I had been to Dawki a long time back, a time when did not even know what blogging meant! Since then I had this regret that I did not get a picture of the clear Umngot River that I could boast of in my social media feeds. So Dawki had to be on the list when we decided to do that unplanned Meghalaya trip. But we decided to move a little further and stay at Shnongpdeng, another delightful and offbeat destination in Meghalaya.
Dawki is small, somewhat cramped and crowded place. It was like that even in 2013 when we visited there for the first time. So Shnongpdeng it was. We were at Lad Mawphlang after completing the David Scott Trail. Decided to go to Shnongpdeng that day itself without stopping at Cherrapunjee. So we started along the beautiful roads of Meghalaya. By the time we were at Dawki, it was already dark. And then we saw a long line of vehicles just as we see in the hill stations.
Sundays are for family and friends
Roads in Meghalaya are generally good and Dawki was almost in the plains. A landslide was quite out of question. So what was that snaky line of vehicles for? And then we realized it was a Sunday! The people here take their Sundays very seriously. They go to church to attend the mass and the time is entirely for friends and family. And on top of that, there was a special occasion at Shnongpdeng that day. People from all over the state had visited there that day. And now they were returning, so the vehicles towards Shnongpdeng were stopped so that the ones from the place could move first. So what else could we do but wait? In the meantime, we were looking at the impeccably well-dressed men and women in suits and dresses. You should not turn your face away from beauty, isn’t it? 😉
After waiting and then moving a little (rather crawling), we finally reached our destination. And there another blow awaited us. We reached Shnongpdeng at around 7:00 PM and there everything was closed. Apparently, everyone had gone to attend the festivities and have not returned. We did not book our rooms beforehand, and now we could not find anyone. On usual days, you would get a room or tent easily (We realized that the next morning!) but that evening everyone was celebrating. We found a phone number of a camping site and called that person.
– Oh! I will be back soon and then give you a tent.
‘Soon’ turned out to be almost 45 minutes. After he came all dressed up in his best suits, he got us a tent at the riverside. We crossed big boulders with our big backpacks and reached our tent. That day I again realized the importance of packing light. We were tired and after a quick dinner, we crashed in our tent. That was enough of adventure for a day!
Is it the River?
I opened my eyes to the sound of flowing water. Where was I? Oh yes, we were camping at Shnongpdeng. We came out of the tent and what do we see. As the cool breeze caressed our faces, we looked at the big boulders all around and the river a little distance away. At that moment, we were ready to give the world to wake up to such serenity every morning! Well, don’t we all travel and take pains to see and experience such things? After the initial euphoria, we roamed about the place and then went for a country boat ride.
We wanted to do scuba diving as well, but it started only after 12 PM. We did not have that much time as the road was already beckoning us for our next destination – Mawlyngot.
Shnongpdeng – how do you pronounce it?
We both had a tough time to pronounce the word ‘Shnongpdeng’. If you are not from the Northeast states, I bet you will not be able to pronounce it for the first time. I had to recite the name a number of times before I got hang of it. I am not sure if I still can say it properly. For the uninitiated, it is pronounced as sh-nong-puh-deng. Try it!
I would like to live like a river flows.. carried by the surprise of its own unfolding… And enjoying every moment that comes . . Umngot River at #shnongpdeng, meghalaya at its best #taleof2backpackers #travel #travelblogger #travelphotography #river #meghalaya #meghalayadiaries #umngotriver #boat #picoftheday #incredibleindia #instagood #travelgram #instadaily #backpackers #t2bgoesnortheast #northeast #northeastindia #indiblogger @meghalayatourism @infinitrips
So where is Shnongpdeng?
Shnongpdeg is around 90 km from Shillong and 8 km from Dawki. Settled just beside the clear Umngot River, the place is a popular destination among the locals of Meghalaya. The Umngot River flows into Bangladesh from here.
Bangladesh – where are you?
Yes, Bangladesh is quite near. Dawki is infact border town. The river is the natural boundary between the two countries. There were BSF outpost and an outpost from the Bangladesh side at the river bank near Dawki. We saw that last time we visited Dawki. I am sure it still exists.
Our tent owner in Shnongpdeng, Bright Star does daily business with Bangladesh. He is quite fluent in Bengali as well, but not so in Hindi. Infact, most of the tourists at Shnongpdeng are from Bangladesh.
What can you do at Dawki and Shnongpdeng?
- The first thing that you can do at both the places is to take a boat ride at the clear waters of the Umngot River. At Shnongpdeng, boating and kayaking are available from 10 AM to 4 PM.
- Camping options are available at both Dawki and Shnongpdeng. So if you ever thought of camping beside the river, you can do it here.
- Shongpdeng is a paradise for water sports enthusiasts. You can do kayaking here, snorkelling and scuba diving. Cliff jumping and zip-lining can also be done here.
- There are also short trek routes around Shnongpdeng.
- At Shnongpdeng, just go over to the suspension foot bridge. The view of the river from there is amazing.
How to Reach Shnongpdeng? How to reach Dawki?
Dawki is well connected from Shillong by buses and shared sumos. Shnongpdeng is another 8 km from Dawki. Now getting a local vehicle from Dawki to Shnongpdeng is a bit tricky. You might have to wait for some time. You can also ask your accommodation provider for a car.
There is an alternative route, via Jowai town but a bit longer. Distance from Shillong to Jowai is 66 km and from Jowai town to Shongpdeng via Amlarem is about 54 km.
Places to stay at Shnongpdeng
There are many homestay, bamboo cottages and camping options available at Shnongpdeng. Homestays are also available at Dawki. But it is better to stay at Shnongpdeng.
Please note, if you are staying at tents in Shnongpdeng, you have to either use the toilet tents or walk to the community toilet.
Best Time to Visit:
The best time to visit Shnongpdeng is between the months of October to April. Between the months of May to September, the place gets high rainfall which is heaviest during the month of June and July. The Umngot river is at its clearest during the winter.
Now that you have read about Shnongpdeng, read about our Meghalaya Travel Guide.
ATM Options near Shnongpdeng:
You will get ATMs at Dawki. Get cash for your stay at Shnongpdeng.
Just a word of worry from a weary traveller
As much as we loved Shnongpdeng, we could not but notice the vagaries of tourism here as well. There were beer bottles, plastic wrappers strewn around. We saw leftovers of food and other garbage of picnic-goers in between the boulders. The people who come here for the picnic are also making the place dirty. Bright Star was also worried about the situation. The homestay and camp owners are trying to keep the place clean. But it is not adequate. As travellers, we can do our bit by keeping the place clean. We sincerely do not want the beautiful place to turn into a garbage dump because of over tourism.
So here are a few more pictures to incite your wanderlust for Shnongpdeng and Dawki and Meghalaya as well!
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