Until about a decade ago, hardly anyone knew about Mawlynnong, the cleanest village of India as well as Asia. Tucked away in the East Khasi Hills about 80 kms from Shillong, this tiny village of a handful of households has won the award of being the cleanest not only in India but in Asia since 2003. In the trail of name and fame came tourists by the dozen who were earlier clueless about Mawlynnong. I had a brief over night stop-over at one of the homestays~ “Bangladesh View” in Mawlynnong and spent the following morning around the village.
The roads are spotlessly clean and so are the spartan village homes. Many households are engaged in making brooms which can be seen hanging in a line outside their homes for drying. Villagers take turn to keep the area clean, carefully picking up every fallen leaf & brushing away every speck of dust.
I had relished the finger licking good Khasi Chicken Curry and Rice the previous evening in the local eatery in the corner. The green board with Do’s and Dont’s for villagers and tourists caught my attention. Cleanliness was a serious business for this small village.The Bamboo baskets at every street corner ensured that even the smallest of Plastic wrappers were not thrown by the roadside. There is a charge of Rs 50/- for visiting the village if you are a day tripper and while many people have doubts about the charge, I pretty much welcome it, since that is the best way to maintain cleanliness for future. I spotted the solar panels for street lights too. After ambling around the entire village, I decided to climb the machan for a glimpse of Bangladesh plains. The Bamboos were tightly held together with rope the entire structure was extremely sturdy. Rs 20/- to climb the man made structure is a good way to ensure regular maintenance for the structure. The eastern sky had a crimson hue alternating with shades of ochre as the sun was peeping out behind the clouds in complete glory.
Living Root Bridge & Balancing Stone:
Living root Bridge is a good 15 minute walk to village Riwai next to Mawlynnong and 5 mins by car. Though similar to the bridges in Sohra, the walk to this bridge from the car park is far less tedious and easier for older and the not so fit. After a 10-20 minute climb down through concrete steps, the actual bridge is seen which falls under Nohwet village.Rubber Trees were grown on two sides of the river and eventually the branches were woven together to make the bridge for easy passage. The bridge hangs over a stream which was dry in winter and rises by several metres almost touching the bridge during monsoon months.
The school going children were all smiles on a holiday and gladly posed for me, recited a rhyme or two, gave me a lesson in history in exchange of me buying boiled eggs and juices from them for breakfast. I dont encourage child vendors at the cost of education but helping family on a holiday is appreciated. I took a super quick stopover at the balancing rock before bidding goodbye to Mawlynnong. A huge natural rock is balancing on a small one. A very old man looks after this place and he sadly mentioned that he is often abused for the Rs 10/- entry fee for such a small sight. It left me sad and disheartened. Let us be responsible and remember someone is earning with dignity, this money goes into a village fund for cleanliness and do our bit.
Mawlynnong is the role model for every Indian village. After suffering through a serious bout of cholera, the villagers decided to take cleanliness seriously around the area and the world sat up and took notice. The Prime Minister of India has repeatedly referred to Mawlynnong effort in cleanliness. A true flag bearer of Swaccha Bharat let Mawlynnong in the East show the way to the rest of India.
- Mawlynnong can be done as a Day Trip from Shillong including Dawki. It will be a 12 to 14 hour day so you need to start very early in the morning by 7am. Cost will be approximately Rs 3000 to Rs 4500 depending on areas covered and type of vehicle
- Shillong to Mawlynnong – 80 kms in 2.5 hours
- Mawlynnong – Sightseeing & Breakfast around 2 hours
- Mawlynnong to Dawki – 35 kms in about 1.5 hours
- Dawki – Boatride & Lunch – 2.5 hours; Add 1 more hour for Tamabil.
- Dawki to Shillong – 82 kms in 3 hours.
- Can be visited round the year. However the best time is from March to August when the rains turn the area into an oasis of varying shades of green
- Contact North East Explorers for planning this trip or write to them at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @northeastexplrs . They did a great job with mine and the young entrepreneur from north east will surely make you comfortable.