Located in the east Khasi hills 90 kilometers away from Shillong, in the state of meghalaya is this small village with around 600 inhabitants , which was acclaimed to be the cleanest village in India in 2005. In 2003, it was also acclaimed as the cleanest village in Asia. Known as “God’s own garden” , this small village has already made a big impact on the world by showing the world how the following of all the rules and living in harmony with the nature can help in making this world a beautiful place to co-exist.
How did Mawlynnong became the cleanest village
Back in 1887 when India was still under the British rule, Mawlynnong suffered from a devastating plague which the villagers believed to be the wrath of evil witches and didn’t knew what to do. According to history, Welsh Christian missionaries from Bangladesh were sent to help the people recover from the plague there. The missionnaries took care of the people and started to educate them. They also told them that the plague was not the result of wrath of evil witches, rather it was extreme uncleannliness in the village which caused that plague. The villagers then started to clean their houses as well as every nook and corner of the village . The tradition continues till date. Interestingly, villagers link the tradition of cleanliness to Christianity. They say it is the missionaries that changed their lives and taught them ways to reach God through cleanliness and since then they follow the religion of Christianity. This is the true model of how the superstitions if used positively can bring a large impact.
The villagers also decided to have drainpipes to efficiently remove the filth from their houses and now every single house has a proper and efficient drainage system.
The streets there have beautifully carved bamboo dustbins outside every house and in every public place. The villagers turn the wet compost from the domestic use into manure which they use to grow the vegetables and fruits. The village is a model of the adequate use of every resource available and the best example of recycle and reuse.
Other highlights of this wonderful village
Rain water harvesting is another feature of the village. When it rains, which is a verycommon thing in the state of Meghalaya people collect rainwater even in bottles. The base of the bottle is cut and the inverted bottle is then hanged at the place where it can capture rain drops. The mouth of the bottle is attached to a pipe which is then connected to the washroom and is used in toliets and to clean the floor.
Proper sanitization is another prominent feature here where every house has proper toilets and even the public toilets are healthily maintained.
Also, the village has a 100% literacy rate. Nelson Mandela once rightly said that EDUCATION IS THE ONLY WEAPON WHICH CAN BE USED TO CHANGE THE WORLD. Mawlynnong being the best example of this proverbial fact.
Last but not the least, The living root bridges are the classic feature of the place which also attracts a large number of tourists every year from across the globe. At a time , when humans talk about science and innovation here is an extra ordinary example of bio engineering made by humans in joint partnership with the nature. This man made root bridge was originally constructed by the villagers to cross the overflowing stream during monsoon by intertwining the thick roots of a variety of rubber tree (Ficus elastica), grown on the other side of the stream. The intertwined roots were then kept in a position over the stream such that it can be crossed. The roots were then covered by large rocks and mud to complete the path. Over the years , as the roots grew the bridge became stronger. Each day when any villager spot a new root merging , they immediately join it with the bridge and hence it continued to become strong and stay still bearing the heavy rains of the North Eastern Monsoon.
To see the bridge, one has to take a simple downward trek where the entry fee of Rs. 10 is taken from each visitor to see the bridge which is used for the village development.
How it manages cleanliness even today
Every day at a designated time no matter what the weather is , an appointed set of sweepers come and clean the nook and corner of the village which takes them around an hour. It is the dedication of the people and the fear that if they violate cleanliness even for a day, curse will fall upon them, is the thing which drives them to continuously strive hard to continue with the old age tradition even today.
A place like Mawlynnong which attracts a large number of tourists each year , the cleanliness and the sanitization is hard to maintain but they do it. Plastic bags, smoking and littering is completely banned in the area. Any violators are bound to pay a mandatory hefty fine and sometimes also serve the prison sentence.
It won’t be wrong to say that MAWLYNNONG IS THE TRUE MODEL OF AN IDEAL BEAUTIFUL PLACE which inspires us in so many ways. It tells us that every effort counts .