We often see pictures of beautiful places on a calendar and become quite optimistic regarding the existence of those scenic places in real but after paying a visit, our hopes shatter often for not finding the place as per our expectations. But Dawki is no such illusion. The picturesque beauty of Dawki is mesmerizing both in reel and real.
A quaint town in the heart of Meghalaya, situated in northeastern India is a place sure to be remembered. The west of the Jaintia Hills- Dawki, also stands as India’s border with Bangladesh. One can visit here to get lush green hills, crystal clear waters and an ample amount of fresh air to inhale.
What Makes Dawki So Famous?
Apart from nature’s beauty, it’s also blessed mineral wise. It has coal mine as well as limestone stocks, which makes it an international trading point of India with Bangladesh.
Interestingly Dawki boasts of having a route which directly connects it to the other side of Bangladesh.
Umngot River in Dawki is magnificent with its crystal clear water and one can spot the rock bed beneath because of its clarity. Adding to this, the river also serves as a fishing ground for both countries.
The Dawki Suspension bridge, built by the British in 1932, hanging over the river calls for a photogenic capture. One has to cross the bridge to reach the main river point.
Dawki also stands a connecting point of two major hills which are Jaintia Hills and Khasi Hills.
Weather, Temperature and Best Time To Visit
Summer: April – June
The average temperature during the summer months stays within 12°c – 30°c. Although clear skies make it the ideal time to hop around the places summer afternoons are often sweaty, which makes it uncomfortable. It is also the time for some regional festivals like Shad Suk Mynsiem and Chad Sukra, which are a must if you are a visitor of this time period.
Monsoon: June – October
The abode of clouds, Meghalaya receives the maximum rainfall during this time. Also because, this place has two wettest places in the world, which are- Mawsynram and Cherapunjee. The greenery is splendid with the splash of rain during this time but sightseeing often gets hindered because of incessant rain.
Otherwise, if you are an indoor person, you can enjoy most of this majestic view from your four walls with sipping the tea from the cup.
Winters: October – February
The initial part is Autumn and late part is Winter. Winters are lovely in Dwaki and apt for sightseeing. But clouds often cover the road after 3 p.m so driving becomes risky. You can often find your road getting blocked by a sudden cloak of clouds or Imagine you are visiting a spot and suddenly you discover that the spot is no longer visible because of the cloaking of the clouds.
Weather is very unpredictable so set out for sightseeing as early as possible. The day temperature is extremely pleasant at 15°c but nights are super chilly having a temperature less than 3°c. Trekking is the best thing, one can do at this season.
And moreover, winters are full of festivals including Kite flying, food festival, fishing competition, flower exhibition, music festival, Archery etc.
Where to Stay in Dawki? Hotels and Homestays
Though a few new accommodations have come up in the recent past, there are not too many established hotels or homestays to stay here. Travellers generally stay in Mawlinram or Cherrapunji and cover Dawki in a day trip. This is a few hours driving distances from Cherrapunji or Mawlinram.
There are few camps available near the riverbed, however, it won’t be a very comfortable stay and would be only good for backpackers. While avid adventure enthusiasts and backpackers can stay in those temporary camps, we will suggest normal travellers stay in Cherrapunji hotels only.
Here is providing a list of hotels and homestays that we like.
Polo Orchid Resort :
Located on the edge of the cliff of the Cherrapunjee Valley and Nongsithiang Waterfalls, this rustic-style star resort is one of the best hotels in Cherrapunjee.
Hotel Polo Orchid, Cherrapunjee is a perfect abode for soul soothing sight with lush greenery, grand architecture, and huge balconies overlooking the natural green carpet. One can opt for either deluxe Orchid Rooms or villa cottages.
The property is close-by the Mawsmai Caves, Mawsmai Falls, Arwah Caves and Thangkarang Park. The resort is a short distance away from the oldest Presbyterian Church in India. This Cherrapunjee resort offers 23 beautiful rooms and suites. All ground floor rooms provide great access.
