I don’t know if it sounds good to be offbeat at the very beginning of any rhythm, but I have to. I want to apologize for the irregularity. I beg your pardon for the inconvenience. If you are following my Meghalaya series, Please read all the posts from the Meghalaya section.
Now If you google for the must visit places in Meghalaya or even India you will find the “Asia’s Cleanest Village” on the top half of the list, also referred to as God’s Own Garden. It is Mawlynnong whose literal meaning is “Balancing Rock” in Khasi. On 2003 this small village became visible since it pulled off the prestigious appellation of ‘Cleanest Village in Asia’ by Discover India Magazine.
We started late from sohra , so we decided to skip a few places and go directly to Mawlynnong. A 92kms long road leading towards Mawlynnong was an episode of traversing the galaxy as it passed through one of the most beautiful landscapes of Meghalaya. There are forests, gorges, cliffs, valleys, waterfalls – actually I wonder what it does not acquire. The road was in fairly good condition and we played my road trip playlist on my portable speaker, and that turned our mood to the next level. After a few kms we added what was missing on that trip, a sip of chilled beer. We reached the village at around 7pm, so we couldn’t see that much. But, what I could observe was that the villagers are very dedicated and serious about their village, and the village was pretty neat. We had been provided with a bamboo hut (home stay) but to my surprise, that hut was kind of a 3-star room.
Some YouTube videos did help me to know that every morning; all the villagers gather and start cleaning up the village. To witness such a rare sight, I woke up early at around 6 am to take a few rounds of the village. But, what I came across was unexpected. In the morning I didn’t find a single villager on the road and naturally I felt the village to get a bit hyped. Yes, it’s indeed very beautifully decorated like every house has a garden in front of their door which was fabulous to look at but this could not be the cleanest village, I mean not that superlative to be termed as, I thought. After strolling around the village for nearly 2 hours, the shops started to open and villagers started to be visible on the road. Thus, I came to know that they are late risers. This village is at the border of Bangladesh. All food items to this village (including eggs, vegetables and rice etc) do come from Bangladesh. Since this place a little bit lower in altitude it is very humid.
People of the village are very cooperative, almost every house has lodging & fooding facilities. Though the foods are a bit over priced. Their main business runs by bamboos. You could find a lot of local shops selling homemade bamboo items. They are very proud of their cleanliness and can surely have something to make other villages to envy of.
First, we went to visit the Balancing Rock from where it got its name. A strange natural phenomenon of a big rock balanced on another tiny rock. What a dialectic of nature!
From there we went to visit the main attraction of the village Sky View, which is a point constructed out of bamboo sticks at the top of a giant tree. It was nearly 80 feet high, and we could see the plains of Bangladesh from there as nearly as two forcefully divided country fear to think of. It was pretty a high point and a bit scary too when you look straight down.
For those who can’t go to Nongriat for them, this place was very special, because you can find another root bridge here which is a 15-minute walk. It is made by twisting the roots of the gigantic rubber tree. The roots make a pathway across a stream, making it easy for villagers to commute. These bridges are unique to Meghalaya. The hardy roots slowly grow to form a cantilevered and intertwined mesh that is used as a bridge over waterways.
Though you may find this village to be a dream destination, I felt it to be a bit fishy as everything looked over perfect within the village. First I oppose to call it a village; it rather looked like an Eco-Friendly habitat or a recent settlement. The houses are not very old and kind of looked newly built to me. I didn’t find a single Cow or even a pig in the village just a few hens were here and there. Every home had a home stay, a real astonishment. Another question that came to my mind- How the villagers are getting money for their livelihood? (Max to max 100-200 tourists visit the place every day and 15-20 people stay there). My personal feeling is that the place is planned first and then built to make it a tourist destination.
PS: These are completely my feelings extracted out of my common sense. They may be wrong as well. And if it is the case; my apologies are well packed to be presented.
Mawlynnong, located about 90 km from Shillong and 92 kms from Cherrapunjee can be reached by road. It costs you around 2500-2800 in Alto.
Staying Options :
Every home has Home Stay options. No fixed rates. They will charge you around rs 2000-3000. Foods are also very expensive.
Best Time to Visit: Monsoon days.