The name of this North-Eastern State- Meghalaya has taken from Sanskrit language which means the “abode of clouds”. The State was originally a part of Assam till 1972 and on 21 January 1972 the districts of Khasi, Garo and Jaintia hills got separated from Assam and formed the State of Meghalaya with Shillong as its Capital City. The State has 11 districts which is divided under the divisions of Jaintia Hills, Khasi Hills and Garo Hills. The native language spoken here are Khasi, Garo and Jaintia and also other language spoken here are Bengali and Assamese with English as the official language in all its offices and educational institutes. During the British rule the Britishers refers the Meghalaya region as the “Scotland of East”. This State is contrast to other Indian States since in the past the society of Meghalaya followed a matriarchal system where the elder women is the head of the family and only daughters inherits all the wealth and maintains lineage.
|Established||21 January, 1972|
|High Court||Meghalaya High Court|
|Rivers||Myntdu, Someshwari River, Kopili River, Khri River and Digaru etc.|
|National Parks||Balphakram National Park, Nokrek National Park|
|Languages||Khasi, Garo and English|
|State Animal||Clouded Leopard|
|State Bird||Hill Myna|
|State Flower||Lady Slipper Orchid|
|Literacy Rate (2011)||91.58%|
|Females per 1000 males||986|
|Lok Sabha constituencies||60|
There are various archaeological expeditions in this State which states that Meghalaya traces its history since the times of Neolithic ages. Even today the Neolithic style of farming i.e. the Jhum cultivation is practiced in large scale in various parts of this region. Archeologists states that Meghalaya was known for domestication of rice in ancient period. The Khasi, Garo, and Jaintia tribes had their own respective kingdoms until they came under the control of British rule in the 19th century. Later, the British included Meghalaya into Assam in 1835. Till 1970 Meghalaya was a semi-autonomous state and it gained full statehood only in 1972 after separation from Assam.
The area covered by Meghalaya is 22,430 square kilometers approximately and also shares its boundaries with Mymensingh and Sylhet division of Bangladesh in South, Rangpur division of Bangladesh to the West and North and East with the neighboring State of Assam. Meghalaya is a hilly State with vast stretches of valleys and highland plateaus which is geologically rich in Archean rock formations. These rock formations have rich deposits of precious minerals like coal, limestone, uranium and sillimmanite. Meghalaya is filled with rain fed and seasonal rivers like Ganol, Daring, Sanda, Bandra, Bugai, Dareng, Simsang, Nitai and the Bhupai in the region of Garo Hills. Other rivers like rivers are Khri, Digaru, Umiam, Kynshi (Jadukata), Mawpa, Umiam or Barapani, Umngot and Myntdu are located in the central and eastern sections of the plateau. Moreover, these rivers have formed deep gorges and beautiful lakes and waterfalls in the Khasi Hills region. The highest point in Meghalaya is Shillong Peak at an altitude of 1961 m.
According to the report of 2011 Census of India, Meghalaya has recorded a population of about 2,964,007 in figures and out of which females comprise 1,492,668 and males comprise 1,471,339 population. Meghalaya has also recorded the highest decennial population growth of 27.82% among all the seven north-eastern states. The sex ratio in the state was 986 females per 1,000 males which was extremely higher than the national average of 940 per 1000. Meghalaya also recorded 75.5% literacy rate in 2011 Census.
Meghalaya’s gross state domestic product for 2012 was estimated at Rs. 16,173 crore (US$2.5 billion) in current prices. Meghalaya is principally a farming state with about 80% of its population depending entirely on agriculture and allied activities for their livelihood. Meghalaya produced 230,000 tonnes of food grains with rice being the main crop cultivated here. Other important food grain crops are maize, wheat and a few other cereals and pulses. Cash crops like ginger, turmeric, black pepper, areca nut, tezpatta (Cinnamomum tamala), betelvine, short-staple cotton, jute, mesta, mustard and rapeseed etc is also produced. Since only 10 % of land is under cultivation and due to unsustainable farm practices Meghalaya also imports food from other States of India. The State is also famous for its horticultural produce such as orange, lemon, pineapple, guava, litchi, banana, jack fruits and fruits such as plum, pear and peach. In recent years Meghalaya is also involved in cement production and pipeline due to high quality limestone deposits in this region. Meghalaya has good hydroelectricity resources too.