The Polo Cottage rooms, housed in stand-alone Villas have been minimally decorated to retain the rustic charm and are equipped with all modern amenities. Room categories include Orchid Room; Polo Cottages; Misty Mountain Villa. This Cherrapunjee hotel also offers a majestic open-air – Sky Grill, and a multi-cuisine- Rain Cafe, a large banquet and conference.
The Betelnut Resort
An oasis in a remote village, this property is perfect for all those mentally weary travellers who seek some solace in the natural lap. The property has the best rooms with balconies overlooking the green meadows and extremely hygienic ambience with solar backup. You can choose an ample amount of local cuisines from the property’s kitchen.
With all the major tourist attractions in the vicinity, this property stands as the popular choice of travellers.
Marvel’s camp and treks
Camping, trekking, kayaking, cliff jumping, snorkelling, if part of your itinerary, then this is your place to be. The camps have huge outdoor space providing the perfect leisure abode for couples and family. The campsite also provides fresh outdoor meals and friendly guides. Completely trust Marvel’s camp with 5 years of experience for your next Trek in Cherapunjee.
Best Things To Do Around
Apart from being a natural paradise, Dawki has a lot more to offer to people who look for activities. Here are a few among them that you should not miss at all.
Boating in Umngot River
Umngot river, one of the cleanest rivers in India. The water here is transparent enough to spot the rock beds beneath. You can do several activities here like kayaking, snorkelling etc. The river shared a common shore with Bangladesh on one side. You can spot armies of both countries on duties on the shore to form a human chain of the division of borders.
It is much thrilling to observe people of two nationalities enjoying the same water at the same place.
The cleanest village of Asia, Mawlynnong happens to be situated here as well. In spite of human habitation, the nook and corners of the place only provide the essence of Nature and cleanliness. The scenario can be felt as soon as you step your feet in. Before entering the village, there is a checkpoint where villagers themselves provide a ticket since they are the ones behind the maintenance.
Therefore the amount collected from the visitors goes directly to the development fund of the village in particular. There are plenty of food joints and shops inside. If you want to carry a souvenir on your return, then this market place for local handmade products is your perfect place to be. And never forget to bargain.
Visit Bangladesh Border
Visit the International border of India Bangladesh which is few metres away from the Umngot river. You don’t need any permission to see the border. It’s completely free of anything.
Visit the Famous Living Root Bridge in Mawlynnong
More than 500 years old, Living root bridge is yet another natural wonder here. The suspension bridge is created naturally with no artificial materials. The locals are extra cautious when it comes down to Nature. One has to Trek along the uneven and steep path to reach down below to the bridge.
It is suggested that if you are suffering from any breathing problem, then it’s better to avoid the downward trek.
If you have time in hand then there are other wonders waiting on the list. Trek to Double-decker bridge and limestone cave of Mawsmai are not to miss. If the living root bridge in Mawlynnong bewilders you, then Double decker root bridge is sure to blow your mind and most notably the rainbow falls.
Winter is best for the double-decker root bridge trek, or else other times the trek can be proved risky because of the slippery surface and poisonous insects during rains. You need to hire a guide with INR 600 for to and fro. It is very risky to venture alone without any guidance because there are no signs available for directions, which may create confusion in the dense jungle. Better take a guide than being lost.
Go to the Awesome Caves
The other marvel i.e the limestone cave in Mawsmai is deep and narrow and in the continuous growth process. The space inside is very narrow and gliding through the stones can be strenuous enough. Be sure to mind your head as you move forward. Flexibility is what you need inside. Upon reaching inside, you can explore the different shapes of the stones carved incomplete natural process.
The Lailtlum canyon is another natural marvel situated here.
Do not forget to Visit the Waterfalls
Not only rivers and suspension bridges, but there are a plethora of waterfalls as well to quench your wander thirst. For example Krang Suri Falls, Bo Phill Falls, Bydraw Falls etc.
Don’t forget to visit the Elephant falls, which is a three-tier waterfall. Most marvels of Meghalaya stay hidden at the bottom. In this case also, as you descend, the force and quantity of the water of the falls keep on increasing.
