Inside the cleanest village in Asia, where the women rule
Share this on

Inside the cleanest village in Asia, where the women rule

INDIA is home to some of the world’s most polluted cities.

So it may come as a surprise that Asia’s cleanest village is located in India.

About 100 kilometers from Shillong, a hill station on the northeastern part of India, is a magical paradise named Mawlynnong in Meghalaya.

Located close to India’s border with Bangladesh, the quaint village (also known as God’s Own Garden) is so small, it has a population of only 500 people.

Mawlynnong is mostly inhabited by the local Khasi tribe, which has its own way of life. One famous custom of the tribe is not practising the patriarchal rule of the society.

SEE ALSO: India rejects claim it is the most dangerous country on Earth for women

This “women empowerment” trait means after marriage, the man moves into the woman’s house, the children carry their mother’s surname, and the family’s wealth is passed down from mother to youngest daughter.


Khasi tribal children relax at their home in the village of Mawlynnong in the northeastern state of Meghalaya. Source: AFP/Biju Boro

But that is not the only thing that makes the Khasi tribe stand out – cleanliness is also their way of life.

In fact, the village is so spic and span that in 2003, Mawlynnong was awarded the title of the cleanest village in Asia by Discover India.

These rarities are not seen anywhere else in Asia and thanks to the advent of social media, more and more curious tourists are trickling in to discover this mystic heaven.

SEE ALSO: India: 240,000 girls die annually due to gender discrimination

Once upon a time, Mawlynnong used to be one of the poorest villages in this area but now, it is the richest, thanks to the tourism dollars.


Indian tourists pose beside a sign in the village of Mawlynnong village in the northeastern state of Meghalaya. Mawlynnong village is the cleanest village in Asia. Source: AFP/Biju Boro

How did Asia’s cleanest village become clean and stay clean?

All around the tidy village are traditional wicker baskets called khoh that serve as dustbins. Even dry leaves fallen from trees go in there.

However, it is forbidden to throw plastic containers of any kind (chips packets, plastic cups or plates) into the dustbins. Plastic bags have been banned as well.

SEE ALSO: India pledges to ditch single-use plastic by 2022

According to the Mawlynnong village rules, tourists are required to take plastic waste back with them if they bring any, and offenders will be charged heavily.


A Khasi tribal child uses a bamboo dustbin placed beside a road in the village of Mawlynnong in the northeastern state of Meghalaya. Source: AFP PHOTO/Biju BORO

Because cleanliness is the Khasi tribe’s way of life, they are constantly cleaning the village all the time, every day, even stepping out to sweep the roads and plant trees.

The villagers also organise cleanliness drives to pick up the rare strays of plastic waste left behind by stubborn tourists.

Mawlynnong’s strict garbage management affords the village its own manure which is converted from the garbage dug into a pit.

And it is not just the village’s grounds that are kept spotless, the air too, as smoking anywhere in Mawlynnong is absolutely prohibited.


A fine example of bioengineering for a sustainable infrastructure solution. Source: Shutterstock.

Meghalaya often receives notoriously heavy rainfall which causes waterways to swell, cutting off remote villages like Mawlynnong.

But instead of building structures that could potentially be harmful to their pristine environment, the Khasi tribe worked with nature to create crossings.

The ingenious natural solution is a plant-based “construction” that uses tree roots to form crossings, a process that takes 15 to 30 years.

SEE ALSO: Saving Taj Mahal: Is it too late?

The result? Beautiful fantasy-adventure-like living root bridges that resemble something that belongs in J.R.R.Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

Would you be interested in making Mawlynnong in Meghalaya your next travel destination?

Visit this website for more information and remember, leave your plastics and smokes at home.

This article was first published on our sister website Travel Wire Asia.