Meghalaya (Abode of the Clouds), a state in northeastern India, is situated in the sub-Himalayan hills. It has common borders with the Indian state of Assam to its north and east, and with Bangladesh to its south and west. Geographically Meghalaya is divided into three hilly regions: Garo hills in the west, Khasi hills in the centre and Jaintia hills in the east, with elevations ranging between 150m to 1961m. The people of these regions are respectively called Garos, Khasis and Jaintias. While Garos migrated from Tibet, the Khasis and Jaintias are among the earliest ethnic groups in the Indian subcontinent. Khasis are known for being one of the few matriarchal societies surviving in the world today.
The state of Meghalaya was formed in 1972 with Shillong as its capital. Before that Shillong was the capital of the undivided state of Assam. Located at 1496m, it is one of the most famous hill stations in India. Shillong Peak (1965m) is the highest point of the state, a popular picnic spot, and is also worshipped by the local people. Ward's Lake and the nearby Botanical Garden are located within the city of Shillong. At Umiam Water Sports Complex near Shillong many water sports like paddle boats, water scooters and speedboats are available. On the outskirts of the city are many waterfalls Elephant Falls, Spread Eagle Falls and Sweet Falls.
Cherrapunjee and Mawsynram in the Khasi region get the maximum rainfall in the world. Here rain records can be expressed in meters: average rainfall 12m in a year; maximum rainfall in a day 1.04 m. They are also famous for many caves with stalagmite and stalactite formations. Nongkhnum Island is the second biggest riverine island in Asia.
Nartiang, earlier the summer capital of Jaintia kings, is known for its huge monoliths. Jowai is the headquarters of the Jaintia Hills District, encircled by Myntdu River. Tura is the largest town in Garo Hills and from the Tura Peak one gets scenic views of the plains of Bangladesh. Balpakram National Park is home to the Serow or the Indian bison and the lesser panda.