The very meaning of Meghalaya – abode of clouds- says a lot about the natural beauty that has been bestowed upon this place. The comparison with the West’s picture-perfect vistas in Scotland, to the extent of being colonially heralded as the ‘Scotland of East’, lent it a fairytale touch. And, the reality is indeed as good as fantasy.
The sheer vistas that accompanied me from Guwahati to Shillong and the serpentine roads that took me all the way to Dawki were no less than the enchanted ones that might have taken many adventurers or dreamers on their exciting journeys. The sunrays filtering through tall palms and betel nut trees on one side and rocky hills on the other en route to this little paradise of nature could have anyone feeling calm in head and soul. I felt no different in that perfectly pleasant weather. And, the regular occurrence of photo-perfect spots kept me excited too at the same time.
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The shutterbug in me got delighted on seeing this beautiful waterfall. The little streams of milky white water flowing down the dark rocks, right beside the old iron bridge, to the green plains below in Bangladesh were just a precursor to what lay ahead. The jewelled emerald waters of Umngot river, popularly called Dawki river owing to its location, looked as if belonging to another world.
Standing on that 1932 suspension bridge, with magnificent Jaintia hills around, the boats below looked as if floating in air. The water that looked so clear from above was all the more pristine and perfect from within a touching distance. As the clear waters of Umngot didn’t run deep, hardly 12-15 ft, the pebbled bed of the river with stones in myriad shapes and colours, and the fish aimlessly swimming around added to the overall enchantment factor.
The cool breeze that gently stroked the hair as the boat moved, the glistening river and the alcoves on both sides, coupled with the sound of rippling water and calls of the birds can give one a heavenly feeling. The fairytale setting, however, had more to stun.
Further up the river, the riverbank full of naturally chiselled round and shapely pebbles were inviting me to take a stroll on them. As I sat on a big one, dipping my feet in the cold water, I could not stop wondering at the purity of environment all around and its calming and refreshing effect on me.
Despite not wanting to leave that wonderful lap of nature, I suddenly remembered the small rustic open-air kitchen above. The lure of food to an empty stomach is seldom matched by any other calling in the world. The limited yet delectable Assamese thali, consisting fish curry, vegetables, daal and rice, completely satiated the soul and I bid Dawki and Umngot adieu to feast my eyes on other beautiful places in the state.