Jowai is the headquarters of the West Jaintia hills of the State of Meghalaya in India. A bustling town, this place connects Silchar, Tripura and Mizoram with the city of Guwahati in Assam. Until recently Jowai was not on the tourist map circuit of Meghalaya but since the last 2 years after hosting the Bacardi NH7 Weekender music festival, Jowai has slowly started to gain popularity among the visitors to Meghalaya. To reach Jowai from Guwahati you need to keep travelling straight from Umiam Lake instead of taking a right that leads to Shillong. As it is a major connecting highway be sure to be greeted with hundreds of heavy trucks that ply along the way up to Silchar-Jowai Bypass. The roads are very good and the entire drive is very scenic as well. The beautiful landscapes of Meghalaya greet you and follow you across the drive to Jowai.
Some of the popular tourist attractions around Jowai are the Krang Suri falls, the Bophill falls, the Nartiang Monoliths, Jowai local market, Syntu Ksiar, Tyrchi waterfalls, Lalong park, Jowai Presbyterian Church, etc. Jowai is an ideal place to spend a family get away from a busy city schedule and to wake up in the natural surroundings with fresh air. The people of Jowai are very friendly and welcoming. The major inhabitants of Jowai are the Pnar people who are from the Jaintia tribes of Meghalaya. The people also follow a matrilineal system as is evident from the market where you see the major businesses being run by the woman folks itself. Other inhabitants of Jowai are the Khasis, Bengalis, Marwaris and the Nepalis.
A popular festival of Jowai is the ‘Behdienkhlam’ which is a four day festival that is celebrated in the month of July among the people of the ‘Niamtre’ faith of Jowai. The major aim of this festival is to ‘drive away evil and plague’ from the society. Other important festivals are ‘Laho Dance’, ‘Chad Sukra’ and Christmas. During these festivities in Jowai, food plays a major role and the people of Jowai prepare various traditional dishes out of chicken, fish, pork and beef as well. ‘Chutneys’ play a major role in the local cuisine of Jowai and two important among them are ‘Jungtoh’ made from fermented beans and ‘Tungtarp’ made from dry fish. The best way to explore Jowai circuit is top begin your drive from Guwahati to Jowai and then continue to visit the Krang Suri falls, Dawki, Mawlynnong, Cherrapunji, Shillong and back to Guwahati or continue further to Kaziranga National park and Majuli Island in Assam.
Exploring Pobitora, Jowai, Dawki, Mawlynnong and Shillong with our Guests from Canada
Ms. Gayle had contacted us through the internet from Toronto (Canada) and expressed her desire to explore Assam and Meghalaya with us. We worked with her and designed a customized Itinerary for her family as below:
Day 1 (Dec 16): The Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary (Home to the Highest Population density of One Horned Indian Rhinoceros)
Arrive at Guwahati Airport and transfer to Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. On the way halt at the Deepor Bil at Guwahati and spot some Bird Species. Arrive at Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. Visit the view point at Pobitora to sight the Indian One Horned Rhinoceros from a distance and also sight various species of migratory birds here. Later visit the Mayong Musuem of Magic and discover ancient relics used by the people to practice Black Magic at Mayong ~ India’s land of Black Magic. Check into your Jungle Resort at Pobitora.
Night Stay: Maibong Eco Resort at Pobitora (1 Nos Deluxe Rooms with Extra Bed)
Meals Included: NA
Day 2 (Dec 17): Pobitora and Jowai
Early morning spend your time near the Eco Resort and spot some rare Bird species at Pobitora. Go for a thrilling Jeep Safari into the forest reserves of Pobitora to sight the varied species of Flora and Fauna here. After breakfast transfer to Jowai in Meghalaya.
Night Stay: Heaven’s Cove Resort at Jowai (1 Nos Deluxe Room with Extra Bed)
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 3 (Dec 18): Jowai – Krang Suri Falls
Today after breakfast travel to the Krang Suri Falls at Jowai. One of the most beautiful waterfalls of North East India spend your time at the Krang Suri falls of Jowai. Later in the day explore the market of Jowai. Night halt at Jowai.
