Dawki River and Shnongpdeng Village: Good, bad, ugly!

Last Updated on January 9, 2022 by asoulwindow

Table of Contents

About Dawki River

The crystal-clear transparent waters of the Dawki River or Umngot River & the charm of Shnongpdeng Village has attracted me since long. Located in the West Jaintia Hills, I have seen those pictures of Dawki River in blogs, Instagram, magazines and newspapers. Being the top tourist attraction of Meghalaya, I wanted to check it out myself.

During my 3 months long trip to North East India, Dawki was my last stop. I had both good and bad experience in Dawki and Shnongpdeng.

This comprehensive Guide on Dawki River will help you plan your trip here. The information on Dawki River I have shared here is not available in outdated traditional travel guide books.

Dawki is not just pretty. Dawki is also rich in minerals. The coal mines and limestone found in Dawki helps make it an important international trade route between India and Bangladesh (which was also once India before the partition).

As is common with other trade town located on border, Dawki is also dusty, chaotic and bereft of any major infrastructure.

All you wanted to know about Dawki River is explained in this detailed travel guide!

Nomenclature of Dawki River

Dawki River is a larger border town in Dawki where as Shnongpdeng and Darrang are two small villages and campsites near the Dawki River or Umngot River.

Dawki River is sometimes also spelt as Dauki River or Duki River.

Why are Dawki River & Shnongpdeng famous

You must have seen thousands of pictures of Dawki River: the cleanest river of India. Most pictures show boats in such a way as if they are suspending in the air. The crystal-clear water of Dawki River aka Umngot river makes Dawki so famous across the world. This makes Dawki River one of the top places to see in Meghalaya and North East India.

The water of Umngot river of Meghalaya is so clean and clear, that during my visit in winters, I could easily see the huge rocks and a dead snake which lies beneath the water.

The charm of India Bangladesh border at Dawki adds to the fame and popularity of Dawki and Shnongpdeng. In fact, Dawki River aka Umngot River of India is connected to the Bangladesh on the other side. You will see it at the border between India and Bangladesh in Dawki, which is also a major tourist attraction, especially in the evening.

The ease of reaching Dawki River and a sudden burst of Dawki pictures on Instagram has added to Dawki’s popularity with not just Indians but foreign travellers as well. This is why Dawki and Shnongpdeng are so famous across the world.

The lush green hills, fresh air and the dramatic landscapes of Dawki River makes it very popular not just with people of West Bengal, Meghalaya and Assam but other parts of India and beyond as well.

Keep reading as this is the most exhaustive and information packed guide to Dawki River. All the commonly asked questions on Dawki River are addressed here.

Where are Dawki River & Shnongpdeng located?

Dawki River is located in the South Eastern Border of Meghalaya in the Jaintia Hills. Dawki falls in the north eastern state of India, Meghalaya.

The tiny state of Meghalaya, populated mostly with Khasi people, is located right next to the huge state of Assam. Dawki is located where two major hills of Meghalaya viz. Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills meet.

Boating on Umngot River in Shnongpdeng, Dawki Meghalaya

Borting on Dawki River is the top thing to do in Dawki. I was traveling in and around Dawki River on a shoestring budget. It was a solo trip. I had no choice but to buy an expensive boat ride that lasted for less than an hour. Was the boat ride on Umngot River aka Dawki River worth it?

If the sacred Ganga River is the longest and holiest river of India, Dawki River can easily take the title of cleanest river of India. My heart must have skipped a beat or two, when I saw the huge boulders beneath my moving boat. The reflections and play of blues and green added to its beauty.

The local boatman nonchalantly kept moving as I observed the massive boulders both beneath and above the Umngot River. After we reached the end point of the boat ride on Dawki River around the Shnongpdeng Village area, the boat man showed me a voluptuous mini waterfall, cascading down the boulders in a hurry.

The boatman asked me if I want to step down and explore on feet what lies on the other side of the boulders. I was very tired from the lack of sleep in an uncomfortable tent last night. I just wanted to sit and not get any more adventurous like I mostly do. So, I politely denied and preferred to just sit and observe. Also, I wanted to leave Dawki River as soon as possible. More on that later.

Soul Window Thoughts

To summarise, the boat ride on Dawki River in winter was totally worth it. I did find it to be the cleanest river of India what with the clear visibility of rocks and river bed beneath the water.

