There is a river near the India-Bangladesh border which flows from the state of Meghalaya towards Sylhet in Bangladesh. The river is Umngot and as a river is wont to do, it twists and turns and happily hops about before reaching the international border near the village of Dawki.
Here, the river decides that it has had enough of its youthful adventures and decides to seek serenity. So with it relaxes with a pipe in its mouth and becomes the most languid of pools before deciding to resume its journey across the border.
The Journey to Dawki
Dawki is south of Shillong, a picturesque town which carries the epithet of being the rock capital of India. The Shillong to Dawki distance takes around 3 hours and the route (click for route) for most part of the journey is the one that also goes to Cherrapunjee(Sohra), a region which used to receive the highest rainfall in the world. The right part of the fork near Umtyngar leads to Dawki while the left and better road continues to Cherrapunjee.
The country side is beautiful, quiet and devoid of noisy crowds and villages. Every now and then churches with spires appear slowly on the horizon to complete the ” I am quainter than thou” look. The road briefly goes up a mountain which leads to great vistas of the clouds and the green hills. The last 40 minutes of the road as one reaches Dawki though is a complete minefield.
The hilly terrain of Meghalaya disappears at Dawki and the plains which unfold can be seen for miles together inside of Bangladesh. The Dawki “lagoon” which is cocooned in between the hills is best viewed from the road surrounding it. This is the land of the Khasis where a matrilineal system of descent and inheritance is followed. Many Khasi boat owners offer rides in the Indian side of the lagoon just before the bridge across the river.
The beauty of Dawki is the emerald coloured lake which the river engineers. The waters are so transparent and free of turbulence that many a time, illusions of boats hanging in the air are created while in reality the boats are actually on the water surface with their shadows reflecting off the lake bed.
Activities in Dawki consists of boating around the river for an hour or so and snorkelling which an adventure tour operator provides. The same operator also provided for overnight tented stays which should be a more wonderful way of soaking in the place which is surrounded by forests.
The boat ride is rather unique as it goes along the international border which cuts the river and usually the tourists from the neighbouring country out number the people who throng to Dawki.
Dawki is a usually a day trip from Shillong. There are no lunch places in this remote part of Meghalaya but if you are resourceful, pack a picnic hamper with maybe a tent thrown in before you come and then spend some time on the river bank.
The place is a photographers delight and maybe that is what it will ever be. With the unregulated and influx of tourists on holidays and weekends, this could-have-been paradise will one day become a disaster zone with litter floating in the river.
The beginnings of this can already be seen but if you are a camera enthusiast with a penchant for having that one photo which you would like to show to everyone, go, visit Dawki.