Night Stay: Heaven’s Cove Resort at Jowai (1 Nos Deluxe Room with Extra Bed)
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 4 (Dec 19): Jowai – Dawki – Mawlynnong
Today after breakfast travel to the border of India and Bangladesh at Dawki. Arrive at Dawki and sight the border of India and Bangladesh. Later do boating on the clear waters of the Umngot River at Dawki. The crystal clear waters to leave you spell bound. After Dawki transfer to Mawlynnong – Asia’s Cleanest Village. Arrive at Mawlynnong. Visit the balancing rocks at Mawlynnong.
Night Stay: Bamboo Hut Resort at Mawlynnong (1 Nos Deluxe Room with Extra Bed)
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 5 (Dec 20): Mawlynnong – Shillong
Early morning explore the Cleanest Village of Asia at Mawlynnong. Check out how the local people take initiatives in keeping the village clean. After breakfast we visit the Single Decker Living Root Bridge of Riwai at Mawlynnong village. Transfer to Shillong. Drop at Shillong. Tour Ends. Bid Goodbye!
Night Stay: NA
Meals Included: Breakfast
As she had expressed her interest in visiting the Krang Suri Waterfalls at Jowai in Meghalaya, we included the Jowai circuit instead of the popular Cherrapunji circuit of Meghalaya. The final drop was at Shillong as Ms. Gayle had a friend staying in Shillong and she wanted to spend time with her before she continued on her journey back to Canada.
On December 16th, I reached the Guwahati airport at 11 AM as the flight was scheduled to arrive at 11.50 AM. The flight landed on time and I welcomed Ms. Gayle and her family at the arrival lounge of the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi airport at Guwahati in Assam. Ms. Gayle was accompanied by her husband Mr. Bryan and their 6 year old son Seth. We started on our drive from the airport to the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary at 12.30 PM. We took the road from Pamohi to cross Deepor Beel area and then arrived at Lokhra Chariali at around 1.15 PM. We made a halt here to have lunch at the Pakghar restaurant here. We ordered for 2 vegetarian thali and 1 chicken thali as our lunch. While Gayle and her son Seth shared the chicken thali, her husband Bryan and I had the veg thali. We started on our drive again to Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary at 2 PM. I took the road from the city to go to Pobitora taking a right at Zoo Road tiniali and then heading to Narengi, Panikhaiti, Chandrapur, Burhamayong to finally arrive at Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary at 3.15 PM.
At first we headed to the view point near the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary to see if we could get lucky to sight some Rhinoceros that are often spotted here. We arrived shortly at the view point and were not left disappointed. There were at least around 8 rhinos that we could sight here and one even from a very close distance. It was a wonderful experience to watch this majestic animal from such a close view and we captured our pictures here. We left the view point at 3.40 PM to head to the Mayong museum of black magic. Mayong near Pobitora was earlier renowned for the prevalence of black magic and was the black magic capital of India. Sorcerers here had the knowledge of various black magic tricks and could achieve feats like converting a man to a goat, a tiger to a goat, cure various ailments, taming a tiger, causing harm to other human beings and even making an entire army of men disappear. Black magic practice was abolished several years ago here and to preserve this ancient practice relics have been preserved at the Mayong museum of magic. We explored the museum for about 20 minutes and left at 4 PM to check into the Maibong Eco Resort where their stay was booked for the night. The owner greeted us and the room – a deluxe cottage was allocated to our guests here at Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. While Bryan went ahead to fill the entry formalities, I ordered for tea for us. We explored the area around the resort while sipping our tea. At 5 PM I took leave to head back to Guwahati after ordering their dinner and breakfast for the next day.
