East Garo Hills

The East Garo Hills District is one of the seven administrative districts in Meghalaya state in north-eastern India.


The East Garo Hills region was established in 1976, following the erstwhile Garo Hills district of Meghalaya, which had been re-organized with the objective of enhancing accessibility to government services.

The headquarters of the district, which is also its main tourist attraction, was named Williamnagar after the state's first Chief Minister, Captain Williamson A. Sangma. Williamnagar is found on the vast plainlands along the bank of the Simsang River, at Simsanggre. These plainlands are historically significant because they were where the Garos fought their final major resistance to British incursion into Garo Hills in 1837. Pa Togan Nengminja Sangma, also known as Pa Garo, was killed during a battle with the British at Chisobibra near Williamnagar on December 12, 1837.


The total area of East Garo Hills District is 2100 km² and it comprises two subdivisions: Baghmara and Resubelpara. A group of villages in the northern part viz. Nokat, Tikrikilla, Chibinang, Langting etc forms a subdivision known as Noklak.

The area of East Garo Hills District is 2100.00 sq km. As per the census, 2011 total population of the district is 227,817 in which male population count is 122,278 & female population count was 105,539. The total number of house hold in the district is 31,000.


The climate is temperate, with winter temperatures between 10°C and 22°C. The summer temperature ranges between 24°C and 33°C. The average rainfall is 1440 mm, 80% of which falls during the three rainy months from May to August.

Administrative Divisions

The Division of Hill Tracts is divided into five blocks in the east Garo Hills:

  • Dambo Rongjeng: HQ is Rongjeng
  • Kharkutta: HQ is Kharkutta
  • Resubelpara: HQ is Resubelpara
  • Samanda: HQ is Samanda
  • Songsak: HQ is Songsak

Assembly Constituency

The district is part of the Tura (Lok Sabha constituency), which Purno Agitok Sangma has represented in the Lok Sabha, or Lower House of Parliament, since 1975. Purno Agitok Sangma was a former Union Minister who served as Speaker of the Lok Sabha for the only time when he earned unanimous election (during the 11th Lok Sabha). After his death, his son Conrad Sangma has represented this constituency.

Within the East Garo Hills District of Meghalaya, there are three (three) Assembly Constituencies that make up the Meghalaya State Legislative Assembly. The following are the Assembly Constituencies:



According to the 2011 census, the East Garo Hills district has a population of 317,917 people or roughly the same as that of The Bahamas. This places it 569th in India (out of 640) with a density of 122 inhabitants per square kilometre. With a 26.75 per cent rise in residents over the decade 2001-2011, it has one of the country's most distinctive population surges. The sex ratio is 968 females for every 1000 males in East Garo Hills, and the literacy rate is 75.51 per cent.


The Garos are one of the important indigenous hill tribes in Meghalaya. Unlike other parts of India where Hinduism is the predominant faith, the majority of people here are Christian followed by few Hindus. East Garo Hills have more Christians due to its closer proximity to Tura (capital).

The major religion of the Garos is animism, though many have adopted Christianity and Hinduism as their religion.

Rice is the staple food of the Garos, but millet and maize are also used. The staple drink is rice beer, which is served especially on important occasions such as during a cleansing ceremony or at a harvest festival. Millets such as "kongkal" or maize are used to make beer. Pork, chicken and goat meat are the main meats consumed by the Garos, but beef is not eaten because it is considered taboo.

Initiation into manhood: Every seven years in March (Strawberry), an assembly of men go for community hunt twice a year. After the harvest, in October (Mawphlang), a cleansing ceremony called 'Nadirang' is performed by male adults. During this ceremony, the old blood that was clotted during menstruation is offered to 'Bathagari'.

After seven years of waiting, when a girl reaches puberty she has to undergo a festival called "Nadirang". She has to give the ritual that is deemed sacred, at a hilltop surrounded by village maidens who play music on traditional drums. This dance lasts for two days and then the girl returns to her home.


The economy of East Garo Hills District is meant primarily for the people of Meghalaya. The district is rich in coal reserves at Baghmara and has a number of cement factories, including the 4,000 tonnes per day capacity factory of ACC Limited. However, due to the lack of roads and other means to transport products, it is economically backward. However, the reserves of iron and manganese ores prove significant as East Garo Hills is famous for its richness in minerals.


The two main rivers in the East Garo Hills District are Simsang River and Chokpot. These rivers originate at Hathipahari, a tourist spot located near Magam, about 6 km from Baghmara. The area near the river is suitable for bird viewing as it is home to many species of birds, especially white-throated kingfishers.

Simsang River: The Simsang river is the only river in Meghalaya to drain into Bangladesh. It originates from Hathipahari, a tourist resort located between Resubelpara and Baghmara towns in the East Garo Hills district of Meghalaya. This river is famous for its unique features, including high gradient flows and it being the only river in Meghalaya to drain into Bangladesh.

Chokpot River: The Chokpot river originates from Rombukgre near Thamakan Bengre at about 40 km north of Tura town. It drains a total catchment area of around 1500 square kilometres. It finally merges with Simsang river near Dawki town in the Jaintia Hills district. The Chokpot Falls has a drop of about 60 meters and is located on this river, 25 km from its confluence with Simsang River.


Chokpot Falls: It is the most popular waterfall in the East Garo Hills district. Chokpot waterfall is located at a distance of about 28 km from Tura on the way to Umroi. The water falls from a height of 30 meters and flows throughout the year. It is said that the Chokpot waterfall derives its name from the Khasi word 'Chakor Pot', which means "the fall of stones".

Nature Reserves

There are few nature reserves in the East Garo Hills District. These are Baghmara forest, Rongbang Dare, Chelleng Dare, Nokrek National Park and the Siju Cave.

