David Scott Trail – a historical trail in Meghalaya
So we decided to walk down the horse cart trail that was laid down to connect Assam and Bangladesh during the nineteenth century. The David Scott Trail, named after the British administrator David Scott is one of the oldest trekking routes in Meghalaya. Last year was a bad year for us in terms of trek! We did not go for a single Himalayan trek last year; it was only the Baamikonda-Kalchukki Peak Trek and Kudremukh Trek in the Western Ghats. Well, 2018 started with David Scott Trail.
Meghalaya has always been one of our favourite destinations. Now that we were there for a week-long sojourn, we wanted to explore the state slowly and explore a few unfrequented places. So walking along the path of Mr. Scott fell well in place!
A Little History about the David Scott Trail
David Scott was one of the first English Officers to be sent to Northeast India during the British Period. His operations stretched for almost 30 years (1802-1832) and were mostly in the Khasi Hills and the surrounding areas. Under his order, a horse cart trail was laid down across the hills and jungles from Assam to Sylhet, in the present day Bangladesh. This route was almost 100 km long and was used to carry goods across the tow destinations.
This route was also the cause of the war between U Tirot Singh, king of Khadsawphra Syiemship and the British. The Anglo-Khasi War went on for almost 4 years. The Khasis lacked firearms and had only bows and arrows, swords and shields and were obviously untrained in the British way of warfare. Tirot Singh and the other Khasi leaders soon found out that they were no match for the well trained British soldiers and so resorted to guerrilla warfare. This continued for 4 years until Tirot Singh was captured and deported to Bangladesh, where he died in1835.
Where in Meghalaya is the David Scott Trail?
The present-day David Scott Trail is a stretch of 16 km from Mawphlang to Lad Mawphlang and is a beautiful day hike. Beginning from the quaint Mawphlang village, the trail takes a winding route across the hills and valleys while ascending and descending at times.
We had started our trek from Mawphlang. It is an easy trek and takes about 4 hours to complete. The scenery that you come across is simply stunning. The beauty of Meghalaya’s landscape can be seen fully here. The rolling green mountains, the valleys and crystal clear waters in the natural pools seem to be a part of wonderland. Only this one was not Alice’s, but ours! There is a sparkling river that moved with us, sometimes disappearing, and then again coming to the fore at regular intervals. Nature has seemed to be very kind here. The trek gives us a lovely view of the Umiam River and the Valley.
As we started from Mawphlang, soon we came to a resting place called ‘Ka Kor Ka Shonmai’. This is named after a daughter of Dorsing Lyngdoh, the 1st Lyngdoh with the British. After a hike of a few minutes, our guide BG pointed us to a tomb. This tomb was erected in 1843 in memory of a Child fondly called Camilla. The first part of the trek after Mawphlang follows a winding gravelly path with ascents and descents till we reach the hanging bridge over the river Umiam.
Do you know, Umiam literally means ‘flood of tears’?
It is said that two sisters were on their way from the upper world to the earth. On the way, one of the siblings gets lost. The river was formed by the tears of the sister who lost her sibling on the way.
Everything around was immensely pleasing. Halfway across the trek, we reached the river. This is the place where usually you can take a lunch break, provided you carry packet lunch with you. We stopped there for some time and then hopped across the river and continued our walk. There are a few Khasi villages on the way where you can see the simple people in their daily life. We stopped at one such village, Lysoma and had Maggi there. At the end of the trail, there were giant rock formations all around. The Khasis love their folk tales. Our guide had said.
– We can make stories from even a rock lying on the ground. We have many stories!
So I was walking with our guide BG and listening to a few fascinating Khasi folk stories. After about 4 hours, we reached Lad Mawphlang, the exit point of the trek. It was the end of a beautiful journey and the beginning of a new one.
How to Reach – David Scott Trail
The trek can start at Mawphlang and end at Lad-Mawphlang or it can be done the other way around. The usual route is from Mawphlang to Lad Mawphlang.
Mawphlang is 25 km from Shillong and can be reached by taking a shared vehicle from near Bada Bazaar in Shillong. You can also book a cab to reach Mawphlang.
The exit of the trek, Lad Mawphlang is near Sohra or Cherrapunji. The transportation here can be a bit tricky. You might have to wait for sometime before you get a shared vehicle to Cherrapunji.
Is Guide required for David Scott Trail?
The trek can be done without a guide. But it is highly recommended to take a local guide with you. There are a few confusing turns in the way. Also, your guide can tell you wonderful Khasi stories along the way. We took BG as our guide, a young guy with whom I had been to the Mawphlang Sacred Groves. He is quite a jolly person and would not tell us his full name. Call me BG – that is all he would say!
Best Time to do the David Scott Trail Trek
During the monsoon, the trail becomes a bit slippery and the river is at full force. You have to find a proper way to cross the river at that time. Otherwise, the David Scott Trail can be done all through the year. We had done the trek in winters and that is our preferred time.
Here are a few more pictures from the trek that might make you want to visit Meghalaya!
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