West Jaintia Hills District of Meghalaya at a Glance

Lok Sabha Constituencies in West Jaintia Hills district, Meghalaya (MP Constituencies) Shillong
MLA Assembly Constituencies in West Jaintia Hills district, Meghalaya Nartiang
West Jaintia Hills
Particulars Description

Area – 1693 Sq Km

Population – 2,70,352

District Head Quarters – Jowai

Language – Pnar

History And Geography


The land of Twelve Tribal Chiefs…. ‘ Ka Ri Khadar Doloi’

In Jaintia Hills society, it is found that villages which clustered around a particular area recognize themselves as the components of a single political entity. Villages then appears as ‘elaka ‘ (province) of a single settlement which is unitary in type. The Chief of this elaka is called Doloi and he is the territorial ruler and he represents the Rajship of his elaka. Doloi can be elected from the seniority clan which is strictly maintained, and a Doloi can be removed from his office by his people, for his misrule or corruption. Dolois also performs certain ritual functions and so generally, the Doloi should be of traditional religion, but nowadays there are exceptions also. And in this case, when the Doloi is not of traditional religion, a Doloi ‘niam’ should be there side by side for the performance of the rituals. The aggregation of elakas which differs in sizes formed the Jaintia Syiemship (kingship). Sutnga Syiemship is regarded as a mother Syiemship. There is a difference between the administration of the paramount chief (Raja) and the administration of the Doloi in Jaintia Hills. Dolois represent the people of their respective elaka in the Raja’s Durbar. This kind of administrative set up is the foremost administrative unit in Jaintia Hills. This old political system of government still continues to exist till date except for the Raja. The Doloi has his own durbar as well as the Rajah. There are durbars of different denominations, like village durbar, Elaka Durbar, Syiem Durbar. The power of the Rajah and the Doloi were checked by the durbars of their respective areas. The durbars provide opportunities to people to participate in their own affairs. The Durbar checks the functionaries of the government. Therefore, consent is the basis of political authority. Jaintia Hills was originally known in the local parlance as ‘Ka Ri Khadar Doloi’ or ‘ The Land of the Twelve Tribal Chiefs’. Because in those ancient days, Jaintia Hills was ruled by the twelve Dolois who had their own Elakas, boundaries, power to govern and a sizeable population.

The Twelve Elakas : 
Among the Dolois, the Doloi of Nartiang is known as U Kongsan and the Nartiang Elaka is the biggest elaka which possessed the largest population in those days. Naturally the Dolloi of Nartiang is very powerful, as he could easily raise and command the largest army among the twelve dolois.
S/No. Elaka Name
1 Nartiang Elaka
2 Jowai Elaka
3 Nongbah Elaka
4 Nongjngi Elaka
5 Raliang Elaka
6 Mynso Elaka
7 Shangpung Elaka
8 Sutnga Elaka
9 Nongphyllut Elaka
10 Lakadong Elaka
11 Amwi Elaka
12 Nongtalang Elaka


(Excerpts from an article; Jaintia Hills: A peep into the past, by Shri S.S.Laloo)
As stated earlier, the Jaintia Hills was originally known as Ka Ri Khadar Doloi. Whenever there is any aggression from any part of Ka Ri Khadar Doloi, all the twelve Dolois used to join hands under the leadership of the Dolloi of Nartiang or U Kongsan to fight against the enemy. In the beginning all the Dolois used to live in peace like brothers, but in due course of time, due to increase of population, the need to expand agricultural lands and to create new settlements, there arose border disputes and frequent skirmishes which ultimately had to be settled by war among the Dolois concerned. This sad state of affair kept on happening from time to time. Therefore in order to stop the frequent clashes among the Dolois, the twelve Dollois held a round table conference at Nartiang to find out the ways and means to maintain and foster peace, fraternity and unity which used to be there in Ka Ri Khadar Doloi since the time it was created by the ancestors. For all of them also were afraid that if bloodshed continues from time to time, the state would become weak and powerless and would be an easy prey for the neighboring kingdoms. Therefore the twelve Dollois after a long and thorough deliberation and discussion, unanimously decided that in order to end the frequent hostility and bloodshed amongst the people belonging to different elakas and in order to promote friendship cooperation, peace and tranquility they should appoint one person as their king who would rule over them and knit the unity of Ka Ri Khadar Dolloi.

