Shnongpdeng, Dawki & the clear water of Umngot

by Jun 27, 2018Meghalaya, Northeast India31 comments

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.

Shnongpdeng Meghalaya

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!

Campfire at Shnongpdeng Meghalaya

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.

Umngot River Shnongpdeng Meghalaya

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!

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.

Camping at Shnongpdeng Meghalaya

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.

Dawki Shnongpdeng Meghalaya

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.

Shnongpdeng Meghalaya Places to Visit in Meghalaya

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.

Places to visit near Shillong Shnongpdeng Meghalaya

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!

Shnongpdeng Meghalaya

Shnongpdeng Meghalaya Offbeat places to visit in Meghalaya

Shnongpdeng Meghalaya Tourism

Travel Guide to Meghalaya Shnongpdeng Dawki

Shnongpdeng Meghalaya

Hanging bridge Shnongpdeng Meghalaya

Meghalaya Travel Guide

Dawki Meghalaya


Shnongpdeng, Dowki

Capturing the border!

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Agni & Amrita

Agni & Amrita

Travel Experts

We are Agni and Amrita, the story-telling team behind Tale of 2 Backpackers and partners in crime in travel and (mis)adventures of life. We have been travelling together for more than a decade looking for immersive experiences while enjoying the little beauties of life. We are intrigued by heritage, culture, festivals and people and that is reflected in our travel. And yes, we love the Himalayas too.

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  1. Thank you for sharing your travel experience ! Very nice informative blog! Thanks for sharing your information.

    • Thank you!

  2. Where exactly you stayed at Shnongpdeng ? There are so many options available and lead to confusion.
    Nicely writeup. Thanks.

    • We stayed at Bright Star Camps. Contact: 07005177829

  3. The river is so serene and calm. A few things stood out for me. I like the fact that locals want to travel out to places nearby on their day off. I also like the fact that a place in India is also a holiday destination for Bangladeshis. I am tired of seeing westerners in search of hippiedom and yoga on the west coast, so this comes as a welcome respite.

    Is 4G signal available? If it is I’d love to watch an India-Bangladesh cricket game at the tented place just for some banter!

  4. I enjoyed reading the stories about Dawki and Shnongpdeng. It’s a shame that tourists are polluting the place. I hope we learn soon to be more conscious and responsible as travelers.

    • Thank you Pujarini. We too hope that the tourists, as well as the locals, be responsible for these places.

  5. Seems like a really offbeat place. I have not heard of it until now. But then again, i haven’t been to north east India. High time I cover Meghalaya and couple of other 7 sisters.

  6. Lovely photos! It must be quite a rewarding sight to be able to see the clear river water just as you wake up in your tents, after what seems like a disastrous night! It is quite sad to see a beautiful place being littered with all the waste…hopefully people will start to take note and not take mother nature for granted again!

  7. Lovely photos, what a beautiful place. Looks like even after the long journey and then your problems getting accommodation, you had some great experiences on the river.

  8. Visiting the Dawki has been high on our list for so long but unfortunately, we are unable to plan a trip. It looks like an amazing experience waking up next to a riverside with the sweet sound of the river water flowing. Thank you for sharing how to pronounce Shnongpdeng, we were struggling while reading the post 😉

    • Thank you both. I still pronounce it wrong many times. But yes, the place is amazing!

  9. Meghalaya is such a beauty. I just came back from a trip there couple of months back. I wish I knew of shnongpdeng at that time. We stayed in Shillong and did a trip to Dawki from there which was exhausting. Particularly because Shillong is so very crowded now and everyday there is a traffic jam to the entry of the town. Nevertheless, we do intend to return to Dawki some day for the water was not crystal clear at that point of time when we visited. That time, I would love to stay in shnongpdeng.

    • Thanks Neha, I am following your Meghalaya posts too, and they are awesome just like the place itself. Next time you are in Meghalaya, do visit Shnongpdeng and a few other offbeat places too. It would be much much better than your stay at Shillong! 🙂

  10. Great post and quite an adventure you had there! The place looks amazing, I’d choose it over a resort anytime.

    • Yes, we love all these adventure and camping over resorts! Thank you for the appreciation.

  11. Meghalaya has always been on my bucket list .. so glad that I came across ur blog beautiful ..I will also camp by the river when we go .. it looks so serene

  12. That’s a shame to hear that people are littering this lovely place. I’ve never heard of Shnongpdeng but I appreciate the introduction, and the way to pronounce it too! Your photos are great, and tell a story of a serene river and area.

  13. This region looks incredibly nice – hence I must say that I had to read aaaaall the way down to the part where Bangladesh comes into the mix (btw – that’s my favorite picture!) to understand where these beautiful places are. Sorry, never been to India, so I’m not familiar with any of the places you are mentioning; whereby at least now I know what I’ve been missing out on 😉

  14. I have never heard of this place before reading your post! It seems you had an amazing time there. I truly enjoyed watching the picture you took in this enchanting place

  15. Haha I was just wondering how to pronounce Shnongpdeng when I saw that you answered that question 😀 The camping site next to the river looks pretty awesome. Its so cool that the people were all well dressed, off to church on Sunday and they have kept aside that day to be spent with family- more of us should do that often! I have never explored the East part of our country. Need to get to Meghalaya soon! I know its culturally very different from the North and South and that is what excites me the most.

  16. I have never heard of this area before but it looks amazing! Beautiful nature and adventure activities are right up my alleyway. It’s such a shame when tourists (and sometimes locals) leave rubbish behind at such gorgeous spots. We all really need to make an effort to look after our planet.

  17. I love how much there is to do here in Nature. The region looks incredible, so serene and absolutely pristine as well. I’m all about camping and that natural world so I appreciate when others take time also to get to see the beauty of Mother Nature.

  18. I’ve never heard of any of these places before but have to say the region looks absolutely gorgeous. I’m intrigued by the bamboo cottages, although I wouldn’t mind camping either. It is really sad how beautiful places like this are being destroyed by tourism. I’m actually trying to make it a habit to bring an empty trash bag with me when I go hiking nowadays so I can pick up trash along the way.

  19. Impromptu camping? You two really have an ability to roll with the punches. Sounds like a lovely place and your photos of the river are particularly beautiful.

  20. I have never heard of this place before so thank you for sharing. This place looks so peaceful (especially the river pictures) I would love to go camping there and explore the natural habitat.

  21. I’ve never heard about this area sandwiched between India and Bangladesh 🙂 Thank you for sharing your travel experience ! Your post includes really useful and informative tips. I’m a truly nature lover and your photos are great. When we get closer to nature—be it untouched wilderness or a backyard tree—we do our overstressed brains a favor. I love this feeling 🙂

  22. Sightseeing by river is one of the best, especially is lesser known areas of the World. What a wonderful experience to share. Hopefully it will stay a little lesser known so it keeps its beauty and not destroyed by too much tourism.

  23. What a fantastic experience, the river looks incredible! I love zip-lining since the first time I tried it in Nepal, so that’s certainly something I would do there. Also, homestay sounds like a fantastic option to really live the place and not only visit it.

  24. I have never heard of this before! What a unique expereince! I love that you were able to do something and experience a side that not many tourists get to see! I love this kind of travel!

  25. Meghalaya has been high up on my family’s wishlist and I’m so glad I came across your post! Camping on the riverside looks perfect!


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