Baghmara Forest: The Baghmara Forest Reserve is located at a distance of about 40 km from Tura. This forest is home to a number of wild animals and reptiles, including the gaurs, barking deer, sambars, wild pigs and monkeys. The Garo Hills Wildlife Sanctuary has been proposed at Baghmara in East Garo Hills district on an area of 1,839 hectares.

Chelleng Dare: The Chelleng Dare waterfall is situated at a distance of 16 km from Mendipathar in the East Garo Hills District, Meghalaya. The falls are formed by the Chokpot river, one of the largest tributaries of the Brahmaputra River.

Nokrek National Park: Nokrek national park is located in East Garo Hills district at a distance of about 40 km from Tura town. This is also the site of the Nokrek biosphere reserve which houses rare Hoolock gibbons, red pandas and other endangered species.

Siju Cave: The Siju cave is located near Rongram, about 40 km from Tura and 8 km from Mendipathar. This cave is known for its large number of bat colonies and it is one of the most famous bat habitats in Meghalaya.

The East Garo Hills District is well known for its rich forests and wildlife reserves. The forest cover here is estimated to be about 87 per cent of the total land area. The East Garo Hills District is home to more than 100 species of orchids, 150 species of butterflies and also a wide variety of reptiles and amphibians.

The fauna found here includes barking deer, serow, sambar, wild boar, giant flying squirrel, gaur (Indian bison), capped langur, wild dog, clouded leopard and panther.

Hot Springs

The hot springs in the East Garo Hills District are found in and around Resubelpara town. These hot springs are commercially exploited for tourism purposes.


The peaks in this district include the Nokrek peak, Rongbang Dare, Do Gongri and Baghmara peak.

Religious Sites

Ram Krishna Mission Souvenir Centre, Duragre: This religious centre is dedicated to the memory of Swami Rama Krishna Paramahansa. The Ram Krishna Mission has been established here in a glorious building with an adjoining large garden.

The other famous temples and churches in this district are:

  • The Siju Baptist Church
  • The Holy Rosary Catholic Church, Baghmara
  • The Roman Catholic Church in Chokpot
  • Chengai Pidim Johnker Parishat at Nokrek Eco-Tourism Park.


Nokrek National Park has a famous cave situated in the East Garo Hills District. The other caves are Rongbang Dare, Chibok Dare, Dain Dare and Siju Cave.

Places of interest in East Garo Hills District

There are several places of tourist attractions in the East Garo Hills District. These include Siju Cave, Chelleng Dare waterfalls, Baghmara Forest Reserve, Nokrek National Park and Chokpot waterfall.


The people of the East Garo Hills District enjoy a rich and varied cultural tradition. Their traditional dress includes cotton shirts, blouses and trousers for men and skirts with shawls for women. The handloom industry is flourishing in this district while there are also handicrafts like cane furniture, bamboo work, wood carving, stone work etc.

Jhum cultivation has been an important occupation of the people in this district. Jhum is a traditional slash-and-burn type of agriculture practice that was prevalent among the tribal communities of Meghalaya, Assam, Manipur and Tripura. This system involved shifting cultivation on mountain slopes. The East Garo Hills District is also known for its rich forest reserves. The Garos are mainly agricultural people. They grow crops like rice, maize, potato and ginger.

Folk Dance & Music/ Festivals

The Garos have a rich and varied traditional dance culture. The dances of the Garos have been derived from their daily activities, such as hunting, farming and war.

Sangken or Elephant Dance: This is among the most important festivals of the Garo community. It is usually held in January every year to express gratitude for a good harvest and to safeguard the community from wild elephant attacks.

Makha Nokrek: This festival is held in April at Siju village which is located in the East Garo Hills District. It is celebrated before the sowing of paddy seeds.

Nomkhan or 'Cheer Khut' Festival: This festival is usually held in October every year. It is the thanksgiving festival of the people after harvesting their crops.

Chad Suklyang or Storing Food for Winter Festival: This festival is celebrated by the Garos during November-December to ensure a good harvest and food supplies for the winter months.

Mol Nokriang or Bean Sprout Festival: This is celebrated with great fanfare in December every year.

Nokrek Tukki-Pel (Hunt the Bird): This festival is performed by young men who go into the jungles in groups and catch a small wild game, birds etc. for food preparation.

Khasi–Pnarsah Pnieng (New Year Festival): This is the most colourful and popular festival of the Garos.


The people of the East Garo Hills District speak Assamese and they use the Roman script.


Roads: The East Garo Hills District is connected by road with Meghalaya and Assam. There are several buses plying between Baghmara of the East Garo Hills District and Guwahati, Shillong, Tura, Williamnagar etc.

Airport: There is an airport at Tura which is situated in the West Garo Hills District.

How to Reach East Garo Hills District?

By Air: The nearest airport to the district headquarters is located at Tura which is situated in the West Garo Hills District.

By Rail: There are several trains that connect Meghalaya with the rest of India.

  • North East Express via Guwahati links New Jalpaiguri (Siliguri), Assam and Lumding, Assam.
  • Intercity-Express links Guwahati to Shillong and New Tinsukia Jn (New DT).
  • Kamrup Express links New Tinsukia Jn (New DT) and Kamakhya Junction, Guwahati and Dibrugarh.
  • Meghalaya Express links Guwahati and Dibrugarh.
  • Shillong – New Delhi Rajdhani via Guwahati connects the capital of the country with Meghalaya.

Best Time to Visit East Garo Hills

  • October to December is the best time to visit East Garo Hills District.
  • January and February are the winter season while March, April and May are summer months.

Districts of Meghalaya

Jaintia Hills Division