Meghalaya has always sparked a sense of curiosity among the travel community because of its hidden and offbeat places. Umngot River is one such example that will compel you to make a visually stunning journey to a place tucked far away from human civilization.
If you are a sucker for surprises, then head to Meghalaya’s Dawki town which is one of the gateways to Bangladesh. This quaint town has a secret of its own and it’s the Umngot river which has intrigued travellers for a long time.
So, if are willing to pluck a page straight out of the book of masterpieces in India then visiting Umngot river will be one of the best decisions of your life.
A ‘Crystal clear’ journey
Have you ever come across a picture on social media which shows a boat floating on crystal clear water? This is what travellers will see when they visit one of the cleanest rivers in India. Umngot River, Meghalaya is known for its crystal clear that serves as a natural division between Khasi and Jaintia Hills. This river finally flows into Bangladesh and acts as a border between both the countries.
After a beautiful and long journey to this paradise, you will notice colorful snake boats lined up on the shore. If you want to glide on this fluid crystal surface, hop on one of the boats and go on a ride which will not take more than an hour. These boats can only accommodate 4-5 people at a time.
During this ride, you will notice that the riverbed of Umngot is filled with colorful rocks and pebbles. The fisherman will also take you to a small island where you can capture some amazing pictures to show off on your social media profile. Upon reaching the island, you can dip into the water towards the shallow end for a swim only if the current is not very strong.
Umngot River: A thread between two countries
You will also glide below the Dawki Bridge, a cable suspended platform that facilitates road trade between India and Bangladesh. The bridge was constructed by the Britishers in the early 1900’s. However, only one vehicle can pass at a time. The Dawki Bridge leads to the official border shared by both the countries.
Note: After a certain point, the boat will turn back because tourists are not allowed to cross the BSF guarded border that separates India and Bangladesh.
How to reach
Shillong is closest to Umngot River, Dawki. The fastest route is via NH206. You can either hire a taxi or board a local bus. On your way to this quaint little town, you will come across tiny villages and farmlands. It is advisable to make Shillong your place of stay you will be able to complete your trip within a day’s time.
Distance: 65 km
Time: 2 hours
An alternative to Shillong is Guwahati. This city’s airport is connected with all major flight routes and easily accessible by train. If you have time to spend, Guwahati will be an ideal choice. The fastest route is via NH6 and NH206.
Distance: 175 km
Time: 5 hours
Best time to visit
The best time to visit this Northeastern marvel is between October- April or May. You can also go and visit the living root bridge. When the monsoon season sets in, the water level rises and boating activities are suspended. Due to the rise in water levels, the tiny island also gets submerged.
If you are feeling lucky, this trip can be coupled with a visit to the living root bridges in Rawai and the cleanest village in Asia, Mawlynnong. Stay in ‘God’s own Garden’ for a day to walk past gardens full of colorful flowers.
You will have to walk on cobbled lanes to reach your guest house made out of Bamboo. Be rest assured that even though this type of living is basic, you will get the best comfort away from the luxury hallways of 5-star hotels.
If you are up for exploring Meghalaya’s natural wonders then the Living root bridge should be on your list. It is a natural phenomenon made up of living plant roots. This place is a must-visit for shutterbugs and nature enthusiasts. You will find a living root bridge in and around the villages of Shnongpdeng, Kudeng Rim, Padu etc.
Curated by Ruchit Rastogi