On the Historical David Scott’s Trail

The green all around refreshingly fed my lungs and brain. I felt alive! I hadn’t seen so many shades of green anywhere before. The green felt pronounced and took me by surprise as I was just back from Sikkim and the surrounding greenery at a Lepcha Village had made me feel like I was in Amazon Forest.

Once again, I realized how little I have explored my own place of birth, my home – Meghalaya.

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No match for nature’s palette of green.

Last week I was spending time with my 26-year-old nephew, who is more of a buddy than a nephew and has been so since he was a child. Our meeting in Shillong was sheer coincidental and we got to spend four days together. And, that just had to be super special. Last time we met in Shillong was when he was in school. Thereafter, we did meet a couple of times in Bangalore and Ahmedabad but together in Shillong never happened until now.

On Saturday, aunt and nephew, both passionate nature lovers, decided to go on a day trek. After exploring a couple of options, we settled on the historical David Scott’s Trail. We did a little bit of reading about it and didn’t think it looked much impressive. Nevertheless, we decided to go for it as it was logistically convenient.

Sometimes, you have to be at some place to know what it really is! We were prepared for an ordinary hike but the actual gorgeousness unfolded on the trail.

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The 19th century cobble-stoned pathway
A Little on David Scott’s Trail

The trail is named after David Scott, who was the first British administrator to be sent to North East India during the British Raj. He operated in and around Khasi Hills for nearly thirty years (1802-1832). The 16 Km. trek is part of the horse cart trail that he had laid down to connect Assam and Bangladesh during the nineteenth century. The complete route was about 100 Km. long and was used to carry goods across tow destinations.

This road resulted in a war between the British and the Khasi, the latter being led by U Tirot Singh, the king of Khadsawphra Syiemship. The Khasis, with their bows and arrows, were hardly any match for the well-trained British soldiers. However, the war continued for four years. The British muskets finally defeated the Khasi forces. U Tirot Singh was captured and deported to Dhaka (now the capital of Bangladesh) where he died on July 17, 1835. U Tirot Singh is still hailed as a freedom fighter and revered in whole of Meghalaya.

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The iconic stone bridge built in the pathway that has stood the test of time
Our Trek

Nephew and I connected with Evernold (our guide) and planned the trek. Normally the trek starts at Mawphlang and ends at Ladmawphlang. The former is closer to Shillong and the latter is closer to Cherrapunjee. Ending at Ladmawphlang makes it easier to move over to Cherrapunjee, which most people do. We had to get back to Shillong and hence ending at Mawphlang seemed easier. The usual route starts with 4 Km. downhill, which in our case would be 4 Km. uphill.

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The half-broken cement bridge over Umiam River that we encountered soon after we started walking
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Bhuralal poses for us at the only pool with a cemented embankment. The other pools had no cemented structures and are associated with folktales on good and bad mermaids.

As we started our trek from Ladmawphlang, it started raining. Not surprising, we were in Meghalaya and more so at Cherrapunjee. Simultaneously the curtains raised, and the show had begun. The stunning scenery already started revealing itself. It amazed us to think all of this was right there just when we left the tarred motorable road, not tucked away in some remote corner. Soon, we crossed a broken cemented bridge, laid over the river – it’s River Umiam, which remained our constant companion almost till the end of the trail.

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Somewhere along the way as I walked on with our guide, Evernold and the dog, Bhuralal
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A pathway that leads up to a village. An interesting folktale talks about the fights between the rocks in this area.

Every bend threw up something new. Rolling hills with every kind of green shade; the deep valley; the red and white Rhododendrons peeping out through the greens; the crystal clear waters in the natural pools; the sparkling river appearing and disappearing.

Sometimes the hills were so close that we could distinctly see the wide variety of trees, sometimes they were far away and we could only see the outlines layered into the clouds. Sometimes we were deep into the jungle walking through tall shrubs and heaps of brown leaves laid on our path; other times through cobbled stoned pathways; or just a muddy lane; or a lush green meadow.

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Sometimes we walked through gorgeous forests with with brown leaves strewn on our way.
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Sometimes we climbed up narrow pathways overlooking the green hills

The wide variety of ferns, the gorgeous mushrooms, the ugly poisonous toads, the wriggly caterpillars, the brilliant butterflies, the poisonous flowers, and such others were additional wonderment. Such places spontaneously transports me to a world of fantasy making me wonder if I am walking on earth or if I am in some other realm. 

A little while after we started walking, the heavens poured but thankfully stopped in about 15-20 min. The weather Gods were good with us for rest of the day as the Sun and the clouds played hide and seek making it the perfect trekking weather. There are four villages in the adjoining areas of this trail, but we passed by only one – Laitsohma. The others are Mawbeh, Pyrda, and Mustep.

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While aunt and nephew were having the best of time together, Evernold was adding to the fun by intermittently bringing in entertaining Khasi folktales and stories.

The best part was that there was nobody other than us throughout the trail. We did meet a few villagers on the way. A dog, whom nephew named Bhuralal, followed halfway till Laitsohma and then went back.

