Where the crystal clear Umngot river flows: Dawki, Meghalaya
A road trip to Dawki is an absolute must on one’s bucket list while traveling to the North Eastern state of Meghalaya. Dawki is a small town along the Indo-Bangladesh border along the River Umngot in the West Jaintia hills some 75 km away from the state capital of Shillong.
The best way to reach the town of Dawki is by renting a car for the day. The road leading to the village passes through gorges, ravines and tiny villages which have more than 15-20 houses and never ending stretches of farmland.
The cool breeze along the way with your favourite music playing in the car and a few fruits is the ideal way to experience the journey from Shillong to Dawki which takes around two and a half hours to reach.
The main attraction in Dawki is the River Umngot that marks the natural separation between the Khasi and the Jaintia Hills. The river can be crossed by a cable suspension bridge that connects India to Bangladesh and facilitates trade between the two nations.
River Umngot is the site for a boat race that is held in March-April, but even otherwise, seeing this large emerald-green serpent water body threading its way through the hills, with fishermen’s boats dotting its surface, right into the plains of Bangladesh, is a sight whose majesty echoes long after you leave it.
A boat ride through the river and one will actually be able to see the bottom of the river even when it is around 15-20 feet deep. River Umngot is so clean that with the reflection of the sun this otherwise deep green lake becomes a colourless and see through river.
Each boat can take a maximum of four people and one fisherman to row. The entire boat ride takes around an hour or so with around 20 minutes on the boat in the middle of the river and the rest on a small island, where one will find plenty of smooth and round boulders and rocks. These make a perfect setting for those wanderlust pictures you need from a trip.
Towards the shallow end of the river, travellers can even get into the water for a quick swim since the current is not very strong. This is an excellent place to take a dip in the cool water while tiny fish swim around your legs. A walk over the cable suspended bridge gives one a beautiful panoramic view of the hills and the Bangladeshi plains.
The road trip to Dawki can be clubbed with a visit to the root bridge village of Riwai and Asia’s cleanest village Mawlynnong. All three places fall on the same route and can be covered in the same day.
It’s best to make Shillong your base and then do a day trip. Accommodation options are available in Shillong, Riwai and Mawlynnong. Shillong has more budget friendly backpacker hostels as compared to the ones in the villages which are home stays but not very light on the pocket.
The best time to visit Dawki is during the dry months from November to April. Monsoon is a bad time to visit Dawki since the river is always overflowing and boating is shut.
A trip to Dawki is one which everyone will enjoy and remember for the rest of their lives. Because it’s not every day that one gets to see a river which is actually crystal clear.
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