TODAY -

Last Xmas Nights of Lights

Kamal Baruah *



Surely it was inspiring and memorable Christmas night that could inspire everyone to witness again and again to this spectacular view of this romantic city. And Shillong, the abode of the clouds always made a special effort during Christmas.

The last week of December marks the starting of vacation. There is Christmas in the air. The time is to escape from the busy to-do list. Also there shall be winter rush everywhere. A Christmas holiday break is a perfect way to celebrate the festive season with your loved ones. There is time to meet relatives. Most importantly, the idea is to have fun while exploring places, interact with locals, eat and enjoy culture.

Last Christmas, my family and I had been to scintillating Shillong. We set off the silence of the wee hours of the morning at Guwahati Shillong Road, curving through some of the most magical moments at Jorabat, the place is sandwiched between south Brahmaputra valley and northern part of East Khasi Hills. As we went through the outskirts of the city, the landscape started taking on a new appearance. There are pineapple plantations in the cool rolling hills. It is beautiful Shillong, often referred to as the “Scotland of the East” due to its striking similarity with the Scottish highlands.

It is the most preferred destination as it is easily accessible through incredible road. After an hour-long smooth driving, a generous menu for breakfast at Jiva felt very pampered and refreshed for begin of the day. And suddenly we woke up after a glimpse of vast scenic reservoir of beautiful lake Barapani (Big Water) surrounded by hills.

It is a favourite place to witness boating there to carry beautiful memories of that serene lake while Orchid Resort offers facilities for motorboat rides. The Umiam River was the first hydro electric project in North East India. While entering city, we found serpentine queue of vehicles from AS Series Number Plate. Being weekend, it was painstakingly slow for an hour drive.

Kudos goes to Shillong Traffic that put the road discipline in order. We saw huge Radar at the top of a mountain at a distance that monitoring air and terrestrial traffic of Bangladesh border. Strategically it has great importance of air surveillance to control enemy airspace.

It is Shillong Peak, the highest point of Shillong. A great view of Shillong is visible from the Peak View Point, Laitkor, which is often surrounded by dense fog. The only cumbersome was to wait long for entry pass from the Radar unit of IAF. There were fresh potato, tomato and green vegetables sold from the street shop along the way.

The cool breeze caressed our face. The Pine trees swayed to the breeze. Down the mountain shadow, Eastern Air Command of Indian Air Force stands tall as an epitome of India’s defence establishment. The Don Bosco Centre Indigenous Cultures is a place to explore the vast culture and tradition of the North East. Shillong golf circuits are one of the oldest and natural in the world.

The entire valley is dotted with thick vegetation. There are old Churches embracing Catholicism. The people were in festive mood decorating their houses. Visitors were mesmerised by the steep hills, glittering waterfalls and stunning green canyons at Cherrapunji border. It is mind blowing view of Bangladesh there. Meghalaya houses many unexplored natural caves that still waiting to be discovered.

Indian Navy organizes caving expedition every year. It was treasured hunt inside Mawjymbuin cave there. Being isolated, the villages are scattered near Cherrapunji. Finding an eating joint is a thorny task there. But boiled rice and fish curry somehow appeased our hunger. Visiting Elephant Falls, Rooth Bridge, Ward’s Lake are just a short picturesque drive away. The untouched natural beauty of the Blue Mountains present it most fascinating.

As time crumbled away, the dark was surrounding us and we felt a bit scary moments at upper Shillong. Very soon, however we realized that city began approaching. After partly cloudy light rain, the city was sparkling bright at Christmas night hangout. It was winter rush in this pristine valley of Scintillating Shillong! The heritage buildings still hold the legacy of the bygone British era.

The famous shopping haunt at Police Bazaar was crowded and found no way driving even at mid 24th night. Children visited Santa at the mall. Youngsters looked at Christmas lights at Centre Point to beat the cold with a warm drink at bar. People gathered in the evening proceeding the traditional birthday of Jesus for Midnight Mass at churches. There were Christmas Songs and Carols with fireplace around. They exchanged goodwill greetings for preparing Christmas.

The Hotels including Home Stay are all booked out in the rock capital. People are really passionate about their music. There is no dearth of local talent and Tipriti Kharbangar of Soulmate, Lou Majow is from this Rock capital of India. Music lovers thronged at the ‘Polo Irish Pub’, Shillong’s first Nightclub and ultra lounge. Being Xmas it got better at ‘Piccadilly’ that night.

Those are such flourishing musical culture of Rocky Mountains and persuasive fusion of musical forces. We come across good dinner and entertainment at multi-cuisine restaurant ‘Platinum-Ginger’ and tried their famous sizzlers. After a glass of wine, the entire hall began to sparkle that night. The significance of Christmas is that people seemed to be filled with joie de vivre and my keen observation on church services was a sense of youthful exuberance.

Well, it had been a year now. That journey was a special one. It was truly incredible driving through the sleepy hamlet surrounded by misty, foggy road. They have woken up with early mesmerizing sunrises for hunting and angling. The nights of lights was one of the most amazing place, we ever experience. Surely it was inspiring and memorable Christmas night that could inspire everyone to witness again and again to this spectacular view of this romantic city.

And Shillong, the abode of the clouds always made a special effort during Christmas. It can’t wait any more. All I got to do is to tie my shoes and get out there in the wee hours of the day. I kept my driver seat ready to press the clutch pedal down, cup my left palm around the gear knob and move the lever gently. It’s no wasting time. Let’s follow the wind where it blows. I vowed to continue visiting that drive for one of those kinda nights every year because we don’t want to miss one of those nights.

Stop worrying anything now because you gave your heart to Jesus last Christmas. This Xmas nights of lights invite us once again to celebrate there because “I am the Light of the world, he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” - Jesus.


* Kamal Baruah, a resident of Guwahati, wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at kamal(DOT)baruah(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on December 22, 2018.



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