That said, I am sure there are many more unknown rivers or patches of bigger known rivers where the water is just as clear as the water of Umngot River.

It is all about accessibility, discoverability and marketing viability that makes certain destinations more favourable than its equal counterparts elsewhere.

Activities in Umngot River

What is there to do in Dawki River? There are many water-based activities which you can do in Umngot River. Apart from boating in Dawki River, you can also try kayaking, snorkelling etc.

These are some of the best things to do in Dawki and Shnongpdeng. You can do these activities in Dawki, Shnongpdeng and Darrang. This is also why Dawki River is the top place to visit in Meghalaya and North East India.

Atmosphere at Dawki River

It was very quiet around the Dawki river in the early morning when I woke up. The revellers or the hooligans of last night woke up till late and were thus fast asleep till late the next day. I enjoyed walking around the bamboo bridge of the beautiful Dakwi River, mindful of the filth and plastic waste left by the party people. I later climbed up a metallic suspension bridge to get panoramic views of Dawki River.

It was quiet till I took the early morning boat ride on Dawki River. Even during the boat ride, I found it very peaceful, with just few other boats in sight. As I returned to the campsite of Shnongpdeng, I was disappointed at seeing massive crowds again, turning Dawki River area into Baga and Calangute beach of the tiny state of Goa in West India. I was firm on my decision.

I could not take this anymore. Don’t get me wrong! I generally do not mock at touristy places. I like places such as Shimla, Manali and Ooty. But I can’t take unruly crowds. I need to leave Dawki as soon as I am back on the land.

And I did. I packed my bag and left immediately. Since no vehicles were available, I decided to simply walk all the way from Shnongpdeng to Dawki town. You can read more about that later in the blog.

Dawki River Suspension Bridge

The Suspension Bridge of Dawki is often not talked about as much as the Dawki River it is built over. It is a good idea to take an early morning walk on this old bridge. The Suspension Bridge of Dawki was constructed by the British invaders in the year 1932.

You can cross the Dawki Suspension Bridge and see what lies on the other side. Main River Point is located on the other side of Shnongpdeng.

I carried my DSLR camera to get some shots of the Dawki suspension bridge as well as some aerial shots of boat anchored or plying on the Dawki River.

The Suspension bridge on Dawki River was shaking as I walked upon it. It reminded me of similar suspension bridges of Rishikesh in Uttarakhand, the gorgeous Mechuka in Arunachal Pradesh and several places in Nepal such as the famous Poonhill Trek and Everest Base Camp Trek which I did. It is a must see place in Dawki.

Tamabil: India Bangladesh Border of Dawki River

I love visiting international borders. So, one of the main reasons why I visited Dawki was the India Bangadesh Border at Dawki. During my 3 months long backpacking trip to North East India, I had already been to Tamu Moreh border between India and Myanmar in Manipur and another India Myanmar border at Longwa in Nagaland.

I visited the India Bangladesh border at Dawki just before sunset. I had walked all the from my hotel in Dawki to the India Bangladesh border.

India Bangladesh Border in Dawki River
Tamabil border of India and Bangladesh

There was no wall between India and Bangladesh here. The Indian security personnel and their counterparts in Bangladesh manned the border manually. Another Indian Army personnel, watched from a pedestal on a higher ground and whistled every time some-one tried to get too close to the invisible border line.

The best part is that there is no entrance fee to visit the international border between India and Bangladesh. Though the Wagah Border of Amritsar in Punjab in North India is more organised, I liked the wild and raw characteristic of the Tamabil border of Dawki.

Also, no special permissions are required to see the ‘Daily border show’ of Dawki. You can just walk in! Tamabil border is a major point of attraction in Dawki. It is a must visit place!

Solo Budget Trip Tips Dawki & Shnongpdeng

It is possible to travel to Dawki River as a solo traveller. However, it was that rare experience when I failed to enjoy solo travel. Lack of mobile network, few options of things to do after dark and other factors made Dawki a less enjoyable destination in Meghalaya as a solo traveller.

I recommend that if at all you visit Dawki River, do bring along your friend and family.

Backpacking Budget Travel Tips for Dawki River

Dawki, Shnongpdeng and most places in Meghalaya such as Shillong and Nongriat double decker root bridge indeed happened to be my most expensive trips of all the places I visited in North East India. Prices in general are higher in the money minded Meghalaya, thanks to over tourism and human greed.

