GLIMPSES OF MEGHALAYA

On January 21, 1972 Meghalaya becomes the 21st State of Indian Union. Meghalaya means the “Abode of clouds”. The word was adopted from Sanskrit for naming the State, as the areas were proverbially associated with clouds and rain. True to its name, for half the year, from April to September, rain-bearing clouds envelop the land. Dense but beautiful clouds making them almost inseparable and indistinguishable generally cover the hilltops. She is also endowed with the World’s highest rainfall sites ‘Cherranpujee’ and ‘Mawsynram’. Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, is known as the ‘Scotland of the East’.

On January 21 1972, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi inaugurated Meghalaya as the 21st State of India. It was born with abundant love and goodwill through the historical North Eastern Areas (Reorganization Act, 1971). She got her Statehood comprising former Garo Hill District and United Khasi and Jaintia Hill District of former Assam. Meghalaya, where the clouds kiss the sun, is a small state bounded on the north and east by Assam State, on the South and west by Bangladesh. Meghalaya lies between 258 and 26.158 North Latitude and 89845 and 92847 East Longitude.

The total area of the State is 22,429 square Kilometer. They are predominantly inhabited by the Khasis, the Jaintias and the Garos. These tribal communities are descendants of very ancient people having traits and ethnic origins. The capital of Meghalaya is Shillong. 

NATURAL FEATURES

The Khasi Hills and Jaintias Hills, which form the central and eastern part of Meghalaya, is an imposing plateau with rolling grassland, hills and river valleys. Deep gorges and abrupt slopes mark the southern face of the plateau. Waterfalls rush down steep slopes and carve deep valleys through which swift-flowing rivers descend to the plains. At the foot of these slopes, a narrow strip of plain land runs along the international border with Bangladesh. The northern section of the plateau has an undulating topography with a series of hills rising to almost height, extending northwards to slope gradually, merging with the plains of Assam. The accordant summit of these hills varies from 170m to 820m. Nongpoh village lying half way on the Guwahati-Shillong Road stands on a flat top of 70m high on this hill section. The height of the central plateau of the Khasi Hills hovers around 1500m with the Shillong Peak (1965m), the highest point in the plateau, overlooking Shillong Town.

The Garo Hills, which form the western part of Meghalaya, are lower in elevation. The greater part of the Garo Hills range in height from 450m to 600m and drop steeply to the Brahmaputra valley on the north and to the plains of Bangladesh on the south. Nokrek Peak (1412m), east of Tura Town, is the highest peak in western Meghalaya. A number of rivers, none of them navigable, drain this mountainous State. In the Garo Hills, the Manda, the Damring and the Janjiram flow towards the north while the Ringge and the Gambol flow in the westerly direction. Those that flow to the south are the Simsang and the Bhogai. Simsang is the biggest river in Garo Hills.

In the Khasi and Jaintia Hills, the rivers that flow in a northerly direction include the Khri, the Umtrew, the Umiam, the Umkhen besides the Kupli on the border between Jaintia Hills and North Cachar Hills. The Kynshi, the Umiam Mawphlang and the Umngot flow to the south into Bangladesh.

The State of Meghalaya is directly influenced by the Southwest monsoon and the Northeast winter winds. The four seasons of Meghalaya are: Spring - March and April, Summer (Monsoon) - May to September, Autumn - October and November and Winter - December to February. During March and April, the atmosphere gradually warms up with the advent of Spring. During the summer (Monsoon) Season from the middle of April to June the temperature starts rising to the maximum and then decreases gradually. Rainfall starts by the last part of May and continues right up to the end of September.  The maximum rainfall occurs over the southern slopes of the Khasi Hills, consists of Cherranpujee and Mawsynram, which receive the heaviest rainfall in the world. The average rainfall in the State is 12,000mm. October and November are the two months when the climate is cool and temperate. After November, the winter season sets in and continues up to the end of February. During these months the temperature comes down to as low as 28 Celsius in the Khasi Hills. 

The State is now divided into seven Administrative Districts

DISTRICT

HEADQUARTERS

 

East Khasi Hills District

Shillong

Ri Bhoi District

Nongpoh

West Khasi Hills District

Nongstoin

East Garo Hills District

Williamnagar

West Garo Hills District

Tura

South Garo Hills

Baghmara

Jaintia Hill

Jowai