Curative cascade

Waterfalls with perceived healing powers can make the unexplored Laitryngew village a major tourist draw, says GP Nongrum

 DURING 2009, I spent time to prepare for a project on sustainable tourism development, collecting material for market research, feasibility, challenges and other related issues pertaining to tourism business activities in our region.

     I traveled to many tourist spots in the Northeast and other parts of India, interacting with the people in villages and towns sharing with them every dimension of life – the past, present and the future socio-economic conditions. My team and I climbed precipices, gorges and slopes, and walked through flowing waters and sand.

     Among the places I visited, I found Meghalaya more naturally gifted and its people more well-mannered and hospitable. Sohra region, especially Laitryngew village, touched me the most.

     Laitryngew was in the past known for its coal belt. To get an idea of its past, take a close look at the present conditions in the coal belts of Lad Rymbai, Bapung in Jaintia Hills and Borsora, Nongjri in Khasi Hills. Laitryngew went through this in the 60s and 70s, but had far fewer crimes reported.

     Sited on the Shillong-Sohra road, Laitryngew is surrounded by Wahktieh and Mawkabor (near Mawmihthied up to Laitlum) to the north, river Latara, Lum Iapkut and Laitmawsiang to the east, Laitkteng and Laitduh to the south and Mawkma and Laitlyndop to the west.

     The eight meandering rivers and streams of this village are sources of elegant waterfalls of Sohra plateau. When you travel to Sohra, you will see that the land around this village is barren, the hills and plains destroyed beyond repair and rat-hole coalmines old and new everywhere.

     This village was recognized as one of 100 model villages by the United Nation Development Programme during 1961-62. It subsequently received government-aided development programmes from time to time.

     But this village hid within its enclosure the most beautiful waterfalls that were unexplored by the world beyond. These waterfalls include  the ‘miraculous’ Kshaid Umsohphi or Kshaid Dawai  where people of all ages go to heal themselves from back pain and body aches by lying on the stones and letting the water fall on them.

     This village is surrounded by reserved forests and sacred groves. Lawsuidnoh, a sacred forest covering 1000 acres, merits a Heritage Site tag with some infrastructure development nearby and monument in honour of the ancestors of the locals.

     With blessings from the elders, the heritage site can be owned and managed by the village community on the BOM (build own manage) model ensuring a source of income for the locals. This can go a long way in checking migration to the towns where villagers usually lead a wretched life.

     This village awaits conversion from barrenness to a naturally vibrant tourism destination. It has all it takes – sacred groves and waterfalls to say the least – but requires infrastructure attention to attract guests.

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