Did you know that Umiam Lake is one of the largest man-made lakes in India and has a fascinating legend behind its creation? Located about 15 km from Shillong, the capital city of Meghalaya, Umiam Lake is a mesmerizing sight that welcomes travelers on their way to the hill station.
The lake was formed in 1965 as part of the Umiam Umtru Hydro Electric Power Project, which was the first of its kind in Northeast India. The lake covers an area of about 220 square km and is surrounded by lush green hills and pine forests. It is also a popular tourist destination that offers a variety of activities for all ages and interests, such as boating, water sports, picnicking, birdwatching, photography, and staying at a boathouse or a resort.
In this article, we will explore Umiam Lake’s history, attractions, activities, and accommodation options, as well as some tips and tricks to make the most of your visit.
History and Legend of Umiam Lake
Umiam Lake was created in 1965 as part of the Umiam Umtru Hydro Electric Power Project, which was the first hydroelectric project in North East India. The project was initiated by the Assam State Electricity Board (ASEB) with the assistance of the Government of India and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
The project involved the construction of a dam across the Umiam River, which is a tributary of the Brahmaputra River. The dam is 2200 feet long and 95 feet high. It has four turbines that generate 60 MW of electricity. The dam also provides irrigation water to nearby areas.
According to a local legend, Umiam Lake was formed by the tears of a heavenly sister who lost her way while descending to earth with her sibling. The story goes that two sisters wanted to alight from heaven and visit Meghalaya. However, one of them lost her way and could not find her sister. The other sister cried so much that her tears formed a lake. The name Umiam means ‘water of tears’ in Khasi language.
Umiam Lake is not only a historical and cultural landmark, but also an ecological hotspot that preserves the local traditions, folklore, and biodiversity. The lake hosts several festivals, rituals, and ceremonies that celebrate the rich heritage and culture of the Khasi people.
One of the most famous festivals is the Nongkrem Dance Festival, which is held every year in November at Smit village near the lake. The festival is a thanksgiving ceremony to the Almighty God for a good harvest and peace. Another festival is the Behdienkhlam Festival, which is held every year in July at Jowai town near the lake. The festival is a propitiation ceremony to drive away evil spirits and diseases. The lake is also home to various flora and fauna that add to its beauty and diversity. Some of the plants that can be found near the lake are orchids, ferns, mosses, lilies, and pine trees. Some of the animals that can be seen near the lake are migratory birds, fish, turtles, otters, and monkeys.
Things To Do at Umiam Lake
Umiam Lake offers a variety of activities for all ages and interests. Whether you are looking for adventure, relaxation, or education, you will find something to suit your taste at this amazing destination. Here are some of the things you can do at Umiam Lake:
One of the most popular activities at Umiam Lake is boating. You can enjoy a relaxing boat ride on the calm waters of the lake and admire the scenic views of the hills and forests. You can choose from different types of boats such as pedal boats, canoes, kayaks, or speed boats. You can also rent a boat for an hour or a day and explore the lake at your own pace.
If you are looking for some thrill and excitement, you can try some water sports at Umiam Lake. You can indulge in activities such as water skiing, scooting, river bus riding, or yachting. These activities are fun and exhilarating and will give you an adrenaline rush. You can also learn some skills from trained instructors who will guide you through the process.
If you want to spend some quality time with your family or friends, you can plan a picnic at Umiam Lake. There is a park adjacent to the lake that has a playground, a garden, and a restaurant. You can bring your own food and drinks or buy some from the stalls nearby. You can also enjoy some games or music at the park and have a memorable time.
If you are a nature lover or a wildlife enthusiast, you can go for birdwatching at Umiam Lake. The lake attracts many migratory birds from different parts of the world, especially during the winter season. You can spot some rare and exotic birds such as hornbills, kingfishers, ducks, geese, herons, egrets, and cormorants. You can also take some stunning photos of these birds and their habitats.
If you are a photography buff or a hobbyist, you can capture some amazing shots of Umiam Lake and its surroundings. The lake offers a splendid backdrop for photography, with its clear blue water, green hills, pine forests, and colorful flowers. You can also catch some spectacular views of the sunrise and sunset over the lake and create some magical memories.
Staying at a Boathouse or a Resort
If you want to experience the ultimate luxury and comfort at Umiam Lake, you can stay at a boathouse or a resort that overlooks the lake. The boathouse is a floating accommodation that offers two bedrooms with attached bathrooms, a living room, and a balcony.
The boathouse also has a dining facility that serves delicious food and drinks. The resort is a land-based accommodation that offers cottages, rooms, and suites with modern amenities. The resort also has a restaurant, a bar, a spa, and a conference hall. Both the boathouse and the resort provide stunning views of the lake and the hills and offer a serene and peaceful atmosphere.
Best Time to Visit Umiam Lake
Umiam Lake is a year-round destination that can be enjoyed in any season. However, depending on your preferences and goals, you may want to choose a specific time to visit. Here is how Umiam Lake changes with different seasons:
Summer is the ideal time to visit Umiam Lake if you are interested in water sports and boating. The weather is pleasant and sunny, with an average temperature of 23°C. The water level is high and suitable for various activities. However, you may also face some drawbacks such as sunburn, crowds, and higher prices.
