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A Day In Mawlynnong – The Cleanest Village Of Asia

August 6, 2011
Contd from Part 1 Shillong to Mawlynnong
                     Part 2:Living Root Bridge Of Riwai
                     Part 3 :Sky View Mawlynnong
Mawlynnong of Meghalaya has won the acclaim of being the cleanest village of Asia in 2003 by Discover India Magazine and also the cleanest village of India in 2005.Cleanliness is almost like an inborn  trait of the residents of this  more than hundred years old village .All its residents can read and write .As you can see in picture – bamboo dustbins called Thapa in local language are placed in every nook and corner of the  village.Every single piece of litter and fallen leaves /flowers are collected here which later are shifted to a pit to be used as manure by the villagers.The village has a very strong and strict council.Smoking is completely banned here.

 The main occupation of the villagers is agriculture and also selling of broom sticks. They mostly grow areca nut. About 82 to 85 families live in Mawlynnong.
Lush greenery all around ,beautiful flowers makes this village a picture perfect place.Like i said in my previous post ,it was like visiting a well maintained Botanical Garden.The council has imposed a fine for anybody found guilty of throwing litter or cutting tress unnecessarily .Each and every house goes through a strict inspection at regular intervals for their sanitation facilities by the village council.I loved walking on these narrow pathways surrounded both side by trees and flowering plants.

 The cute looking  bell at local school.

There was this board mentioning that the village is adopted by this particular bank.As a response to many queries regarding travel information i am providing here few link .1: Ri Kynjai -Serenity by the lake : it is one of the best resort of the state praised by many for it’s  beauty and good services.You can check their rates and eco -tourism based packages  2 :The official tourism website of Meghalaya  3:Hotel Polo Towers : a four star hotel that also offers great eco-tourism based packages I am sure that there are more such options available. I also highly recommend this article written by internationally renowned photographer Timothy Allen , here is the link  Timothy Allen : Living Root Bridges .Henry (i will tell about Henry later in my post) suggested me this link.

The local church which is under some repair work at present .

 We entered into the church campus and looked around.

 Saw some women  most probably local volunteers chatting after performing their regular sweeping and cleaning job .Through out our visit we never heard any loud voices.Residents were very polite and soft spoken.

 Beautiful little cottages – some had installed modern amenities like dish tv antenna .

We tried our best but failed to find any litter anywhere.The place was impeccably clean.My blogger friend Irfan had been to Mawlynnong few weeks back .I thank him for sharing with us his views on that trip here .This is what Irfan expressed -“Honestly speaking before reaching Shillong I didn’t had any idea about Mawlynnong. All I knew in Meghalaya was Cherrapunji as the wettest place of world and some near by tourists places. It was only after reaching Shillong that I came to know about Mawlynnong, “the cleanest village of India”. And the adjective “cleanest village” made me curious to know little more about the place.Because when we think of village, there comes an image of being muddy, dusty and unkempt struck by poor hygiene. Therefore something like cleanest village, that too in such a remote area of India was simply unimaginable to imagine.

The trip to Mawlynnong was just like any trip with in Meghalaya – SPECTACULAR! Breath taking beauty around every turn and in between one can enjoy the views of rock formations, streams, water falls, river beds and the best of all – Lazy village scenes.Once we reached Mawlynnong, I was immediately awe struck by its cleanliness and aesthetic beauty. On first view it was like a fairy tale place that too in India. The view from the 80 ft high bamboo platform is something which has been captured on my mind’s eye. Though it’s not that easy to goat the top and come down but once you reach at the top then it’s a breath taking moment for any body. Imagine yourself swinging with the wind at a height of about 80 ft from the ground. Believe me it’s a life time experience”.

lWe also saw many pineapple plants .The area smelt of pineapple and jack fruit.

To sweep the roads ,clean the drains and water the plants the village council have specially appointed hired help but the free volunteers i.e.residents of the village take turns to sweep the road .We saw this little girl cleaning the playground behind the church.This was  such a contrast to the behavior of some of our city kids who in spite of going to expensive schools throw chocolate ,candy ,chips wrapper just anywhere.
Here we met Henry the best guide and the most helping person around the village.He greeted us with a great smile and asked where have we come from.After knowing that we were there for few hrs he suggested us to come in the month of September for trekking experience.If you ever plan to come here and want to know  more about local site seeing ,trekking and also about accommodation ,you can contact him here at this number  –09615043027 ( *speaks  English/Khasi ). For accommodation you need to call him at least ten -fifteen days before you plan to visit the place.He has helped me many times with information while writing this series.In fact last week he was the one who suggested me to look for Timothy Allen’s article .I can’t thank him enough for that.Timothy Allen too has mentioned him very fondly in his article .

 I loved this cutting tool which was unusual in shape hence took the picture.

