Two months after the Nepal cabinet met at Mt Everest, government officials in Meghalaya organized a meeting inside a cave in a bid to promote tourism.

The first-of its kind meeting held yesterday at the famous Syndai cave, about 90 km from here, was attended by officials of Jaintia Hills district including the Border Area Development Officer, District Tourism Officer, headmen of various villages and representatives from NGOs besides tour operators, members of the taxi association and others.

“We are focusing on tourism potentiality of the area and we are taking various steps to boost tourism in the whole of the sub-division,” Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Balari Mawlong who chaired the meeting said.

He said the administration and the Tourism department were seeking coordination from various local people including headmen, land owners and NGOs in this regard.

The meeting discussed ways and means to promote tourism in the area.

The 970-m long Syndai cave was used as hideouts during the wars between Jaintia kings and foreign intruders.

The ADC also suggested that the local village councils, NGOs, and the land owner should jointly workout an appropriate plan to properly maintain the caves and other tourist spots in the area so that the income and the living standard of the local people can be uplifted.

Meghalaya is reported to have thousands of caves, most of which have remained unexplored and many of them are unique in nature.

“Most of the caves, concentrated in the Jaintia hills, are not just tourist attractions but also repositories of life forms that are presumed to have been lost elsewhere,” according to noted caver Brian D Kharpran.

Over the years, as many as 118 cave passages have been mapped on the Nongklieh-Shnongrim ridge, around 60km from Jowai in Jaintia Hills district. The area is also known for the longest cave in Asia, the 25-km Liet Phrah Umiam.