Also, lack of public transport from Dawki Town to Shnongpdeng makes Dawki River an expensive destination for solo travellers like me.

Luxury travel Tips for Dawki River

Dawki River sure is an expensive place to visit. However, do not expect the kind of refined luxury which is very common in other Indian cities such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow, Chennai etc. Most of the activities in Dawki River cost low. The most you can spend on is private cab and a better hotel.

Excursions from Dawki River and Shnongpdeng

Other places to visit in and around Dawki River are Khatdadan’s Stoney Beach, many Hindu Temples in Assamese style, Presbyterian Church and Catholic Church and a huge football playground. These are some offbeat places to see in Dawki.

Apart from the touristy destinations of Meghalaya such as Cherrapunji (waterfalls and caves), Shillong (Not much), Nongriat (famous Living Root Bridges) and Dawki River, you can also visit some lesser-known places of Meghalaya. The list of places to visit near Dawki Meghalaya is long!

Some of the best offbeat places in Meghalaya are listed as below:

  • Smit
  • Garo Hills
  • Jaintia Hills
  • Jowai
  • Khasi hills, Kongthong
  • Krangsuri waterfalls
  • Laitlum Grand Canyon
  • Mawlyngbna
  • Mawlyngot
  • Umsning village
  • Sohliya village
  • Ri-Bhoi district
  • Sadolpara in West Garo Hills
  • Mawlynnong
  • Mawphanlur
  • Mawphlong Sacred Forest
  • Nongkhnum Island
  • Umden
  • Wei Sawdong waterfalls

Itinerary of Meghalaya

This is a frequently asked question regarding Dawki River. Many people have requested me to share an itinerary which includes Dawki River.

Below is an 8 days long Itinerary of Meghalaya. You can customize it depending upon the time and money you have. You must, however try to visit all the below mentioned places of interest in Meghalaya. These tourist places of Meghalaya are worth a visit.

Route:  Guwahati – Shillong – Jowai – Dawki – Mawyllong – Cherrapunji – Guwahati (In that order)

Distance covered: 650 kilometers

Number of days: 8

Places covered in Meghalaya:

  • Umiam Lake
  • Laitlum Grand Canyon
  • Elephant Falls
  • Police Bazaar
  • Phe Phe Falls
  • Krangsuri Falls
  • Dawki River
  • Shnongpdeng Village
  • Darrang Village
  • Tambil border aka India Bangladesh border
  • Mawlynnong Village
  • Nongriat: Living Root Bridge
  • Nohkalikai Falls – The tallest plunge waterfall of India
  • Wei Sawdong: Known for its 2-step waterfall

Is Dawki Worth a Visit?

Now that you know many reasons on why you should visit Dawki, let me also tell you about my bad experience in Dawki. I had an alternative experience at Shnongpdeng and Dawki in Meghalaya. Unlike the pictures of happy tales from Dawki I see on social media, I had a hard time.

I had dropped my plan to visit Cherrapunji and Shillong because I was already finding Meghalaya very touristy. Of all the destinations of North East India that I visited over a 3 months long epic backpacking trip, I found Meghalaya the most touristy.

Thanks to the proximity to the big city Guwahati, everywhere I went in Meghalaya, be it Shillong, Nongriat or Dawki, I was disappointed with the over tourism in this tiny state of India. People from Assam, West Bengal and Meghalaya are the regular tourists in Dawki.

Over-tourism in Dawki River

Dawki River, the top tourist destination of Meghalaya was on a decline and it was heart-breaking to see that. Off late I have begun to understand the energy of the place and its people. The mere energy of Dawki and Meghalaya discomforted me. Human greed, thanks to unsustainable tourism for quick profits has taken precedence over everything. At least in the touristy places of Meghalaya.

That said, I will still return to Meghalaya and explore its offbeat destinations such as Mawlynnong and Darrang Village.

Toilet facility around Dawki River

The moment I arrived at Dawki I was disappointed with the chaos, filth, plastic waste and dirty public toilets. It was one of the most dirty and unhygienic washrooms which I had used during my travels. The private hotels (not camps) have better washrooms.

Poor Maintenance of Dawki River

What could be a world class tourist destination was on its way to self-destruction thanks to irresponsible tourism and unruly crowds. It was like a ‘mela’ or a fair, a far cry from the cropped and filtered pictures of Instagram!

I anyhow head to Shillong from Cherrapunji after doing the Nongriat trek and from Shillong I travelled back to Dawki.

