Meghalaya is a state in northeast India. The name means “the abode of clouds” in Sanskrit. The population of Meghalaya as of 2016 is estimated to be 3,211,474. Meghalaya covers an area of approximately 22,430 square kilometers, with a length to breadth ratio of about 3:1.
The state is bounded to the south by the Bangladeshi divisions of Mymensingh and Sylhet, to the west by the Bangladeshi division of Rangpur, and to the north and east by India’s State of Assam. The capital of Meghalaya is Shilong . During the British rule of India, the British imperial authorities nicknamed it the “Scotland of the East”. Meghalaya was previously part of Assam, but on 21 January 1972, the districts of Khasi, Garo and Jaintia hills became the new state of Meghalaya. English is the official language of Meghalaya. The other principal languages spoken include Khasi, Pnar, Hajong, Tiwa (lalung), Rabha, Garo and Biate. Unlike many Indian states, Meghalaya has historically followed a matrilineal system where the lineage and inheritance are traced through women; the youngest daughter inherits all wealth and she also takes care of her parents.
The state is the wettest region of India, recording an average of 12,000 mm (470 in) of rain a year. About 70% of the state is forested. The Meghalaya subtropical forests eco-region encompasses the state; its mountain forests are distinct from the lowland tropical forests to the north and south. The forests are notable for their biodiversity of mammals, birds, and plants.
Meghalaya has predominantly an agrarian economy with a significant commercial forestry industry. The important crops are potatoes, rice, maize, pineapples, bananas, papayas, spices, etc. The service sector is made up of real estate and insurance companies. Meghalaya’s gross state domestic product for 2012 was estimated at 16,173 crore (US$2.5 billion) in current prices. The state is geologically rich in minerals, but it has no significant industries. The state has about 1,170 km (730 mi) of national highways. It is also a major logistical center for trade with Bangladesh.
Meghalaya was formed by carving out two districts from the state of Assam: the United Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills, and the Garo Hills on 21 January 1972. Before attaining full statehood, Meghalaya was given semi-autonomous status in 1970.
The Khasi, Garo, and Jaintia tribes had their own kingdoms until they came under British administration in the 19th century. Later, the British incorporated Meghalaya into Assam in 1835. The region enjoyed semi-independent status by virtue of a treaty relationship with the British Crown. When Bengal was partitioned on 16 October 1905 by Lord Curzon, Meghalaya became a part of the new province of Eastern Bengal and Assam. However, when the partition was reversed in 1912, Meghalaya became a part of the province of Assam. On 3 January 1921 in pursuance of Section 52A of the Government of India Act of 1919, the governor-general-in-council declared the areas now in Meghalaya, other than the Khasi states, as “backward tracts.” Subsequently, the British administration enacted the Government of India Act of 1935, which regrouped the backward tracts into two categories: “excluded” and “partially excluded” areas.
At the time of Indian independence in 1947, present day Meghalaya constituted two districts of Assam and enjoyed limited autonomy within the state of Assam. A movement for a separate Hill State began in 1960. The Assam Reorganisation (Meghalaya) Act of 1969 accorded an autonomous status to the state of Meghalaya. The Act came into effect on 2 April 1970, and an autonomous state of Meghalaya was born out of Assam. The autonomous state had a 37-member legislature in accordance with the Sixth schedule to the Indian constitution.
In 1971, the Parliament passed the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganization) Act, 1971, which conferred full statehood on the autonomous state of Meghalaya. Meghalaya attained statehood on 21 January 1972, with a Legislative Assembly of its own.
About 70% of the state is forested, of which 9,496 km2 (3,666 sq mi) is dense primary subtropical forest. The Meghalayan forests are considered to be among the richest botanical habitats of Asia. These forests receive abundant rainfall and support a vast variety of floral and faunal biodiversity. A small portion of the forest area in Meghalaya is under what are known as “sacred groves” (see Sacred groves of India). These are small pockets of ancient forest that have been preserved by the communities for hundreds of years due to religious and cultural beliefs. These forests are reserved for religious rituals and generally remain protected from any exploitation. These sacred groves harbour many rare plant and animal species. The Nokrek Biosphere Reserve in the West Garo Hills and the Balphakram National Park in the South Garo Hills are considered to be the most biodiversity-rich sites in Meghalaya. In addition, Meghalaya has three wildlife sanctuaries. These are the Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary, the Siju Sanctuary and the Bhagmara Sanctuary, which is also the home of the insect eating pitcher plant Nepenthes khasiana.
Due to diverse climatic and topographic conditions, Meghalayan forests support a vast floral diversity, including a large variety of parasites, epiphytes, succulent plants and shrubs. Two of the most important tree varieties are Shorea robusta (sal tree) and Tectona Grandis (teak). Meghalaya is also the home to a large variety of fruits, vegetables, spices and medicinal plants. Meghalaya is also famous for its large variety of orchids — nearly 325 of them. Of these the largest variety is found in the Mawsmai, Mawmluh and Sohrarim forests in the Khasi hills.
Meghalaya also has a large variety of mammals, birds, reptiles and insects. The important mammal species include elephants, bear, red pandas, civets, mongooses, weasels, rodents, gaur, wild buffalo, deer, wild boar and a number of primates. Meghalaya also has a large variety of bats. The limestone caves in Meghalaya such as the Siju Cave are home to some of the nation’s rarest bat species. The hoolock gibbon is found in all districts of Meghalaya.
Common reptiles in Meghalaya are lizards, crocodiles and tortoises. Meghalaya also has a number of snakes including the python, copperhead, green tree racer, Indian cobra, king cobra, coral snake and vipers.
Meghalaya’s forests host 660 species of birds, many of which are endemic to Himalayan foothills, Tibet and southeast Asia. Of the birds found in Meghalaya forests, 34 are on worldwide threatened species list and 9 are on critically endangered list. Prominent birds spotted in Meghalaya include those from the families of Phasianidae, Anatidae, Podicipedidae, Ciconiidae, Threskiornithidae, Ardeidae, Pelecanidae, Phalacrocoracidae, Anhingidae, Falconidae, Accipitridae, Otididae, Rallidae, Heliornithidae, Gruidae, Turnicidae, Burhinidae, Charadriidae, Glareolidae, Scolopacidae, Jacanidae, Columbidae, Psittacidae, Cuculidae, Strigidae, Caprimulgidae, Apodidae, Alcedinidae, Bucerotidae, Ramphastidae, Picidae, Campephagidae, Dicruridae, Corvidae, Hirundinidae, Cisticolidae, Pycnonotidae, Sylviidae, Timaliidae, Sittidae, Sturnidae, Turdidae, Nectariniidae and Muscicapidae. Each of these families have many species. The great Indian hornbill is the largest bird in Meghalaya. Other regional birds found include the grey peacock pheasant, the large Indian parakeet, the common green pigeon and the blue jay. Meghalaya is also home to over 250 species of butterflies, nearly a quarter of all butterfly species found in India.
Places of Interests-
Shillong , Mawphlang , Cherapunjee , Laitkynsew , Mawsynram , Mawlynnong Village , Umiam Lake , Mairang , Jakrem , Mawkyrwat , Mawthadraishan, Nongkhnum Island , Ranikor etc.