Riwai is a pristine village, in the secluded lap of nature near Mawlynngong in Meghalaya. And like its neighbour, this village is luring tourists by promoting eco-tourism. As you might know, Mawlynngong holds the distinction of being popular as Asia’s cleanest village. Riwai seems to be modelling itself on similar lines. Recently, on my long cross state trip, I happened to visit this pleasing village, Riwai- in the lap of nature. Following is my account of the same.
How to reach:
I had lodged up in Shillong (a separate post coming up soon!). So, anyway, we booked a car to take us from Shillong to Riwai, then Dawki, back to Shillong. It cost us around Rs.3000+ fuel charges (rates may vary based upon cars). So, it was around a 2 hour drive to Riwai. And I should mention, the roads itself got us ecstatic. Just see for yourself!
Meghalaya, in all its glory lay bare before our eyes, as if to justify why Shillong was called the ‘Scotland of the East‘. Panoramas dazed the senses, as if willfully mocking the lens- “You think you can capture me? Just look how inferior my dynamic fashion makes you feel.” All along the journey, the hills presented themselves, as if in a competition to shadow each other’s magnificence.
And then came a twisted, snaking lane made through a culmination of forest and bushes- the greenery of which surprisingly refreshed us. And through the maze (I don’t know why it seemed like one!), the car halted to a stop at Riwai.
The first thing that strikes you is the fresh breeze- as pristine as it can be. It was quite different from the wind in the hills though. This one was strangely humid for a late October weather. But anyway, you can see small shops, usually put together by bamboo- selling the fresh produces of the trees, apart some minor handicrafts and packaged food items for tourists. Be aware though, there are bamboo dustbins around- a sign of sincere devotion to cleanliness. I was excited about the root bridge, as I had only read and seen pictures of it until now, but I realised that was just a part of the attraction- the show had other acts (no less in beauty!) as well. And walking around the place exposed why!
I just kept chasing these creatures- some things that the colourful wings make you do! Here are some more photographs. Who doesn’t like butterflies, after all?
You get the hint. Riwai is one lively gallery of the most beautiful butterflies! But don’t forget the flowers!
Walking through the forested tracks, we reached this bamboo elevation up to a tree. After paying some nominal entry fee, you can access the bamboo staircase, which takes you up the tree, from where you can get a glimpse of the plains of Bangladesh, as well a view of the surroundings.
Caution: The bamboos might make some creaking noises, but it seemed safe enough.
The tracks are so inviting to walk upon- you don’t mind exploring!
And now, the awaited live root bridge. A miraculous example of bio engineering- you remember Avatar? The close relation these people share with nature is bound to draw parallel with the Na’vis in the movie.
Moving a bit down the stream had a lot of surprises for me, as I discovered myself a land of fantasy! It is a fantasia come true- imagine forests, streams, and a play of colours- courtesy of butterflies! Nope, this is not CGI. This is Riwai!
Oh! There are various vibrant species of dragonflies as well.
BONUS STORY: The incident below is purely true. Any resemblance to any character is on purpose.
I felt like I should share this story, or rather a personal experience. This is how it goes.
So, as I was captivated into clicking, I walked down the stream to a secluded spot as the vicinity of the root bridge was a bit crowded with people. My father, called me once or twice, and I asked him to proceed and that I will follow. Then, I continued clicking. Time passed, and I hardly noticed. Finding a way up the rocks took some more time. I reached the root bridge, and not seeing my parents, I thought they had taken the other way on the side of the bridge, so I guessed making the uphill climb in that direction. Panting, as I reached up, I still did not find them. ‘How fast could they walk, and why didn’t they wait?’- thinking to myself, I pondered on which way to go. Following the track back to the root bridge would drain me of even more energy. So, I figured walking in a direction to the other side of the root bridge, i.e. the one we came from, but I could not find it even after quite some time of walking. It dawned on me quite late, that I had lost my way. Okay, this should not be problem- I thought, taking out my cellphone. And guess what? No signal. Oh, well! I should navigate a way, thinking to myself- I marched on and reached a school playground. I spotted the metalled road, and gained some confidence. Reached the main road, and followed it in the direction of the parking lot. I stopped by asking for directions from the local residents, just in case. And here, I faced another problem- the communication barrier of language.
But some of them knew some broken English and told me to continue until I saw a branch in way, and that Riwai was quite a long way. I followed, but I was perplexed as I didn’t find any fork in the road. I kept pacing up and down, in the hopes of spotting someone who could take me to Riwai- I was now in sweat- from both the weather and tension. I happened to notice some school children coming my way. I asked them if they could take me to the parking lot. And to my relief, one of the boys said his home was that way and he could take me. Through conversations, I came to know that I had wondered off to Nohket– another tranquil village. He told me that he would take a short cut, and then even offered me a local ice candy. I took it with a thanks as I needed something to cool me off. Then following his expert lead through the hilly forested tracks, across brooks and streams, I finally heaved a sigh off relief as saw the parking lot. He also answered my query that what the static sound ringing through the woods was- crickets! I shook his hand, and explained my gratefulness for his help. The Khasi (a tribe) boy told me his name was Jake. And we bid farewell. I saw my parents tensed and explained my situation to them. It had been almost two hours of my little misadventure, and I got a sound rebuke for that. It was drowned in my mind by the realization that I didn’t even have a photograph of him- the boy who helped me out. But I promised myself I would remember him. And hence, this story. Maybe, I will show this to him if I happen to meet him again.
I would recommend two things, based upon the experience I had.
- Find an Airtel/Vodafone SIM when you travel in this area- as they were the only networks we found out to be working.
- A local resident is immensely helpful. He knows the way around the woods, and more. So, yes. Padhaaro is, in fact, an excellent platform to help with this.
Additional Information: Fooding and home stay facilities are available in the area. We could not check them out as we were short on time. But I believe, they are going to be worthy experiences as well- if you have time, do check the options out.
So, that sums up my trip of Riwai- a tranquil village, in a peaceful harmony with the woods. On your list, now?
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This is a person who is into the trade of the quintessential Indian youth- Engineering.
He is currently pursuing Computer Science and Engineering from Haldia Institute of Technology. (You shall be spared the boring details.)
He has an interest in photography, exploration and travel; which is only superseded by a passion for writing and reading. Observant and pensive blended with an adventurous, instinctive personality. A game for challenges!