I decided to stay near the gorgeous Umngot River aka Dawki river in a tent overnight. It is located in Shnongpdeng area near the border between India and Bangladesh.

No Mobile Network!

I was on a solo, budget trip to Dawki. It turned dark by 5 p.m. and I had nothing else to do there. Even my phone network was not working. I was looking for ways to pass time desperately. I had started to wonder if Dawki is even worth a visit?

I tried to make use of time by walking for 2-3 hours with aching thighs. I had just done 3000 steep steps at the trek to Nongriat living root bridges. I just realized its 26th January long weekend, the Republic Day of India. A huge noisy group from Kolkata were in the same camp.

Uncomfortable Tent near Dawki River

I tried hard to sleep in my tiny tent. The tent was so small, I could not even sleep properly. I have stayed in many tents but none was this small and uncomfortable.

In North East India I can easily sleep by 9pm and wake up at 5am. My Body clock and sleeping patterns work so well in North East India. But. I could not sleep that night in Shnongpdeng.

Drunk young urban men from Kolkata were falling on my tent while I was half asleep, kids crying, people from Kolkata singing loudly and obnoxiously. It was hell. A beautiful place but hell for me!

Hoisting Bangladesh Flag?

The next morning the same noisy group from Kolkata in West Bengal were hoisting Bangladesh flag (what?) at the Shnongpdeng camping side (In India). I had no idea why they needed to do that! An elderly local man scolded them and snatched the flag. (What do you think this means?)

I rubbed my hand in glee and did a small victory dance in my mind. It was my little revenge for what happened last night! I arrived in Shnongpdeng late night the previous day so I could not see the beauty of the famous Umngot river, also known as the Dawki river.

However, the moment I woke up early morning, I walked on the areas around Dawki river, including the cute little bamboo bridge on the Umngot river, a common feature in North East India. I also climbed up the suspension bridge hanging over the river to get a bird’s eye view of Dawki river.

Stuck in Dawki River

My trip to Dawki was over after I returned from the boat ride on the Umngot river. I had originally planned to stay in Dawki for longer but decided to leave. 

I was told that it’s 26th January and then Sunday the next day (27th). Therefore, till 28th January there are no shared taxis from Shnongpdeng or Dawki to Shillong. I was horrified. I didn’t want to spend more time at Dawki. My body was aching from the lack of sleep and lying on uncomfortable tent all night.

Picnic Spot of Dawki River

A huge crowd started coming towards Shnongpdeng as I planned to leave. I didn’t have any more capacity to face crying babies, tiffin boxes, people decked up and ‘roaming in packs!’. Turned out, it was the favourite picnic spot of local people. Due to the long weekend, the influx was larger.

There are indeed many things to do with family and kids in Dawki River. Many people come to Dawki in holidays and weekends. Avoid these days for a better experience.

Hitchhiking in Dawki

I waited for a long time. There was no cab from Shnongpdeng to Dawki.

I decided to walk all the way from Shnongpdeng to Dawki with 15kg bagpack. It was 10 kilometer long walk under sun. It took me 2 hours to cover the distance between Shnongpdeng and Dawki on foot. I asked for lift many times. But none of the People who passed by stopped to give a lift to me.

Someone did offer me a ride but they charged and it was overpriced. I arrived at Dawki to see that no shared taxi to Shillong were available. I was crestfallen! Public transport in North East India is not very robust. The taxis for other places leave only in the morning from Dawki.

Arriving in Dawki, the hard way!

Dawki also happened to be the last stop of my 3 months long epic trip to North East India in winters. My flight to New Delhi was on next day. I decided to spend the night in Dawki and not Shnongpdeng.

Dawki River scams

The cheapest hotel in Dawki was priced at Rs. 800 for a room with no attached washroom. It was still better as local people earlier told me that the cheapest room in Dawki costs INR 3000.

The local people in tourism sector do lie a lot in Meghalaya, much like any other touristy places. So do your research properly and bargain hard when in Meghalaya.

Why Sunday is a Holiday in North East India?

I boarded the first shared Sumo on the morning of 27th January. Yes, there were shared cabs available on Sunday. I was told that on Sundays, no taxi runs in Meghalaya as everyone goes to Church in this Christianity dominated state. However, that was not true! Or maybe I just got lucky!

