Monday, July 26, 2010

Border Town of Dowki & The Root Bridge of Mawlynnong

It was our last day of our stay in Shillong and we still had not seen the famous root-bridges.  We had decided not to leave without seeing it, we hit the road early with packed breakfast just like we did for Cherrapunji and started winding up the road which we had already done twice by that time.  Our first destination was Dowki, the town that borders with Bangladesh. 

To reach Dowki one has to deviate towards left from the Cherrapunji road and travel for about 2 hours.  The road passed through lush greenery on both sides, ranging from mountains to plains to dense forests, it was very relaxing to see such thick foliage with no signs of civilization.  After about half hour journey, the visibility was greatly reduced by a thick blanket of fog, this drastically reduced our speed.  We vaguely saw, through the dense mist, few small hamlets passing by.  The foggy route lasted for about 45 minutes, after which, to our luck it started raining.  It was too romantic a drive - splendid verdure, heavy downpour, absence of civilization!

It was about 10 when we reached Dowki, there is nothing much to see and do in Dowki.  It's just a border village with a river at the entrance of the town, interestingly even the river is divided between India and Bangladesh.  The view from the road atop the mountain is a very picturesque one - a lovely greenish river in the valley, a clamorous crowd in the river on a  plethora of boats lined up, busy collecting stones from the river.  We continued ahead without stopping there to the actual border which resembled  Wagha border without any crowd.  There is BSF check-post on India side & a similar counterpart on Bangladesh side with about 200m no-man's land.  We were allowed to walk unto half-way of no-man's land and were kept a watchful eye on.  We took few pictures and came back & walked around the village.  It was a wonderful sight - acres of areca plantation overlooked by densely forested mountains with a distant waterfall in the landscape.  

On the way back, we stopped at above-said river to photograph the busy bunch of people on the river.  We had to maintain distance from them, for it seems it belonged to Bangladesh and the army-men kept a keen eye on us and warned us when we took a step ahead.  The Indian army guys were interested in knowing about us and asked few questions as to our whereabouts were we heading to and whence have we come.  It was a great place for photography, I just wanted a little more sunlight for it was badly overcast and the movement of the people blurred many of my photographs.  We spent quality time there, before we resumed our return journey.  

For the root-bridge, we had to deviated left about 10km before we reach the Cherrapunji road.  The driver said, it was just about 6km from the deviation but I reckoned it to be not less than 12km.  It was again a green drive with hardly any habitation enroute and not crowded by tourists.  We had to walk about half kilometer on a paved path which passes along a small hamlet, few people were shy to my camera & few were glad.  I was surprised when this mother asked her 2 year old to say "I love you" to us and give a flying kiss, the baby did so...English's everywhere.  After we pass the hamlet, it's a full 10 minutes descent to the river on slippery stones covered with fern & algae, thanks to heavy rainfall that the region receives.  

At the end of the descent, you're there!  Right in front of your eyes you'll witness one of nature's finest architectural marvel.  You'll see the roots of a gigantic tree spread so wide  that it spans the entire width of the river and all you could do is just remain stupefied at such a unique design by the mother herself & completely surrender to it.  No fancy words or beautiful photographs could describe the perfection and the beauty of root bridge to the fullest.  It's as though a gigantic spider of one of those arachnophobic Hollywood movies wove the stranglers of root into an intrinsic & complex web which has resulted in such a bridge.  The villagers have kept stones which forms a pavement to cross the bridge.  Below the bridge, people chill out in the river water showering & swimming , for few it's a picnic spot.  I guess there are many root bridges in Cherrapunji area, some of which may require a day long trek.  The most unique one is I think the double-decker root bridge of Ummonoi, we thought there's always a next time and forewent it.

We then head to village of Mawlynnong which was about 3km from the root bridge, it's supposedly the cleanest village of Asia with people maintaining very aesthetic garden around their house et al, but it was too artificial for my taste and I was almost feverish by that time.  We still had a very long journey (to Shillong, Shillong to Guwahati & Guwahati to Tinsukiya) to do, so we called it quits & drove back towards Shillong.  Dowki & root bridge are definitely worth visiting for it's yet undamaged scenic beauty and uniqueness of the nature if not for anything else.  

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