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Dawki: The Indian Town Whose Crystal Clear Water Flows into Bangladesh

Dawki

Dawki is a border town between India and Bangladesh, located graciously in the Jaintia Hills of the north eastern state of Meghalaya. It is also known by a few people as Dauki. The greenery of the hills around, the crystal clear water of the Umngot river and the purity of the environment overall will make you fall in love with Dawki.

More often than ever, we have fleeting feelings of being choked by the weight of our own lives. Sometimes we are lucky to have those suffocating moments pass in the distractions of daily life and sometimes, they just turn claustrophobic. However, there is a silver lining – we can twist this numbness into a luckier outcome by abandoning our usual routine at a certain break-even point, and leave for a vacation that soothes and heals us.

In the current post, I will discuss about a quest that refreshes our mind. You might be wondering what is so special about the destination — well, we all heard the phrase “cleanliness is next to Godliness.” Here I’m going to tell you about a route that could have been no cleaner or no more eye-purifying. The only God we’ll be in touch is Mother Nature. We are talking about hamlets in Meghalaya, the abode of clouds. Our final destination is Dawki.

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Dawki is a border town between India and Bangladesh. See the crystal clear water in the picture. Photography by Neer Patra

Dawki: An Overview

Location North-Eastern India
State  Meghalaya, West Jaintia Hills
Mode of Travel Cabs and Buses are fairly regular from Shillong and easy to find
Best Time to Visit  June-September. Avoid the Monsoon,
Temperature Expect 25 degrees as the highest and minimum starts at 15 in moderate seasons. Further fall in temperature depends on the rain.
Weather Conditions The days are of moderate temperature, but the rainfall has an effect.
Nearby Places Cherrapunjee, Mawsynram, Mawlynnong
Accessibility Throughout the year. Road trip in a car or a bus.
Nearest Town Shillong
Highlights Boating, Angling
Budget A two-day trip to this route would take no more than 3K per head. However, it is advisable to extend the trip to 4 days for covering all the highlights of Meghalaya. In total, for a group of 5 people, the trip would not exceed 20K if options are chosen wisely.
Food Options Available Khasi cuisine is a speciality, although other Indian food options are largely abundant.
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The sparkling clear waters at Dawki are an absolute treat for the eyes. Photography by Irtiza Hussain.

How to Reach Dawki ?

You can approach Dawki in a number of ways. The most recommended way would be to arrive and stay at least a night in the beautiful city of Shillong. Nearest railway station is Guwahati and airport is Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, from where you’ll need to take a car or a bus. Contact ASTC just outside the railway station, and you can choose your pick in the best price. The bus will take about 135 rupees per head, which is quite optimal for managing and carrying you through the gorgeous swerves of the road with gorges here and there.

You need to book hotels in advance if you want a hassle-free trip. After reaching Shillong, crash for a night in your hotel or book it for two or three days, considering your itinerary. If you’re planning to visit Cherapunjee, Mawsynram, or want to spend a day on Shillong sightseeing, try to book a central place near Police Bazaar. For our destination, you have to book a car from the plenty of options in Police Bazaar itself, or you can choose a nice option of contacting the Meghalaya Tourism office there. The local people are very helpful and they will give you enough time to solve all your queries.

A bus to the Mawlynnong-Dawki route (with return) will cost you Rs. 500 per head, while a small car would triple the cost. So choose public transport (unless you’re in a group). If you choose to stay the night in either of the mentioned destinations, it is recommended that you strike a deal with the operators.

The Meghalaya tourism bus would leave at 8 o’clock sharp in the morning, and be sure to get ready to get amazed. This article includes the route details via Mawlynnong in case you are aiming for covering all of it. The journey is an average of 95 kilometers (one-way).

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The peaceful city of Shillong. Photography by Lumlung Kamei

 

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Mawlynnong is Asia’s cleanest village. Photography by Diju Champak Nath

 

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Mawlynnong is a fun place to exlore before Dawki. Photography by Gaurab Banerji

The Journey to Dawki: A Personal Musing

Our bus took off from the dead centre of Shillong in the morning. The weather was warm and sunny at first but by the first 20 kilometers, the sky clouded and light drizzles started. Although that made the weather chilly, it was an unbelievable experience as the bus driver very carefully brought us soaring through the clouds. The weather changed with every bend the bus took. When the first cloud came to obscure our views, the guide smilingly commented, “Welcome to Meghalaya.” Her tone did not hide the pun, but instead of laughing, the idea seemed like seeping into our souls.

Our first stop was the living root bridge. A fair warning: reaching the wonderous thing involves almost a good 500 steps, so the factor is to be taken under consideration while climbing down. The root bridge was exactly how it shown in pictures across the internet but the authorities there do not allow people to stand on the bridge for long (for obvious congestion problems) and capture images.

However you can climb up to a spot for watching the little stream running down to be a furious waterfall, or you can carefully step over the rocks to stand inside the water and have your own dose of out-of-the-world feelings.

