Road to Nongkhnum Island – largest river island in Meghalaya
There is an umpteenth time when I have said that it the journey that is important and not the destination. But as I stood there looking at the blue waters and the white clouds, I felt that this destination is simply worth all the trouble! There was not a single soul there apart from my guide and me. I am usually not speechless, I always seem to have something to say (even it is a word), but I had no words to say at that moment. The Nongkhnum Island made me speechless.
Where is Nongkhnum Island?
Nongkhnum Island is the largest river island in Meghalaya well hidden from the prying eyes of general tourists. My love for all things unconventional took me to this place. Infact, when I told to my homestay owner in Shillong that I wanted to visit the island, he was surprised. But I was totally adamant that I would visit the second largest river island in India!
Nongkhnum Island is located around 15 km from Nongstoin, the headquarters of the West Khasi Hills. But unlike Majuli, this island is completely uninhabited. Nongstoin is a good 95 km from Shillong, and from Nongstoin, the road to Nongkhnum Island gets really bad.
The journey to Nongkhnum Island
A trip to the Nongkhnum Island can be clubbed with Mawphnalur, another unexplored paradise in Meghalaya. But I did not have the time after my visit to Tura for the Wangala Festival. So it was only Nongkhnum for the day. It took almost three hours to reach Nongstoin from Shillong. But the roads of Meghalaya never disappoint me. Just after the car left Shillong, the air became cooler and the sceneries better. And after Mairang, the journey became a visual treat. I put down the window-panes and took in the beautiful landscape before me. My hair was a total mess, but these roads are meant for messy hairs while looking outside and humming my favourite songs.
After Nongstoin, we took the road towards Nongkhnum Island. The winding roads were in very poor conditions with stone and dirt all through the road. The 15 km journey took nearly an hour.
My experiences at Nongkhnum Island
As the car stopped, I could see only green and green in front of me. I was already jumping with joy. To enter the island, you have to cross a bridge beside the Weinia Falls. As I crossed the bridge, I could see the river beach in front of me. So calm and so peaceful the place was.
The Island is formed by the bifurcation of Kynshi River into the Phanliang River and the Namliang River. The river island is spread over 20-25 sq km with trees and patches of grassland all around. At the point where the two rivers diverge, is the beautiful sandy shore occupying over 100 square metres. I sat quietly at the beach looking at the blue waters lapping the shore as the wind caressed my face.
The river before reaching a deep gorge forms a pretty fall about 60 meters high, called Shadthum Fall. I am not whether this is the correct name. Nobody could tell me correctly. There is a way over the hillock to see the waterfalls. But unfortunately, the path was totally overgrown with trees and grasses and I had to cancel the plan. When I came down, I saw a boy near the near the beach. He agreed to take me to the other side of the river in his country boat.
The other side of the river was equally mesmerizing. Totally isolated, the place was simply breathtaking. I got down from the boat at the other side which was full of rocks. The explorer in me was at her best and I climbed down rocks and boulders and went near the waterfall. I saw the waterfall from the opposite side. The sound of the waterfalls was all that I could hear and see the vapours formed from the falling water. I just wanted to stay there and gaze at the gushing waterfall.
After quite a thrilling and fulfilling experience, I was back and ready for my return to Shillong. Thus ended my fascinating, fulfilling and solo trip to the offbeat, unexplored Nonghknum Island.
From Nongkhnum island, a half an hour hike will take you to the Weinnia Falls. It is also formed on River Kynshi. Ten kilometres away from the island, the two rivers merge together and reach a deep gorge, then fall down over 350 metres to form the ravishing Langshaing Falls. You can also camp on the Nonghknum island if you so decide to stay the night there.
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How to reach Nonghknum Island:
To reach Nonghknum Island, you have to first reach Nongstoin. You will get shared sumo from Shillong to Nongstoin. From there, you have to book a cab to the island. If you do not want to spend the night there and planning to take a shared vehicle, then start early from Shillong.
Here are a few more pictures of the wonderful Nongkhnum Island in Meghalaya that might bring out the wanderlust in you.
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