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Broom! Broom! to Mawlynnong

November 28, 2014
Mawlynnong... Meghalaya. The cleanest village in Asia.

Seven North-Eastern states, namely Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland, Mizoram, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh of India that are together known as seven sisters, consisted of mainly tribal areas.

Efforts to bring these tribes to the main stream of population seemed to have been started by missionaries even during the British rule. This perception is because many of the tribes are now following Christianity and there are a number of old churches in the region. These are an integral part of India since 1947.

And in order to promote tourism to these states, Govt. of India also offered its employees to convert one of their Leave Travel Concession (LTC) for their home town visit into LTC to less known NE Region. 

We too were ignorant about this part of the country as not many people from this region had migrated to live in Delhi. So to know more about this region, we decided to take advantage of the LTC conversion offer and planned a visit to Shillong, the capital of the state of Meghalaya. There were two reasons for choosing Shillong. One – as a child while studying geography in school we had learnt that ‘Cherrapunji’ records the highest rainfall in India and wanted to see this place and the nearest major city to Cherrapunji was Shillong. Two – our next door neighbour had been posted in Shillong on deputation and had been showing all their Facebook friends exquisite and picturesque beauty of the places they had been visiting near Shillong. They had been inviting us too to visit the place.

Once in Shillong, we got to know a list of interesting places from them and other locals that could be visited. One of these was a small village, Mawlynnong, recommended by them and the locals alike. ‘It is the cleanest village in Asia’ they had told us. We googled and were surprised to have it found listed there as the ‘Cleanest Village in Asia’! So a day to visit this Mawlynnong village was inserted in the itinerary.

Mawlynnong... Meghalaya. The cleanest village in Asia.

Mawlynnong… Meghalaya. The cleanest village in Asia.

On the scheduled day, the Taxi driver arrived on time and the journey to Mawlynnong started.

‘It is said to be the cleanest village in Asia’, my husband started the conversation with the local driver. Talking to locals is the best way to get useful information about the area.

‘Yes, the village was adopted once for the cleanliness and thereafter the village people are maintaining it’, he informed us.

‘You throw any litter and suddenly a child will come running from nowhere to pick that up and throw it in the dustbin,’ he continued.

‘That’s quite admirable that the even children are aware of keeping the village clean’, I added.

‘Yes. And there is a tree house too from where you can see the border of Bangla Desh!’ he further informed us, ‘If you can climb on that bamboo tree house, then to see the border from there. It has a nominal ticket though.’

My husband and I exchanged glances that meant ‘we’ll do that’.

Our taxi continued to run on an almost empty road. We had been trying to absorb as much as we could. My husband’s camera was going ‘click-click’ every now and then as everything there seemed so different!

‘There is a root bridge too on our way’, said the driver after we had travelled a short distance further ahead.

‘Root bridge?’ we were both excited. Root bridges are normally the ones that come into being in a thick forest over the rivers when the dangling roots of the trees are intertwined and thickened and become so strong that they can take the load of people. Villagers and locals use these bridges to cut short their travel distances. I have read about them but had never seen any. I had always lived in a city – a concrete jungle not a natural one!

‘Can we go there, too?’ we were both keen to see the root bridge.

‘Taxi can’t go there.  I can stop on the road and you people can go down to see that. It is walk of around 2-3 km down the slope’, he said and continued, ‘We can do that on our way back.’

‘Alright’, we both agreed. And we did visit that root bridge on our way back but I’ll write about that experience in another post.

As we moved little further, we noticed the plants looking having stems that looked similar to what we were using in brooms (Phool Jharu meaning Broom of Phool) for cleaning our houses. And on both sides of the roads there were fields of this plant. There was harvest of this plant lying in plenty on both sides of the road for drying. Even small houses that we came across anywhere on the way had these plants laid out for drying in their courtyard or the roofs.

For us, this was an amazing discovery. We had not seen the plant before. We had not known that this area is the biggest supplier of the raw material for ‘Phool jharus’. We could not refrain ourselves from asking the driver to stop the taxi and got down to talk to one of the workers who was guarding the harvest lying on the roadside field.

We were informed that the buyers come and take truckloads of this harvest from here. They in turn either make the jharus themselves or further sell it to the manufacturers of the jharus all over India.

‘This is one of the interesting discoveries about this area!’ my husband said to me.

‘This seems to be our Broom…Broom visit!’ I said and continued smilingly, ‘Perhaps this is why Mawlynnong is the cleanest village in Asia!’

The journey to Mawlynnong had become rather interesting by now. We were also looking forward to seeing the root bridge on our way back.

Once we reached Mawlynnong we could not believe our eyes. It was indeed a very clean village.  Houses, the community hall, the parking space for the tourists’ vehicles, toilets, each and every place was spic & span. The information about its cleanliness was not exaggerated. A small refreshment canteen that was being run by the village community to cater to a stream of tourists too was kept neat, clean and offering freshly cooked food at nominal prices.

We could not help wondering, ‘Why can’t all our villages in India follow this example?’

Flowering plants were adding to the beauty of the village. We took a round of the village could find no beetle-leaf stains, no litter of polythene bags, no cigarette cartons anywhere around.

Climbing through the bamboo stairs cum ramp way to the top of the tree-house was a fairly scary mission. In cities one does not get many opportunities to climb a tree. Creaking bamboos hand-tied with thick ropes to make a staircase to reach the tree house at a height of almost 50ft can generate fear in even an experienced climber.

At the age of fifty five, making an attempt to climb and reach such a height is an adventure. I was happy that I could make it! On reaching the tree house on top of the tree, I was not only feeling proud and delighted on my this achievement, and felt as if I am at top of the world!

I could also then see the border of Bangla Desh in the distance!

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Some pictures from our Mawlynnong visit:

Mawlynnong... Meghalaya. The cleanest village in Asia.

Mawlynnong… Meghalaya. The cleanest village in Asia.

On our way to mawlynnong we saw the 'jharu' fields... and their processing units

On our way to mawlynnong we saw the ‘jharu’ fields… and their processing units

On our way to mawlynnong we saw the 'jharu' fields... and their processing units

On our way to mawlynnong we saw the ‘jharu’ fields… and their processing units

On our way to mawlynnong we saw the 'jharu' fields... and their processing units

On our way to mawlynnong we saw the ‘jharu’ fields… and their processing units

Even Mawlynnong village has its residents making jharus...

Even Mawlynnong village has its residents making jharus…

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Sangita Passey
28 November 2014

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From → Travel Point

2 Comments
  1. Akriti permalink

    This is a well written post. I really liked it 🙂

    Keep writing more 🙂

    I’d really appreciate your feedback on my blog .
    Here’s a recent post :

    https://akritimattusite.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/artists-live-forever-2/

  2. Rilangsius Thabah permalink

    what are the things or the product we can get from this jharus?

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