Next stop was Mawlynnong, although we did get a few minutes with the balancing rock on our way. The God’s own garden was waiting for us with new pleasures. Mawlynnong  is Asia’s cleanest village. Every use of plastic is banned by law here, and the waste policies are strict. Strolling through its streets, you will find amazing details which are bound to make you wish for installing changes in your surroundings. Most of the travelers applaud the management for their sheer perfection.

From the solar panels to the waste management, this hamlet is really a piece of human-inhabited , yet pure nature. You can have good lunch here; the local cuisine is good, but they make other simple Indian dishes as well.  Food is really cheap, service is very good. Usually the food joints are run by women Meghalaya as a whole does not seem to care about stereotypical gender roles. This area is also safe for solo women backpackers.

If you think you can simply not resist yourself for spending at least a day, indulging yourself in the luxury of simplicity, book a homestay here. Dawki isn’t very far from here so you can surely invest a day here. Enjoy the view of sun setting from the top of a tree house, give your lungs the oxygen and eyes the greenery you deserve. Mawlynnong is where the “colors of the wind” materialize in front of you.

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Living Root Bridge. Photography by Rohan Mehta

 

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Dawki is safe for backpackers and gorgeous as a destination. Photography by Mukit Talukdar

Dawki: Where India Flows into Bangladesh

Dawki-Tamabil is an international trade route border. In peak season, about 500 coal trucks transport a day over the Dawki Suspension Bridge built in 1932. The main two points of attraction here is the Bangladesh border (You can roam and run around the no man’s land as long as you want, the BSF are nice and liberal about this) and the Umngot River. This river has a special feature of interest; not only for it “carrying Indian love into the country which was once our own” as quoted by a guide, but it is absolutely crystal-clear!

Although this view would require a bit of luck from your side but from a boat, you can almost see the bottom of the river owing to the clarity. The fish jumping under water and pebbles quivering under clear water are a delight to the human eyes. An association of boats exist there and the rates are subject to your bargain. For 500 rupees, a boatman would give you one hour of flowing upstream – which could feel like floating on nothing at all.

Under the suspension bridge and after crossing it, you will be surrounded by the hills. Umngot runs through the Ri Pnar or Jaintia Hills with Hima Khyrim of Khasi hills, separating the two different ranges. In March-April, an annual boat race is held at Umsyiem. We stayed there until the sun set. The clear river shined, as if responding to the change of the celestial lights.

Some people were angling, hiring small fishing rods. You can try it as well. Some people waded through the river to a rock almost halfway between it. It amused everyone that how they shouted and cheered with joy, jumping on and hugging the rock, finding the little area as their whole new world.

It was truly the most appropriate natural setting to do away with all forced false layers of formality and go wild in the purest literal sense of the word. The huge rocks, so solemn around the swift flowing river, witnessed it with the stark element of contrast. The place was bubbling with human joy, like the fun from far left childhood.

The village of Dawki was a friendly hamlet. The people even offered us the “bhog” or rice cooked and offered to the goddess, as we went there right after the Kali Puja. You can go for a walk, have tea and snacks in local shops there.

The way back to Shillong (or Mawlynnong, if you prefer) was another thrilling ride; from the simple plain-land like topography to twisting and bending between beautiful gorges and ravines after sunset was no less than a thrilling adventure. Mawlynnong-Dawki was the best trip decision we made in the short while, and longed to stay there until we had to come back. Few places in India have that soulful offering for us, and the simple, minimalist arrangement of the trip was the rarest of rare.

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The Suspension Bridge in Dawki. Photography by Shivangi Sinha

 

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A boat ride at Dawki makes you experience serenity. Photography by Lumlung Kamei

Important Aspects to Keep in Mind While Visiting Dawki

Do not rely on digital transactions. Shillong has a few ATMs but in the far away destinations, cash is the key. Withdraw sufficient amount before setting off for the day.

Dress in layers so that sudden drop of rise in temperature cannot hold you down.

Keep umbrellas or raincoats handy. The wettest place on earth, Mawsynram is not very far away and the weather is predicted to be unpredictable. Be it a light drizzle (as we encountered) or heavy, view-blocking rain (hopefully would not occur with a wise choice of month of travelling), you can catch a cold or exploring every nook and corners of beauty can get disrupted.

Find a reliable local person to help you out with important travel decisions. For instance, the tourism office provides the bus with a guide who will inform you about the special highlights about the next place and prepare you for the best experience. The lady who joined in our trip to Dawki as a guide personally took care of every one of us in every spot we got off the bus.

Meghalaya Tourism Office is available in 0364-2226220. If you want to place a booking which is not confirmed, they’ll call you back to know the changed status.

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Dawki : The surreal place. Photography by Carl Coutinho

Happy wayfaring 🙂

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dawki

Aishi Roy

Aishi Roy is a curious being with multifarious special interests. She enjoys fiddling with words and consider fast and intensive reading the best of her superpowers. Aishi occasionally indulges in photography and also tends to get lost in whichever parallel universe she accidentally conjures in her hyperactive brain. She is a passionate traveler who likes to explore new destinations each year.

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