Located at a height of 1496 metres above sea-level, Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, is a great destination that fits the dream of nature lovers and adventure seekers. The picturesque landscape of the hill station earns it the name the ‘Scotland of East’.
On Khasi Hills, the colourful city offers adventurous outdoor activities such as rock climbing and boating. Various different spots are also there to see like Wards Lake which is an artificial lake made by William Ward who was a British commissioner in the year 1894. Various etymological museum-like Butterfly and Don Bosco museum are there to see. Markets of Shillong are beautiful during evening time.
These things are there for the ones who want a chilled out holiday because it is situated inside the city. Those looking for more better places to visit and enjoy nature – Laitlum Canyon Ridge which was 24km outside the city of Shillong is a must visit.
The Laitlum Canyons are an hour’s drive away from Shillong right there on the Mizoram highway. Also referred to as the “Sit Valley” by the locals.
From Shillong, you need to turn eastwards on MDR32 towards the Laitumukrah point and then turn right at Demsein long bus stop and then take a couple of left turns till you reach Sawlad Bus Stop and then reach NH 44. Turn right to reach Smit Road and then drive on straight to Jongsha mawkynrew road. Continue straight till you reach Unmed Road which is the last motorable point before the canyons.
The distance between the canyons and Shillong is 24 kms. If you take a taxi, the fare should be between 1000 INR to 1200 INR. If you are returning from Cherrapunjee to Shillong then don’t take NH 206 and instead opt for the road that passes Smit Village (this is a longer picturesque road). En route, you will come across the Laitlum Canyon Ridge.
Laitlum Canyons literally translates to “end of hills” and it does justice to its name. The tourist flow to this spectacular place is relatively less and though this means inconvenience as there are few restrooms or proper eateries nearby. The beauty of the place has managed to remain unspoilt.
This is the perfect site for a long hike or a short 2 km mini hike. Whatever you choose, it’s better done in a group. Most of the time, the canyons are covered with fog and that adds to their ethereal beauty. There is a trail that ends up in a steep flight of steps that forks up and then down to reach a small local village. You could take that if local Meghalaya life fascinates you with its culture and traditions.
This village is Rasong which has 300 odd inhabitants who still rely on an old fashioned ropeway pulley that transports food and other commodities to them (incidentally one of the few places in the world which still relies on a pulley system of commodity transport). The stairway that leads to Rasong has close to 6000 steps and you will pass through bamboo plantations and wild orchid groves on the way. Incidentally, this rather difficult path is the only way villagers can go to the nearest market. If the pulley is out of order, the villagers physically carry their crops to the nearby market and bring in food and other commodities in traditional large baskets. Interestingly, broom plants are the main crop at Rasong. The dried structures of these plants are made into the hardy Khasi brooms which sell like hot cakes in the Shillong markets.
Another option is to trek to the Smit Village (6 km away from canyons) which has a historical attraction, the Ling Shaad, a traditional house. The Ling Shaad is the powerhouse of the Hima Khryim (the ruling tribe of the Khasis). The house is believed to be more than a century old. You can catch a bus back to Shillong from Smit Village.
If you are looking for a nice time to chill over the mountains, then the Laitlum Canyon Ridge is the perfect choice to give a shot. You can simply explore the nearby village and also check out the ropeway system of transporting things from one hill end to another side.
Talk to a local who can help you out with a better understanding of the area. One will love the place if they ever visit during monsoon time.
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