Travel in India – Picture perfect Mawlynnong

Mawlynnong is  nestled in the pristine Meghalaya hills of North East India , about 90 km from Shillong (capital of Meghalaya)  along the Indo- Bangladesh border. A tiny village with  just  about 90 households, Mawlynnong is picture perfect.

Mawlynnong enjoys the title of being the cleanest in Asia. ( Travel magazine Discover India declared the village as the cleanest in Asia in 2003, and the cleanest in India in 2005).

Mawlynnong – The cleanest village in Asia

Bamboo baskets outside every home and roadside complete the picture- perfect settings.

The centre of the village has a large parking lot to accommodate visiting cars and buses, a tea shop does brisk business and tourists clamber up Sky View, a tall, bamboo tower from where one can view the Bangladesh plains.

A short distance from Mawlynnong is the village of Riwai, home to the unique bridge that wasn’t built but grown. Strategically placed signboards guide you to the Living Root Bridge.

root bridge small
The living root bridge

This natural bridge made up of knotted roots spans the stream from one end to the other. Meghalaya is known for its centuries- old tradition of living root bridges that are used to cross streams in remote mountainous areas.

The pliant roots of the Ficus elastica , the Indian rubber tree, are braided and entwined in a way that they grow into an elaborate lattice. Over time the bridge becomes so strong that it can be paved with stone. It is an unwritten rule that if any villager notices a new root, he has to weave it into the mesh.

The roots meshed together
The roots meshed together

The bridge across the river can endure the weight of nearly 50 people and is an example of bio and eco engineering at its best. No one knows how old the bridge is — perhaps 50 or even 100 years.

View upstream
View upstream
Water hole
An ancient engineering wonder
An ancient engineering wonder
Read the detailed travel article on Mawlynnong in print here


3 thoughts on “Travel in India – Picture perfect Mawlynnong

      1. As it is not completely man-made, has anyone done research to try to understand why the trees grow their roots across gullies like this instead of completely toward the grown?

        I’ve never heard of this anywhere else. I’d love to photograph those bridges for my project.

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