About West Garo Hills District :
The West Garo Hills is one of the largest district of Meghalaya located in the western part of the State.The Garo Hills district was divided into two districts, viz. the West Garo Hills district and the East Garo Hills district in October 1976. The erstwhile West Garo Hills district was further divided into two administrative districts of West and South Garo Hills on June 1992.The district headquarters of West Garo Hills is Tura, which is the second largest town in the State after Shillong.The West Garo Hills district lies on the western part of the state of Meghalaya bounded by the East Garo Hills district on the east, the South Garo Hills on the south-east, the Goalpara district of Assam on the north and north-west and Bangladesh on the south. The district is situated approximately between the latitudes 90° 30′ and 89° 40′ E, and the longitudes of 26° and 25° 20′ N.The District comprises of Six Community and Rural Development (C&RD) Blocks viz. Rongram, Dadenggre, Dalu, Selsella, Tikrikilla, and Gambegre.The places of tourist interest in the district are Nokrek Biosphere Reserve, Tura Peak, Pelga Falls, Wadagokgre, Kata Beel, Darga of Hazrat Shah Kamal Baba, Mir Jumla’s Tomb etc.
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Tourist Places :
The Nokrek National Park is about 45 kms via Asananggre and Sasatgre but just about 2 kms from Tura Peak in West Garo Hills, provided you are an avid trekker. Nokrek is the highest peak in Garo Hills and has been declared a National Biosphere under the control and management of the state forest department. The peak is teeming with very rare plants and animals deep inside the thick jungle. The park is also home to a very rare species of citrus-indica endemic to this place which the locals call me.mang narang which when literally translated means the ‘orange of the spirits’. This discovery led to the establishment of the National Citrus Gene Sanctuary-cum-Biosphere Reserve at Nokrek which covers an area of about 47 sq.km.
Almost all of the important rivers and streams of the Garo Hills region originates from the Nokrek range, of which the Simsang river known as Someshwari when it enters Bangladesh at Baghmara is the most magnificent and most prominent. Abundant wildlife including herds of wild elephants, animal species like leopard, pangolin, hoolock gibbon, python, hornbill, besides rare orchids abound in the sanctuary.
Daribokgre Rural Tourism (Nokrek Biosphere Reserve) :
Local Inn Daribokgre is a rural hamlet located close to the world famous biosphere reserve of Nokrek at a height of approximately 1900m. The local community at Daribokgre has been greatly exposed to visitors and tourists who flock the area and the community provides them with local food and accommodation in their villages for a minimal price. A comfortable three-and-a-half kilometre trek from Daribokgre village leads a visitor to Nokrek Peak.
Traditional accommodation is available at Daribokgre Village run by the community. It provides clean accommodation with activities like trekking to the Biosphere Reserve, bird watching, nature walks, etc. Local food and provision for tree house accommodation are also available at the site.
Tura Peak :
A majestic hill stands on the eastern flank of Tura, the largest town in the Garo Hills region of the State. It peaks eight hundred and seventy two metres above sea level over looking Tura. Local legend has it that the peak provides a sacred abode for the Gods and claims that it was traditionally known as Dura but the British mistook it for Tura, before it came to be known as such. Since the Tura hill and its peak constitute the water catchments area of Tura town, the whole Tura-range has been declared as a reserve-forest.
A Tourist Bungalow, an Observatory and a Cinchona plantation are located at Tura Peak and its environs. A magnificent view of the lower Brahmaputra Valley as well as the golden yellow plains of Bangladesh is available all year round to viewers on Tura Peak.
During the British regime, the Deputy Commissioner of Garo Hills, used to reside during summer, in a cottage located at the peak and commute down to Tura each day on elephant-back. A decent foot track developed for the Deputy Commissioner’s use is still in existence. It facilitates tourists and adventurers reaching Tura peak with ease and comfort.
Pelga Falls :
Pelga fall just located at the distance of 7 kms from Tura has become increasingly hot spot for anglers and picnickers in recent years. The tourism developed this place by constructing a footpath and view point. A typical traditional Garo bamboo bridge constructed over Ganol river is another added attraction.
Bhaitbari Any tourist who is interested in history can visit Wadagokgre which is one of the most interesting and attractive places in West Garo Hills. It is a place where an excavation was taken up by the pre-history branch of the Archeological Survey of India and proved that this was one of the biggest cities, a religious centre cast out of the Bramaputra river from the fourth century A.D. or even earlier. The excavation so far have clearly demonstrated that Wadagokgre was a sprawling township with Buddhism, Hinduism and amalgamation of the two being widely practiced in that area. The ancient township was located on the bank of the Bramaputra river which nearly 2000 years back was flowing nearby. The township was well-fortified and had a large number of tanks inside and on the other prestigious heights were located a number of burn bricks temple. Nearly 20 temple sites which have been there might have been palatial complexes and habitational areas for the population of the town. But the most interesting aspect of the survey report is that this is the only site where inside the entire fortified area including the habitational areas not a single bone was found. Wadagokgre is located at about 75 kms. from Tura. One PWD inspection bungalow is available at Baitbari at about 4 kms. distance from Wadagokgre.
Kata Beel :
Located near Nogorpara village in West Garo Hills district, the beel is about seventy kilometres off Tura on the Tura-Garobadha-Ampatigiri-Mahendraganj road. Tradition has it that this pond was dug and constructed under the instructions of Lengta Raja of the Garos. The beautiful, soothing waters of Kata Beel covers about one hectare of area. The beel is surrounded by a planned plantation of palms.
