As a kid, much to my father’s dismay, the very sound of market lifted my spirits. It was because of its association with the pleasant prospects of shopping. The sound of shopping still excites me and the reason remains the same. However, now that I have to pay my own bills, I reluctantly learnt to sidetrack myself with a camera. My recent trip took me to the markets of Meghalaya.
Apart from shopping, I discovered, markets have other interesting perks too. As it is not always possible to have a local friend or a guide by my side filling me in, I started hitting the markets. It helped me understand the local culture better. It gave me a fair insight into the locals’ lifestyle: what they eat, wear, celebrate, the cost of living, etc.
Here’s what I discovered after spending some time at the markets of Meghalaya :
Meghalaya is a matriarchal society
It is especially evident in the markets. Regardless of the field, they are dedicated and hardworking.
They keep calm and chew tobacco
I suspect the origin of the idiom “paint the town red” was in Meghalaya. Tobacco has a big market in Meghalaya and people take to chewing tobacco at a very young age too.
They are big meat eaters too
There is a slew of shops, small and big selling all kinds of meat and people eagerly waiting in queues.
Markets of Meghalaya also confirm the fact that there is no dearth of pretty women
They are also fashionistas, icing on the cake. My driver, from Guwhati, nonchalantly says “I never get bored in Shillong even if I have to wait for long hours to pick up passengers. All I have to do is, go to “Bara Bazaar” and feast my eyes. It’s like a fashion parade.”
Check out: A tribute to the beautiful Nepali women
I wouldn’t mind pitching a tent right in the middle of a busy market here, waiting for the prey.
So that is my take on it.
Depending on where you are flying from, a flight to Guwahati, Assam, and then hiring a car is the easiest way to get to Shillong. It’s about 115 km from the Guwahati airport.
Note: Independence day and Republic day are observed as bandh (curfew) days in some parts of North East including Guwahati. Do not travel around these dates.
And when you’re in Shillong, the best way to get around the city is again hiring taxis, shared cars and sumos. Buses are few and far between and not well connected. Hiring a taxi for a day is the most popular and convenient way to do local sightseeing. I remember paying Rs 500 for a Maruthi 800 for a one-day local sightseeing.
My list of places to visit:
- Most definitely the markets, Bara Bazaar, police bazaar, any bazaar actually.
- Absolutely love visiting Don Bosco Museum. You will learn so much about north east India under one roof in a few hours.
- Mawlynnong is the cleanest village in Asia. A good idea to spend a day or two here.
- Living root bridges obviously, for you won’t see it anywhere else in the world.
- A drive through a scenic landscape takes you to seven sisters waterfall, which is a famous attraction.
- Other than these and the local sightseeing options (you’ll find the list of options screaming at you in the form of posters, hoarding and advertisements on cars, all over the city) there are quite a few hiking and cave expeditions around Shillong.
When to visit:
I went to Meghalaya to experience the monsoon season, as Chirapunjee and Mawsynram receive the highest rainfall in the world.
So June to September to enjoy the rains and for herpetofauna, April to June for the landscape and sightseeing.
Where to stay:
Embor, our host and tour guide, arranged everything for us. A genuine guy keen on making Meghalaya world famous. 😉 His mother even made dinner for us, some delicious local delicacies. Check the link for more information: Mawlynnong Guesthouse and Homestay