It is said that the rolling hills around the town reminded the European settlers of Scotland. Hence, they would also refer to it as the "Scotland of the East".
Places of Interest
Tourist sites in and around the city include:
- Elephant Falls: 12 km on the outskirts of the city, the mountain stream descends through two successive falls set in dells of fern covered rocks.
- Lady Hydari Park: The park stretches over a kilometre and has an adjacent mini zoo.
- Wards Lake: Known locally as Nan-Polok. It is an artificial lake with garden and boating facilities.
- Shillong Golf Course: Shillong has one of the largest golf courses (the world's wettest) in Asia: Gleneagles of the East. It enjoys the rare distinction of being one of the few natural golf courses in Asia. Not only is the Shillong Golf Course scenic and enjoyable, it is also challenging. A group of British civil service officers introduced golf to Shillong in 1898 by constructing a nine-hole course. The present 18-hole course was inaugurated in 1924. The course is set in a valley covered with pine and rhododendron trees. The tight fairways, carpeted with a local grass which hardens the soil, are difficult to negotiate. The number of out-of-bounds streams that criss-cross every fairway makes it all the more trying. Obstructions come in the form of bunkers, trees and rain. The longest hole is the 6th, which is a gruelling 594 yards. Shillong Golf Course is considered to be the "Glen Eagle of the East" at the United States Golf Association Museum. It was set in a valley at an altitude of 5200 ft in 1898 as a nine-hole course and later converted into an 18-hole course in 1924 by Captain Jacksonand C. K. Rhodes.
- Motphran: The "Monument of France" which is locally known as "Motphran" was erected in memory of the 26th Khasi Labour Corps who served under the British in France during World War I. It bears the words of the famous Latin poet Horace "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" which can be roughly translated as "It is sweet and honorable to die for one's country."
- Shillong Peak: A picnic spot, 10 km from the city, 1965 m above sea level, offers a panoramic view of the scenic countryside and is the highest point in the state. Obeisance is paid to U Shulong at the sanctum sanctorum at the peak's summit every springtime, by the religious priest of Mylliem State.
- Capt. Williamson Sangma State Museum: For those interested in ethnic tribal culture and tradition this government museum offers insights to the lifestyle of the people. This museum is in the State Central Library complex where monuments for the great patriots of the state were erected besides the statue of Smt. Indira Gandhi and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
- Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures: The Don Bosco Museum is part of DBCIC (Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures). DBCIC comprises research on cultures, publications, training, animation programmes and the museum, which is a place of knowledge-sharing on the cultures of the northeast in particular, and of culture in general. DBCIC with its Don Bosco Museum is situated at Mawlai, Shillong.
- Entomological Museum (Butterfly Museum): A privately owned museum of M/s Wankhar, Riatsamthiah, Shillong about 2 km from Police Bazar is the only known museum in India devoted to moths and butterflies.
- Air Force Museum at Upper Shillong
- Forest Museum in Lady Hydari Park
- Rhino Heritage Museum at Shillong
- Zoological Museum in Risa Colony
- Anthropological museum at Mawblei
- Botanical Museum at 4th Furlong
- Arunachal Museum at the Cantonment Area
- Chrysalis the Gallery: This art gallery is on the second floor of Salonsar Mansion at Police Bazaar, the commercial hub of Shillong. Chrysalis has flexible spacing to display paintings (canvases), sculpture, photography and handicrafts. Run by a local artist, Jaya Kalra, the gallery caters to exhibitions of artists and artisans especially from the northeast and also from the rest of India.
- State Museum: Located at the State Central Library complex.
- Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians is in Don Bosco Square.
- Bishop and Beadon Falls: Both cascade down the same escarpment into a deep valley.
- Spread Eagle Falls: 3 km from Polo Grounds.
- Sweet Falls: Sweet Falls (also called "Weitden," in the native dialect) is the most beautiful of all the waterfalls in Shillong. It lies about 5 km from the Happy Valley and is about 96 m in height.
- Crinoline Falls: Near Lady Hydari Park.