I kept walking back and forth anxiously, like a lion in a zoo, on the balcony of the hotel in Dawki where I stayed. The Sumo Taxi Stand was visible from the balcony of the Dawki hotel. I was worried how will I make it to Guwahati airport for my flight back to home.

For a long time, there were no Taxis in the Sumo Stand. After some time, I squealed in delight when I saw few taxis resting at the Taxi Stand of Dawki, waiting for more passengers to fill. I shouted right from my Balcony. “Hey, do you have space?” I rushed to my room when they answered positively.

Tourist Traps of Dawki River

This is why, in touristy places I do not trust people with anything. Do your homework and find out things yourself even if locals say otherwise.

The tourist traps of Meghalaya won’t end for me. The Taxi Driver charged the locals INR 120 and openly charged me INR 200 because I look like Leonardo D Caprio. I had no choice, so I didn’t protest.  

Dawki to Shillong Cab

I arrived at Shillong and left immediately because the best thing to do in Shillong was watching Bollywood movies and eat cabbage momos and samosa chola (ugh!). After visiting the best of places in North East India over 3 months, my bar had certainly risen higher.

Shillong to Guwahati

Next, I reached Guwahati which is located very close to Shillong and Meghalaya. I had a relaxed day in Guwahati. I just wanted to leave the touristy traps of Meghalaya as soon as possible. I found my peace in the more familiar (and less scammy) Assam. Though Guwahati has so many exciting things to do but I wanted to take it slow.

I watched two movies at theatres in Paltan Bazaar of Guwahati. My amazing 3 months long trip to North East India came to a frustrating end. But it was fine. Travel is not always lalalalala and tururururu and “Can I have the pillow menu please?”

My escape from Dawki River

My visit to Dawki and Shnongpdeng was more of a ‘How to escape from Meghalaya?’ Shnongpdeng is such a beautiful place. I loved the early morning vibes and the boat ride. But it’s neither the ideal place for solo travel or backpacking on low budget.

Dawki and Shnongpdeng must be enjoyed with friends and family. And more than the river I found the Indian Bangladesh border at Dawki more exciting. I even interacted with Bangladeshi locals and bought bhel from a Bangladeshi Muslim man. I asked him to give change in Bangladeshi currency because I enjoy numismatics since childhood.

It made me want to visit Bangladesh as soon as possible. Bangladesh is in fact high on my wish list. It looked like a small interesting country with hidden gems. Must be better than U.A.E. anyways.

Will I visit Dawki River again?

I will be cautious if I want to see more of Meghalaya in future. Most tried to fool me in the touristy places of Meghalaya. That said, I might still return to Meghalaya for its beautiful places. I didn’t find it to be the ideal place for solo budget backpacking. My travels in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Sikkim and Manipur were more carefree!

Tips for visiting Dawki River

So, is Dawki River worth a visit? To summarise, yes, I would still want you to visit Dawki, Shnongpdeng and the India Bangladesh border. Dawki River is a beautiful and exciting destination near Guwahati. In fact, Dawki River is the most popular weekend getaway from Guwahati and Kolkata.

The proximity to the capital of Assam, i.e. Guwahati has made Meghalaya touristy. However, that doesn’t take away the visual beauty of Shnongpdeng and Umngot River.

My advice to visit Dawki River would be to just plan a trip here only with friends and family. Also, you can skip staying at a tent and instead opt for the wooden huts available near the parking stand of Shnongpdeng.

I saw many comfortable huts available as accommodation at walking distance from the famous Umngot River. Also, avoid long weekends, public holidays and festivals when planning a trip to Shnongpdeng and Dawki River. Do keep these things in mind when planning a tour to Dawki River.

Photography Tips for Dawki River

If you have a water proof camera, do not forget to take breathtaking under water shots of Dawki River. The world-famous see-through crystal-clear water of Dawki River is for real!

Most tourists come to Dawki River only to take pictures of the unbelievably clear Dawki River. I also climbed up the suspension bridge atop the Dawki River. This is a great vantage point for those who do not have a drone camera.

You can easily click bird’s eye view from this suspension bridge without the need to pay any entrance fee. It is a free thing to do in Dawki River.

Festival of Dawki Meghalaya

Below are some of the most popular festivals of Meghalaya. You can time your Dawki tour during these festivals.

