Meghalaya - The Abode of Clouds
Meghalaya is considered one of the most beautiful and picturesque states in India. Nestled between Assam in the North and Bangladesh in the south – Meghalaya or “ Abode of the Clouds”, is a source of inspiration to any poet, a dramatic canvas for an artist’s dream and the ideal retreat for people in search of beauty and solitude. Nature has blessed Meghalaya with abundant rainfall, sun, whine, virgin forests, high plateaus, tumbling waterfalls, misty heights, crystal clear rivers, meandering streamlets and above all with sturdy, intelligent and hospitable people.
Meghalaya is one of the seven sister states in the North East. Declared as a state on 21st January, 1972, it is divided into five administrative districts of the Jaintia Hills, East and West Garo Hills and East and West Khasi Hills.
The state of Meghalaya is also known as “ Meghalaya Plateau”. It consists mainly of Archean rock formations. These rock formations contain rich deposits of valuable minerals like Coal, Limestone, Uranium and Silimanite. 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 elevation. Shillong Peak enjoys the highest point in Meghalaya, towering 1961 m. The Shillong Peak also a prominent Indian Air Force Station overlooking the city of Shillong.
The Garo Hills which form the western part of Meghalaya are lower in elevation. The greater part of Garo Hills range in height from 450 m to 600 m and drop steeply to the Brahmaputra valley on the north and to the plains of Bangladesh on the south. Nokrek Peak (1412 m) east of Tura Town, is the highest peak in Western Meghalaya.
Meghalaya experiences the two seasons of Winter and Monsoon. It is characterized by a cool climate throughout the year. The Cherrapunjee – Mawsynram belt in the southern slopes of Khasi Hills records the heaviest rainfall in the world. Rivers which flow through Meghalaya none of them are navigable, due to rocky beds and strong currents.
The Meghalayan sub Tropical forests have been considered among the richest Botanical habits of Asia. These forests receive abundant rainfall and support a vast variety of floral and faunal Bio – diversity.
Due to the Due to the diverse climatic and topographic conditions, Meghalayan forests support a vast floral diversity, including a large variety of Parasites and Epiphytes, Succulent plants and Shrubs. Two of the most important tree varieties include: Shorea robusta or Sal and the Tectona grandis or teak.
Meghalaya also has a large variety of mammals, birds, reptiles and insects. The important mammal species include elephants, bear, 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 rarest bat species.
The prominent bird species in Meghalaya include the Magpie-Robin, the Red-vented Bulbul, the Hill Myna is usually found in pairs or in flocks in the hill forests of Meghalaya, the Large Pied Hornbill and the Great Indian, which is the largest bird in Meghalaya. Other birds include the 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 the species found in India.
Meghalaya is dominated by three principal groups of people. The Garo in the east and west Garo hills, the Khasi-Pnar in the east and west Khasi hills and the Jaintia hills. They follow primarily a matrilineal system. The Khasi group belongs to the Mon-Khemar sub-family of the Austro group of people. The Garo group is a part of the greater Bodo Kacheri family both by ethnic group and language. Their present location enabled them to maintain many of their traits and characteristics.
Agriculture is the main occupation of Meghalaya, with around eighty three percent of the total population, dependent on it for their livelihood.
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