Tucked away in a remote part of the country, amidst hills whose names remain largely unheard, is the charming village of Mawlynnong. Voted as ‘Asia’s cleanest village’, it is inhabited mostly by the Khasi and Jaintia tribes. Although one of the first people to settle in this country, they remain more or less consigned to oblivion. However, the little-known people of this little-known village have big lessons to teach us.
Here’s what we can learn from the people of Mawlynnong –
1. MATRILINEAL SOCIETIES
Perhaps nothing sets aside North-Eastern tribes more than their matrilineal structure of society. In a country where most females face the brunt of patriarchy, local women enjoy unparalleled emancipation. Properties are passed on to daughters, with the youngest daughter having the first claim. The women are free to choose who to marry and the man leaves his house to stay at the woman’s. Having daughters is considered a blessing here. Surely something the rest of the country needs to learn from.
2. LIVING IN SYNERGY WITH NATURE
The indeginous tribes of Meghalaya, especially the Khasis have been credited with the construction of the living root bridges in the region. The intense rainfall that Meghalaya receives created havoc on the traditional bamboo bridges built over water bodies. The Khasi people relied on their ingenuity and worked in tandem with nature to create living root bridges out of rubber trees. The people of Mawlynnong also rely on eco-friendly material for daily sustenance. Plastic is banned here, and whatever little is found is upcycled.The reverence that they have for nature is something that the world desperately needs.
Mawlynnong has been voted Asia’s cleanest village and it remains as true as ever. The streets are spotlessly clean and the dedication and effort towards maintaining them is commendable. People inculcate this habit right from childhood as children are made a part of a daily cleanliness routine. People not only sweep their homes, but also the roads and all citizens participate in weekly cleanliness drives. Garbage is collected in wicker baskets and segregated into biodegradable and non-biodegradable. Plastic is completely banned but left behind by unmindful tourists. If everyone emulated their pursuits towards cleanliness, maybe the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan would be a distinctly achievable possibility.
Few places in the country can boast of a feat as big as Mawlynnong – that of 100% literacy. Agriculture is the main livelihood here, but people do not shun the importance of education. It is because of the high literacy rate that people here thrive and are committed to making their village better in every way.
Mawlynnong almost seems like a utopian paradise, with its beautiful clean streets and literate population, the marvellous root bridges and egalitarian society. It is no wonder then, that we strongly suggest a visit to this offbeat village. On your trip to the North-East, be sure to stop along these little villages to really get a feel of what the region is all about – be it the serene atmosphere of Sangti Village of the sparkling streets of Mawlynnong.
Thank you very much to you and your team for arranging this fantastic tour. One of the best pick from this tour was your meticulous planning and promptness of service. All arrangements were fantastic, be it a delivery of vehicle at Chandigarh airport, hotels particularly at Chandigarh, Leh, Nubra, Pangong. However the best was at Jispa, Kargil and Srinagar for different reasons. Jispa was simple but authentic with very tasty food.
Rajesh & Gauri Natu
Graphic Designer, Apple
Sunil, after I ran 21k Marathon I bragged about it for years. The same is being repeated again, with my ambition to drive across the Himalayas, which was almost faded with Srinagar under curfew. You and Chetan were the spark to our fire that we could do this drive and without a single trouble. Driving is a passion but driving thru places where there are no roads is trouble, but your breakup of program and awesome car condition helped us actually sail thru. Three cheers and five stars.
Absolute Networks, Mumbai
Wow. wow, wow. What a experience! We took the route of Delhi - Jammu - Srinagar - Leh - Sarchu - Manali - Delhi. Sunil Kapoor gave us excellent service which includes his next to new 4WD in immaculate condition and all hotels were top class. Coming from Australia, we were bit nervous in start but when we met Sunil, we had full trust and all went very positive. Sunil gave us perfect instructions and everything was according to plan. Thank you Sunil and your team for our one of the best experience in life you have provided us.
Director, Webential, Australia
Eight of us from Sri Lanka got Sunil to arrange a self driven tour to Leh and we are very happy with our decision. He was punctual, trustworthy and met our expectations. The service provided was very professional. As foreigners it’s hard to arrange such a tour by ourselves and Unwind outdoor filled in the gap perfectly. All places we stayed were nice and decent. Should specifically mention about the two Scorpios which we instantly fell in love with. They were very well maintained ...
Friends from SriLanka
After days of research, we finally came across a facebook page called ‘Unwind Outdoors’. It seemed like our dream was going to be finally true. Very reasonably priced and Sunil from Unwind was like a know-it-all person.
The itinerary was so crisp and so very well laid out that there was no reason for us to worry other than coping up with nature’s fury.
Clifford Chance, Delhi
We did a SUV self drive trip from Chandigarh to Ladakh and back organized by Unwind Outdoor.
Highly recommend Unwind Outdoor as Sunil and Manpreet took care of everything we needed (car, hotel bookings, sightseeing and food recommendations, permits) and everything was organized seamlessly. Sunil was very patient with all our queries, giving suggestions and options to suit our preferences.
Ashish & Neha Thadani
Great to see the know-how of the Unwind Outdoor team regarding every aspect of the Srinagar - Leh - Chandigarh self drive trip. From weather conditions, to road conditions, to health/clothing requirements, and also driving instructions - Sunil and Manpreet are warm, meticulous and knowledgable. Villa Himalaya in Sonamarg surpassed all our expectations and ensured that our expected standards for the rest of the trip were extremely high.
Symbiosis Law School, Mumbai
Thanks Sunil for arranging a wonderful trip. Everything went well and we were in good hands with friendly and competent drivers. Accommodation was good and tents were comfortable beyond our expectations. We didn't have problem with food choices. It was a totally rejuvenating vacation and experience for us. Thanks from us in Singapore!
We had an amazing 9-day from Manali to Leh. Serene, breathless and picturesque. High altitude sickness was a big issue for us but we were in good hands.
Unwind Outdoor was superb in arranging and coordinating the trip. Taking care of all arrangements and checking-in on us. Kudos to Sunil and his team.
Assistant Director, Jurong Town Corporation, Singapore
We travelled as a couple & completed a self drive trip from Delhi-Jammu-Srinagar-Kargil-Leh-Nubra-Pangong-Tso Moriri-Sarchu-Manali-Delhi. Itinerary was meticulously designed to be a mix of adventure and comfort. Hotel choices were best. Support was available at all points in case of emergency.Vehicle provided was top notch. Thanks to Mr. Sunil Kapoor for personally putting in efforts to maintain such high standards.
Nikhil & Neha Mazumdar
Manager L&T, Mumbai
Six of us (two families) travelled to Leh in Jul / Aug 2015 and we had an excellent experience with Unwind Outdoor. From the very beginning of our excited planning phase, Sunil has been willingly suggesting us options, number of days, places to visit etc. He has all the knowledge of the terrain, passionate about trekking and traveling himself, so he understands travel-crazy people such as me and my quirks.
We landed in Leh in time for cloudbursts and flashfloods and landslides (along with mud and rocks sliding too). Despite Nature's fury, Sunil and Skarma made sure we were utmost safe and comfortable. These guys are just not into travel business, they help people fulfil their travel dreams. Truly! Go guys!!
Barclays Bank, Bangalore