They also decided that the appointed king would rule through their help and advice. He should not be an absolute monarch. He, who would be the king should have no right of ownership over the land and he should not levy taxes over his people. His soldiers would be provided by all the Dollois from the people residing in their respective Elakas. In order to maintain his living, the king should get service land from all the twelve Elakas. The king could mint his own money (currency) in his name and it would get the legal tender within the kingdom. He could collect taxes from the people belonging to other kingdoms who were defeated in the war. The king would also be entitled to get fee from the Dolois and the people involved in the litigation who were referred to in his court would also get the benefit. During war times, the king should protect and defend the people and the territory of the kingdom and he should lead the army in the battle only when there was a great threat to the security of the kingdom. For the expansion of the kingdom, war had to be fought against the neighboring kingdom and in such wars, the appointed general would lead the army. The Dollois would remain to look after their respective Elakas and whenever there was a dispute between one Doloi and another or more such disputes should be referred to the king and his ruling should be abided by all concerned. The above decision was unanimously accepted by the twelve Dolois which was upheld by voice vote.

A Conference was held and the twelve Dollois began for the would be king throughout the length and breadth of Ka Ri Khadar Doloi. But they could not find the man whom all of them would have chosen to be their king. After some years, the Doloi of Nartiang received the news that a certain man in Sutnga village named U Loh Ryndi Pala had settled down with a woman name Ka Lidakha who had transformed into a human being from a fish. U Loh Ryndi Pala had two daughters and three sons from Ka Lidakha. After receiving this tiding, the then Doloi of Nartiang sent messengers to all Dollois to come to Nartiang as soon as they received his message to discuss the task of appointing a King which has been pending for quite a long time. When all the Dollois had arrived, U Kongsan (Dolloi of Nartiang) informed them of the news he had received and said, ” It appears now that the Almighty has deemed it fit that we should get our king. Therefore, I suggest that one of Loh Ryndi’s sons be appointed as our king”. All the Dollois consented to his suggestion. Then they sent the Doloi of Nartiang and two other Dolois to go to Sutnga village and to select one of the said sons to be their king. When they reached Sutnga, they found out that the news they received was true. The first daughter of U Loh Ryndi was named “Ka Rupatong’ and the second was ” Ka Rupanga”, the third son was named “U Siang-Am”, the fourth son was named “U syngkhlien-Am” and the fifth son was named “U Tetia”. Therefore the Dolloi of Nartiang and the two other Doloi that accompanied him decided to appoint ‘Iakor Sing’ son of Rupanga, a 14 year old boy, so that they could have ample time to train and mould him, under their guidance into a perfect king. U Iakor sing Sutnga was appointed as the first king of Jaintia Kingdom, thus Ka Rupanga was recognized as the ancestral Queen mother for the Sutnga Syiem. While Ka Rupatong was recognized as the ancestral queen mother for the Khadsawphra Syiem.

The Above stories are based purely on oral accounts and legend which were handed down from one generation to another. Before the British came, the Lyngdoh (priest) was the appellate authority for the redressal of grievances of the people in the elaka, and if the people are not satisfied with the Doloi, the Lyngdoh has the authority to remove the Doloi from his office. During the British period, the Lyngdohship was concerned only with religious matters. Economic privileges are attached to Doloiship and Lyngdohship.

Soon after the British took over the administration of the Jaintia Hills, they immediately abolished the office of the Syiem, though at the same time they retained the other two traditional institutions, that of the Doloi and Waheh Chnong or Village Headman. Thus the three tier system of administration which was in existence during the pre-British era was reduced into a two-tier system only. Under the British administration , the whole of Jaintia Hills along with few other villages of the Khasi Hills were grouped together under one common system of administration and they are treated as British areas and was administered directly by the British Government.
Freedom Fighters

U Kiang Nangbah

“Ka Jinglaitluid ka long ka kyndon ba donkam tam ha ka jingim U briew bad ka Ri kaba khlem ka jinglaitluid ym lah tang ban ong ba ka long kaba im” —Kiang Nangbah

Translation of the above lines:
“Freedom is the most important factor of a Human’s life and a country without freedom cannot be claimed to even be alive” —Kiang Nangbah