Monsoon is the time to visit Umiam Lake if you are looking for scenic views and lush greenery. The weather is cool and rainy, with an average temperature of 20°C. The lake receives heavy rainfall that enhances its beauty and freshness. However, you may also encounter some challenges such as landslides, road closures, limited activities, and lower water level.
Winter is the time to visit Umiam Lake if you are fond of birdwatching and photography. The weather is cold and clear, with an average temperature of 15°C. The lake offers clear views of the hills and the forests. You can also spot many migratory birds that flock to the lake during this season. However, you may also face some difficulties such as fog, cold nights, limited activities, and lower water level.
Spring is the time to visit Umiam Lake if you love flowers and fresh air. The weather is warm and pleasant, with an average temperature of 22°C. The lake is adorned with colorful flowers that bloom in this season. You can also enjoy birdwatching and photography during this season. However, you may also deal with some issues such as moderate prices, moderate crowds, moderate water level, and moderate activities.
Based on these factors, we recommend that you visit Umiam Lake in spring or summer if you want to enjoy the best of both worlds.
How to Reach
Umiam Lake is a beautiful man-made reservoir that is located about 15 km north of Shillong, the capital city of Meghalaya. It is a popular tourist destination that offers a variety of activities and attractions for visitors. If you are planning to visit Umiam Lake, here are some ways to reach it from different parts of India:
The nearest airport to Umiam Lake is the Shillong Airport (Umroi Airport), which is about 13.7 km away from the lake. You can take a flight from major cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, or Guwahati to Shillong Airport. From there, you can hire a taxi or a bus to reach Umiam Lake.
The nearest railway station to Umiam Lake is the Guwahati Railway Station, which is about 54 km away from the lake. You can take a train from various cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, or Bangalore to Guwahati Railway Station. From there, you can take a bus or a taxi to reach Umiam Lake.
Umiam Lake is well-connected by road to Shillong and other cities of Meghalaya. You can take a bus or a taxi from Guwahati or Shillong to reach Umiam Lake. The lake is located on the Shillong-Guwahati highway and has a park and a restaurant nearby. You can also drive your own car or bike to reach Umiam Lake.
Tips for Visiting Umiam Lake
Umiam Lake is a beautiful and fun place to visit. However, to make your trip more enjoyable and hassle-free, you should follow some tips and tricks that we have compiled for you. Here are some of them:
1. Carry warm clothes as it can get chilly in the evenings. The temperature can drop to as low as 10°C at night, so you should be prepared for the cold weather.
2. Wear comfortable shoes as there are some steep slopes near the lake. You may have to walk or climb some stairs to reach the lake or the park, so you should wear shoes that are suitable for the terrain.
3. Avoid littering and respect the local culture and environment. Umiam Lake is a precious natural resource that supports the livelihood and well-being of the people and the wildlife. You should not throw any garbage or plastic into the lake or the park. You should also be mindful of the customs and beliefs of the Khasi people who live near the lake.
4. Book your boathouse or resort stay in advance as they are in high demand. Umiam Lake is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, especially during weekends and holidays. You may not find a vacant boathouse or resort if you do not book your accommodation beforehand.
5. Carry cash as there are no ATMs or card machines nearby. Umiam Lake is located in a remote area that does not have many facilities or services. You may not be able to use your debit or credit cards to pay for your activities, food, or transport. You should carry enough cash with you to avoid any inconvenience.
6. Carry a camera or a phone to capture the stunning views of the lake and the hills. Umiam Lake is a photographer’s paradise, with its clear blue water, green hills, pine forests, and colorful flowers. You can also catch some spectacular views of the sunrise and sunset over the lake and create some magical memories.
7. Carry some snacks and water as there are no shops or restaurants nearby. Umiam Lake is a secluded place that does not have many options for eating or drinking. You may get hungry or thirsty after enjoying your activities or exploring the lake. You should bring some snacks and water with you to keep yourself hydrated and energized.
8. Check the weather forecast and road conditions before you travel. Umiam Lake is affected by different weather conditions and seasons, which can impact your travel plans and experience. You should check the weather forecast and road conditions before you travel to avoid any surprises or delays. You can use online platforms such as AccuWeather or Google Maps to get updated information about the weather and road conditions.
You may also like to check out: Umiam Lake: Heavenly Gateway to Shillong, Meghalaya
In this article, we have explored Umiam Lake’s history, attractions, activities, and accommodation options, as well as some tips and tricks to make the most of your visit. We have learned how Umiam Lake was formed as part of a hydroelectric project and how it has a legend behind its creation.
We have also seen how Umiam Lake offers a variety of activities for all ages and interests, such as boating, water sports, picnicking, birdwatching, photography, and staying at a boathouse or a resort. We have also discussed how Umiam Lake changes with different seasons and what are the advantages and disadvantages of visiting it in each season. Finally, we have shared some tips and tricks for visiting Umiam Lake that can make your trip more enjoyable and hassle-free.
So, what are you waiting for? Plan your trip to Umiam Lake today and experience its beauty and charm for yourself. Or if you have already visited Umiam Lake, share your thoughts and feedback with us in the comments section below.