The next morning I left home at 6.30 AM to head to Pobitora. I reached the place at 8 AM to join the family for their Jeep Safari ride into the interiors of Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. The Jeep was waiting in front of the resort. The family had finished the breakfast and so we started on our ride at 8.15 AM. The driver assisted me to get the entry formalities done at the front office and we started on our ride at 8.45 AM again into the park. We were joined by an armed forest guard who would escort us inside the sanctuary. The ride was a little bumpy as the roads were not plain but then again it is a jungle safari experience. We saw bird species to begin with like owls, eagles, kingfishers, egrets, lesser adjutant storks, etc. A short while into our ride we reached an area where we could see an adult female rhinoceros grazing along with her calf. The Jeep driver took us very close to the rhinos and we admired the beast. We stayed at the place for a while clicking pictures and enjoying the sight of these rhinos. We continued on our jeep safari ride further into the park sighting some more bird species and later came out of the sanctuary at 10 AM as we had a long drive to Jowai in Meghalaya ahead of us. I had a quick breakfast of roti and sabji at the restaurant and after settling the bill at the resort we continued on our drive to Jowai from Pobitora.
We reached the border of Assam and Meghalaya at Jorabat at 11 AM and continued on our drive to Nongpoh in Meghalaya. After crossing Nongpoh we continued driving further to Jowai in West Jaintia hills district of Meghalaya. The roads across Meghalaya are in very good condition and also very scenic across the majestic mountains of the State. We reached Jowai at 2 PM and we stopped for lunch at the Highlands Resort here on the outskirts of Jowai. A nice place here, we ordered for chicken momos, chicken fried rice, chicken noodles, rice and dal. We finished by 2.30 PM and boarded the car to continue to our place of halt in Jowai – the Heaven’s Cove resort. As it was a monday, it was the day of local market here in Jowai and we had to encounter quite a bit of traffic at the market area here. Somehow we managed to cross this traffic and then headed further to the Heaven’s Cove resort. We reached the place at around 3.15 PM where Mr. Bari, the owner of the place was waiting for our arrival. He greeted us on our arrival and informed us that we had to take a short walk for 15 minutes from the bridge to reach the Resort. The transfer of luggage was taken care by the staff of his resort and I had to leave my car with Mr. Bari at the entrance and he would later park my car at a safe place.
The entire place and surroundings looked very beautiful as we walked towards the resort. We arrived finally at 3.40 PM and the young manager Mr. Hep showed us our rooms. While the family stayed on the first floor with a living room, a balcony and a bedroom, I took the room downstairs. There were no other guests as we had booked the place for 2 nights. We ordered for tea and soft drinks for Seth. While tea was being prepared we explored the area around the Heaven’s Cove resort in Jowai. Behind the place there is a swimming pool and a bonfire area. The owner was also building a dance floor as well as a pool room area here. After that there is a fish pool that has a variety of ‘Koi’ fishes. These Koi fish varieties have a beautiful color on their body and are quite popular in China and Japan. The water in the swimming pool is fed from a natural stream that flows alongside the resort. Next up the manager Hep brought out the ATBs outside in the field area of the resort. All of us took our chances riding these ATBs here. It started drizzling by this time and it was also getting dark so we headed back to our rooms inside the Heaven’s Cove resort. Hep asked us what we wanted for dinner and we ordered pork with sesame seeds, rice, dal, veg sabji and salad for dinner. As North Americans like to have an early dinner we asked Hep to serve us dinner by 7 PM. I went into the kitchen area to look after the dinner preparations. It was drizzling and so the temperature got quite cold here in Jowai. Dinner was served at 7 PM and the family had their dinner as it was too early for me to have my dinner. The food was delicious as they told me especially the pork. After dinner they retired to their rooms. I spoke to Hep for a while and at around 8.30 I too had my dinner and went to bed early.
It had rained continuously that night and while I got up at 5.30 the next morning it was still raining. This would spoil our plan for the day. Normally it never rains in December but due to a cyclone effect over the Bay of Bengal in coastal Andhra Pradesh we faced these rains. By 7AM tea was served. We discussed on what to do and finally planned on to continue on our visit to the Krang Suri waterfall near Jowai on the Jowai-Dawki road. Breakfast was served at 8.15 AM and it had Puri Sabji, Bread toast with butter, Omelettes and tea. After finishing our breakfast at 9 AM we headed out with our umbrellas to the area where our car was parked. We were joined by Bari’s nephew Imuel who would take us to the Krang Suri falls. I started the car and we headed to the Krang Suri waterfalls. We took a right from the DC office at Jowai and headed on the Jowai-Dawki road to Krang Suri waterfalls.
