World Water Day: Celebrating Meghalaya’s Aquatic Biodiversity
For this year’s World Water Day, March 22, Meghalaya is the perfect destination to soak up all things water. Known for its stunning landscapes and unique experiences, this state also boasts some of the highest rainfall levels in the world. This abundance of rainfall has given rise to an intricate network of rivers, streams, and waterfalls that are simply breathtaking.
These lakes and rivers play an important role in the state’s freshwater environment. They act as key sources of water for agriculture, as drinking water, and other necessities for the people. The state’s water bodies are also significant in supporting local tourism, which aids in the state’s economic growth and in fostering cultural harmony.
Tourism in the state is inextricably linked to the state’s water resources. The state’s numerous water bodies are a big magnet for travellers looking to enjoy nature’s magnificence. Some of the most visited places where people can observe this majesty are Krangshuri Falls, Nohkalikai Falls, and Dainthlen Falls. And the most prominent lakes and rivers are the Umiam Lake and Umngot River.
This year, Meghalaya Tourism intends to observe and commemorate this day by highlighting the beautiful lakes, rivers, and waterfalls distributed all around the region.
Constructed in the early 1960s, the peaceful Umiam Lake is surrounded on all sides by beautiful hills and bordered by spectacular motorways and bridges. The lake was constructed when a dam was erected over the Umiam River as part of a hydropower project. This is one of the reasons why the Guwahati-Shillong route is regarded as one of the most scenic in the region. Umiam Lake has become a popular destination for visitors who come to appreciate the scenery. If you’re looking for breathtaking vistas, Umiam Lake has more than enough to offer. There are several vantage points from which you can take beautiful photos—whether covered in enigmatic clouds or drenched in blazing sunlight, the golden hours here draw photographers from all around the country.
LOCATION: Ri Bhoi District
Noh Ka Likai is one of India’s most spectacular waterfalls, with a straight drop of almost 340 meters. It is located on the state’s southern ridges, offering a fascinating view with the backdrop of spectacular cliffs, a deep pool, and thick trees at the bottom. Formed by the countless streams that have carved through Meghalaya’s highlands for millions of years, this waterfall has greater cultural importance in the region as it bears the tragic legend of ‘Likai’. Likai is the protagonist of this twisted story, which ends with her inadvertently eating her own kid, slaughtered and cooked by the cruel stepfather, and jumping over the heights of the falls near her town in wrath. Noh Ka Likai translates to ‘Where Likai Jumped’. One can also take a hike to the waterfall’s head and admire the beauty of the valley through a wide door-like aperture in the rocks. There are trails through the deep forest that go to the base of the falls.
Location: East Khasi Hills
Dainthlen Falls is an 80-meter-long straight plunge. A viewpoint is located on each side of the falls, allowing you to appreciate its natural beauty up close behind the protection of a railing. There are numerous surprises throughout the gently grassy climbs and dips, accentuated by little hills and streams, ranging from roaming cows to unusual birds. This waterfall cuts through the unyielding rocks and the high plateaus of Sohra before cascading down into lush woodlands. These falls are one of the most dramatic vistas you will see. It is also an important cultural site for the Khasi people. During the dry seasons, you will be able to navigate the stony, pot-holed river bed that leads to the falls.
According to local legend, this site bears the legend of a tremendous battle. The ‘Thlen’ was a monstrous snake, an embodiment of evil, who was eventually defeated by the people of Sohra. The thunderous roar of the Dainthlen Falls, the wide terrain, the neighbouring hillocks, and the erratic winds that blow here provide an appropriate backdrop for such legendary mythology.
Location: East Khasi Hills
The Umngot River, is known for its crystal-clear waters that are so pure that one can see the riverbed and count the stones at the bottom. The river is particularly enchanting during the peak of the pre-monsoon, autumn, and winter seasons when the water is at its clearest. There is a wide range of activities along the Umngot River that will keep visitors entertained for days on end. One of the most popular activities is taking a peaceful boat ride along a section of the river that is surrounded by dense forests. As you drift along the gentle currents of the river, you can enjoy the serene beauty of the green forests and breathe in the fresh air.
For those seeking more adventurous activities, diving into the river in diving gear is an excellent option. The Umngot River is home to an impressive variety of marine life, including different species of fish and freshwater turtles. Diving into the crystal-clear waters of the river and exploring the underwater world is an exhilarating experience that you will never forget. Kayaking is another popular activity on the Umngot River. The river’s rushing waters offer a thrilling kayaking experience, and paddling through the rapids is an excellent way to get your adrenaline pumping. The scenic beauty of the river adds to the overall experience, making it a truly memorable adventure.
Water-sport adventure activities in Meghalaya
Kayaking and rafting in Meghalaya
The fresh and swift rivers of Meghalaya provide a venue for rafting and kayaking enthusiasts. Throughout the months of October and November, rapids of various grades draw paddlers from all over the world. The early post-monsoon weeks are ideal because the water is still forceful and the environment is reasonably dry, offering ideal circumstances for those who wish to put their skills to the test. The action, however, is not limited to these few months. There are also several permanent lakes and lengths of flat river banks that are suitable for basic paddling all year.
Kayaking and river rafting facilities are available at sites such as Mawphanlur, Mawlyngbna, and Shnongpdeng for novice paddlers and those looking to try it for the first time. The Shillong Whitewater Village, located in Ri Bhoi district (23 kilometres from Shillong), is an excellent area for novices to learn and practice fundamental paddling skills. This village, which is located on the banks of the Umtrew River, also has some hard rapids. Apart from these onsite experiences, conventional kayak rental centres are not accessible in Meghalaya, so experienced paddlers who want to explore the legendary rapids in the interior must carry their own equipment.
The state’s riverine areas, the radically shifting geography, and the region’s heavy rainfall all contribute to the abundance of paddling options.
Some of the major rivers in Meghalaya for paddling are listed below:
- Umtrew – Bhoi District
- Umngi – Khasi Hills
- Umrew – East Khasi Hills
- Umngot – Jaintia Hills
- Kynshi – West Khasi Hills
- Khri – West Khasi Hills
Here are some of the top adventure tour providers in Meghalaya:
- Pioneer Adventure Tours: (Contact: +91 9856006437, +91 8787840554, +91 9049442647, +91 8132079703 )
- Campfire Trails: (Contact: +91 98560 01871, +91 97740 88808, +91 98566 23716 , +91 97746 55701)
- Duia Trailblazers: (Contact: +91 9774365937, +91 9863065264)
World Water Day was proposed during the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development as an international celebration for water. The United Nations General Assembly reacted by establishing the inaugural World Water Day on March 22, 1993.
The theme for World Water Day 2023 is “ACCELERATING CHANGE,” and because water impacts us all, everyone must take action.
World Water Day is celebrated annually on March 22 to draw attention to the importance of freshwater and to advocate for the sustainable use of freshwater resources.