Have you ever seen your hometown on Google Maps? It is a mixed feeling of surprise coated with immense nostalgia.
Shillong, my home, is a place I have essentially discovered on foot. I have walked to school, to friends’ homes, to happiness and to lose myself. Luckily, the connectivity and the safety have allowed me to explore the town in this fashion. These are my two favourite walking routes in the town’s core areas.
From the Colonial Past to the Bustling Market
ROUTE: Camel’s Back Road-Ward’s Lake-Police Bazaar-Bara Bazaar
We start our day early in Shillong. The light is fantastic for the first two hours of the morning, and the walk around Ward’s Lake is surreal. As I walk through Camel’s Back Road and approach the lake, I meet Shillong’s colonial history. Hotel Pinewood is one of the oldest hotels and provides great insights to the architectural history of the place. The entry to Ward’s Lake offers a view of the ornamental bridge; centred delicately amongst the garden with a good prospect of fish and lotus plants in the water. On exiting Ward’s lake, I walk into the shady streets of Oakland, where the old colonial houses continue to charm me even after all these years.
I head next to Police Bazaar and never forget to stop by Palace for some chai and samosa. Delhi Misthan Bhandar is a close competitor which serves scrumptious chats, sweets and jalebi. Police Bazaar is an ideal place to shop; there is something for everyone here. Glory’s Plaza stocks up some of the most fashionable clothes. I am a lover of jute products and maybe that is why I always make a stop at the government handicrafts shop spread across Police Bazaar. And no matter what I buy, I always remember to bargain with a smile!
As the midday sun approaches, I am able to make a comfortable walk up to Bara Bazar or Iewduh, as we call it. Bara Bazaar is the home to wholesale food and ingredients. From Cherrapunjee’s honey to fresh water fish to tribal crafts, there is nothing that Bara Bazaar doesn’t have. It is a great place to try some local delicacy at very nominal prices and meet the kongs who run their homes from what they sell here. This animated market also offers great opportunity for street photography.
Time of the day: Morning to noon.
Total walk time: Approximately 45 minutes, without any halt time.
Don’t forget: To carry a bottle of water and a camera. Be careful of your belongings in Bara Bazaar as it is infamous for pickpockets.
The High Hill to the Cathedral
ROUTE: Jacob’s Ladder-Don Bosco Square-Shillong Catholic Church
Jacob’s Ladder is a steep walk. Every time I start the walk, I am weary of it. Once I complete it, I am ready to conquer the world! At the end of this high Ladder, I catch my breath at Don Bosco Square. This is one of the busiest roads in town and also the point where three eminent schools merge.
Laitumkhrah confuses me with its numerous cafes and restaurants. The small jadoh stalls at every corner are a favourite with the non vegetarians. Jadoh is a red rice meal prepared from pig’s blood; a very popular local delicacy. I choose Cafe Shillong to make up for the lost energy at Jacob’s Ladder. Frequented by travellers, Cafe Shillong is a great place to meet people, listen to some live music and surf with free wi-fi. The cafe serves good coffee and their chicken momos and Khasi meals are recommended. The bar is also well stocked up.
After some great coffee, I am refreshed to reverse my steps to Don Bosco point and walk down the broad footpath towards the Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians (also known as Catholic Church). This cathedral is connected to my school Loreto Convent and has always been a magnificent structure in the town. The interiors of the cathedral shine beautifully as light passes through the stained glass windows. This is an ideal place to unwind and I remember spending hours of silence here.
Time of the day: Late afternoon to evening.
Estimated time: Approximately 30 minutes, without any halt time.
Don’t forget: To take frequent breaks on Jacob’s Ladder and try some spicy junk food on Don Bosco Square.
Read: The Origins in Shillong
I have written this post for Travelyaari and it originally appeared here.