 He took us inside his kitchen and showed this barrel like bamboo made thing that they use to dry their washed clothes when there is no Sun in rainy days.

 The heat from the kitchen wood fire helps the drying process he explained.I have seen something very similar in Arunachal Pradesh where people keep their meat mostly goat and beef over the kitchen fire to give smoky flavor .

 A tea addict that i am i was delighted to see this board.

 The board lead us to this tiny cottage .The villagers also rain harvest .We saw few water reservoirs like this there.

 Because they were hungry Chandan ordered lunch for three of them .It was Monday ,my fast day so i just ordered some tea.The cook asked us to wait for twenty minutes as everything was freshly prepared there.

 With their permission i peeped inside the kitchen and was happy to see a clean and nicely arranged working area.
 I still think about the tea that i had that day there – it was perfect .While three of the men waited for lunch i was busy looking around .It was then that i saw Brian standing nearby the guest house.We greeted as we saw each other .He asked me where have we come from and thus the conversation started.I came to know that he was living in Mawlynnong for the past one month .He had arranged a photo contest for the villagers where they can use his camera for clicks and the prize was a basic digital camera.Soon Chandan too joined us in conversation.
 After talking for sometime came to know that we had one thing in common — both of us were bloggers.Let me tell you more about Brian .He is a fresh off finishing a Masters from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. After two years in Washington, DC,as he says in his words ” i am shaking the ants out of my pants with a trip to northeast India and southeast Asia”.Recently his write up on Bhramaputra Dam was published in our local daily Assam Tribune (4th June 2011).You can read more about his Indian and other travel experiences in his interesting blog(do check it) which has an equally   interesting name Jalebi Yatra.Why he named it so …..

To which he replies -“Literally, ‘sweet journey’. Yatra means journey, often to a religious pilgrimage site. Journeys have paths and, if my past paths indicate future ones, then the circular, overlapping shapes of the Indian sweet jalebi  is a good representation of my likely path on this journey. I also love to eat jalebi and expect to have many along the way”.After exchanging contact details we said bye to each other and shook hands twice one as farewell and another for our  common love towards North East .Right now he is in Thailand , got a mail from him this morning where he told me to feel free to use his pictures on my blog .Thanks Brian.

The lunch was ready – it had  chicken curry ,a mixed vegetable preparation , a tomato based chutney with lots of fresh coriander and some rice and dal .The food was simple but cooked and served very neatly.We paid a total sum of Rs 270 for the tea and lunch.Very reasonable.Now we wanted to see Machaan the tree house we had heard so much about .

This lovely lady from a nearby house smilingly offered her help by sending her cute little daughter to guide us to the Machan.
Here emerged sweet Theba ( she had a long name ,i shortened it) .
Awed by her manners and confidence we followed her .
She pointed at the board .Before she went back to her mom i gave her the biggest chocolate bar that i had with me and in a very sweet voice she thanked me .
From distance Machan looked like this .It is also a guest house with a bamboo double bed ,clean linens and a clean bathroom too.
 This is the entrance
 A connecting hanging bamboo bridge
 I noticed these decorations at many houses in the village.
 The dining hall … the smiling care taker .
 The tree house is suspended approxm 60 -80 ft in the air constructed and supported by bamboos .This is the extended balcony again connected by a hanging bridge to the machan.
 We sat there for only few minute as the day was too hot and sweaty.
 Mrs and Mr Saharia .
 We moved back to the parking lot where noticed many cars .We rushed to see the natural balancing rock .

Balancing Rock (Maw Ryngkew Sharatia) was an ancient Khasi shrine that pre-dated the advent of Christianity in Meghalaya.

 A beautiful natural phenomenon of a boulder balancing on another rock.
 Another strange thing that i noticed was that some tree had this foamy appearance .Chandan,Pranab and Dulal all brought up in Shillong told me that they always kept away from such trees in their childhood as the elders told them that it was ‘Jokhini’s Thui’ meaning Witches Spit .lol.
 The day light was getting softer and it was time to head back to Shillong .Soon we left Mawlynnong
(a cavity or dent in the rock) with a wish in our heart to come back again for the trekking experience we missed this time.
  1. Wow, Kavita! This post was like a dessert! So much eye candy and beautiful things to see. Some of that area reminds me of what Hawaii looked like when I was growing up. You won't see it anymore on Oahu. What a terrific place to visit. Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

  2. very wellYou have captured your trip forever.Wish to visit this village.

  3. It is wonderful traveling to India through your photographs. Very beautiful! Thank you for taking us on this marvelous tour.

  4. Kavita, I could spend an hour right here (Well I just did–grin!)Reading your blog posts–with my mouth open–I am spellbound by your perfect shots, and wonderful accompanying discourse. I am blessed to be here–now! Thank you so much.Also thanks for your frequent visits to 4th dimension!(I LOVE this place you have constructed on the Internet!!!)