Languages spoken in Dawki River

The official languages of Meghalaya are Khasi, Jaintia, Garo and English. People speak and understand English very well in Meghalaya as compared to other places in India. Hindi is also very well understood and spoken in Meghalaya. Pnar-Synteng, Nepali, and Haijong, Assamese and Bengali are other languages spoken here.

Best Time To Visit Dawki River & Shnongpdeng

Contrary to popular belief, Dawki River is not a year-round destination. The clear water of the Dawki River and Umngot River gets muddy during other times. Read to know more.

Summer in Dawki River

Expect temperatures hovering between 12°c – 30°c during summer.  Summer months in Dawki are April, May and June. I have heard of people complaining of hot sweaty weather in summer in Dawki. Summers are not the ideal time to visit Dawki but if your priority is to attend unique local festivals such as Chad Sukra and Shad Suk Mynsiem, then you can consider Dawki in summer.

Monsoon in Dawki River

We have all grown up studying in India that Cherapunjee is the wettest place of India. Joining it is Mawsynram, which is also located in Meghalaya. I have also visited Agumbe in Karnataka, which is the wettest place in South India.

Needless to say, Dawki receives heavy rainfall as well during the monsoon months of June, July, August, September and October. July is when it rains the most. The incessant rains not only act as spoilsport but also turn the clear water of Umngot River muddy and cloudy, robbing it of its beauty in its best days.

However, the abundant greenery is a major plus point for those who want to travel to Dawki and elsewhere in Meghalaya in monsoon. The literal meaning of Meghalaya after all, is ‘the abode of clouds’.

Winter in Dawki River

Winter is the best time to visit Dawki. I had visited Dawki in the winter month of January as well. Winter months in Dawki include October, November, December, January and February.

During my visit to Dawki River in winter, I found the air fresh and crisp. The clear views all around added to the pleasure.

While the temperature in Dawki in winter can stay around a pleasant 15°c, the temperatures can drop as low as 3°c in nights. I found it to be bearable in the night as well. But you should carry a light jacket, just in case the temperature dips suddenly on a whim.

On the flipside, the clouds can descend any time in winters in Meghalaya. However, I didn’t experience that during the last week of January in Meghalaya.

I visited Dawki River on 26th January.  Dawki and Shnongpdeng were quite warm even in winters as it is located on a lower altitude. I was able to manage in a T shirt in both evening as well as morning in January. Afternoon was in fact a bit hot (but pleasant) in Dawki even in the winter month of January.

Timings in Dawki River

Boating and Swimming Timings in Dawki are between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

What to wear in Dawki?

I visited Dawki River on 26th January which is winter. Dawki turned out to be warmer than other places I had visited in North Eastern Indian in same month. I wore just a T shirts and jeans in the day time. I wore jacket only after dark, when it was colder.

In summers and monsoon, you can wear light cotton clothes all day.

How many days to spend in Dawki River?

What can I do in 1 day in Dawki River? If you have only 1 day in Dawki River, you can easily see all the major sightseeing places of Dawki easily. I was on a low budget and despite lot of walking (to save costs), I was able to visit the top places to see in Dawki easily.

What can I do in 2 days in Dawki River? However, if you want to try more adventure sports and other things to do around Dawki River, then you can stay here for 2 days or more. There are also many unexplored places near Dawki which are located away from the crowds.

The locals can help you discover these lesser-known places. Many travellers love going off the beaten track. The more you stay, the more you discover!

How to reach Dawki River and Shnongpdeng?

Dawki River is an easy weekend destination from Guwahati and Kolkata. There are many hidden gem and offbeat places in and around Dawki River.

Most of the tourists and travellers who travel to Dawki River and anywhere else in Meghalaya, reach here from Guwahati, the big bustling capital of Assam.

Reach Dawki by shared taxi

It was my first trip to Meghalaya. I travelled to Shillong via Cherrapunji after returning from the Nongriat trek. I stayed overnight in Shillong and travelled to Dawki and Shnongpdeng the next day. Many shared taxis to Dawki River are available from the chaotic multi-level Sumo Parking of Shillong. No taxis go to Shnongpdeng from Shillong. It is a messy area.

Even though Dawki town and Shillong are located just 2.5 hours apart, I arrived at Dawki when it was about to get dark. The days are shorter in North East India. Also, I wasted a lot of time trying to find the Sumo stand on feet from my hotel in Shillong.