Over the years Meghalaya has become a tourist hotspot and the capital city of Shillong is voted to be India’s most favorite hill station. Meghalaya is compared to Scotland for its highlands, fog and landscape. Meghalaya is known to have the places which are the wettest in the earth since it receives the highest rainfall in Earth; these places are known as Cherrapunjee and Mawsynram. This State also draws many tourists to catch a glimpse of the Living Root Bridge which is located near Cherrapunji. The Crystal Clear Dawki Lake and Asia’s cleanest village Mawlynnnong is also an important tourist attraction. The State is filled with the country’s best waterfalls like the Elephant Falls, Shadthum Falls, Weinia Falls, Bishop Falls, Nohkalikai Falls, Langshiang Falls and Sweet Falls. Moreover, the hot springs at Jakrem near Mawsynram is believed to have medicinal properties and cures various diseases. The caves near Mawsynram – Masmai caves is quite popular along with the longest cave – Krem Liat Prah and Synrang Pamiang- the deepest cave are the oldest and longest in Asia which draws the adventurous tourists and cavers from all over the world. Other renowned sightseeing places are the Ranikhor, Umiam Lake and Sacred Forest of Mawphlang, Shillong city, Nohkalikai Falls and many more places of tourist interest.
The popular sports of Meghalaya is Trekking, Water sports, Archery, Polo, Go Golfing, River Golfing and Angling. Other popular sports include the Football and the state has its own club called Shillong Lajong FC which plays in I-League (Hero I-League). The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium sitiuated in Shillong is the most popular sports arena where it hosts a capacity of 30,000 spectators at a time. Moreover, the Polo Club of Shillong is very popular during the British rule and it stands till today hosting many Polo matches.
Road is the only means of transport in Meghalaya though the capital city of Shillong is well-off with good road connectivity but in most of the other parts of the region is rather poor. Meghalaya has a road network of around 7,633 km, out of which 3,691 km is good and the remaining 3942 km is not in good condition. Some of the national highways in Meghalaya are NH- 40, 44, 51, 62 and 106. Meghalaya is well-connected to Silchar and Guwahati in Assam, Aizawl in Mizoram and Agartala in Tripura through national highways via state run buses and taxis. It has an airport at Umroi which is 30 kilometres away from Shillong and Air India Regional operates flights to Kolkata from here. There is also a helicopter service connecting Shillong to Guwahati and Tura. Meghalaya has a railhead at Mendipathar and regular train service is there to connect Mendipathar in Meghalaya and Guwahati in Assam. Moreover, the main Airport and Railway is located in Guwahati which is 106 kilometer away and commuters from Meghalaya travel there to catch flights and trains to go to the rest part of India.
The main festival celebrated all around Meghalaya is Wangala (Harvest Festival), Shad Nongkrem, Behdienkhlam, Den Bilsia and the Christmas. Dance plays an important role in the culture and festivals of Meghalaya and some of the popular folk dances were Shad Sukmynsiem, Shad Nongkrem and Doregata dances. The State is also renowned for its art and crafts such as Endi silk is for making colorful wraps and shawls; baskets known as khokd thugis are commonly woven; cone shaped bamboo rain shields known as knup are also popular. Other bamboo and wood products are also equally popular.
Meghalaya especially Shillong has some of the prestigious schools and higher education institutions. Schools like Pine Mount School, Loreto Convent, St. Edmunds, etc are one of the best schools in Eastern India. Renowned educational institutes like North Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Indian Institute of Management (IIM Shillong), The Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India University, CMJ University, Martin Luther Christian University, Regional Institute of Science and Technology, North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences, National Institute of Technology (Meghalaya), National Institute of Fashion Technology, North Eastern Institute of Ayurveda and Homeopathy, etc are also situated in Meghalaya which attracts many students from all parts of India and abroad.
Hospitals and Health Care
The state boasts of 13 state government dispensaries, 22 community health centres, 93 primary health centres and 408 sub-centres. There were 378 doctors, 81 pharmacists, 337 staff nurses and 77 lab technicians as of 2012. The State Government of Meghalaya has taken many steps and organized special programmes to eradicate diseases like tuberculosis, leprosy, cancer and mental diseases. Some of the best hospitals situated in Meghalaya are Civil Hospital, Ganesh Das Hospital, K J P Synod Hospital, NEIGRIHMS, North Eastern Institute of Ayurveda & Homoeopathy (NEIAH), R P Chest Hospital, Wood Land Hospital, Nazareth Hospital, and Christian Hospital etc.