India International Cherry Blossom Festival, Shillong
I actually do not need a reason to visit Shillong. The lovely hill city is etched in my heart since I read “Sesher Kabita” (The Last Poem) by Rabindranath Tagore. There is something so affable about the city that makes it a wonderful destination. And when I heard about the Cherry Blossom Festival at Shillong, I simply realized that time has come to make a visit to this lovely place once again.
What is Cherry Blossom Festival, Shillong?
Well, whenever we talk about cherry blossoms, we are reminded of Japan and USA. The cherry trees bloom into gorgeous blossoms and the entire place adorns itself in a hue of white and pink. The sight is indeed a delight to watch! Shillong has been hosting India International Cherry Blossom Festival since 2016. It is said that the cherry blossom at Shillong is the world’s only Autumn Cherry Blossom Festival. Since the last 2 years, the Cherry Blossom Festival is being held at Shillong during the month of November.
The celebration of Cherry Blossom festival is organized by the Government of Meghalaya in association with Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development (IBSD). 5000 cherry trees were planted between Umiam Lake, the Wards’ Lake, New Shillong and all the way to Mawphlang. There is a target to plant 20000 trees more.
The Cherry Blossom Festival at Shillong is not only about the blooming of the blossoms that makes the dainty city even more enchanting. It is a celebration of the culture and traditions of the Khasi people. During the Festival people get indulged in rock concerts, traditional folk music, dance performances, unplugged western music from all the north-eastern states. Not to forget, that there are a plethora of other activities like archery completion, bike rallying, fashion shows, storytelling and many more. Food and drinks also take a major part in the Festival. Don’t you think, all these attractions are enough to lure me to visit Shillong during this time?
So here I was, all ready to visit Shillong during the Cherry Blossom festival this year. The Festival this year was held between 8th to 11th November 2017. Shillong too was ready for 4 days of festivities. I reached Shillong on the 9th full of excitement. But well, I was in for a surprise. The cherry flowers had not bloomed this year till now.
The saying goes that Man proposes, Nature disposes. Well, that happened exactly during this Cherry Blossom festival. The cherry trees did not bloom yet. The locals said that they might bloom within the next couple of days. Although I did not get to see the cherry blossoms on arriving, I decided to enjoy the programmes and cuisines. And that I did to my heart’s content.
The festivities were held three different venues across Shillong – the Wards Lake, Polo ground and the Golf. I enjoyed the musical concerts, folk music and dance and the night walks while secretly praying to the Almighty to intervene with Mother Nature. I wanted to see the cherry blossoms too!
As nature was not favourable for a blossom, I tweaked my plans and went to visit Tura in between. You will read about my wonderful experience at Tura in my next post. When I returned after 2 days, I actually saw the cherry blossoms. The festival was over, but the flowers had started blooming.
I did not see a flurry of pink and white blossoms, nor did I see those pink hues that I saw in the photographs. But whatever I saw and experienced made me happy. In the first place, I had not expected that I would see Cherry blossoms like that in Japan. Shillong has just started with the festival. It is unfortunate that this year the time of the blossoms did not fall with that of the festival dates. But the city will definitely look beautiful and charming when all the 5000 trees start blooming.
While I came back from Tura after the Wangala Festival, I took a walk along the Wards Lake where I found the cherry trees have already started blooming. It looked ethereal. I took a walk along the lanes of Shillong and at places, the blooming cherry trees were a delight to see. I simply hope that in further days, Shillong also becomes a hot spot for the Cherry Blossom Festival just like Japan and Washington!