Oh Shillong! I've lived in a number of places during my childhood but nothing comes close to the years I've spent in the capital of Meghalaya. For me, peace and quiet is important when it comes to a place of residence. Shillong is a city no doubt but hang around a bit and you will know why it is a different kind. The city's winding roads somehow accommodate the entire population in a way that lets you experience each and every aspect that makes Shillong a beautiful hill destination.
What I loved most about Shillong, during my three-year stay, was how it turned into a beautiful mixed shade of pink and white during autumn. The Himalayan cherry trees are aplenty in Shillong. They grow wild and bloom in autumn. Taking long walks on roads lined with cherry trees was such a joy to experience. For two years I lived in Laitumkhrah and one year in Mawroh, right next to Golf Link (the first 18 hole golf course in India!), and I used to love walking to my college in Boyce Road (a good half-an-hour by foot) because the entire stretch used to turn pink and white. And that nip in the air!
We used to go to St Edmund's College's chapel for our Sunday church service. Faith aside, what joy being in a place that was covered in soft pink flowers. The entire college campus! Japan and sakura never crossed my mind. That's Shillong in autumn!
The Himalayan cherry blossom tree is endemic to the region and it's a good thing the state is giving it its due recognition. India International Cherry Blossom Festival, organised by the Government of Meghalaya, has put India in the list of places to see cherry blossom! What makes this event unique is the fact that it is the world's only autumn cherry blossom festival. Come November, Shillong will host this festival in three different venues–Polo Ground, Ward's Lake and Golf Course. The November 8-11 festival will showcase planting of cherry trees, cultural programmes, arts and crafts, fashion show, Cherry Blossom Run, archery competition, a performance by bikers, music events, IIM Shillong Golf Cup and an exhibition football match, guided night walks, and story-telling, among many other activities.
Be a part of the festival because this is a great time to be in Shillong. Just imagine, you don't have to visit other parts of the world when you can experience this in your own backyard!
Where: Shillong, Meghalaya
What: India International Cherry Blossom Festival
When: November 8-11, 2017