A tiny picturesque hamlet in Meghalaya, the Mawlynnong village was hardly known to anyone until it was tagged as ‘Asia’s cleanest village’ by Discovery India magazine in 2003. It garnered a lot of public attention after getting such a recognition. And, this led to the village turning into one of the major tourist attractions in Meghalaya.
Inhabited mainly by Khasi tribes, there are close to 100 families living in this village. It is located some 90 km away from Shillong in the East Khasi Hills district.
You can easily reach here by a cab from Shillong and Cherrapunji. If you are contemplating a visit to Mawlynnong village, here is a list of 8 things you should know before visiting here.
A Quick Glance Through
- What Makes it Different
- Things To Do and See
What Makes it Different
1. Cleanliness is The Way of Life
True to the moniker it has earned, the villagers are highly conscious about the cleanliness of their place and the surroundings. Not even a single piece of trash can be found on the roads. The entire village is equipped with bamboo trash bins.
What is most impressive is the collective cleaning responsibility of all residing in this village. Unlike large cities, where dwellers are used to getting such services from the municipal bodies, villagers own it up completely.
2. God’s Own Garden
Mawlynnong village is also described as ‘God’s Own Garden’. Almost every house in the village has a garden dotted with flowering plants.
The widespread greenery adds to the ethereal charm of this impeccably clean village. It looks even greener and prettier during the monsoons.
I stumbled upon this board placed in the middle of the village, proudly displaying the sobriquet ‘God’s Own Garden’.
3. Eco-friendly Living
Littering, plastic usage and smoking are strictly banned by the village community. This applies to residents as well as tourists. Not only adults but young children also participate in community cleaning and sanitation activities. You can see bamboo dustbins placed outside every house in the village.
They follow innovative methods of waste management, such as using tree leaves and biodegradable waste for making manure. Their innate devotion to green and clean surroundings is commendable.
4. Featured in PM’s Radio Talk
This village also found a mention in Prime Minister’s monthly radio talk ‘Mann ki Baat’ in 2015. PM Narendra Modi lauded Mawlynnong village by saying:
“I was happy to know that in our country there is such a village in the Northeast, in Meghalaya, which is passionately carrying forward the mission of cleanliness for years. It has become the habit of the residents to maintain cleanliness”.
It helped bring even more fame and glory to the village. Many tourists flock to sneak a peek at Asia’s cleanest village.
Things To Do and See
1. Balancing Rock of Mawlynnong
Merely a kilometer away from the village is the balancing rock of Mawlynnong. A large boulder resting on a much smaller stone without losing its balance is what intrigues the onlookers.
Locals say that the two boulders have remained in this position since ages. Even earthquakes or storms have not been able to move these stones from their place.
The formation is popularly also known as shark’s jaw. Upon carefully perusing from the sides, it resembles the jaws of a shark.
In the local Khasi language, it is referred to as Maw Ryngkew Sharatia. This used to be a revered site for the native tribes during olden days. I casually asked the person at the ticket counter to find out more about the place. And, I was taken aback by what he told me.
Once in a year on a special day, the boulder rises from the ground for a few minutes and appears floating in air. Though, this is not proven and may be a local belief.
2. Trek To The Living Root Bridge
Living root bridge is an equally popular attraction of Meghalaya as the Mawlynnong village itself. It is nestled in the dense rainforests of neighbouring village Riwai.
At the entry point of Mawlynnong, the road splits into two, one leading to Asia’s cleanest village and another to the root bridge.
Once you reach the village of Riwai, there is about a 400 meters moderate hike through the forests to get to the bridge. There is a small entry fee to visit here.
This incredible architecture epitomizes a unique collaboration between nature and humans. It has been constructed using the aerial roots of rubber (Ficus elastica) trees.
Over a period of time, the roots are grown in a particular direction and the strong roots are tangled with each other to produce a robust structure.
It may take 10-15 years to build such a bridge which can support a considerable weight. Roots keep growing and strengthening with time. I learnt from a local that these structures can last as long as even 500 years.
Beside the bridge, you can also enjoy excellent views of the Riwai falls which flows through the rocks below the bridge.
3. Tree Top Viewpoint
Smack at the entrance of the village, a tree top viewpoint catches attention. It is a traditional structure that is made of bamboo and haystack. The viewpoint offers panoramic vistas of Mawlynnong and plains of Bangladesh.
I heard from some travelers that there used to be a tree hut earlier at this place. Apparently it got destroyed a few years ago due to heavy rains.
Nonetheless you can still enjoy the stunning views from the tree top. Avoid visiting this viewpoint during monsoon as the bamboo pathway leading to the tree top turns slippery.
4. Homestay for Your Sojourn
Many families in this small village host guests at their place. Away from the clutter of the cities, Mawlynnong homestays offer a peaceful stay. One can relish authentic home cooked Khasi food prepared using local spices.
It also gives opportunities to experience their eco-friendly ways at close quarters. Homestays are smaller and usually meant for accommodating a small group of travelers.
This village has a 100 percent literacy rate and most of the people can speak English. Guests usually do not face language issue in conversing with their hosts during homestay.
How To Reach Mawlynnong Village
Guwahati is the nearest city to arrive by train or flight. Thereafter it is almost a 5 hours road journey to Mawlynnong village. Cabs are easily available for hiring from Guwahati city. It is well connected by road from Shillong and Cherrapunji as well.
Nearby Places To Visit
One of the wettest places on earth, Cherrapunji is nearly 2.5 hours drive from the village. It is home to many gorgeous waterfalls and gigantic caves of Meghalaya.
Nohsngithiang falls, also known as Seven Sisters falls and Nohkalikai falls are some of the must-see waterfalls in Cherrapunji. Plunging down 1,115 ft (340 m) high cliff, Nohkalikai falls features amongst the highest waterfalls in India.
You may also like: Top 12 Highest Waterfalls in India That You Must Visit
Shillong is also not more than 2.5 hours drive by cab. From beautiful gardens to scenic waterfalls, the capital city of Meghalaya has a lot to offer. Check this post, if you are interested to know more about exploring Shillong: 12 Most Enchanting Tourist Places in Shillong.
Krang Suri falls is another beautiful attraction which is some 65 km away from Mawlynnong village. Nestled in the Jaintia hills, it leaves the visitors awestruck by its unparalleled natural beauty. Check this post to find out more about this falls: Krang Suri Falls – Truly A Sight To Behold.
Over To You Now…
Apart from being a fabled tourist destination, Mawlynnong village serves as an inspiration for many other villages. Have you visited the cleanest village of Asia? Tell us in the comment section below.
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