| The road from Lawse to Diengsiang village Picture by Kynsai L. Sangriang and Telegraph picture
Shillong, Jan. 2: Last year, the vice-chairperson of the National Minorities Commission, H.T. Sangliana, termed Sohra (Cherrapunjee) a “third class” tourist destination. Keeping this in mind, one wonders how he would react to the deplorable condition of the roads leading to the second largest river island in Asia, Nongkhnum.
Nongkhnum island, about 14km from Nongstoin, the district headquarters of West Khasi Hills, and about 140km from the state capital.
The island is the largest river island in Meghalaya and the second largest in Asia after Majuli island in Assam.
The road from Lawse to Diengsiang village (towards the East of Nongkhnum) and the Lawse-Sangriang-Nongk hnum road are in such a pitiable state that they would repel tourists.
Even the drive from Mairang or Mawkyrwat on the Shillong-Nongstoin road is awful.
Last year, before Christmas, a group of friends, who were on their way to Nongkhnum, had to return half way as the deplorable roads obstructed them from travelling further.
According to the Draft Tourism Policy 2010, the tourism department would submit proposals to the Centre for the development of heliports at tourist destinations, which are not well connected by roads. Keeping in mind the pathetic condition of the road leading to Nongkhnum, the government might mull over the construction of a heliport at Nongkhnum to ease the burden on travellers.
Last month, Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma said the Union ministry of road transport and highways had sanctioned Rs 1,494.48 crore for the upgrade of the Shillong-Nongstoin-Tura road, which is 246.3km long.
If the road project becomes a reality, then travelling to the West Khasi Hills may no longer be agony.
The island was discovered by a group of local school students in 1996 while they were working on a project. Ever since, the state government is doing its bit to promote the picturesque island as a tourist destination.
According to the state tourism department, the island has been formed by the bifurcation of the Kynshi river into the Phanliang and the Namliang.
At the point of divergence, there is a sandy shore, which is about 100 square metres.
Phanliang forms a beautiful lake, which is about 400 to 500 square metres, adjacent to the sandy beach.
The river then moves along and before reaching a deep gorge, forms a pretty fall about 60 meters high, called Shadthum Falls. At the bottom of the fall, there is a beautiful pool where variety of fish can be found. It then continues its journey and finally reunites with the Namliang river near a place called Thongrin.