The entire drive was very scenic overlooking the landscapes of Meghalaya. Ms. Gayle was often referring to this place as next to Switzerland. We reached Krang Suri waterfalls at around 10.30 AM. It was still drizzling and so the family decided against swimming in the waters of the Krang Suri falls. Instead we would simply take a hike to the waterfall, enjoy the view of the Krang Suri falls and come back. We took our umbrellas and started the short hike downwards to see the Krang Suri falls. Imuel led the trek and slowly we reached the ticket counter. I purchased our tickets to go inside the area near the Krang Suri waterfall and along with it we bought some chips packets to be had near the waterfalls. Shortly we arrived at the Krang Suri waterfall. A very breathtakingly beautiful waterfall, the Krang Suri falls has water so crystal clear that you immediately would want to jump into the water pool and enjoy the water here. As the weather was too cold and it was raining as well we decided not to go inside the water to avoid falling sick. We did however explore the complete area around the Krang Suri waterfall. We walked along a stone pathway to reach a cave like area under the waterfall from where we admired the beautiful waterfall.
Next up we went down a little further and stepped in the waters of the Krang Suri falls just to get a feel of it. It was almost 12 by the time we finished exploring and came back up from the Krang Suri falls. We decided to head back to our resort after a short halt exploring the local market of Jowai. I halted to refuel at a petrol bunk and then we continued on our drive back to Jowai. It was still raining along our way. At around 1 PM we reached the Jowai market. After finding a place to park the car we went out to explore the market. From the market scene we could see that even in Jowai the Jaintia people follow the matrilineal system like the Khasis of Meghalaya. The shops were all run by the women from vegetable shops, stationary shops along with the meat and fish stalls as well. We took a walk along the market looking at all the fresh leafy organic vegetables. After 30 minutes we headed back to our resort. Our original plan was to eat a traditional Jaintia cuisine lunch outside but as Bryan started to feel unwell we ordered lunch at the resort itself.
We reached the resort entrance at 2 PM and started the 15 min hike to the resort. By the time we reached lunch was ready and served to us. Hep prepared rice, dal, chicken curry semi gravy, salad, veg sabji and a spicy tomato chutney for us. The meal was amazing and tasty as well. They had put a heating stove inside the room with charcoal that kept us warm and also helped the guests to dry their shoes and clothes. We spoke for a while and then took time to relax. As it was a rainy day Hep prepared us some vegetable pakoras as snacks for the evening. We spoke about our culture of North East India with the family and how people live and survive in this remote conditions of India as well. Hep got busy with the preparations for dinner as the family wanted to go to sleep early today as they were exhausted. Dinner was light and had rice, dal, veg salad, veg sabji, little of chicken curry and pickle. It was served at 7.15 PM and the family had a quick dinner and retired to their rooms. I had my dinner at 8.30 PM and I went to bed to prepare for the next day.
I got up in the morning at 5.30 AM and I could see that the downpour had now subsided but the area was still foggy as well. But the sky seemed to be clearing up for a pleasant day ahead. Today after breakfast we were to go for a short hike behind the hill near the resort to a waterfall nearby and then continue on our drive to Dawaki and then to the Cleanest village of Asia at Mawlynnong where our stay for the night was booked. Breakfast was served at 8 AM and at 8.45 AM we headed on our trek to the nearby waterfall. We had to cross a small stream nearby the resort by hopping across stones to reach the other side. While I was trying to cross the stream I somehow slipped and fell into the water. My shoes got completely wet so I removed them and wore my sandals on the hike to the hill. We gradually approached a hill covered with dense trees and we started to climb slowly. The place was still a little wet with the previous day rainfall so we had to walk carefully. It was a little exhausting as the guests were not used to hiking up hills so we took our time and in some time reached the summit. The group continued to trek to the waterfall led by Hep and another guy while I waited on top to dry my shoes, socks and jeans. The family admired the waterfall and by 10.10 AM we came back to the resort to pack our bags and leave to Dawki. We left at 10.30 AM to reach the entrance by 10.45 and started on our drive to Dawki.