There was also a small confusion as to which Taxi stand of Shillong runs taxis for Dawki? Once I finally found the Sumo stand in Shillong, I had to wait further till the taxi to Dawki started. This is why I keep reiterating that traveling via public transport is not easy in North East India.

Private cabs to Dawki River

It is also a good idea to reach Dawki River from Shillong via a private-cabs which are easily available in Shillong. The advantage of taking a private cab from Shillong to Dawki is that you make make quick stops to major points of interest en route such as Laitlyngkot, Pynursla, Elephant falls and the Shillong Peak.

Reach Dawki by flight

Dawki is a small border town. Neither Dawki town nor Shnongpdeng have an airport. The Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport or the Guwahati Airport located in the capital of Assam, Guwahati is the nearest airport from Dawki.

Reach Dawki by train

Guwahati Railway station (GHY) is the biggest railway station near Dawki and Shnongpdeng. The other railway station located close to Dawki are the Kamakhya (KYQ) railway junction and New Bongaigaon (NBQ), both in Assam.

The nearest railway stations from Dawki are Maishashan (MSSN), Longai (LGI), Karimganj Junction (KXJ), New Karimganj Junction (NKMG), Chargola (CGX), Suprakandi (SAKD) and Nilambazaar (NLBR).

Local Transport for sightseeing in Dawki River

Sadly, there is hardly any affordable local transport between Dawki and Shnongpdeng. You have to shell out unreasonable amount of money to cover this distance. I had booked an expensive (last) cab from Dawki to Shnongpdeng as it was getting very dark and I could have been stranded in Dawki town. While returning, I just walked from Shnongpdeng to Dawki in morning due to non-availability of vehicles.

Distances from Dawki River

Dawki River is located at a very short distance from Guwahati, Shillong, Cherrpunji and other must visit places of Meghalaya.

Where to stay at Dawki & Shnongpdeng

Do not expect a resort or luxurious property in Dawki or Shnongpdeng. I had very few options to stay near the Shnongpdeng Village. Just at the end of road where stairs descend to the campsite and boat ticket window in Shnongpdeng, there are many wooden huts or cabins, which serve as accommodation with comfortable but basic beds and washrooms. I would recommend that you stay here.

Avoid Campsite stay in Dawki River and Shnongpdeng

As mentioned in the blog, I had a horrible experience at the campsite of Dawki River in the Shnongpdeng area. Located right at the shores of the gorgeous Dawki River or Umngot river, the campsite is littered and hijacked by the hooligans, especially at night. You will have a hard time sleeping at the camps near the river. It is better to stay in proper hotel room.

Halatong Tourist Homestay, Dawki

You can stay in the Halatong Tourist Homestay in Shnongpdeng near Dawki River. They also provide different types of tents, life jackets etc.

Contact: 9615762788, 8731096536

For another Homestay options in Dawki, you can call at 936681886, 9862988286

Roadside Homestay of Shnongpdeng

As the name suggests, this homestay is located at walking distance from the Umngot river in the Shnongpdeng Village.

Pls contact Eshmial at 8787656762 and 7085335340

Lamin Guest House & Restaurant

I also stayed in Dawki town while returning from Shnongpdeng. It was a nice airy room. They had huge windows and a very big room. But there were no attached toilets. The rooms with attached toilets were available but were more expensive. They also have a restaurant that serves nice vegetarian and vegan food.

The rooms tariff in Dawki, for the dusty inconsequential border town it is, is very high. I saw many shady basement hotels with zero ventilation in Dawki. They were all overpriced despite the below acceptable living conditions. Again, the over tourism of Meghalaya is to be blamed for this tourist traps. Lamin Guest House & Restaurant is located opposite the Sumo stand of Dawki near the Bridge.

There is a red Hindu Temple located nearby. Their address is Dawki Bazaar on the Thana Road.

Vegan and vegetarian Guide for Dawki & Shnongpdeng

There are not many restaurants around Dawki River, Dawki town, Shnongpdeng or Darrang. The ones that there are have a limited menu. There are many shops that sell packaged chips, cold drinks in Dawki, Shnongpdeng and Darrang. There are also many fruits shop in Dawki town. You must try the delicious local oranges and pineapples of North East India.

If you are still wondering what to eat in Dawki, you can also try to find the below mentioned local vegetarian food of Meghalaya. Some of these dishes may contain meat or fish. Ask for a vegan and vegetarian version.

