Every state has a “State List” of tourist places worth visiting. But if you look at the “National List”, then most of these “state listed places will not figure in it. As I have been traveling the length and breadth of India from quite some time now, I have come across many such places. I go to the places, going by the description provided in the internet or state tourism brouchers, and find that there is nothing much to see; and it is a sheer waste of time. Now probably you might have guessed what I wanted to talk about.
Now with this prelude let me begin. Our today’s journey will be hectic, so we start quite early. We skip our breakfast and start at 7am. First we go to Noh Ka Likai waterfalls. Somewhere on the internet I had read that it is the fourth largest waterfall in the world. No definitely not, and this information is wrong. I don’t know the height, but it is not all that big. It is a rain fed waterfall and hence during non-rainy season, the water will be trickling. But of course, the visit is worth it. There are many waterfalls here, but all are rain fed. (During rainy season, we don’t come here. Even if we come, we may not get a clear view of the falls, because of the mist.) So, we decide to skip other falls and proceed towards Mawlynnong.
The road leading towards Mawlynnong was serene. It passed through one of the most beautiful landscapes of Meghalaya. There are forests, gorges, cliffs, valleys, waterfalls etc. I think it is NH 44E and the road was in fairly good condition. After some time, we took a right turn from the highway. But this road was too narrow. The road was passing through bamboo forests. (These bamboos are used in constructing huts and its flowers are used as broomstick).
We ask the driver to stop for answering nature’s call. The driver tells us that it is not advisable to stop anywhere in these terrains as the place has insurgents and is not very safe. All along the route, we don’t see even a single board from the tourism dept about welcoming the tourists to the cleanest village.
And we reach Mawlynnong around 10.30 am. There were only two vehicles in the parking lot when we reached there. (When we left the place around 1.00pm, there were at least 15 – 20 vehicles, which meant a lot of tourists visit this place). We take a stroll around the village and find that it is clean.
The streets are clean. There are dust bins in every nook and corner of the village. What else is there to see, we ask. And we are directed towards Sky View, which is a view point constructed out of bamboo sticks. It was nearly 80 feet high, and we could see the plains of Bangladesh from here very clearly and nearly.
This village is on the border of Bangladesh. All food items to this village (including eggs, vegetables and rice etc) come from Bangladesh, a local resident tells us. Then we are directed towards a Tree Hut, which again is a house constructed out of locally available bamboos. You can call it as eco friendly house. Actually it is a guest house. What else is there to see; no, nothing else. We have our breakfast cum lunch and proceed to Shillong.
Now for the first time in my North East Tour, I feel the sun is too hot today, and the temperature had risen a bit. We reach Shillong lodge around 3.30 pm. We later go for a walk cum shopping in Police Bazaar. We come back, have dinner and it is the end of the day. But by night, the climate is back to winter clothing.
Now let me tell you why I call this as a biggest fraud, and also why you should not visit this place at all. Is Mawlynnong, the cleanest village? OK, first of all, is it a village? I don’t think so. It didn’t look like a village. It looked like a habitat or a recent settlement. The houses are not very old, there were no livestock. I could not find even a single cow or cattle or even a pig. I could find one or two hens and that was all the live stock I came across. I could not find any agriculture field even at far off places, even from the view point.
How the villagers are getting money for their livelihood? The village is coming into prominence because of Internet. And when I asked a villager, he said there is no internet available, and AIRCELL signal is the only signal you can get with great difficulty. The parking fee was Rs 100 for our vehicle. The best food (with many varieties) we had at the Mawsmai Cave canteen has costed us less than Rs 1100/. But a not-so-good food with lesser no. of varieties costed us more than Rs 1700. Mind you, at the cave it was the only eating place, but here there are many eating places. Very costly place, we thought.
And what about the eco-friendly guest house? It is built with bamboos and the cost of construction is hardly much. Being a business man, I know that any pricing should be proportionate to the investment and the maintenance-cum-running cost involved. However, here the tree house was being charged at around Rs 3000 per day. (No fixed amount, I think. It can vary according to the mood of the owner!!) . The whole thing looked like a big fraud to me than anything else. And it is a sheer waste of money, time and energy to visit this village.
And can the villagers themselves do all these publicity on their own? Very difficult, I think. It must be the work of some top brass at the tourism department. So dear Meghalaya Tourism Dept. people, kindly watch out. You can’t fool all the people all the time. Better stop such gimmicks.
And you dear travellers watch out before you go to this place.
(P. S. Note: I swear by all the facts that I have written. And in case of assumptions, I have come to conclusions by my common sense only. They may be wrong also. And if it is the case; my apologies.)
An avid traveler, BP Bhat is among few travelers, who instead of scratching the surface of a destination, prefers to go deep and wide to understand, explore and soak in the beauty of a place. His quest for travel has taken him to all extremes of main land in the Mother India; from Leh to Kanyakumari and from Guhar Moti to Kibithu. He likes to explore all the important tourist places in India, State by State.