City India

Meghalaya

The word Meghalaya literally means the Abode of Clouds in Sanskrit and other Indo-Iranian languages. Shillong Peak is highest in the state and is good for trekking.

About Meghalaya

Meghalaya is a state in north-eastern India. The word "Meghalaya" literally means the Abode of Clouds in Sanskrit and other Indic languages. Meghalaya is a hilly strip in the eastern part of the country about 300 km long (east-west) and 100 km wide, with a total area of about 8,700 sq mi (22,720 km²). The population numbered 2,175,000 in 2000. The state is bounded on the north by Assam and by Bangladesh on the south. The capital is Shillong also known as the Scotland of the East, which has a population of 260,000.

About one third of the state is forested. The Meghalayas subtropical forests ecoregion encompasses the state; its mountain forests are distinct from the lowland tropical forests to the north and south. The forests of Meghalaya are notable for their biodiversity of mammals, birds, and plants. It was previously part of Assam, but on 21 January 1972, the districts of Khasi, Garo and Jaintia hills became the new state of Meghalaya.

Meghalaya is also notorious for illegal mining that is creating havoc in the state. Balpakram National Park located in South Garo Hills District is constantly being encroached as forest areas are cleared for coal mining. The Garo Hills Anti-Mining and Conservation Forum are constantly shutting these illegal mines, which the government has so far simply ignored. In the Jaintia Hills District, illegal mining has poisoned all its rivers except for Myntang River and Umngot River. Illegal mining is a well kept secret of the state but it is slowly being exposed. Recently France 24, a TV channel, exposed the used of child labor in these illegal coal mines. Local newspapers have also started to expose this dark secret of Meghalaya.

History
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. Prior to attaining full statehood, Meghalaya was given a semi-autonomous status in 1970.

The Khasi, Garo, and Jaintia tribes each had their own kingdoms until they came under the 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 however, the Government of India Act of 1935 regrouped the backward tracts into two categories, namely, "excluded" and "partially excluded" areas in place of backward tracts.

At the time of Independence of the country in 1947, the present day Meghalaya constituted two districts of Assam and enjoyed limited autonomy within the state of Assam.

The Assam Reorganisation (Meghalaya) Act, 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 created within the State of Assam. The Autonomous state had a Legislature in accordance with the Sixth schedule to the Constitution. The Legislature had 37 members.

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.

Geography
Meghalaya is one of the Seven Sister States of India. The State of Meghalaya is also known as the "Meghalaya Plateau". It consists mainly of Archean rock formations. These rock formations contain rich deposits of valuable minerals like coal, limestone, uranium and sillimanite. Meghalaya has many rivers. Most of these are rainfed and are therefore seasonal. The important rivers in the Garo Hills Region are Daring, Sanda, Bandra, Bhogai, Dareng, Simsang, Nitai and the Bhupai. In the central and eastern section of the plateau, the important rivers are Umkhri, Digaru, Umiam, Kynchiang (Jadukata), Mawpa, Umiam or Barapani, Myngot and Myntdu. In the southern Khasi Hills Region, these rivers have created deep gorges and several beautiful waterfalls.

The elevation of the plateau ranges between 150 m to 1961 m. The central part of the plateau comprising the Khasi Hills has the highest elevations, followed by the eastern section comprising the Jaintia Hills Region. The highest point in Meghalaya is Shillong Peak, which is also a prominent IAF station in the Khasi Hills overlooking the city of Shillong. It has an altitude of 1961 m. The Garo Hills Region in the western section of the plateau is nearly plain. The highest point in the Garo hills is the Nokrek Peak with an altitude of 1515 m.

Climate
With average annual rainfall as high as 1200 cm in some areas, Meghalaya is the wettest place on earth. The western part of the plateau, comprising the Garo Hills Region with lower elevations, experiences high temperatures for most of the year. The Shillong area, with the highest elevations, experiences generally low temperatures. The maximum temperature in this region rarely goes beyond 28 °C (82 °F), whereas winters temperatures of sub-zero degrees are common.

The town of Cherrapunji in the Khasi Hills south of capital Shillong holds the world record for most rain in a calendar month, while the village of Mawsynram, near the town of Cherrapunji, holds the distinction of seeing the heaviest yearly rains. The best time to visit Meghalaya is during the months of March to July. The British and Assam Tea Estate owners would shift here during the summer months to escape the heat of the Indian Plains.

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