There are places in Meghalaya which have more appealing natural beauty than Mawlyngbna; but strange things drag us more; more than just visual pleasure. When I typed Mawlyngbna in Google image search, most of the photographs I found were of a riverside rocky plain, full with multiple bowl-shaped holes. That looked impressive!
When I had actually been beside that river Umkhakoi, I found not one particular place like this, rather an unending stretch with astoundingly numerous numbers of holes.
Apart from the riverside of Umkhakoi, the streams those we crossed during our nature trail in Mawlyngbna, there were holes, much bigger in size; with water inside and eye-soothing green algae covering the inner surface.
Some of them had joined with their neighboring holes, resulting shapes like heart, natural stone-bridge and numerical eight and so on. It reminded me the Figure Eight Pool of Australia, which is a popular tourist spot. But here, in far-east of India, this place is a hidden gem indeed.
According to my post-trip research, this type of geological feature is called ‘Potholes’. If water flows over an uneven surface of limestone and keeps percolating inside the tapered portions for longer period, then the centrifugal force of water can shape these natural sink-holes. We tried to climb down along one of them, but got slipped! It was so smooth and slippery!
At the beginning, the trail was through a dense forest, which suddenly took us to a table-top hill covered by dry yellow grass.
Bashem, our guide led us to a rock, on which we found fossils of sea-creatures like starfish, sea-shells, snails etc depicting the fact that just like Himalaya, this Khasi Hill was also emerged from sea.
There was a rocky ground full with animal footprints. Local says that once there was a market of mythical animals and they used to congregate here regularly. This place is known as Lew Luri Lura, which is actually caused by a volcanic eruption. It’s a little bit away from the shorter trail that people usually take during their visit to Mawlyngbna; though one can find similar kinds of animal footprints, along with scratches in several places even in the shorter trail.
The waterfall on our way was nothing splendid to see, though the greenery of the surrounding and serenity of the place created a feel good factor. We wished to spend some leisurely time, but Bashem was in hurry. We were yet to visit the site of pitcher-plants.
Though we have seen insect-eating pitcher-plants earlier, but very few in numbers and grown in people’s garden. Here, in Mawalyngbna we were excited to explore a portion of flat hilltop full with wild pitcher plants, abundant in numbers. We took young pitchers, tore the lids and drank the slightly acidic juice inside. But Bashem instructed to choose only the young ones, whose lids were still sealed; otherwise we might consume dead insects floating on the juice.
After finishing the trail, we came back to Mawlyngbna Travellers’ Nest, where we had spent the night before. Now it’s time to visit a split rock. It is as high as a 4 storied building. We climbed down by ladder and walked through the narrow passage, which get filled with water during monsoon, making this site a wonderful place of river canyoning.
Our final stop was beside the river Umkhakoi, as I have stated earlier. The area was full with local visitors. Here people usually do kayaking, but swimming is always a better option for us.
Got refreshed! Now it’s time to be back to the hustles and bustles of Shillong.
How to go: Mawlyngbna is 76 kms away from Shillong. If you hire a car, keep in mind that your driver may not know this place; therefore, after crossing Mawsynram, start guiding him with Google Navigator. It is just 16 kms from Mawsynram. Another good option is to book a car directly from Mawlyngbna Travelles’ Nest. They charged Rs 1800 for pick up from Shillong by a 4-seater car and we paid Rs 2500 for sight-seeing and drop-off. (According to December 2018). Contact : Bashem (+91 97742 21254)
Accommodation & Food: Mawlyngbna Travellers’ Nest. We paid Rs 500 for a camping tent. There are cottages of higher price. Non vegetarian lunch/dinner : Rs 300 and breakfast : Rs 100 per head. Contact : Bashem (+91 97742 21254)
- You must have a guide with you during your nature trail. Guide fee varies according to the number of visitors and duration of trail. Our guide Bashem also booked the car and accommodation for us.
- The shorter trail may take two hours. For visiting Lew Luri Lura, another hour would be required. The trail is best taken on early morning.
- For nature trail, winter is the best season; as you can cross the streams on the way by foot. Most of them either disappear in winter or have just ankle-deep water. For river canyoning, come during monsoon.
- You need to have at least average fitness for the trail. The persons with walking problems are not advised to come here; as apart from the split rock & the river Umkhakoi, all the sites have to be explored by foot only.