Shillong and the entire East Khasi Hills in Meghalaya have turned pink this month. For this is the time of year when the cherry blossoms bloom, dotting the rolling green hills with shades of pink and white.
Prunus cerasoides, or the Wild Himalayan cherry tree, blooms in autumn, unlike its cousins in Japan and Korea, which flower in spring. The tree is native to the Himalayan region but grows abundantly in Shillong. In the 1980s, it was planted on a big scale by the forest department for aesthetic reasons. And it’s taken root.
“When you spend your first autumn here, the city surprises you with this pink explosion. You can’t just ignore the sights as you drive up and down the hill roads,” says Ajay Nayak , consultant, North East Slow Food & Agrobiodiversity Society (Nesfas), who moved to Shillong from Mumbai in 2014.
From 14-17 November, Meghalaya will celebrate this mass flowering with night walks along Shillong’s Ward’s Lake, a popular tourist spot, under illuminated cherry blossoms. There will also be food festivals, fashion shows, archery contests, rock concerts and other cultural events. Other city locations for cherry-blossom walks are the sericulture farm (Lawsohtun), 101 Area, Seng Khasi College, Lawmali, and Pine Walk Cantonment.