Monday 6 July 2020

Dawki : The boat did not float

Dawki is a small town in Meghalaya, India, near the Indo-Bangladesh border. It takes around 5 hours to travel the 200 KM distance from Guwahati to Dawki by road. After many failed plans, I finally had the opportunity to go on a one day trip to this beautiful place on 11th July 2016 with my family. The excitement to visit the famous Umngot River was at its peak. We had seen pictures all over the internet of this river, whose crystal clear water makes the boats in it appear to be floating in the air.

On 11th July 2016, after getting fresh and packing all the essentials for the journey, by the time we fired up the engine of the car, the watch read 5:15 AM.

On our way, in Meghalaya, an encounter with dense fog, made us drop our pace drastically. But fortunately, after traveling for a few kilometers, the fog cleared up and the sun finally made an appearance in the sky. Unlike other popular destinations of Meghalaya like Cherapunjee (Sohra) or Shillong, Dawki is situated at a much lower altitude. As the altitude started to drop, the temperature changed from that pleasant Meghalaya weather to more like “Guwahati-ish”, i.e., hot.

By the time we had reached our destination, Umngot River, Dawki, the watch read 9:30 AM. The temperature which was probably more than 30 degree C, combined with high humidity, provided the perfect combination for dehydration. But you will almost forget about the heat and humidity, the moment you lay your eyes upon the view. The greenish colour of the river accompanied by the vivid blue colour of the sky provideS a view that we do not get to see often. And on the other side of the river is India’s neighbor, Bangladesh.

There are counters to hire boats. It is important to note that the prices of hiring a boat might vary from counter to counter (at least it did 3 years ago). We hired a boat for Rupees 500 and life jackets for Rupees 10 per jacket. It was only after we came back from a tour of the river, we came to know that, there was another counter providing boats for hire at Rupees 200. So be aware and try to check multiple counters before actually hiring a boat.

The only one wearing a life jacket on our boat was I because everyone else was feeling too hot to wear it but, I chose sweat over death by drowning. The view of the surround from the boat was mesmerizing. The water on one side of the river appears blue while on the other side it appears green. The beautiful geometry of the rocks on the surrounding hills almost appeared to be sculptured upon by humans. The only downside is that, since the boating spot is surrounded by hills, it feels even warmer.

But the real disappointment was that the water was not even half as clear as it appeared in the photos on the internet. The boats that wear sailing in the river did not appear to be floating in the air. The boatman informed us that the water would be clear during the non-rainy season as it provides time for the sediments to settle on the bed of the river. He also added that the perfect time to witness the clear water of the Umngot River is in December or November. I wish we knew that earlier.

Before leaving for home we decided to visit two of the nearby places, Shnongpdeng (5 KM away from the first destination) and Mawlynnong, Asia’s cleanest village (18 KM away from the main road).

After a long day of traveling to multiple destinations, we had finally reached our home sweet home at 8:30 PM.

I hope you have liked the article about my not so recent visit to Dawki.


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