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Magical Mawlynnong: Life on Stilts

North East Chronicles: On March 19, we travelled from Shillong to the lovely picture perfect village of Mawlynnong, Meghalaya. The village prides itself on being the cleanest in Asia – and and it’s not an empty boast we discovered!

Well, I never thought I’d get to live in a house on stilts though I’ve harboured the fancy for some time. And I got my wish twice this year : in March and May. But let me tell you the March story first.

Life on Stilts

My wish came true this one night at Mawlynnong – a little village around 90 kms from the town of Shillong : very close to the Bangladesh border.

And why Mawlynnong? You have to see it, gushed a school friend. It’s supposedly the cleanest village in Asia and there’s a tree house with a machan. I was sold as soon as I heard that. Cleanest village sounded interesting too : we were soon to find out that it was a claim they took quite seriously.

I have yet to see a more spic and span and well-maintained village. Cities of today could perhaps learn a few lessons from the folks of this picture perfect little place.

Floral welcome


We meet the village headman Don Bok who helps us settle into the tree house. He also makes sure we have enough food for the night. The house we discover has 2 cosy rooms on either side and a central area. Outside is a sort of verandah, which looks onto the jungle. It’s dark when we reach so all we can see is a huge expanse of nothingness.

Connecting the verandah to the first machan, is a narrow bamboo bridge, which we tread on gingerly, lest it gives way. Of course, it has been made of sterner stuff and takes our combined weight. We park ourselves on the first machan (there’s another smaller one, beyond), and listen to the noises of the night.

It’s been a long day so it’s nice to just relax under the stars, veiled by the leaves of the tree holding you up. We spend quite a bit of time here, just relaxing till it’s time to call it a night.

Chill

The next day, bright and early, we set off to discover the village and its surroundings. We experience the true beauty of the place : little cemented pathways run through the village connecting the houses : many of them on stilts. And at frequent intervals bins (made out of the large oil tins) have been placed to avoid litter.

There are colourful flowers everywhere : each house is a delight in some way or another. A lovely moss covered wall, a bougainvillea framed gate, or a beautiful tree with bright yellow orchids falling out of its arms : the flora in the village adds a colourful and cheery touch to the whole atmosphere. Kids peep out from tiny but neat homes and look at us curiously. They’re incredibly friendly too though we don’t have a common language of communication.

Peekaboo!

Around 15-20 minutes away (the next village) our guides take us to a small structure being constructed (on stilts again!). A few enterprising village women have set about building a small structure that is going to be rented out to visiting tourists. It is poised interestingly : from the little cosy house you can see the plains of Bangladesh stretch out till the horizon. Our guides point out Dawki, which is the border town and just a few kilometers from here.

From there we go to another interesting sight : a living roots bridge. The bigger ones are near Cherrapunjee, but this one is quite impressive too. Spanning across the river, the roots of two huge trees have gotten intertwined and now form a bridge (which has since been cemented and laid with stones) and are used by villagers. There are a few local women and men washing clothes down by the stream under the bridge (a favorite pastime in the North East, we are soon to discover!).

Still waters

From the bridge, our guides (two young men from the village) take us to a waterfall : it’s not very big (no rains yet) : but it’s a pretty little spot. It’s quite a descent to reach the falls from the road through thick foliage and a stony path. The place is peaceful, with butterflies dancing around and the only sound you can hear is the water falling down the rocks. The guides leave us alone while we spend some time relaxing and dipping our feet into the cool waters.

Wings of fancy

After a while, we walk back up the slope again to the road and then back to out tree house to savour our last few moments there. The people are incredibly friendly, including the kids from a nearby school who come out to see us visitors. They’re all chattering one to a dozen and of course we can’t understand a thing.

We meet the village priest, who turns out to be a rather well-travelled gentleman and he says he’s even been to Bangalore with a few of his village folks. He tells us a little bit about the village and then it’s time for us to have our lunch and hit the road again.

Serene

A village far, far awayÒ€¦ Nestled deep within the Khasi Hills, near the Bangladesh border : with its beautiful people, cutest kids and the cleanest roads : and a tree house to make our stay memorable. A village that will definitely live in my memories for a long, long time to come.

For details on accomodation, please contact Deepak Laloo on 09436100856\ 09863021069.

The Mawlynnong Album

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45 Comments

  1. Wow!helluva place. House on stilts and live roots bridge..what would not i give up to be at this place? Am anxious to know this,how do you manage to leave this place?
    Not to mention ur writing and pics. both are dandy.

  2. Pedro says

    Heaven can’t be better !

    Great place and photographs. Wish I’d kown about Mawlynnong earlier.

    How far is it from Shillong ?

  3. Lovely! Thank you, Anita. You have such an eye and talent for wonderful photos.

  4. Pingback: DesiPundit » Archives » Mawlynnong

  5. A clean village – Hats off to the Mawlynnong’ians for making this happen and good to get a post from you on the Eco – friendly village along with good photos….U r a true ambassador for NE !!!

  6. Ashwat says

    Really good post and excellent photography. I hope your trip is one of several steps to integrate the north-east with the rest of the country.

  7. Lovely pictures! And the village sounds delightful. Especially loved the root bridges…

  8. Mark: Didn’t feel like leaving the place! It was beautiful and so peaceful. And the house was really nice πŸ™‚ Will go back sometime again!

    Pedro: Well said!! It’s a 2-3 hour drive through curvy roads πŸ™‚

    Louis: Are you from there?

    Suz: Thank you!!

    Mehak: Absolutely, you must visit sometime!

    vinod: am trying to be πŸ™‚ hope more people will visit!