In the last layer, you get to see the magnificent waterfall out of all three tiers. It is suggested that old people or person with breathing problems should not make the descent.
What are the ‘Must Eats’ Here?
This may not be the place with the best eateries but if you are a food lover, there are a few places that you must visit to savour the local taste and delicacies. Here is a quick guide on what to eat and where to eat while you are in Dawki.
The Khasi community of Meghalaya consumes it mainly. Jadoh is basically red rice, cooked with ample amounts of pork meat. But it can also be cooked with chicken or fish. This dish has a mixture of green chillies, onions, ginger, turmeric, black pepper and thereafter pieces of pork are added and fried, following which the red rice is added and cooked off.
Adding turmeric gives the rice a rich yellow colour and an aroma. Interestingly, Jadoh can also be cooked in pork blood. This is a must-try dish if you are in Meghalaya.
Another famous dishes of Meghalaya is Doh Khlieh. It is a kind of delicious salad made out of minced pork, onions and chillies. One can add Mexican touch to Doh-Khlieh by adding beans, tomatoes, carrots and lemons. It can also sometimes be cooked as a curry of pig brains and eaten with bread.
Rice is considered the staple food in Meghalaya so people here try cooking rice in different forms. This dish, in particular, is powdered rice which is thereafter steamed. This dish is specifically served during any festival or special occasion. The rice being Cooked is consumed with various kinds of curry dishes.
Another one from the rice family with some touch of sweet. Pukhlein is powdered rice combined with jaggery. Although it’s a sweet preparation, it can be served with various meat items.
The names of the Meghalaya cuisines can often confuse you with the upcoming taste but be sure to be amazed by the local cuisines. This one is particular is a drink or we can say fermented rice beer. Every bar or restaurant of Meghalaya is sure to serve you with Kyat. This drink is a sign of Meghalaya Hospitality.
How to reach Dawki?
Dawki can be reached by air, railways and road. This place is situated on the south-eastern border of Meghalaya, around 82 km south of Shillong. The best way to reach is by a rented cab or private vehicle. The road view is mesmerizing. Your route from Shillong will take you through spots like Shillong View Point (also called Shillong Peak), Elephant Falls, Laitlyngkot, and Pynursla, which can be seen on the way.
Reaching by Rail
The nearest railway station to reach Dawki is Guwahati in Assam. From Guwahati, one can avail 4 seater cab or sumo to reach Shillong. The can normally charge 300 INR per person. The total distance is about 173 km and the time taken is approximately 4.5 hours by road. On the way, you can cover all the major spots mentioned above.
Reaching by Air
The nearest Airport to Dawki is Lokpriya Gopinath Bardoloi International Airport in Guwahati. Several private vehicles are available for hire outside the Airport. The intermediate distance between Dawki and Guwahati Airport is approximately 195 km and it takes around 5.5 hours to reach Shillong.
Reaching by Car
Reach either Guwahati railway station or Airport and thereafter book rental cars to reach Shillong. From Shillong, you have to change the cab to reach Dawki. You have to hire local cars there because they don’t allow outside vehicles to run there.
Conclusion; The Unknown Wonder of India
In a way, Dawki is little cut off from mainstream India and we feel this is mainly due to its extreme location and lack of infrastructure. This place is also a little inaccessible from the big cities as the shortest time that one can take to reach there are no less than 5-6 hours. Also, there are not enough accommodations over there to welcome a large number of tourists.
To our mind, this is a blessing in disguise.
Due to this simple reason you do not see the nature getting exploited over here list most of the other places of natural beauty. The clear lake of Dawki has everything it takes to become a huge crowd puller once the necessary infrastructure is taken care of.
We are pretty sure that it is just a matter of time that this place becomes one of the major tourist attraction pulling in a huge number of tourists and obviously urbanization and destruction of nature along with it. Till then do not miss the golden chance to visit the place and experience it in its most natural from. Believe me, there are not too many places like this not just in India, but the whole world.
So, why wait?
Let us plan your Meghalaya and Dwaki Trip for you !
Few Pointers on Us: Nomadic Weekends
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