Experiencing Umngot River India’s Crystal Clear River

You may have come across a picture of a boatsman boating across a transparent river on Instagram or Facebook. The turquoise waters were so transparent that you could view the coarse sand and the rounded pebbles at the bottom of the river bed. And at first glance, it might have even seemed as though the boat was floating on air! Well, you’d be surprised to know that this river is located in India itself, in the beautiful state of Meghalaya.

It has turned into a popular tourist destination for very obvious reasons. Umngot River, also known as Dawki River, is a true spectacle of Meghalaya. Here you can indulge in several activities like kayaking, boating, and riverside camping.

First Sight Of The River From The Hill Top

Depending on when you visit, you may be lucky enough to see the river in its all-transparent glory. Tourist season and heavy rains prompt the river water to turn muddy or murky and you might not get the clearest of views. 

To reach the river basin, visitors have to scale a narrow stretch of stone steps that lead down to the river. These steps start from the top of the hill, and the first sight of the river, on a clean undisturbed day, would consist of translucent turquoise waters and the pebbled rock bed. As you make your way down the steep steps, you’ll find several colorful boats tied to the rocky slopes on either side with rope lattices.

Also read: Jodhpur Travel Guide 

Sailing Across The Crystal Clear River

The boat ride across the river truly feels like gliding over the air. Not only because the waters are crystal clear but also because the river doesn’t have a strong current and the waters seem to gliding forward rather than gushing with speed. The boat ride transports you into a whole other realm! One with cascading waterfalls, high cliffs on either side of the river, and moss-covered alcoves. 

Throughout the ride, the whistling sound of the winds from the valley, the gurgling of the waterfalls, and the melodious chirping of birds will drown out the rest of the world further adding to the sailing experience.

Also read: Pondicherry Travel Guide

Experiencing Umngot River India’s Crystal Clear River

Stopping At A Small Pebble Island On The Way

As you sail across Umngot, you will come across a small pebble island. This stretch of coarse sand is covered with hundreds of blue, grey, white, and pink pebbles of different sizes. These beautiful round pebbles in various pastel colors stand in stark contrast to the turquoise waters.  You can make a pit stop at the island, go rock collecting if that’s something you enjoy, or simply take in the awe-inspiring view of the river and waterfalls from here. Once you’ve explored the island, you can get back to sailing across the Umngot River.

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A Glimpse At Our Neighbor: Indo-Bangladesh Water Border

As the boat ride continues, you will notice that the river begins to flow wider as you move downstream. Soon you will find yourself edging closer to the Bangladeshi water border. A rope is tied across the river dividing the area into two - India and Bangladesh. You will see that as soon as the river enters this plain region, it gets broader and vast, expanding between the two countries. From here, the boatsman will sail you back to the river basin and you get to enjoy the river once more, all over again!

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How To Reach Umngot River, Dawki

By Road: The best route to reach Dawki Village, which is located in the south-eastern region of Meghalaya is from Shillong. Shillong is about 80 km away from Dawki and it will take you about 3 to 3.5 hours to reach. The best mode of transport you can choose is a rented cab or a private car. The entire road journey is filled with mesmerizing landscapes, and lush green cover, and will take you through popular tourist spots like Shillong View Point, Pynursla, Elephant Falls, and Laitlyngkot.

By Train: The nearest major railway station to Dawki is the Guwahati Railway Station in Assam. The railhead is located 97 km away from Shillong and will take you about 3 hours to reach. If you’re planning to travel by train, the best travel plan is to avail a 4-seater cab to reach Shillong. You can either halt at Shillong for the night and explore the city or hire a cab to Dwaki village.

By Air: The closest airport to Dwaki is the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport which is located in Guwahati. The airport is located 118 km from Shillong and it will take you about 4 hours to reach Shillong via private cab or share taxi. From Shillong, you can then follow the road route passing Shillong View Point to reach Dawki village. Once you reach the village, the river can only be reached by foot and is merely a 3-minute walk.

Also read: Jaipur Travel Guide 

Experiencing Umngot River India’s Crystal Clear River

Best Time To Visit Umngot River

The best time to visit the Umngot River is during the fall and winter months. The time between October and early March is the best time to go check out the crystal clear waters of the river. 

The summers can get extremely hot and humid making sightseeing activities slightly tedious and uncomfortable. On the other hand, the monsoon season brings extremely heavy rainfall in the region due to which the water levels of the river rise. As a result boating activities are suspended during the monsoons.

Instead, the winters are apt for sightseeing, with a pleasant daytime temperature of about 15℃. The cool climate makes sightseeing activities and other adventure activities quite comfortable and enjoyable.

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Travel Tips To Umngot River

  1. Make sure to wear comfortable water-proof shoes that offer good grip, as there’ll be a lot of water and slippery surfaces on, especially on the steps leading to the river basin.
  2. There are no restaurants or restrooms in Dawki. Instead, have a good lunch at Mawlynnong before heading to Dawki. Or carry some snacks and water along with you.
  3. Opt for a life jacket while going boating or kayaking. The boatsman might tell you that it’s not necessary as the waters are quite shallow, but safety first folks!
  4. You should visit the Mawlynnong Living Root Bridges first and then make your way to Dawki village. The entire trip will be wholesome and can be covered in a day.
  5. While visiting the Indo-Bangladesh border or even the rope bridge located close to the boundary make sure to adhere to the BSF (border security force) rules and photography at this point is prohibited.

Also read: Delhi Travel Guide

Experiencing Umngot River India’s Crystal Clear River

Summing Up

The crystal clear waters of Umngot River and the surrounding natural beauty is undeniably some of nature’s best. Dawki village’s small area and lack of accommodation and infrastructure make heavy tourism activities impossible. Owing to this small-scale tourism, the river and its surrounding landscapes have not lost their charm and have maintained their beauty.


Where Is Umngot River Located?

The Umngot River flows through a little village called Dawki. The river cuts through Khasi and Jaintia Hills located in Meghalaya.

Can We Swim In Umngot River?

Yes, you can swim in the Umngot River as the river current is slow and the clear waters give you an unobstructed view of the river bed.

How Can I Reach Umngot River?

The best route to get to Umngot River is from Shillong via road. You can either hire a cab or take a private vehicle from Shillong up to Dawki village. From Dawki the river is only a 3-minute walk.

What Is The Best Time To Visit Dawki?

The best time to visit Dawki and Umngot River is during the winter months from October to early March as the average daytime temperature hovers around 15℃, making sightseeing activities quite comfortable and enjoyable. 

What Is The Depth Of The Umngot River?

The Umngot River is about 15-20 feet deep. The crystal clear waters make it possible to view the coarse sand and small pebbles laying on the river bed.

Is It Better To Stay In Shillong Or Cherrapunji?

Both cities are safe, but Shillong is comparatively more lively and has numerous restaurants, cafes, and accommodation options.

Is Meghalaya Worth Visiting?

Meghalaya is certainly worth visiting. The name literally translates to ‘abode in clouds’ and offers some stunning views of the vast green valleys, cascading waterfalls, and the thick cloud covering the state most time of the year.

How Many Days Are Enough For Meghalaya?

Ideally, 5 days are good enough to explore Meghalaya. You can easily visit the major tourist destinations in the state. You can cover Shillong, Cherrapunji, Mawlynnong, and Dawki within 2 or 3 days and spend the rest of the time exploring some undiscovered parts of the state.