    Ashwat: thank you. i’d really like to do that through my travel, writing and photography.

    Manjunath: thanks!

    N: it was a delightful place. and the bridges were amazing – another first sight for me!

  9. Amazing place. I will be visiting India this June/July and I hope I can make it to this place. I wonder if it is ok to visit during the monsoon?

  10. sbora says

    Your post and the photos were absolutely heartwarming!!! Keep them coming…I can’t tell you how much you are making me miss HOME…but its all good!

    Sukanya

  11. Hey Anita, this is great that you had an opportunity to check out N.E. But i would like to comment that N.E is incomplete if you have not visited Nagaland and Manipur.

    Nagaland has amazing places like Footzero, mukokchung, Mao, Kohima (especially the war cemetery), Dima Pur (a ting of assam culture).

    Manipur – Imphal (especially the war cemetery), Chura Chand Pur (visit the Lok Tak Lake), Ukhrul, if you are lucky More (the last town in India, touching Tambu in Burma).

  12. Hi Friend…..

    We have just released an Indian Blogs Directory. We plan to develop the largest online Indian Bloggers Community. So please go ahead and include your blog into our directory. You can link to us or write about us on your blog. Not mandatory for submission though.

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  13. Agnija: It’s a great time to visit!! just make sure you take a raincoat, umbrella and gum boots!
    and enjoy the rain πŸ™‚

    sbora: thank you sukanya! what is home? shillong?

    Krish: i have been to nagaland and manipur already. but will definitely visit again! could only do this much in 15 days!

    India Counts: sure!

    manasa: thank you!

  14. Hi Anita,
    I recently bought canon S3 IS camera. I wish to know if there are any photography classes.

  15. hi manasa, you can check out: http://www.bsoap.com (conducted by anand sharan, i had taken this two years ago) or try at the alliance francaise (helmut conz is the name of the teacher – his contact number should be either on their board or their reception). best of luck!

  16. czparpia says

    Anita, i am not a blogger but a blog reader. who knows some day? meanwhile thank you for your glorious photos and prose! Some time if you could pl share how you organised your tour of the NE? and the names of the tour guides etc. what a delightful place Mawlynnong. We just returned from 2 weeks in France, Dordogne area, the cleanliness and the orderliness of even the tiniest villages there was an inspiration…such civic pride. ciao

  17. jessica says

    i visited the village last year,n i agree,its so beautiful!n gr8 photographs

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  19. Hi:

    I am heading to Assam and Meghalaya next month, and was wondering can I just reach Mawlynnong and find an accommodation there .. I usually don’t book my acco. before hand and can sack it out… but since my mum is coming along wanted to have a better idea of whether i could just head there and find a place.

    Thanks!
    Anu

  20. Deepak Laloo says

    Great photos, justified write up, some corrections though, distance is about 90 kms from shillong, for more details and accomodation bookings contact self. Phone 09436100856\ 09863021069. Carbon dating will soon be done to determine the age of the bridge. Visit to a neighbouring village about 3 hours walk are living roots ladder, 2 of them spiralling down a cliff face for 50-60 ft same concept as the bridge.

  21. Rajarshi Dutta Choudhury says

    I was fortunate to spend a night and two days in mawlynnong with my family and I agrre that it is a paradise on earth, if ever there is one. I really enjoyed PEACE there. Will definetely be back soon and many more times.

  22. I was born in Guwahati and am returning to the area for the first time in 50 years-leaving in 1.5 weeks. Your blog and absolutely stunning photos have made me so excited for this trip. Thank you for sharing your work with all the other would be travellers of the world. My name BTW is my Garo baby name that never left me.

  23. Lovely experience I see. So many places..so little time. one should travel all the time. I will quit my job one day and start travelling.

    Thanks for sharing. lovely write up, and photographs; I like always.

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  27. hi courtsey u i visited the place can i copy ur write up and post it on indiamike for benefit of my travel gurus at that forum. there is no information so far on mawlynnong at that forum and as u may have seen iam not too good with my writing skills punctuation expression etc but woul love to share the info with others of the forum and yours is a wonderful blog

  28. RUDY says

    Hi anita,
    Nice to see people are actullay visiting their own place rather visiting a forign country..I have been to Mawlynnong quite a lot of time..Just i am daring to add that tehre are so many trekking trails near the village and itsbeen aboslute pleasure to be there..keep on travelling..

  29. jonias says

    Blessed to all the villagers of Mawlynnong. I also I feel so proud about Mawlynnong, lets take an example from this very small village of Meghalaya. Mawlynnong is my neighbouring village, its just 9km from Pynursla, and there is a farm where a strawberry was grown and the strawberry was very sweet and tasty that village was named as Mawpran village. if you gone to Mawlynnong you should step to Mawpran village also and take home the sweet strawberry from Mawpran.

  30. Janet says

    A truly recommended place, one must also visit the Krem Swang and Pomshutia falls nearby.
    We are exploring more villages on this line and will update the same soon.

  31. Phrang Roy says

    A truly lovely place and the rubber roots bridge should teach us a lesson that we need to be serious about our heritage and the knowledge that has been passed down from generations. There is beauty and bounty in our nature and let us keep and treasure it. My only distraction was huge areas of moncropping of “jharu grass” or broom grass as you approach the village. This search for income will surely be at the expense of our biological diversity and it will kill some of our medicinal plants and even bees and the traditional livelihood of beekeeping.

  32. sumit says

    i want detail about rural home stay especially in north-east but how? call me 09425605432 Bhopal, sumit

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