancestral property since he may be involved in important decisions relating to property including its sale and removal. In the Garo lineage system, the youngest daughter inherits the family property by default, unless another daughter is so named by the parents. She then becomes designated as 'nokna' meaning 'for the house or home'. In case there are no daughters, then a chosen daughter-in-law (bohari) or an adopted child (deragata) comes to stay in the house as well as inherits the property. The tribal people of Meghalaya are therefore a part of what may be the world's largest surviving matrilineal culture.
Cherrapunji is one of the most well-liked tourist locations in North East of India. The town is well known and has guided tours of Tree Root Bridges. It lies to the south of the capital Shillong. A rather scenic 50 kilometer long road connects Cherrapunji with Shillong.
The popular waterfalls in the state are the Elephant Falls, Shadthum Falls, Weinia falls, Bishop Falls, Nohkalikai Falls, Langshiang Falls and Sweet Falls. The hot springs at Jakrem near Mawsynram are believed to have curative and medicinal properties.
Meghalaya is also known for its "Sacred Groves". These have been preserved by the traditional religious sanction since the ancient days. The Mawphlang sacred forest, also known as "Law Lyngdoh," is one of the most famous sacred forests. It's located about 25 kilometres from Shillong. It's a must visit for nature lovers.
Umroi airport, located around 35 KM from Shillong is the only airport in Meghalaya where commercial flights operate from. A limited number of Air India flights (ATR42 type) are available from Kolkata per week.
There are no railway lines in Meghalaya. Guwahati is the nearest railway station located around 104 KM from Shillong.
Shillong is connected with Guwahati by NH 40. Various modes of transport including Shared taxis, Buses and private cabs ply on this route.
The State has a unicameral legislature. The Legislative gathering consists of 60 Members - 29 from Khasi Hills, 7 from Jaintia Hills and 24 from Garo Hills.
Meghalaya originally comprised of two Districts and three Sub-Divisions. In order to go faster the pace of development and to bring the administration closer to the people, the State has been reorganized into seven administrative Districts and eight Sub-divisions. For an all round development of the rural areas, the whole State is covered by 39 Community Development Blocks. There are three Autonomous District Councils in the State, namely the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council, Garo Hills Autonomous District Council and Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council. These councils discharge the functions and duties as assigned to them under the provisions of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India
Nongkrem dance (Pomblang nongkrem) : - Pomblang Nongkrem popularly known as the Nongkrem Dance is one of the most vital festivals of the Khasis. it is five day religious festival held annually at Smit about 11 Km from Shillong, the Headquarters of the Chief (Syiem) of Khyrim. This festival is celebrated as a thanksgiving to the God Almighty for the good quality harvest and to pray for peace and wealth. The Syiem who is the Administrative Head of the Hima (Khasi State), Ka Syiem Sad (literally the Syiem priestess), who is the caretaker of all religious observance of the Hima, the Myntri (Council of Ministers), the cleric and the high priest and the people in general all join in this festival, which is a rhythmic form of prayer for the well being of all.
the dance to the accessory of drums and the flute. It is held in Shillong in April every year. Beh dienkhlam: - This is the most important festival of the Jaintias and is celebrated after the sowing is over. "Khlam" means ‘Plague or Pestilence’ and "Beh Dien" means to drive away with sticks. It is very popular and colourful festivals of the Jaintias where men only, young and old, take part in the dancing to the tune of drums and flute. Women do not take part in the dancing, but had an important role to play at home in contribution sacrificial food to the spirits of the ancestors. They raise their aid and intercession, so that life here below will be good and worthy for the next one above. Men go round the town and beat the roof of every house with bamboo poles calling upon the plague demon to leave the house. This is done early on the first day of the festival. The climax of the celebrations is the tussle, as seen in a tug of war, for a large undressed beam by two groups people opposed to each other. This festival is also an invocation to God, seeking His blessing for good harvest.
WANGALA DANCE: - This is the biggest of all festival of the Garos performed in compilation with the Jhum cultivation. It is usually held in October and so sometimes synchronises with the Durga Puja, but each village sets its own time and so there are two or three weeks during which Wangala is renowned in two or three villages. After harvest, the annual dance of joy and thanks giving commences. The occasion is initiated right in the field by a simple but impressive ceremony known as ‘Rugalal’, which is followed by the observance of incense known as ‘Sasat Soa’. This is performed inside the house of the Chief of the village. The Chief, amidst burning of incense, beating of drums and the mantra of the people, utter a few words of invocation and pour rice beer and sprinkles rice powder over a collection of field create offered to the Gods. This is right away followed by drinking, dancing and merry making. People, young and old, boys and girls, in their colorful costumes with feathered headgears, dance to the tunes of music played on long oval shaped drums.
Meghalaya’s capital, Shillong and also the district headquarters of East Khasi Hills District is positioned at an altitude of 1,496 meters above sea level. The capital city has a refreshing climate throughout the year. This city has been the seat of Government since the consolidation of the British administration in this part of India, over a century ago.
According to legends, Shillong derived its name from a deity named "Shyllong" whose house is also known as Shyllong Peak from whose niece the Syiem clan of Khyrim, Mylliem, Maharam, Malaisohmat, Bhowal and Langrin sprang up.