Located on the banks of Syntu Ksiar, alongside the river Myntdu, there is a vast field known as Madiah Kmai Blai. At the center of this field stands the elegant Kiang Nangbah Monument, a hollow tower-like structure of typical Jaintia design, erected by the Jaintia people in honor of U Kiang Nangbah, the Jaintia patriot who died a martyr to the cause of Jaintia freedom, at the hands of the British rulers.
The field known as Madiah Kmai Blai is itself of historical importance, as it was on this field that a meeting of Jaintia leaders took place during 1861. At the meeting U Kiang Nangbah took oath to lead his people, come what may, in their fight to drive the British out of their land. He was, however, asked whether he could do something to show that they had correctly chosen him as their leader. Kiang Nangbah, looked around, said not a word, but plunged suddenly on that cold wintry night into the depths of Syntu ksiar and emerged moments later with an uprooted little plant from the stem of which three branches spread out. The Oracles agreed that it was a sign signifying the justice of their cause and the correctness of their choice of U Kiang Nangbah as leader. The meeting gave U Kiang Nangbah mandate to wage war against the British who had, by then, attempted to strangulate the local economy and interfere with the religious and cultural life of the Jaintias. Under his leadership, the Jaintias fought a bitter war of attrition for almost two years against the much superior British military might. Ultimately the British managed to seize Kiang Nangbah by deceit, on 27th December, 1862. After a summary trial, they publicly hanged him at Iawmusiang, Jowai on the 30th December, 1862. From the scaffold he spoke to his countrymen, loud and clear-

“If my face turns eastwards when I die on the rope, we shall be free again within a hundred years, If it turns westwards, we shall be enslaved forever ”

The last words of U Kiang Nangbah, the immortal Jaintia Martyr proved prophetic. Indeed the dying patriot’s face turned eastwards and India became free within hundred years.

The monument at Madiah Kmai Blai is a grateful people’s tribute to their immortal martyr.

After U Kiang Nangbah
…even after the death of U Kiang Nongbah, the war waged against the British rule was not yet over. The fight was still going on in areas such as Padu, Pamtadong, Nongbareh and Demkiang. It finally ended on the 14.12.1863 when Lt. Governor of Bengal removed their Special Commission and power from the Hilly Jaintia areas.

Other known Freedom Fighters
1. U Swar Sutnga was shot dead amidst the fight for freedom
2. U Long Padu died in his sick bed
3. U Mon Rymbai was killed by his own people near Surting
4. U Chye Rangbah, U Lahduh and U Kiang Nangbah’s army were all killed during the fight
5. U Bang Raliang surrendered
6. U Bukher Pator Raliang surrendered to the British Govt. and was imprisoned for life
7. U Woh Riang surrendered to the British Govt.
8. U Mulon Mynso surrendered to the British Govt. and was imprisoned for life
9. U Kiang Sule, Shangpung surrendered to the British Govt.
10. U Kat Shangpung also surrendered to the British Govt.


The people living in Jaintia Hills District of Meghalaya are ethno linguistic group of people and are believed to be of Indo-Mongoloid race although speaking a distinct Austric language belonging to the Mon-Khmer group. With regard to the social origin of the Jaintia people there is an indigenous theory according to which they belonged to a common race which occupied a large area of Northern India, Burma, Indo-China and parts of South China in the Neolithic period.

The vast majority of population include Scheduled Tribe: 210558, Scheduled Caste: 747 and remaining others.

The people residing in the central region of Jaintia Hills are called “Pnars” by those living in the southern and northern regions and who are in turn called as “Wars” and “Bhois” respectively by the Pnar. All three are collectively known by the generic name : Jaintias” or “Synteng”

The people inhabiting the District are Pnars, Wars, Bhoi(Karbis) and Biates mainly.

In the Pnar Society the family is the core of social organization. Though it is mother-centred, the authority of the house of Iung lies with the eldest Maternal Uncle. He is the head of the clan & represents the same in any village matters. But Marital & other institutional affairs are based on the Matrilineal System. Matriarchy in its true sense does not exist in the Pnar Society. Inspite of the female ownership of property the woman’s elder brother is the actual head of the household & when the husband after the initial matrilocal residence establishes independent house, he is the undisputed lord of the Family. In the case where there is no female child, the Mother is succeeded by her son, thus the system is called matriarchal only by courtesy. Nowadays there has been tremendous change in the way of life of the Jaintia People & it is not uncommon case for a man to live together with his wife & children in separate houses & the house is solely run by the Father of the house and not by Uncles.

Matriliny in Jaintia Hills does not mean that the female are more supreme than the males but it is that tracing of descent is done through a female side. The father no doubt is the head and occupies an honored position in a family.

Marriage among the Jaintia is an elaborate one though many changes are noticeable due to factors like Christianity, education and exposure to the outside world.

Women are entrusted to take care of property as the legal custodian, the family purse, valuable, movable and immovable properties.

