How is the Dawki River

Visit the fairyland on the Umngot River in Dawki, Meghalaya

Imagine that - a boat that will take you along a jeweled creek, beneath it are some magical creatures and breathtaking jewels floating at the bottom of the bed. As you soar along, you'll encounter sparkling cascades falling from breathtaking hills lined with green trees. In the scene, beauties and fluttering fairies twitter. You will also see mysterious bays hidden between the ridges of the hills - Fascinating? One might think that this type of land only exists in fairy tales. Hello! You are so wrong. I visited one of them. Right here - in this life, in India. Welcome to Fairyland in DawkiMeghalaya.

Dawki is a small border town along the Indian Bangladesh border in Meghalaya. The city is a hot spot for trade between the two nations, but in reality a beautiful fairy tale land is enclosed. Near the cleanest village in Asia - Mawlynnong - I managed a magical visit to this place. The magic really lies in the beautiful river that flows out of here. Popularly known as the Dawki River, it is actually called the Umngot River. Wonderland lies in the river.

The Emerald Stream - Umngot River in Dawki

The Umngot River is considered to be one of the cleanest rivers in India. One look at it and you will definitely agree it is. Not only the cleanest, but also a breathtaking river. This river is a natural rift between the Jhantia and Khasi hills and flows through Dawki to Bangladesh. They say that on a good day, the waters of the Dawki River are so clear that the boats floating on it look like they're on a crystal glass surface. Many of these images can be found on the website Internet. After seeing some of these I really wanted to see for yourself. Unfortunately, it had rained non-stop when we were planning a trip there and I didn't see the river in all its glory. However, what I saw blew me away!

Trip to Dawki

A bit sad after leaving the beautiful village of Mawlynnong we made our way to our final destination in Meghalaya - the breathtaking Dawki River. I tried to think positively as the car drove down the winding roads that led to the Indian border. The drive brought us closer and closer to the plains of Bangladesh that I had seen for the first time from the village of Mawlynnong. The sight of it had made my little 11 year old Minx curious and she broke out into a tirade of questions about how, why and what about Bangladesh. The only time she stopped was gasping at the beautiful waterfalls that lined our paths. The last one was completely speechless because it was this huge one that fell right next to the bridge that we had to cross. With a quick photo op, we got back in the car to drive in silence for the next few minutes until we saw a curved emerald creek!

First look at the Umngot River

A clear emerald green river flowed between two hills.

Still and calm, sparkling in the sun

Green and yet clear, so far and yet close.

The Umngot River may not have been as clear as I saw pictures on the internet, but it was definitely breathtaking. Even if you may have seen pictures, it was just a different feeling to see something so beautiful in reality. It really felt too good to be true. The green of the river shone under the sun and was only accentuated by the colorful boats that lined its banks. The only way to make sure I wasn't dreaming was to rush down to the river and touch it!

Glide along the Dawki River

Yes, that was a reality. I was in wonderland, the transparent emerald green stream was a path through a magical land. We were excited about it and got on the snake boat. The boatswain sat in a corner high above the emerald surface and headed for paradise. It's funny how the shape of the boat and the position of the boatswain added to the magical passion of the place. It was almost as if it were suspended over the jeweled surface of the Dawki River. The first few movements had my daughter screaming, but soon she was enveloped in the magic of Dawki.

The magic of the Dawki River

The river bed was littered with deep round pebbles and stones. On the surface itself, it could be seen that these were colorful gemstones that might have been hidden underwater. Around the glittering rivers, we discovered mysterious niches - the ways elves and fairies hide. Green on the outside, with a curtain of a cascade, the damp walls of these tiny grooves glowed back on us, almost waving us to come and explore. The only sounds of the valley were the gentle rustling of the river and the river's melodious calls of birds.

Sindabads Island along Dawki

The boat trip took us to a small island that I affectionately refer to as Sinbad's Island. You may have heard of the legend of Roc in the famous Thousand and one Night,where Sinbad the Sailor was caught on the island by those giant birds that had eggs as big as that. There he found the treasure he was carrying home. Looks like I ended up on the same island full of roc eggs.

Breathtaking, beautiful and amazing! The island was full of round pebbles that I had previously seen in the Dawki river bed. What made the whole scenario amazing was that they were in beautiful colors. I asked the boatswain how they ended up here. He said - you were always there! If that's not magic then I really don't know what it is!

Back to reality on the Indian-Bangladeshi border

After visiting the island, we completed a tour of the rest of the river. That brought us back to reality as we sailed under the famous Dawki Bridge, which was built by the British in the 1930s. The suspension bridge can only accommodate one vehicle at a time. The crossing leads to the official Indian border.

The end point of the Dawki River is well marked with a BSF camp on the bank. In addition, we are not allowed to cross and our boat turns around. Interestingly, the Dawki River turns seamlessly blue when it flows into Bangladesh

Reluctantly, I returned to reality and made my way back to our car. To be honest, for those few moments I forgot that I was a girl from Bangalore, here on a trip with my family. I felt like we just belong here. And even now, when I share this experience, I feel like I have dreamed it all. My pictures are the only proof of my visit there. Everything else feels like a fairy tale. However, after this visit, I believe that there is fairy land and that fairy tales are true!

Come here

  • Dawki can be done as a day trip from Shillong. You can find information on how to get to Shillong in my post. You can hire a taxi from Shillong to take you here and drop you off.

Travel tips

  • The best time to visit this place is from October to May. During the monsoons, the water level is quite high and boating is suspended. The island is also submerged during the monsoons.
  • Combine a trip to Dawki with Mawlynnong's Living Root Bridges. You can even visit Mawlynnong Village as part of this day trip.
  • I can only recommend staying in Mawlynnong as it is a wonderful experience in this cleanest village in Asia. A day trip doesn't really do it justice. You can get in touch with Northeast Explorer or stay options here.
  • There are no restaurants or toilets near Dawki unless you go to Dawki.
  • The climb to the Dawki River can be steep for some - especially the elderly. There are no single steps.
  • The Dawki boat trip can cost anywhere from INR 500 to INR 750 per boat, depending on the season.
  • When visiting the Indian-Bangladeshi border, remember to adhere to the rules of the BSF. Do not venture beyond the point they indicate.
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