Mr Bari – the owner was awaiting to bid us goodbye and show us upto the road to Dawki. We started the car and followed Bari. In sometime we reached at the spot like yesterday from where we took a right at the DC Office and continued on our drive to Dawki. The road was a little foggy today so I had to drive with caution. We passed the Krang Suri waterfall road with another 32 km left for Dawki. The roads were superb so the drive was comfortable. We gradually approached near Dawki and would see many trucks parked in line. Places near Dawki are known for stone mining and these trucks carry stones across the border to Bangladesh. We kept driving slowly and at around 1 PM reached the boating point at Dawki. The Umngot river at Dawki is a very popular tourist destination with waters so crystal clear that it appears that boats float here in the air. As it had rained the previous night the water was clear but a little murky as well. We hired a boat and took the amazing boating experience here at Dawki. We reached a small stony island where we stopped for a while and bought snacks and water. By 1.30 we finished the boat ride and headed to Mawlynnong village. On the way we stopped at Resort Poinisuk for lunch. We had chicken soup, french fries, chicken fried rice, white rice and dal. By 3.30 PM we arrived at Mawlynnong.
Our stay was booked at the I-Lajong Homestay here. The owner an old lady greeted us and we checked into our rooms. A bamboo cottage was allocated for the guests while I took a room nearby. We headed out to explore Mawlynnong – the cleanest village in Asia. A small village with around 100 households, Mawlynnong had earned the tag of being the cleanest village in Asia as per the efforts of the local people here. We explored the village for sometime and then came to a restaurant close by our place Hala Rympei where we ordered for our dinner of veg thali to be served at 7 PM. We went back to our rooms to rest for a while till dinner time. There was a bamboo tree house adjacent to our place of stya which we decided to explore the next morning. At 7 PM we went to the Hala Rympei restaurant for dinner. The manager of the place was a very jolly and wonderful person and took adequate care to serve warm and delicious food for all of us. While we were waiting for our dinner a group of young children all holding candles in their hands came out in a procession singing christmas carols as Christmas time was near. They were practicing singing for the christmas eve and went around the village singing along with the members of the village as well. It was a nice sight to see it. Shortly the meal was served and it had rice, dal, okra sabji, potato and carrot sabji, tomato chutney and it was very affordable too at INR 100 per plate. He also served me 2 pieces of chicken gravy as well. We finished dinner by 7.40 PM and went back to our homestay after ordering for breakfast for the next day. After speaking for sometime we retired to our rooms and went to bed.
The next morning it was interesting to wake up in a village environment with our alarm clock being the local roosters of Mawlynnong village who ensured we got up as early as 5.30 AM. The family was up too and in some time we went ahead to explore the bamboo tree house near the place. This tree house is a private property owned by Henry and visitors need to pay INR 20 to access this place. We walked slowly to reach the top of the viewpoint of the tree house from where we could get a bird’s eye view of Mawlynnong village and along with it a sight of the plains of Bangladesh as well. We came down after clicking our pictures and went ahead to get ready and pack our bags. The owner served us tea at 7 AM and at 8 AM we headed for breakfast. They prepared bread toast with butter, maggi noodles with vegetables and egg omlettes for us. We had a heavy breakfast and then started our car to visit the Living Root Bridge of Riwai near Mawlynnong. To reach the Living Root Bridge at Mawlynnong one has to trek down for about 15 minutes. As we went there in the morning there were not many people only two other families so the place was less crowded and less noisy as well.
On an average, the Living Root Bridge at Mawlynnong sees around 1000 visitors in a day as this is the most easily accessible Living Root Bridge in Meghalaya unlike the ones in Cherrapunji and Pynursla. We took a walk over this Living Root Bridge and then went down a little further to feel the water of the stream flowing underneath this Living Root Bridge. We left Mawlynnong at 10.30 AM to head to Shillong. We crossed the town of Pynursla where we halted for a while to admire the beautiful valleys of Meghalaya. By 1.30 PM we reached our final destination is Shillong – Gayle’s friend home near Polo Grounds Shillong. I dropped them here and thanked them for their visit to North East India with us. Wishing them a happy and safe journey ahead I bid goodbye to them to return to my home in Guwahati by 4.30 PM.