MEGHALAYA, one of India’s smallest states, occupies the plateau and rolling hills between Assam and Bangladesh. Its people are predominantly Christian, belonging to three main ethnic groups, the Khasis, Jaintias and Garos. The state has a high literacy rate and teaching is in English. Much of Meghalaya (“the land of the rain-clouds”) is covered with lush forests, rich in orchids. These “blue hills” bear the brunt of the Bay of Bengal’s monsoon-laden winds and are among the wettest places on earth. Stupendous waterfalls can be seen near the capital, Shillong, but the most dramatic plummet from the plateau to the south, around Cherrapunjee.

Meghalaya’s hills rise to almost 2000m, making for a pleasantly cool year-round climate. The Jaintia Hills offer good walking and caving, and the state is laced with historical sights such as Nartiang near Jowai, which has an impressive collection of monoliths.

On January 21, 1972, after an eighteen-year struggle for autonomy from Assam, Meghalaya became a full-fledged state. However, the HNLC, a rebel underground movement, still calls bandhs demanding independence from the rest of India.

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