Kata Beel is a major fishing ground of Garo Hills and well known to anglers and fishermen. A convenient picnic spot which is frequented by young and old alike, particularly during the hot and sultry local summer months.
Darga of Hazrat Shah Kamal Baba :
Shah Kamal at a distance of about 80 kms from Tura, the district headquarters of west Garo Hills stands the Darga Sharif of Hazrat Shah Kamal Baba, popularly known as Pirsthan which has been venerated for centuries. The history behind this Darga dates back to about 700 years when Raja Mahendranarayan was ruling there. During the reign of Mahendranarayan, the place was occupied by a demon that created a lot of problems for the king. Then one day Shah Kamal Baba visited the place and feeling the pain of the people drove the demon out by his tantrik powers Raja Mahendranarayan was so pleased with Shah Baba, he donated 240 acres of land of which Katta Beel also formed part of.
The Darga still stands to this day and every year a mela is held there in the month of April or May where thousands of devotees and the faithful from far and near come to the Pirsthan for annual prayer and offerings with faith and hope as the Pirsthan is known to be a place where prayers are answered. The Darga though in modest and humble setting and its environs being thinly populated with villages far off from one another does not fail to attract multitudes to its side on the appointed day each year, which bears testimony to the true veneration with which the shrine is held.
Mir Jumla’s Tomb :
Mir Jumla, one of the most capable of Mughal Generals, was appointed Governor of Bengal around 1659 by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Shortly thereafter, Mir Jumla invaded Assam at the head of a vast army, as an act of attrition against the local ruler who captured some remote areas of Mughal territory on the Bengal frontier. Mir Jumla had considerable initial success and over ran parts of Assam, but the difficult overland routes and the hostile malaria-infested climate took a heavy toll on the Mughal army. This forced Mir Jumla to retreat during 1663 without having fully accomplished the subjugation of Assam. Alas, before the able General could set foot on Bengal again, he was himself run down with the dreaded malaria, to which he succumbed later the same year, near Mankachar in Garo Hills. He was interred at the same place. His simple tomb located on a small hillock has been maintained over the centuries. The tomb reflects a remarkably long grave and bears testimony to the legendary height of Mir Jumla-a true giant among men.
Arbella Peak :
A lofty blue hill with an elevation of nine hundred and ninety nine metres above sea level stands on the north-eastern flank of Tura. The hilly range on which it is located is known as Arbella Range and the peak as Arbella Peak. The drive-up to the peak passes through deeply forested glades, full of shrubs and orchids of unparalleled beauty. Wildfowl and pheasants of exciting plumage and colour abound, besides birds of all sizes and variety making the place an idyllic resort of Natural joy. A small rest house built by the British Colonialist, a century ago, on the Arbella peak continues to provide visitors with the shelter from the elements.
Rongbang Dare :
If one believes that small is beautiful, then the tiny waterfall near Chinabat village to the right of the Tura-Asanangre-Williamnagar State highway is one to be taken into reckoning. This sprightly fall, though perennial, is at its best during the monsoon months. Clustered on either side by vast evergreen hills of bamboos, which sway rhythmically in the wind, the fall itself appears to be on the sway, leaving the viewer with memories of ecstatic joy.
Located on the hilly crescent – like saddle, at the foot of the Nokrek peak, in the West Garo Hills district, Sasatgre village is accessible by a jeepable road from Oragitok village which lies on the Tura-Asanangre-Williamnagar State highway. The distinguishing feature of this village is that although all the houses are built in the typical Garo Pattern and design, they are spacious, airy, well-built and firm. The winds of development, change and prosperity have not changed the way of life of the Sasatgre villagers and they continue to be the repository of undiluted Garo custom, culture and convention.
Sasatgre has been blessed by nature in so far as orange plantations are concerned and the village is surrounded by healthy, dark green orange bushes, which are highly productive. The village now falls on the periphery of the Nokrek Gene Sanctuary-cum-Biosphere Reserve.
Lying in the junction of two rivers, the Ganol and Rongram is Chibragre, a picturesque place which is very popular among picnickers and anglers alike. The river Ganol originates from Nokrek Peak which flows steadily eastward teeming with fish and also believed to be the home of the mythological Sangkni and Na.nil or water serpents. The river has huge rocks that surround pools with deep caves and hollows underneath.
Rombagre is situated at the distance of 35kms from Tura on the side of Williamnagar-Tura PWD Road. There is a beautiful water pool that has been preserved and protected by the local villagers in the Simsang River where schools of fish are found swimming in the clear waters turning the place virtually into a tourist spot as many travellers are often found enjoying the fish in the protected water pool. Besides, there are lovely picnic spots in and around Rombagre which attract many people from far and near for seasonal picnics every year.
Mande Burung (Jungle Man) :
If you are a believer in the mysterious then a trip to the Garo Hills can offer you some adventure. The Garos believe that an elusive Mande Burung or Jungle Man roams the forests of Garo Hills just like Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti and others in different parts of the world. Documentation on this has been done on a large scale with recent visits of correspondents from The BBC news channel, History Channel (Monster Quest) and others For any information and plans to track down this elusive creature contact ATS (Dipu Marak Ph: +91-9436176032, e-mail: [email protected]) or visit www.mandeburung.4t.com (Google Mande Burung for images) for an unforgettable experience.
Kima Songa (Totems or memorial posts) :
Kima Songa is traditional Garo totems or memorial posts erected in honour of the dead members of a family done normally post funeral. These posts or totems are usually kept in front of the open space of a house. These posts are carved out in human forms representing the dead person and it is adorned with the dead person’s clothes and belongings. Kima Songa can be found in Typical Garo Villages