The Bengalis of Shillong

Excerpt from the book Shillonger Bangali by Shyamaldas Bhattacharyya:

Shillong, ruled by the British for 112 years had a large population of Bengalis till 1972 when the state of Meghalaya was created. The present city was constructed only around one existing village in the vicinity then, Laban, in the 1860s. This city, as known as ‘Scotland of the East’ was the citadel of expanse of the British rule in the North East.

The first Bengali, as recorded, who came to Shillong was the successful trader Golam Haider, who was the supplier to the Raj in Cherrapunji, the district head quarters. he established his ‘Golam Haider and Sons,’ the only departmental store in the centrally located Police Bazar (1878) is also proof of the Bengalis as early settlers in this town.

Thus the author Shyamaldas Bhattacharyya, a former principal of Nongtalang College of Shillong, drives us through the 120 year history of the Bengalis in this unique city. This is a voluminous book (almost 300 crown size pages) written by one who has lived in the deep of the changing socio-economic situation of the Bengalis of this hill state. It’s not a tiring reading because it contains not-so-detailed account of the societal documentation.

The list of content is long and attractive. We name a few – Swami Vivekenanda in Shillong Hills; contributions of Bengali traders in Shillong Hills; Rabindranath in Shillong Hills’ Netaji in Shillong; Bibhuti Bhushan Bandyopadhyay and Shillong; Shillong in Bangla literature.

We recommend this book to them who want to study the growth and development of Bahirbanga Samaj, particularly to them who want to know about the contributions of the Bengalis of Shillong.

Indira Gandhi - Statehood of Meghalaya

The then Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi at Polo Grounds, Shillong, on January 21, 1972 on her way to declare the statehood of Meghalaya.