The beautiful Umiam Lake will wake you up to the beauty of Shillong. For a first timer it will come as a sweet surprise. Just 15km north of Shillong, on the Shillong-Guwahati highway, this manmade lake is a great treat and an eye opener to the possibilities, this State can offer in terms of its scenic beauty. What a way to introduce Shillong, also fondly called, ‘Scotland of the East’!
This Cerulean tarn is 220sq km in radius and surrounded by small knolls. It looks perfectly natural but it is a manmade reservoir built on the river Umium. Construction work for the dam began in 1965 and it was one of the first Hydro power project in north-East India. The lake is also dotted with small islands; knolls protruding out of the water. Occasionally small motor boats paddle through the serene water. Travelers can now make a quick stop at the view point towards Shillong side. It has spacious parking lot and a good enough view of the lake below.
Umiam Lake is just half an hour drive from Shillong. One can easily hire local taxis for Rs.500 (to and fro). Shillong has one of the best taxi facilities, so getting there is not a concern. If you are looking to cut down the cost, you can catch local cabs to Umiam at Karikhana for Rs.20.
There are many small villages scattered around the lake. Union Christian College was the first Institution to tap the scenic beauty and unspoiled environment in the early 50’s. Lately many resorts have mushroomed around this beautiful lake. The picturesque lake can be best viewed from the UCC peak (Union Christian College). From here, the islands looked prominent and the water azure.
Fishermen frequently roamed the shores and canoed on still water. Occasionally, you would find fishermen selling their catch by the main road. Though expensive, they would bet with their lives that what they’re selling is nothing like other fish.
In summer the lake looked lush and vibrant adorned by gulmohar trees in full blossom. In winter the lake water level recedes considerably to a meter or two and the water turns deep blue.
Umium Lake commonly known as Barapani is a hotspot for local picnics and outings. Nehru Park, adjoining the lake is a favorite place for lovers and kids while Orchid Resort offers facilities for motorboat rides. The resort was also the venue for the Autumn festival, which is one of the Largest festival in Meghalaya.
Pine trees swayed to the breeze, water lapped on its shores like a small tide. The cool breeze caressed your face and you would wake up from your thoughts and yet still be amazed at the immense body of water in the midst of nowhere.