We were bowled over by the beautiful plains of Bangladesh- The view of our neighbouring country from the rest of Meghalaya! So, the thought of driving over to actually see another country from close quarters made us very excited. The innumerous blogs about the crystal clear waters of the Umngot river and the boat ride with the emerald green backdrop kept us on toes until we were finally there.. Dawki is the last village on the Indian border and Tamabil on the Bangladesh end. This is a friendly stretch and an important trade route between the two countries with limestone being majorly exported across borders.
A mesmerising stretch of green mountains on one side and a deep valley with thick settled fog on the other, accompanied us all the way till our destination. Based on a friend’s recommendation, we stopped by on the way to find a small board that guided us to Byrdaw falls. The road got narrower and isolated as we drove further. After passing through very thick forest, the road ended abruptly. Although we were a little apprehensive, I forced my friends to walk down. We continued to walk through what seemed like some plantations that was left neglected and looked more like a forest infested with some bandits who could hold us for a ransom. There were no signs of any water source or a stream that would eventually lead to a waterfall.. But, I insisted to continue o follow the well laid stairs all the way only to be awestruck with what defines Nature’s beauty! This is a 3 tiered waterfalls which one can walk through enjoying the serene location from the waterfall’s point of view- quite literally! My friends thanked me for having them got there!
We then drove over to where we were destined to reach for the day.. It was a slow route thereon with several loaded trucks travelling to Tamabil. Suddenly the blue waters of the Umngot river appeared from amid the trees with the rays of the setting sun reflecting back at us. We were overjoyed! We patiently awaited our turn to cross the narrow declared weak steel bridge across the river where only one vehicle is allowed at a time and atleast 50 trucks were ahead in the queue. It was dark by the time we met our guide ‘Mr.Bright Star’ at Dawki town and followed him to where we were supposed to camp for the night. Dawki is in the Jaintia Hill district of Meghalaya and hence, the cultural difference of the Jaintia tribes was clearly felt by us who had spent many days in the Khasi hills. Our guide drove us through eerie looking terrain carved though mountainous limestone. There was no asphalt and no streetlights with only thick creepers hanging down the high rise limestone walls. It was an offbeat off civilisation drive of over 5kms into nowhere where the cars were braked to a screeching halt- Destination: Shnongpdeng.
With our backpacks and camping essentials, we walked down the valley with torchlights and pitched our tents which we were told was on the river bank. The night was spent in absolute peace under the clear starry sky and some burning wood by the side that kept us warm through with just the rustle of the flowing water and our guide’s dog that were our other companions.
I was awakened before dawn and unzipped my tent with the first ray of day’s break- My heart skipped a beat with what I saw! We had stayed on the river bed.. The swiftly flowing river, rich never-ending stretch of green forest, rounded rocks of different colours spilt all over seemed to have put up a piece of heaven right infront of our tents. A couple of bamboo shacks and a long suspension bridge added to the beauty of the setup.. We then caught up with ‘Mickey’, our oarsman who rowed the boat along the rapids of the river. We wanted to catch the sunrise from the view point and getback to our camp before the tourist crowd poured in.
Although the beautiful landscape kept us motivated, the ride was rather taxing. We would sail for the calmer stretch and we had to get off the boat and walk when we approached the rapids. It was all worth it at the end.. We could enjoy the pristine beauty of the place right up, close and personal.. After a filling breakfast, we packed our stuffs and continued to travel towards Jowai with a stop-over at the Tamabil checkpost.
Summary: Dawki is a very laidback place blessed with natural beauty. It is very disheartening to see tourists flocking in thousands everyday which will not surprise me if just five years down the line, would be nothing more than a stinking slushy pool of water left back as a memory of abusive tourism.