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Best time to visit Shillong

Discussion in 'Meghalaya' started by GuptaR6, May 11, 2017.

  1. GuptaR6

    GuptaR6 New Member

    I would like a plan a holiday to Shillong and would require some help from the forum to advise me when the best time to visit Shillong is.
    I would prefer going in the tourist season, as I find its best to see other people there as well, and plus there is more to see. I would also like to know about the best time to visit according to the weather as well, so I know what to expect.

  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello, welcome to the forum!

    (Images from Prasun, Udayan, Indrani and Steve)


    Shillong, a hill station perched over 1,500 metres above sea level, is the capital of the state of Meghalaya. Dominated by the Khasi tribes, the culture and traditions of the locals are truly distinct from any other hill station, or even city, as Shillong is the most developed city of the state. The Khasi tribes preserve much of the environment and they also have a matrilineal system. The beauty of Shillong captivated even the British, with its rolling hills, truly mild climate and overall resemblance to the landscapes of Scotland. The Khasi tribes didn't give in without a fight, after all, this is their home but as with many places during that era, Shillong became one of the summer retreats of the British. In that sense, the hill station exudes an old-world charm along with the beauty of nature, it has progressed but its spectacular greenery still dominates. In this guide, we would highlight the best time to visit the hill station, its different seasons and their features.

    Best Time to Visit Shillong

    We can divide the seasons of Shillong into three, namely: summer, monsoon and winter. Shillong is an all-year round destination and perhaps one of Northeast India's most popular hill stations. As such, you would find tourists all throughout the year, regardless of the season that you're visiting. It is home to various locals too, along with the Khasi tribes. Whether you're a pure tourist, a solace seeker or an offbeat traveller, you can find the perfect season for you to visit this awe-inspiring hill station.

    1. Summer (March to May)

    (Images from Monalisa and Prasanta)

    A short but sweet summer extends from March to May in Shillong. The beauty of summers in the hill station is that it is not too hot nor too cold. Sporadic drizzles add to the appeal of this season in the hill station. Temperatures during the month of March usually remain below 28°C. By April, temperatures climb a bit, reaching 30°C at their highest. May has the same temperatures although it can reach 32°C during day time. Night time temperatures are usually milder, not exceeding 29°C. Don't be surprised if you experience sporadic rain showers a few times during the summer, which cools the sometimes warm day time.

    Undoubtedly, summer is the peak tourist season of Shillong. With the onset of school vacations, many families reach the hill station for some time for relaxation. Crowds are on the higher side especially on popular tourist attractions. For hotels, they are at their highest rates and booking at the last minute means you have to pay more or you can pay less but for not as raved properties. It is necessary to book your hotel in advance if you're planning to reach Shillong during this season. Sightseeing won't be an issue at all since you can cover many attractions due to the pleasant climate. For day time, light cotton clothes would be enough, but do bring light jackets as nights can be chilly.

    One attraction that you can't miss during this season is the Shillong Peak, also known as the Shillong View Point. You can get panoramic views of the city from this point and during summer, the views are clearer and more stunning. The lesser known Laitlum Canyons is about an hour of driving from the centre of the hill station. On a clear day, you can enjoy the views of the mountains, valleys and surrounding greenery in this point or you can even trek to a small village just below it. You can also enjoy boating in the hill station's lakes, Barapani Lake and Ward's Lake, the former being more popular to tourists. If you have children with you, the Lady Hydari Park is another must visit as it's on full bloom during summer and you can spot a few animals to add to your adventure in Shillong. Though a bit further from the centre, you can also add the Mawphlang Sacred Forest in your itinerary. This is one of the sacred forests of the Khasi tribe, a dense jungle of many ancient trees of hundreds of years old and of medicinal plants.

    A festival celebrated during this season is the Shad Suk Mynsiem, held during the month of April. You can witness this grand and merry festival at the Weiking Ground in Shillong. It is also known as the Dance of the Joyful Soul, wherein the Khasi tribes celebrated the womanhood and manhood of the members. Only unmarried men and women participate in this event, a spectacle since they participate in traditional dances, women in the centre with men outside protecting them. Clad in gold-laden traditional attires, the event becomes even more vibrant and colourful. This festival has been an important part of the region, celebrated for over a hundred years now.

    2. Monsoon (June to September)

    (Images from Mridul)

    A somewhat long monsoon season follows thereafter. As you might have known, the state is home to some of the wettest places on the world so Shillong is also not spared from the intense rains that savage the region. June is the beginning of the monsoon, with temperatures around 27°C. Clouds and rains are the main features of this month. Incessant rain showers can be experienced by the end of the month. By July, the wettest month of the year, most days experience rain showers, at times, intense rains as well. August sees lesser rain showers with temperatures still around 27°C. September is usually a bit drier but drizzles can be experienced by the beginning of the month. Night time temperatures can go even lower during this time, especially with the onset of the rains.

