Asia’s cleanest village is in India! See it to believe it!
The cloud-kissed four drive from Shillong is fascinating enough. And if you take a local cab, the driver is sure to share some interesting local facts. But it wasn’t until our driver said ‘jhaadu’ and kept pointing at the surrounding greenery that I realized we were in a broomstick cultivation area. Yeah, India owes its broomsticks to the northeast.
As you reach this small village, which has a parking lot specially for visitors, you will notice the green signboard that says Mawlynnong: God’s Own Village. That’s what the locals call it, while Discover India gave it the title of Asia’s cleanest village. Before you explore the village though, make sure you read the rules for visitors. One of which is that you can only throw biodegradable wastes in the public waste bins. Yes, you do have to carry your plastic waste right back with you!
As you walk along the cobbled paths, two things strike you: the obvious and lovingly maintained cleanliness and the variety of flora and fauna. You can even spot the carnivorous pitcher plant. Each house in this tiny village is like a pretty postcard picture.
You will also see residents busy weeding plants and sweeping the roads, all in the pure spirit of volunteerism. They say this has been part of their culture for as long back as any of them can remember.
As you explore this tiny village, you will realize that the roads, the drainage system and other public infrastructure have all been constructed using the relevant government schemes like the NREGA. Public signboards provide details about these projects and the funds sanctioned.
Incredibly, the literacy rate is 100 per cent, and – perhaps as a result – there’s absolutely no open urination. Sensitive to visitor needs, the locals maintain a paid and spotlessly clean public toilet facility.
You’ll also come across groups of children playing, most of whom are quite photo-friendly and will smile readily for your camera. Show them the picture, and they will squeal with excitement and pose for more.
Head to the nearby village of Riwai and be enchanted by another wonder created by man and nature working together – the living roots bridge. These natural bridges are unique to Meghalaya. This particular living roots bridge is hardly a 10-minute-drive from Mawlynnong. There’s also a view point made of bamboo from where you can see the plains of Bangladesh.
As you say goodbye to Mawlynnong and to the children who wave until you are out of sight, you realize what the clichéd aphorism ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’ truly means.
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