Dawki is a small town on the India Bangladesh border in Meghalaya. It is around 80 kms from the state capital Shillong and lies in the west Jaintia hills. The river passing through it, is called Umngot, and has become famous of late, because of it’s crystal clear waters.
Why is Dawki, the Lands’ end?
In case you are wondering about the title of this travel story, let me clarify. Dawki is the last town on this road which connects to Bangladesh. Indian territory ends here. Yeah, it’s not the lands’ end as Columbus would have thought, but an end nevertheless.
Nature at Dawki
There is greenery everywhere you look. Nature here is totally unspoiled. The water in Umngot is so clear, that on a sunny day, you can see right down to the river bed! This place, Dawki, is not exactly cut off from the world and in fact lies on a major highway connecting 2 emerging economies, so to say. There is a suspension bridge for the traffic to cross Umngot, which was built by the Brits way back in 1930. They might have used this route for troop and/or material movements. Goods are transported to and from Bangladesh via Dawki, even today. The amount of truck traffic is a clear giveaway about the popularity of this route. And that is what surprises you. In spite of being on a major trade route, the place is quite clean and pristine. Maybe, it’s a way of life, or maybe, it’s a conscious effort of the local populace.
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Food and Stay options at Dawki?
Not a problem, there are decent but basic food options available. You won’t starve out there. Though, we did not stay for a night, there are homestays available. In fact, you can spot many such boards in the main market stretch. Locals are still warming up to the idea of tourism here and all the facilities are basic in nature. In fact, that is part of the charm of this place. Pace of life is pretty slow and locals can be seen fishing throughout the day in the river.
With the right push from the Government, this place may evolve soon and once the swanky hotels or resorts open up, it might not remain as peaceful. As tourism booms, the traditional way of life may get lost!
The Shillong Dawki highway
This Highway offers some spectacular views all along. Hills, rivers, waterfalls, plains, forests, grasslands – you name it and you have got it!
As mentioned earlier, this highway is one of the major trade routes between India and Bangladesh. Shillong to Dawki is part of the NH40, which also connects Shillong to Guwahati on the other end. For some reason, Google lists it as NH206, not sure why! (Check the number as per Indian Govt. on this link).
The highway passes through the lush green East Khasi Hills for almost the entire distance. Road conditions are mostly good with most of the bad patches appearing near Dawki.
There are not many “highway facilities” along the way. Only worthwhile options of break are in the smaller towns which appear. There is also a decent hotel/restaurant near Mawkong (~30 kms from Shillong). Along with refreshment, this place offers some great views!
After Pynursla, the scenery flattens out and twisty hill roads give way to straight flat roads. It almost appears as though you are on top of the hill!
After Pongtung, the road crosses through a forest and around 20 kms before Dawki they become quite bad. The roads through forest are quite narrow compared to the other stretches, so one needs to be a little careful around the corners.
Boat ride in the Umngot river, Dawki
There are 2 points along the highway from where you can hire a boat for a tour of the river. Don’t worry, you won’t miss it, as the locals will gather around your car as soon as you near it. Both these “boating points” are on either side of the suspension bridge. How much they charge you, is completely up to your bargaining skills. Expect to shell out anywhere between 400 to 600 INR. Only row boats are available, no power or motor boats around. And that’s a good thing as you get a long enough ride to really soak in the beauty.
There is a smallish island on the other side of the suspension bridge the boat man usually takes people to. You can get down, play around in the sands, have some snacks (there is a shack operating here now) or you could just sit down by the water and enjoy the nature’s melody. What a place to unwind!
Loud horns from trucks travelling on the highway above, do break your state of trance every now and then, but the Nature pulls you back in no time.
The boat man also takes you near the International Border, the lands’ end. There is a BSF post up on the hills which keeps an eye out for any hanky panky people may attempt. A mini tree or shrub sticks out of the water denoting this border in water. On the other side of this tree, India becomes Bangladesh, Umngot becomes Goyain and a few kms down the highway, Dawki becomes Tamabil.
We immensely enjoyed the drive from Shillong to Dawki along NH40. Had some tasty local staple for lunch, a thrilling boat ride to the border, chilled out by the riverside and then started back for Shillong. Meghalaya Govt. is actively pushing Dawki as a top tourist destination and one can clearly see the supporting infrastructure coming up. The roads are great all the way, except maybe the last 15-20 kms. The smallish island on the riverside is home to a shack now and there is the talk of a resort also coming up. A few years later, one maybe able to stay on the riverside in comfort and stare out of the window across an International border! Beat that!
TOP TIP: When travelling in the northeast, always factor in that Sun sets much earlier here compared to other parts of india 😎
Have you been to Dawki? What are the places you visited? Drop us a note in the comments below, we would love to hear from you!