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Sushanta Talukdar
Date of Publish: 2018-04-12

Shnongpdeng : An incredible tourist destination in Meghalaya created by crystal clear Umngot river

 

The Umngot river in Meghalaya is famous to be one of the cleanest rivers on the earth. At Shnongpdeng village its mesmerising beauty leaves an indelible impression on visitors. The river frames amazing pictures of nature at this small village in West Jaintia Hills district in this North-eastern state.

Nestled in nature, Shnongpdeng is about 90 km off Meghalaya’s capital Shillong via Dawki. There is an alternative route, via Jowai town but a bit longer. Distance from Shillong to Jowai is 66 km and from Jowai town to Shongpdeng via Amlarem is about 54 m. Distance between Dawki- the border town along India-Bangladesh border and Shnongpdeng is about 7.5 km. Umngot flows through Dawki into Bangladesh. The village has about 125 families belonging to War-Khasi community.

Water of Umngot River is so clear that the river-bed can be seen even from a suspension footbridge high above. A boat ride on the river in this village makes the tourist forget to blink as she or he does not want to miss the mesmerising view of the river-bed through the crystalline waters.

Movement of fish and other aquatic species virtually gives the tourist an awesome underwater experience even without actually going underwater. For adventure tourists, Shnongpdeng also offers actual scuba diving experience and training in diving and use of scuba gear.

The villagers have adopted a sustainable use of the river for their livelihood. They use homemade fishing pole and use of fishing net is strictly prohibited. One kilogram of fish fetches Rs. 500 in the local market. “We decided that fishing nets need to be prohibited so that fishing as a means of livelihood can be sustainable,” Brightstar A. Synrem, an exporter who runs a home-stay accommodation tells NEZINE.

Tourists can take a boat ride or do kayaking between 10 am to 4 pm. The charge for an hour-long boat trip on a flat-bottomed country boat is Rs 500. For Kayaking, the charge is Rs. 250 per head.

For the villagers, the safety of tourists is a top priority and no tourist is allowed to undertake a boat ride or do kayaking without lifejackets.

At dusk, the fishermen returns with his or her catch. The boatman anchors the boat. When the normal activities of the day comes to a close, the gurgling sound of playful Umngot’s sliding over water-smoothened rocks becomes soothing music for the tourists staying in the cosy home-stays along the river bank and adds to the serenity of the place.

Tents are also available for those who seek to enjoy the experience of camping in the jungle by the side of the river.

"Of late flow of tourists into our village has increased as more and more people have come to know about Shnongpdeng and the beautiful Umngot river. There are 14 Homestays in the village. This year majority of the tourists, nearly 80 per cent, came from Bangladesh," says Micky Syngkrem, who has been running four Homestay accommodation and a restaurant in Shongpdeng for the past five years.

Photo, text and video -- Sushanta Talukdar

 

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