Mawlynnong, located in the East Khasi hills of Meghalaya, is popularly called as “God’s own Garden”. It won the title of being the cleanest village in Asia in 2003, and the cleanest village in India in 2005, given out by the Discover India magazine. Located on the Indo-Bangla border, Mawlynnong offers great views of the Bangladesh plains. It is about 90km from Shillong, and also has a community based eco-tourism initiative. The famous living root bridge of Meghalaya, is located in the neighborhood village of Riwai, and is a walking distance away. Mawlynnong also offers a sight of the natural balancing rock, a strange phenomenon of a boulder balancing on another rock. The village has about 100% literacy and most villagers are comfortable conversing in English.
Interestingly, Mawlynnong has a matrilineal society, as is the tradition of the Khasi people of the region, where wealth and property are passed on from the mother to the youngest of her daughters, who also keep the mother’s surname.
The best way to reach Mawlynnong is via Guwahati. One can fly into Guwahati, and from there take a cab to Mawlynnong. If one chooses to, they can break their journey at Shillong as well and then make it over to here. The scenery all along is very picturesque.
The region has a lot of living root bridges, apart from the one in Riwai. These living root bridges have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hanging over the rivers, these bridges are made by connecting the aerial roots of one massive rubber tree with another.
The villagers have built a 85 foot tall bamboo tower called Sky View, which forms a lovely vantage point and a very popular attraction of Mawlynnong village. When on top of the Sky View, one can see breathtaking views of the village on one side and Bangladesh on the other.
One can also have a relaxed picnic at the Mawlynnong waterfall. In the middle of the jungles, the Mawlynnong waterfalls, alone or with friends, this place is a nice spot to rewind and relax, and engage with nature, something living in the cities doesn’t give a lot of opportunity to do.
Mawlynnong also has a Church of Epiphany which is a major landmark of the village. It is a 100 year old structure, and has a unique old world charm to it. Surrounded by lovely gardens, this church is a great site to visit.
The local cuisine in Mawlynnong is a definite must try. The best part of the cuisine is that it is prepared from locally grown organic vegetables. Even the meat for the food comes from in-house bred birds and animals. Traditional cuisine includes lip smacking dishes like pork tossed in bell peppers and green, freshly cut and smoked banana flowers, Jadoh – a rice and meat based dish, Tungrymbai – a sumptuous mesh of fermented soybeans, bamboo leaves and local spices.
The weather in Mawlynnong is generally pleasant all through the year. However, the best time to visit Mawlynnong would be during the monsoons, when the greenery around is at its best. Mawlynnong has its own festive times, which also make a great time to visit. There’s Behdienkhlam in July, Wangala between September to December, and then there is Nongkrem Dance Festival in October-November.
Mawlynnong has some great homestays to stay at like the Ila Jong Homestay, Bangaldesh View Homestay, Hala Tyngkong, Epiphany Society Guest House, Saphyngngad Homestay, etc.
So, when are you visiting Mawlynnong?