  5. Yet another superb piece with great pictures.

  6. Estupendas todas las fotos que nos has dejado. Como siempre un placer.Saludos y buen domingo.

  7. ciao bella kavita.querida passei para te desejar um fim de semana maravilhoso!!!e te deixar um gran bacione

  8. Kavita,Read 2 posts now. I feel so sad that while we were in Shillong we missed this. Your beautiful photographs are enticing me to make a visit. Thanks for this virtual trip.Take care

  9. wow! amazingly beautiful…well captured by u..thanks for sharing!

  10. happy independence day… 🙂

  11. Amazing journey – beautiful pictures and equally good narration! It is obvious you have got great eye for capturing moments.I felt as if I am taking a live trip in the area !!! keep up the good work.

  12. Nice pictures and superb place…..

  13. superb place

  14. would also like to visit there


  16. @Manan Mody : thank you so much .1: Accomodation in Mawlynnong is available as bamboo huts but you need to book for it in advance.Here is Henry's phone number -09615043027 ( *speaks English/Khasi ),you can book the hut and talk to him about your plans /place you would want to visit as he is the best guide over there and also a very helpful person.As far as number od days is concerned ,it is up to you -some like to stay for weeks or months but for me three -four days would have been enough.I strongly suggest that you read Timothy Allen's(BBC TRAVEL-PHOTOGRAPHER/REPORTER) article (the link is given on this post only —do check).The best time to talk to Henry would be from 10.00AM to 7.00pm .2: The food9veg if you want) can be ordered as per your choice so I think that should not be a problem.Kitchens are clean there .HAVE A HAPPY STAY AT MAWLYNNONG .

  17. hi kavita ex…ex..excellent pics…..i'll surely visit this village.i stay in kolkata and u know how tiring it's to be in a concrete jungle…at the day end,going thru pics like these is a refreshing begining for another day….u write good i mean interesting to b thru looking forward to have more pics from enchanting north east part

  18. hi kavita like ur taste…infact am crazy bout travelling…thanx for places sugg by u…am eager to have ur email id..if u so wish

  19. lovely pics…..i have visited to Shora bt yet not to the cleanest village…nw m planning to go to this lovely village by this 29th day. can u tell me the nearest tourist spots??

  20. What a blessing you do for us, Kavita, sending this (probably) BEST "post-of-its-class" EVERonce again! This time I'm bookmarking the URL, ptaying that it will never come down, but remain in your archives forever.I spent a half hour in heaven this Sunday morning right here on your 'wonderful one'–of the "Seven Wonders of the Internet"…Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. If I won a lottery (never bought a ticket!) this is where I would go to visit FIRST. Each year I'm loving India more and more!LOVE and PEACESteve

  21. Hi Kavita, Awesome Post.. Actually we were planning an Adventurous tour to Meghalaya and your post has helped in many different aspects which we were confused till date.Here's a link of our itinerary, as you have been to the place so I would request you to kindly spare a few minutes from your busy schedule and have a look at the itinerary and if possible reply with your suggestions and comments if any.Link: you have any contacts for Travel and Stay in Shillong, kindly share the same on my email id given below.Thank you in advance for your valuable time.Best Regards,Mayank A. Sharma+91-9819 350

  22. Hi Kavita, Aww Aww Aww Awesome post.. Actually we were also planning to an Adventurous tour to Meghalaya in December and your post has greatly helped us in many aspects. Thanks a lot for this.Here's a link of our itinerary, as you have been there i would request you to take some time out of your busy schedule and have a look at the itinerary and guide us if we have planned incorrectly in any of the sections.Link: are organizing this trip on our own and arranging all the stuffs on our own. So if you have some contacts in Shillong for Stay as well as Travel then kindly send on the below given mail id.Thanks a lot in Advance.Best Regards,Mayank A. Sharma+91-9819 350

  23. Thank you for all the beautiful pictures and a great post. I have linked your post in my blog where I have tried to put up some basic khasi words and phrases for those who don't speak the language, the link is for visitors to check out the beautiful pictures you've put up. There are so many beautiful places you can visit in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills and since you mention that your husband is from Shillong he would probably be able to take you and we'll see more pictures in the future. If you have not already done, You can probably visit the lakes on the hill in Mawthadraishan, in west khasi hills, absolutely beautiful for those who are into photography, I cannot explain it in words you have to be there to understand. Although I am not based in India, if you are interested get in touch with me I can link you up with people who can probably help make your travel plans smooth.

  24. Kavita: Are there any public transport available from shillong to mawlynnong? If so, what are the timings? Regards,Abhijeet Sarkar.Contact:

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