  • Makham-Bitchi
  • Doh Khlieh
  • Sakin Gata
  • Pumaloi
  • Minil Songa
  • Jadoh
  • Kyat
  • Pukhlein
  • Dohneiihong
  • Jhur Sideh,

Some of the best places where you can eat vegetarian and vegan food in Dawki are as below:

Lamin Shop: I had a hearty vegetarian and vegan Thali at this bamboo shop on the beach of Umngot River in Shnongpdeng. My vegetarian thali consisted of delicious food such as daal, dry vegetable, another curry, a spicy chutney, onion-lemon salad served with piping hot steamed rice.

Vegetarian and vegan food never disappoints in North East India. This was the best meal I had in Meghalaya. (The food at Nongriat was the most tasteless I had in entire North East India)

Brikwei Dhaba: It is located near theIndia Bangladesh border of Tamabil in Dawki.

Lamin Guest House & Restaurant:  Located in the heart of the Dawki Bazaar on Thana Road, they serve nicevegetarian and veganThalis and Chinese food such as noodles, Manchurian and fried rice.

Baiana Hotel: It is locatedin Dawki Bazaar on the Thana Road.  Expect rice-based thalis,puri, singhada (samosa), sweets, tea and coffee here.

Souvenirs Shopping Guide to Dawki

I didn’t see much to buy in Dawki. If at all you have to buy anything, go shopping in Shillong. I had bought exotic pickles, spices and other preserved vegetarian and vegan food from Shillong. Since these have long shelf life, it was easy for me to carry these in flight. I had also picked large bags of fresh kiwis, oranges, juicy and fleshy pineapples from Shillong before boarding my flight. I did the shopping after my vacation in Dawki was over.

Is it safe to visit Dawki?

Yes, Dawki is quite safe. Though you need to stay guarded, especially after dark as some people do behave badly after a few drinks in Dawki. So, I can not say I felt entirely safe even as a male in Dawki. Dawki felt safest to me during the day time.

But Dawki is not a safe place to visit after dark. I didn’t find the locals of Dawki to be very friendly as compared to other places in North East India.

Soul Window travel tips

Safety jacket is mandatory on the boat ride in Dawki. It is suggested to go on an early morning boat ride due to lesser crowds. Taking along a DSLR camera and mobile is absolutely safe in the boat.

ATM in Dawki

There are very few ATMs located in Dawki. Digital payment is not very popular here. It is a good idea to carry cash when Dawki, Shnongpdeng or Darrang. There is a State bank Of India in Dawki Bazaar. The ATM here may or may not work, depending upon your luck.

To be on the safer side, carry enough cash before you visit Dawki. Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya is a modern city with many ATMs.

Soul Window Travel Tip

Khublei is the Khasi word for Thank You. Use Khublei generously when traveling in and around Meghalaya- The abode of clouds! Khublei is also used for good morning in local Khasi language, while Khasi word for good night is ‘Thia Sukh’.

Rules at Shnongpdeng

A signboard at Shnongpdeng stated some quirky and valid rules as per the local headman such as:

  • If you want to stay overnight at the Shnongpdeng Village Campsite, you need to register yourself. My registration was done at a counter located near the Dawki River.
  • Neither ‘Nude bath’ not abusive language is allowed in and around Umngot River. No fun this, eh!
  • The Authorities hold the rights to ask you to leave if you fail to comply with the rules.
  • Drunk boating and swimming is strictly prohibited. (If only!)
  • Boating and swimming in Umngot River without life jackets is prohibited.
Dawki River
Dawki River of Meghalaya

Conclusion: Why visit Dawki River?

Is Dawki River worth visiting? Dawki River is the top tourist attraction of Meghalaya, thanks to the camping facility and boating on the transparent Umngot River or Dawki River. Shnongpdeng Village and Darrang Village are the most popular camping sites of Dawki but also the most noisy and unkempt.

I and others I know didn’t really have a good experience in Dawki. That said, Dawki can still be enjoyed if you choose to visit here in the weekdays of the winter months. I would also suggest you to visit Dawki town with friend and family as a solo tip here can be very boring.

Besides the Umngot river, I also enjoyed my walks on the suspension bridge and the quirky India Bangladesh border.

The view from my Soul Window needs better management!

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6 thoughts on “Dawki River and Shnongpdeng Village: Good, bad, ugly!”

  1. Ya , I got the same disappointment at many places where I literally walk out from those places. We the country of mega zillion where these ants will go….

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