Meghalaya is one of the seven states of North-Eastern India known as Seven Sister States. Meghalaya shares an international border with Bangladesh in the South. The capital and the largest city of the state is Shillong. The state’s name literally translates The Abode of Clouds and the region is considered to be the wettest state of India. Meghalaya is often compared to Scotland for its highlands, fog and scenery.
The state is known for fascinating nature with Tree Root Bridges at Cherrapunji, Elephant and Nohkalikai Falls, around 500 limestone and sandstone caves, with Krem Liat Prah being the longest cave, and Synrang Pamiang the deepest cave, Khasi, Jaintia and Garo hills, lakes, rivers, hot springs at Jakrem near Mawsynram, etc. Nongkhnum Island located in the West Khasi Hills district is the biggest river island in Meghalaya and the second biggest in Asia. Popular activities in the state include mountaineering, rock climbing, trekking and hiking, caving (spelunking) and water sports.
The majority of the territory is covered by forests notable for their biodiversity of mammals, birds, plants and is considered to be among the richest botanical habitats of Asia. Meghalaya has 2 National Parks and 3 Wildlife Sanctuaries. The important mammal species include elephants, bear, red pandas, civets, mongooses, weasels, rodents, gaur, wild buffalo, deer, wild boar and a number of primates. Meghalaya's forests host 660 species of birds, many of which are endemic to Himalayan foothills.
Meghalayan cuisine is unique and is known for spiced, pickled bamboo shoots, minil songa (steamed sticky rice) and momo dumplings. Like the rest of northeast India, Meghalayan trybes are also famous for producing fermented rice beer.
Meghalaya has a rich craftsmanship and art heritage known for artistic weaving, wood-carving, cane and bamboo work, carpet and silk weaving, jewellery and pineapple fibre articles.
Tribal people make up the majority of Meghalaya's population. The Khasis are the largest group, followed by the Garos then The Jaintias, the Koch, the Kuki, etc. Meghalaya is one of three states in India to have a Christian majority (70%). English is the official and widely spoken language of the state. The other principal languages in Meghalaya are Khasi and Garo.
The major tribal groups in Meghalaya follow a matrilineal system where lineage and inheritance are traced through women. The youngest daughter inherits all the property and she is the caretaker of aged parents and any unmarried siblings. Each tribe has its own culture, traditions, dress and language.
Dance is central to the culture of Khasi life with Wangala, the harvest festival being one of the major in the region and famous for impressive dancing.
The maximum temperature in the summers is about 28 °C (82 °F) and 28 °C (32 °F) in the winters.
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