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The hanging bridge over Umiam River to cross over from one hill to another.
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Another view of the hanging bridge
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Camilla’s tombstone dated 1843 – Camilla was the daughter of David Scott’s Colonel, who had died of cholera on this trail
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Villagers call these ‘Headache Flowers’ as they believe the blooming of these flowers is associated with headaches.

The trek ended as we reached Nongrum Village at Mawphlang. I thought to myself – I run around the length and breadth of our country seeking nature’s divine grace but the best of nature’s gift is right here in my very own backyard.

I know, there’s an overdose of pictures in this post but my story will remain incomplete without the one below.

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This old man is more than 90 years old. He lives in the same village as our guide. Look at the load he’s carrying. He treks regularly into the forest to collect firewood, which he sells in the village to make a living.

 

 

 

 

 

Author: neelstoria

Traveling, Gardening, Trekking, Hiking, Storytelling, Writing, Nature, Outdoors, Yoga, DIY

47 thoughts on “On the Historical David Scott’s Trail”

  1. I tell myself not to dwell on regrets and am pretty successful at not doing so, but you wonderful posts make my realize it is highly unlikely we will ever see these places. But I read them anyway because they are well done.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I feel the same way when I read your posts that I may never get to see any of these 😊
      Thank you, Ralie. Really appreciate your reading my post. I am lagging behind in catching with yours and other blogs that I follow. The month of May will likely be this way. June onwards, I will be back on track.

      Like

  2. Thank you for this delightful post, Neelanjana. I trekked it out along with you! Please keep feeding me such inspiring booster doses. God willing, when I travel to your city the next time, I am going to sit opposite you and listen to your treasure trove of travel adventures!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a beautiful trail. It’s definitely rustic and devoid of people. Exactly the reasons which makes it interesting. Is it possible to do a longer one instead of 16km since you mentioned it is 100 km long?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly Arvind, the lack of people is what added to the overall great experience. And, we hadn’t expected that given it is no remote place and is very easily accessible. The longer one no longer exists as modernization has taken it over. This stretch of 16 Km. remains quite the same since the time it was created in the nineteenth century.

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  4. A lovely read as well as a lovely photo album; in fact, after seeing a few, I just went through the pictures one by one before starting to read. And what a sight for tired city eyes! As you wrote, like sights from another world. And ferns, more so for these big ones, always transport me to the Jurassic Age, when dinosaurs roamed and huge ferns also grew (from seeing pictures in the Hamlyn Children’s Encyclopedia which I loved to leaf through as a kid, and later seeing those in the film, Jurassic Park).

    Coming back, I loved reading the piece as well. Time well spent.😊 A virtual trek. I’d been to Mawphlang forest (or sacred grove, as the Khasis call these well-kept forests), and had hiked inside with a guide, when he had mentioned this David Scott Trail, and how the trail connects to Cherrapunjee, and was created to connect Assam and Bangladesh. But there was no time to take this trek. Hope I’ll be able to, some day. How long did it take you?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Anushtup. I knew you would love to read this one.
      I didn’t put the pictures of all the ferns, there were so many varieties! The one here is the largest of them all. And, you’re so right about all these transporting us to the Jurassic Age 😀
      Glad to know you’ve been to Sacred Grove, I haven’t been there yet. Saw it from outside but haven’t ventured inside the forest yet. I wish you could have done this one too. Well, that’s definitely another reason to come back and explore Meghalaya.
      It took us a little more 5 hours. However we didn’t take a lot of breaks on the way. We only stopped at the village for about 15-20 mins and then another 10-15 min we sat beside the river. We had planned to sit for a longer time beside the river but the place we chose to do so wasn’t the right one and there were some flying insects buzzing around that didn’t let us sit for long. One even got into my eye and was quite a struggle to take it out.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful spot and I loved the mix of storytelling from the present mixed with history of the area. You do a great job of integrating the two and making it really interesting.

    I still haven’t overdosed on pictures, though – especially here. It is a stunningly beautiful place. And so nice to see such beautiful green even as everything outside here is still brown and cold.

    Thanks as always for sharing your experiences.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, Todd. It was indeed a wonderful place. The trail is as green as can be!
      One of your India trips must include the North East, I have told you this before also that it is very different from the rest of India 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Caterpillars freak me out, so creepy in that sense 😀
      I have never been comfortable with them even though have been exposed to various kinds – big and small right from childhood!
      There are a wide variety of ferns. The picture here is the type that was the largest in size.
      Foxgloves is that large mushroom kind of thing?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. IJK, isn’t that Cobra Lily gorgeous! It really looked evil 😀
      Apparently, it becomes red and attractive in some season (perhaps winter, I’ve forgotten) and can be mistaken for a fruit – knowledge gained from our guide!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Your pictures and journey to Meghalaya look really pretty 🙂 Even I have been there recently, I wish if you could leave some feedback to my writing and pictures.

    Like

  7. I really enjoyed your David Scott’s trail. Through your blog I get to know what is trekking. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful place on earth.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. wow this is so magical. can you go an set up a camp there? stuck in the city for last few months because of this global pandemic.. really wanna get the hell out of this concrete jungle and hug a tree.

    Liked by 1 person

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