Mawlynnong (Asia's cleanest village) - A photo story
The much famed cleanest village in Asia - Mawlynnong (Pronouned - Maw-leen-ong, Maw rhymes with Law, Leen rhymes with Keen, Ong as in Song) is a must stop for travelers visiting Meghalaya, a state in north east India. Most tourists are curious to see what the cleanest village looks like and how clean is it? While we too were curious, to be frank our curiosity was driven by staying at Mawlynnong for a night and experience the village life. We had already been to capital city of Shillong and another major town, Cherrapunjee in Meghalaya. Villages of India are always a fascinating experience and we were eager to explore the hinterlands of Meghalaya, talk to locals and understand their lifestyle. In this photo blog we show you what a day in Mawlynnong and some nearby villages such as Nohwet and Riwai looks like.
This photo blog on Mawlynnong is part of the travel blog series on Meghalaya, India. You can read other blogs in the series here - The Meghalaya Odyssey. You can find articles helping you to plan your trip to Meghalaya, or find travel guides to Shillong, Mawphlang, Cherrapunjee and Mawlynnong.
If you have missed out on reading our previous blogs in the series 'The Meghalaya Odyssey', read them by clicking on the below mentioned links or photographs:
Mawlynnong – A photo story (This article)
Let us first just walk around these villages and see what they look like. Mawlynnong has a big central area from where narrow meandering walkways emerge in all directions. This central area is currently also used for parking vehicles but since the number of tourist vehicles coming to the village are increasing, they have started building another parking area before entering the village which will be operational soon. The paved walkways around this central area are extremely clean and are lined by shrubs and trees. The walkways takes one to the residential parts of Mawlynnong.
The houses in Mawlynnong are very interesting. There are more of Khasi style bamboo houses but over the years the villagers have started using concrete and metal too. Due to heavy rainfall in monsoon, all the houses are designed in a peculiar fashion with a conical thatched roof. The verandah of the houses are filled with grass, colorful flowering plants and orchids. The house owners have an obligation to keep the surrounding pavements clean and well maintained and hence everything is spic and span.
Agriculture is the main occupation of the people in Mawlynnong, with betelnut and bamboo as their principal crop. Bamboo is used to make the conical waste bins, to construct houses and many artistic souvenirs. The most unusual and remarkable thing that the villagers construct out of bamboo are the sky walks or the sky-viewpoints. These are extremely sturdy and strong to easily carry 4-8 people. One can climb the sky walks and enjoy the spectacular views of the plains of neighboring country, Bangladesh at a nominal fee.
The love and respect for nature amongst people of Meghalaya is best seen in living root bridges. Riwai, the neighboring village of Mawlynnong is famous for its living root bridge. It is supposed to be 180 years old and is frequented by tourists throughout the year. Rubber trees are planted on both the sides of the river and their roots are guided and tied together as they grow and become sturdy to be used as a bridge to cross the river which is truly very fascinating!
Like any other village in Meghalaya, Mawlynnong too has a football ground. The village also houses a 100 year old 'Church of the Epiphany' surrounded by orange and palm trees. As explained in our earlier blog - Introduction to Meghalaya, majority of the people in Meghalaya are Christians and so are the residents of Mawlynnong. This church brightens up every Sunday with choirs singing carols. Various tree houses constructed of bamboo are found on the roads and the playgrounds, where one can climb and view the entire village. The village also houses a post-office in the central village area.
Watching the people of Mawlynnong go about their daily chores is amusing, especially kids. The best part is since the villagers are used to tourists, they do not mind you clicking them or even having a chat. They are very welcoming. And for children of Mawlynnong, it is now part of their daily life to come across somewhat differently looking strangers.
Rise in tourism has helped the people of Mawlynnong in generating extra money apart from their agricultural produce by setting up souvenir and handicrafts shops. The kids do their bit helping out their parents in these shops.
While taking a stroll in the village of Mawlynnong, we came across number of small yet memorable tales. We spotted two lovely sisters, the elder one helping her younger sister ride on the swing. And later, the younger one made way for the older sibling. These kids carelessly playing and laughing made our day!
Another group of children young and old were busy fixing their bicycle. We wish Mawlynnong had cycles on rent for us to roam around this beautiful village.
We then found bunch of kids having fun, playing. They took us to times when we used to leave house in the morning, roam freely and used to return only when called for lunch. It's hard to find such playfulness in children these days, with televisions and video games killing the outdoor play time in cities.
Football sprouts everywhere in the North East. Across the wide green spaces of Meghalaya, around the slopes in Manipur and street corners in Assam. So it was rather intriguing to watch these kids enjoy playing cricket in the narrow pavements of Mawlynnong village.
Mawlynnong boasts of 100% literacy. Every kid understands and speaks English and Hindi. A school near the church brims with kids' laughter and mischiefs each morning. We were fortunate to witness their morning assembly with the typical ringing of school bell, students shouting 'Good morning teacher' in chorus and singing morning prayers to the loudest volumes.
These two toddlers in Riwai, neighbouring village of Mawlynnong, wearing saffron and green T-shirts seemed like sporting an Indian flag. Shying away initially, they opened up to us when we showed them these photographs in our DSLR. They waved us good bye with utter innocence and we are going to remember their cute smiles forever.
Not everyone is cheerful. Kids face their own childhood problems. We saw a kid hiding behind a wall away from his group of friends who were happily playing. Not sure what had happened but he was still for a long long time. Another kid was sitting besides a fireplace feeling not so good. He was probably hungry waiting for food to be cooked.
We couldn't stop being fascinated by all these kids busy in their own little worlds. We can sit and watch them for hours without getting bored.
Lastly, one cannot leave Asia's cleanest village without the sight of people cleaning. The village head of Mawlynnong has assigned tasks to every villager to maintain the status of being the 'Cleanest village in Asia'. On a rotational basis these people are given task of sweeping the pavements, lanes and the common areas two times each day. They collect all the garbage and dead leaves in the conical waste bins. They are also responsible to empty all the waste bins that are placed across the village and separate organic waste from the non-biodegradable waste. Cleanliness is a culture and a habit that is home-schooled to each child when they are young.
If you would like to plan a trip to Mawlynnong in Meghalaya, India; you can read our complete travel guide to Mawlynnong. How did you find this photo blog on life in Mawlynnong? We would love to know your thoughts in comment section below.
Note - All photos shared here are of lower quality to enable faster loading. If you would like to buy/license any of the photographs you can email us at email@example.com