    The monsoon is an off-peak tourist season in Shillong. Not as many tourists venture into the hill station during this time, perhaps only the nature lovers or lone travellers would be your companies during this time. For those in a budget, hotel rates are at their lowest during this time so you can opt for this season to save some money. Fogs and greenery are the main features of this season so if you want to experience that side of Shillong, then you can venture during this time. Of course, it's a must to bring your rain gears such as umbrellas, waterproof jackets or boots. No matter how much you plan, the sudden rains can do some delays to your trip so be very flexible. Sightseeing is possible but one tip is to hire a cab or car since going via public transport can be hard during this time. For night time, you might need some heavy woollens as it can get very chilly.

    You can't miss the waterfalls of Shillong during monsoon. But it's best to visit them either in June or past August, when rainfalls aren't as intense. The cascading three-tiered Elephant Waterfalls, approachable by climbing through stairs, is a must visit during this time. On the outskirts of Shillong, about 15 kilometres away, is the Sweet Waterfalls. You can view it from a distance or opt to pass through pine forests to view it much closer. During monsoons, the straight and narrow water from the waterfalls becomes more intense, truly a sight to behold amidst the hills and forests. The twin waterfalls of Bishop and Beadon are also worth visiting during this time. If ever you find yourself amidst the rains, indoor attractions such as the Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures and Air Force Museum are your best options for sightseeing.

    Last year, the Asian Confluence River Festival was celebrated during the month of July in Shillong. This festival, although newer, celebrates the connection of each country via their rivers. Representative from countries such as Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal were invited in the event that aims to preserve the rivers that connect each country from another. Shillong is also known for its diverse music scene and during the monsoons, many festivals in this aspect can be enjoyed. Last year, two music festivals were celebrated during September, first was The Shillong Mask Festival and second was The Fest.

    3. Winter (October to February)

    (Images from Rohit and Priyanka)

    The longest season of the hill station is the winter. It starts by the month of October, when temperatures remain around 25°C. Drizzles can be experienced on some days of the month. By November and December, temperatures can drop to 15°C or even lower. Night time temperatures can drop well below 10°C even. Temperatures in January remain around 13°C to 16°C during day time. By night, ready your thick jackets as you can experience temperatures within 5°C to 7°C. February usually has higher temperatures, around 16°C to 18°C and climbing higher as the summer season approaches.

    If you're tired of the heat of the city, the winter season can give you a good experience of just how cold Shillong can get. This is a mid-peak tourist season, wherein crowds are not as plenty but you can still spot a few families or couples around. Hotel rates are normal during this time, not too high, but also not too low. Since the climate is on the lower side, you need to bring your heavy woollens, bonnets and closed shoes to enjoy sightseeing during this time. Speaking of sightseeing, you would enjoy it as you won't need to queue as much. You can cover pretty much every type of attraction there is in Shillong. With the festivities of the Christmas season and New Year, you can enjoy a different side of Shillong during this time.

    Aside from the attractions mentioned above, do visit the Catholic churches of Shillong during winter. The All Saints Church was built by the British during their rule in the region. It features a soothing white facade with brown roofing, wooden elements flank the various areas of the church. There's also the Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians, built in the Gothic style of architecture and with a lovely light green facade. Both churches become more vibrant during winter especially around the days before Christmas. For the view points mentioned above, it's best to visit them during day time, preferably in the afternoon, when the fogs would have cleared up already. For the waterfalls, make sure you visit them just after the monsoon, so in October or November to experience them in their full glory.

    The Autumn Festival is a trademark of Shillong, which is celebrated during October or November. The festival began in the year 2005 and has since then been organised to promote the tourism of Shillong. The venue is at the Polo Grounds or Barapani Lake of the city. In this festival, the vibrancy of the local culture is highlighted. Fashion shows of clothes made by local designers are organised. Similarly, parades, games and cultural performances are also showcased. Of course, you also can't miss Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve if you visit Shillong during this time. Many hotels organise for fun buffet spreads or musical nights to make the events even more enjoyable.


    For many, the summer season is the best time to visit Shillong. The pleasant climate and the clearer skies make this season the best for sightseeing or exploring the beauty of the hill station. Crowds are high this time but it's a good thing for those who enjoy company. On the other hand, the monsoon is perhaps Shillong's least visited time for tourists. The rains are quite intense but helps in making the surroundings greener and fresher. It's the best time for nature trailing and waterfall trekking. Winter is best for couples or families who want to bond over the cold temperatures. Crowds are not as plenty during this time but still considerable. For sightseeing, you can enjoy almost all the attractions of the hill station during this season.

    I hope this helps you!:)