Dishes from Meghalaya
Destinations, Guides

How-to City: 24 hrs in Shillong, Meghalaya

Shillong, once the capital of the erstwhile Assam Province and now the capital of the northeastern state of Meghalaya, has transformed from a quaint colonial retreat to another bustling city in the expanding urban map of modern India. The rolling hills around Shillong have earned it the sobriquet of Scotland of the East but Shillong is more than its magnificent waterfalls, its stunning lakes, or the cherry trees that wash it in blush pink in spring. Every November, Shillong hosts the annual Autumn Festival: a three-day extravaganza for rock, metal, goth, and punk enthusiasts with performances by local, national, and international bands. It’s a treat in every season but if you want to avoid the crowds, avoid the summer holidays, Durga Puja and Christmas breaks when tourists, mostly from Bengal and Assam, arrive in droves.

Don Bosco Square, Laitumkhrah | 3:00 PM

Arrive in Shillong from Guwahati and make your way to Don Bosco Square, Shillong’s equivalent of Calcutta’s Park Street where the young and trendy seem to be tirelessly meting out lessons in fashion and styling. Both an academic and cultural hub, this is where young love blossoms under the watchful eyes of the statue of Don Bosco, educator and apparently a romantic instigator. Settle for lunch at Jadoh, a renowned cafe serving authentic Khasi cuisine. Smoky meat curries are their best sellers but the menu has vegetarian options too. Spend some time people watching and if you are still not full, indulge in a plate of Puri Sabzi (INR 30 / $0.50) from a street food vendor and wash it down with milky chai (INR 10 / $0.15)!

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Destinations, Food, Guides

Shillong Pork Trail: Where to Find the Best Pork Dishes

What the lord is to people with Jesus in their hearts, lard is to foodies with pork in their hearts. Seasoned pork enthusiasts would agree that with experience and maturity, one tends to seek out dishes and recipes that are less about processed meat (this DOES NOT mean I am letting go of my breakfast bacon) and more about local recipes that incorporate traditional cooking ingredients, sensibilities and style and offer bolder flavor profiles. Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya and home of the Khasi, Garo and Jayantia people, is offering me a tasty look into an array of pork dishes, which have eschewed the continental cold cuts and have embraced the spicy and saucy gravies of Indo-Tibetan cuisine and the tangy and tasty curries from Khasi family staples.

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Destinations, Guides

Cherrapunji: Trekking to the Living Double Decker Root Bridge & Finding a Natural Swimming Pool

The breeze nudges the living cables and immediately my fingers clasp the rails. Two Khasi girls, their hair tied with bright red ribbons, giggle as my legs wobble but when you are walking down a bridge engineered entirely with roots and branches of a tree, it is tough to be confident. Realizing that wooden bridges would not survive long in a region that is deemed the wettest in the world, the War-Khasis devised strategies to train the secondary roots of rubber trees (Ficus elastica) on either side of creeks to propagate horizontally across the rivers to form a living connective tissue. Scaffolds made of wood and bamboo, sometimes root-guidance systems made of betel nut trunks are used in the process. Some of these bridges may take fifteen years of training to take shape and to be able to start taking the weight of humans crossing it.

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