Wandering through Mawlynnong, a small village in Meghalaya can do wonders. There was a time when I found myself exploring the little place without even realizing that there’s a big fat bag on my shoulders and I have to find a place to stay – a scooter parked on the grassy land of the village, beautiful shrubs hanging outside the strong huts, mulberry soaking in the lawns, chickens and cat walking along the roads and tiny toddlers loitering all over the place. I was lost in the simplicity of the cleanest village of Asia.
How did I begin?
Being at the central point of Mawlynnong you can find a lot of parked cars, tourists buying souvenirs made of bamboo and wood from the local vendors and eating around at a joint – until sunset, this is a common drill. There is a post office which has just opened and is managed by a 22-year-old guy, who has completed his college from Shillong, he gave me a lot of local insights.
Living like locals in the village
‘‘Hello’, a sweet voice came from a kid with his younger sibling on his shoulder and before I could reply, the kids vanished in the streets. Interestingly I found a homestay where the parted super-fast kids live and they greeted me with ‘Hello’ yet again. Their nest was going to be my den, can’t really believe.
I stayed at Ha-la-tyngkong Homestay where the room was amazing, with comfy bed, bamboo table and a neat bathroom. There was a relaxing area outside my room, where I could sit and gaze at the life in Mawlynnong. I could play around with the kids and watch TV in their house too.
One of a kind Tree houses in Mawlynnong
Tree houses are the local attraction which are found on roads and playgrounds. One can climb on it through the bamboo route and view the entire village, the plains of Bangladesh across the border are visible too.
The powerful living root bridge of Mawlynnong
The living root bridge is located on the way to Pynursla in Riwai village, I got a chance to share a cab with tourists who were luckily stopping by there. The bridge stands out so well over the river that none of us could get our eyes out of that magnificent sight.
I want this. I want this.
My quench to have a chilled thing led me to finding the kids’ favourite – mulberry ice cream. A bunch of school kids were eating the ice cream outside a shop and like other kids I wanted the exact same thing. With a childlike excitement, I had the delicious ice cream.
Met the makers of Kwai
Right opposite my homestay I met a woman who had a small wooden plate with a bunch of leaves, betel nuts, tobacco and lime. She told me how they keep removing the hair of the nut until they get an eatable part, then they put a pinch of lime on the leaves, pack them in plastic and sell the energizing substance to the locals. Her shop is open till 10pm.
Ringing of the school bell hanging on a tree
A school inside the church where students were taught English and Khasi by teachers from the village itself. I found a school bell hanging on the tree just outside the school and I totally relived my childhood days as the ringing of the bell coincided with almost all of the students going to the football ground right besides the school to celebrate this small freedom. It is indeed true that the bell’s sound creates a sense of relief in the kids’ mind that is unmatched. In fact, there are 3 schools in the village with a lot of playgrounds in the village.
Appreciating their dedication
Everyone in Mawlynnong is dedicated to maintaining the cleanliness of the village, making it a place unlike the stereotyped village. It is progressing towards a better future – education, basic amenities and road connectivity are all in good shape. After spending time here, one can certainly learn a thing or two from the locals on how to keep your city neat and tidy by dumping any kind of waste in the bamboo dustbins that are placed in every nook and corner. The perfect example of the Swach Bharat Abhiyaan.
The Difficulties in Mawlynnong
Finding a public transport is next to impossible in Mawlynnong as it runs only during the core times, once early in the morning when locals commute to another city for work and the other runs in the evening when those people come back. I begged many tourists to drop me till Pynursla but all my attempts failed. Later I met a teacher from the school I visited on the road and he helped me find a cab with his guests who were going in the same direction. The person who took Rs. 50 for the entry in the village is quite helpful. He drew my travel routes on a paper, that did help me a lot later.
My morning started with the real Kuk doo-koo sound by the chicken outside my homestay, the day began with small chats with my host, it proceeded well with going through the houses, shops and schools and finally the time had come for me to proceed to the remainder of my journey. ‘All the best, Hope you have long happy journey’ – the last words by my host in Mawlynnong.
How to get there?
The nearest city is Shillong, hiring a cab would be the best option, one-way cost is around Rs 1200 in a Maruti 800 local taxi. If on a budget, reach Pynursla from Shillong (50 km away; do not pay more than Rs. 200 when sharing a cab) and then take a cab from here.
Where to stay?
Airbnb is the most helpful source to book your accommodation. However, you can explore the village and look for a homestay – a better idea according to me. I stayed at Ha-la-tyngkong Homestay where the bargain price was 1200 rupees for a night. The price can go upto Rs. 3000.
What to eat?
Jhalmuri, vegetarian and non-vegetarian thalis are available everywhere and mostly include sabzi, gravy, daal and rice.