In Jaintia Hills traditionally, inheritance of real property passes from mother to the youngest daughter called as ‘khadduh’. Other sisters also share the property but the youngest one shares more because of her responsibility to the family. No man in the uplands of the Jaintia Hills can possess landed property, unless it is self acquired, if a man dies and leaves behind acquired property, his heiress will be his mother, if alive, excluding wife, sons and daughters. If the wife however, undertakes not to remarry, she will inherit half of her husband property, which at her death will descend to her youngest daughter by him. The youngest daughter who inherits the property has the obligation, that she must look after the family idols and bear all its puja offerings out of her own pocket, if the youngest daughter changes her religion she loses her position in the family and is succeeded by her next youngest sister as in the case of death.

The people are often been described to be fond of amusements and happy-going. The cheerful disposition of the people is an attraction to strangers. In general, they are simple, open hearted, honest people with a very good sense of obligations and capable of sincere gratitude. The bond of blood relationship is very strong.


The Pnar or the Jaintia people maintained their unique culture and religion called Niamtre. The British paramountcy during the seventeenth century brought about the winds of change in many aspects of the Jaintia society, a good percentage of the people are embracing Christianity as their religion . Apart from Christians, there are other religions too, like the Unitarians, the Muslims etc. The coming of the Welsh Missionaries brought about significant changes in their value system, beliefs, speech, etiquettes, food habits, life styles and most importantly in the fields of health, education and economic condition. The Economic changes among the Jaintia people has certain affects in the religious and traditional life of the people. Traditionally, if anyone died in the village, the whole village would stop their work and gather at the deceased person’s house. People still follow the custom inspite of the hectic schedule of everyday modern life.


The people inhabiting the District are the Pnars, Wars, Bhoi (Karbis) and Biates mainly.

So it is obvious that not one language is spoken. But the main language widely used by the inhabitants of this district is the Pnar Language: which is different in every sense from the Khasi language of the East and West Khasi hills districts of this State of Meghalaya. As is known there is no written script for this language and Khasi is used for educative purposes.

English is the only medium of instruction used in some schools e.g. Adventist Training School. Other schools use the vernacular dialect in Roman letter ( Khasi dialect Cherra) and English as the medium of instruction. However for high school section, English was adopted as the medium of instruction and Khasi dialect was studied as a vernacular subject. It is known that a few local learned people are trying to device the alphabets for the Pnar language: work is in progress.

Besides English, Hindi , Nepali, Bengali, Assamese, are spoken by outsiders for communication. A lot of outsiders can speak the Local language pretty well, making work and communication easier.

Administrative Units

The district comprise of three Community & Rural development Blocks namely,
Thadlaskein C&RD Block
Laskein C&RD Block
Amlarem C&RD Block

General Administration : Deputy Commissioner is the head of the District administration. The Deputy Commissioner is the executive head as well as judicial head of the district. The DC is aided by a number of officers like Additional Deputy Commissioner, Sub-Divisional Officers of Civil Sub-Divisions and Extra Assistant Commissioners to assist him in different type of activities. As the executive head the DC plays a vital role in coordinating with all developmental heads of the district for all round developmental activities under various programs such as M.P. scheme (MPLAD), MLA’s scheme, Border areas development funds, Employment assurance schemes and so on. The District Planning Officer is assigned to see, formulate and release of fund for development scheme. There also exists the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) and the DC is the chairman of the said agency. The Project Director is the functional head of the agency. All schemes of rural development are implemented by Block Development Officers and the necessary funds are routed through this agency.

Law and Order : Maintenance of law and order is another important aspect of district administration to give proper security and to safeguard the lives and properties of the citizen. In this regard the DC act as the District Magistrate for maintenance of law and order in the district. The District Magistrate is assisted by Additional Deputy Commissioner, Sub-Division Magistrates and other Executive Magistrates and keeps close link with police department for necessity. The Superintendent of Police is the head of the Police Administration

Revenue : In revenue matter the DC is assisted by ADC i/c of Revenue and other Revenue and Enforcement staff. There is constitutionally recognized Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council in Jowai. Hence all types of revenue collection like settlement of Hats (Bazaar), Ghats, Ponds, Ferries, Professional tax are directly dealt by Dist. Council, except matters like acquisition of Govt. land, encroachment of Govt. land, allotment of land to central department, payment of compensation money etc

Natural Calamity : The DC plays a key role during natural disaster periods like flood, earthquake, landslide, cyclone/storm damage or fire incidence. The DC generally takes prompt action whenever the situation arises in any part of the district, and provides assistance either in cash or kind to the victims according to the nature of damage. Besides all these the DC being the head of the district also holds the post of Chairman of various committee, colleges, schools, Banks etc

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