The seasons of Meghalaya are distinct – each putting the spotlight on a different set of activities and landscapes. The combination of varying elevations (from sea level to almost 2000 metres!), bountiful precipitation, and rugged ever-changing terrain reveal a complex climate system. As you plan your escapade into this hill state, note the months and plan the itinerary accordingly.
March and April
A Pleasant Spring Escape
The months of March and April are spring in Meghalaya. Expect evenings to be a little nippy early on, especially in the higher altitudes. This means that Meghalaya’s highlands, especially the central Khasi Hills, become an oasis for travellers who want to escape the burning heat of the Indian plains. This period also sees its fair share of showers but expect a lot of sunny days.
When exploring places like Shillong and its outskirts, make sure you keep that extra light jacket within arms’ reach. The Garo Hills on the west, the Bhoi district in the north and the region on the southern slopes, owing to their lower elevations and more tropical foliage are warmer during these months.
May to September
The Mega Monsoons
The famed waterfalls and rivers are in full flow during the legendary monsoons of Meghalaya, which fall in the summer season. Cross over to the southern ranges to feel the complete force of the rains – the reason why destinations like Sohra and Mawsynram have earned their statuses of being rain magnets.
This is also the season that gives Meghalaya the sobriquet – The Abode of Clouds. In many ways, this is the season that has shaped the geology and topography of Meghalaya over millions of years and it needs to be experienced. Enjoy the riverine attractions from a distance – swimming and other water activities are not permitted in most areas for (obvious) safety reasons.
October and November
The hills are alive during the post-monsoon months – there is always a bit of rain happening but as the clouds clear and the sun makes more frequent appearances, it is a good time to still catch the resplendent waterfalls and rivers and maybe go up close a little more. As winter approaches, the temperatures drop with frost formation in some parts.
The post-monsoon is the harvest season so it is also the time when a lot of traditional festivals are happening across the state – a good period for some unique cultural experiences.
November to February
Along with the post-monsoon, the winter season is the best time for the adventure seekers to venture into Meghalaya’s hinterland. Places like Mylliem and Laitlyngkot, along with many areas in the West Khasi Hills experience sub-zero temperatures in the early mornings and thick frost often envelops the central highlands.
The wintertime is the driest season of the year so hikers, campers, and trekkers have access to the remotest corners. Garo Hills and the lower reaches of the Jaintia and Khasi Hills experience a more salubrious climate. Wintertime is the sunniest in Meghalaya – perfect for outdoor activities, picnics, river activities, and more. It is also the best time for those who want to explore the many caves in the state.
Apart from the above info please make a note that Meghalaya’s weather remains unpredictable throughout the year. Travelling across varying altitudes also exposes you to a wider spectrum of temperatures and precipitation. Experiencing all seasons in a single day is a real possibility! So always keep a sweater or light jacket around even if you come during the warmer months.
Terrains of Meghalaya
Meghalaya’s terrain allows for a contrast of experiences and conditions in a relatively small state. Dominated by an elevated table-land, the state features hilly country often cut by steep valleys like grooves, dripping away to plains and low valleys in the west and north and dizzying cliffs in the southern and eastern ranges.
Some of the most enchanting and popular destinations are on the plateau marked by the Khasi and Jaintia Hills. The coolest climes are found in the central highlands – dominated by grasslands and pine forests along with pockets of thick groves of older evergreen forests. There are many deep gorges and canyons that travellers encounter as they travel deeper into the state, while the plateau-top is one of soft, rolling landscapes. The valleys form a great contrast from the higher reaches in terms of vegetation. Increased temperatures and greater humidity along with the ample rainfall and a multitude of water bodies have resulted in lush tropical and sub-tropical areas on the lower slopes and valley floors.
The highest point in the state is Shillong Peak (1960 metres) while there are considerable regions in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills ranges that lie 1500 metres and more above sea level. The Garo Hills are located at lower elevations. The highest point in these western ranges of Meghalaya – the Garo Hills – is Nokrek Peak (1412 metres). The Garo Hills feature thicker jungles and more evergreen landscapes carpeted across stretches of low hills and wide valleys.
There are many rivers in Meghalaya, originating in the higher summits and the result of convalescing streams and rivulets. Some of the major rivers like the Myntdu, Kynshi and Simsang have carved the landscape as they rush through the mountains and then meander onto the plains, broken on their way down into multiple rapids and waterfalls. Outdoors enthusiasts will enjoy the riverine side of Meghalaya because of the kayaking, swimming, and angling opportunities, along with some mesmerizing scenery and natural diversity. The monsoons have played a huge part in shaping the state of Meghalaya – the limestone-dominated karst topography of the southern region features some of the longest cave systems on the entire planet.
Meghalaya’s Famous For…
From fabrics to food ingredients
• Traditional Fabrics
Meghalaya is known for its eri silk production and the ryndia silk shawl has a special place in the state. You can pick up an authentic ryndia at some of the crafts and art emporiums in Police Bazaar. Kynmaw, a store dedicated to authentic North-Eastern creations and located in the iconic Eee Cee Hotel is another recommended stop for this and more.
• Cane and Bamboo Items
From hats to miniature replicas of vernacular architecture, cane is a versatile and visually appealing material that is one of the most important in local arts and crafts. Other interesting and functional items fashioned from cane include the knup, a traditional stiff rain shield and baskets of various sizes. Bamboo is another integral part of local crafts. Discover an array of home décor and curios created from bamboo while you wander around Meghalaya’s shopping hubs.
• Tea and Coffee
Meghalaya is slowly making its name as a producer of high-quality tea. The Urlong tea from Mawlyngot is one of the most sought after, along with tea from other local gardens and production areas. All are available at select stores across Shillong and other towns. Smokey Falls is a popular local brand of coffee and they also have an outlet at the bustling Khyndailad intersection.
Wildflower honey from Meghalaya has been a favourite for generations. There are several varieties of honey in the state as the final taste varies according to the region from where it is sourced, unlike honey produced in regulated and large-scale facilities. Apart from a wonderful taste, Meghalaya’s raw honey contains multiple antioxidants and other health benefits.
Turmeric from Meghalaya, especially the variety grown in Lakadong is sought after by many. Curcumin content in Lakadong turmeric is amongst the highest amongst all turmeric varieties in the world. Armed with many healing properties and possessing a vivid yellow hue, local turmeric is available in modern packaging and is a unique and useful addition to your Meghalaya shopping list.
Meghalaya’s pineapples are famed. You can sample them as snacks, sliced and served with salt and ground chilli, or pick up these sweet, delicious and resilient fruits to take back home. The Bhoi district and the warmer valleys near the southern ranges produce the best pineapples.
Come winter, the citrus treasures of Meghalaya are there for all to sample. The state is home to the oldest form of citrus fruits (Citrus Indica which is a protected species in Nokrerk National Park) so it is no surprise that some of the world’s tastiest oranges come from here.
• Local fruits, grains, and herbs
Sticky rice is a local delicacy and a visit to the traditional markets will introduce you to a wide variety of organically grown grains. There are also many local fruits, greens, and herbs that are either grown as supplementary crops or harvested wild that interested buyers can only get in Meghalaya.
In addition, Meghalaya’s capital, Shillong is popular for clothes and fashion accessories. There are scores of shops and boutiques across the town showcasing the latest fashion trends and more – local designers here too have gained a large following.