Q: Guess which is the cleanest village in Asia?
A: Mawlynnong in the East Khasi hills, Meghalaya
So says everyone (Try Google)
It is about 2 -3 hours or 85 kms from Shillong the state capital & you could reach it by private car, shared Sumo, or tourist bus.
Take the highway from Shillong towards Dawki on the Bangladesh border, slicing through floating white clouds that drift & hang high above in the sky, then suddenly descend to the ground, blocking the path & view ahead.
Not for nothing is it called Meghalaya (the abode of clouds)
Driving past a landscape of quaint Khasi villages, leafy green woods, upteen waterfalls, mist, drizzle & rain it is surreal. Akin to cruising to the ends of the earth into a kind of ‘nowhere’ land
And, the road is rather good. So you could simply zip up.
Not quite though. Alas, for the clouds.
With a population of 501, (according to the last census) there are 95 households. The village has paved roads, public parking, pay & use toilets, piped water, electricity, schools & post office
A natural nursery of flora & fauna there are benches for the visitor to simply sit, stare & watch life go by.
Practically everything – from garbage bins to tree houses to skywalks – is made of different varieties of locally grown bamboo.
Mawlynnong is green & beautiful. And yes, it is spotlessly clean.
October onwards is the best time for a visit. With the monsoon in retreat, a brimming river & sprightly waterfalls, the colors of the hills come alive. And the rhododendron in full bloom sets the forests ablaze.
It is also a good time to trek, to the many ‘living root ‘& ‘ladder’ bridges which otherwise are inaccessible most parts of the year.
If you ever come, do try slices of fresh pineapple, sprinkled with red chili powder. It is an absolute ‘must’. As is the local red chili which has a flavor uniquely its own
What strikes one most is the quiet stillness of the place broken only occasionally by a loud buzzing sound emanating from the forest. It is louder than the sound of a vibrating mobile & comes from an insect that is never to be seen.
At a height of 600 meters Mawlynnong can get hot & humid during the daytime. The locals then retire for a siesta. After a hearty meal of rice, meat & vegetable what could be more desirable.
Leisure, after all is the hallmark of civilization.