West Khasi Hills
Area – 5,247 Sq.km
Population – 2,94,115
District Head Quarters – Nongstoin
Language – Khasi, Garo
West Khasi Hills, presently the largest district of Meghalaya, was carved out of the erstwhile Khasi Hills District on the 28th October, 1976. In the same year, on 10th November, the Mairang Civil Subdivision was inaugurated, whereas the Mawkyrwat Block was converted into an Administrative unit. With the upgradation of Mawkyrwat into a full-fledged Sub-Division on June 26th 1982, the District now comprises of three Sub-Divisions (including the Sadar Sub-Division), one Administrative Unit viz., Mawshynrut which came into being on the 9th February, 1996 and 6 (six) C & R D Blocks viz., Nongstoin, Mairang, Mawkyrwat, Mawshynrut, Ranikor including Mawthadraishan Block which was created vide Govt. Notification NO.CDD.232/89/Pt/61, dt. 20th March, 2001 .
The people of the District have their distinct dialects of about 23 in number. Majority of these dialectical groups, understand Khasi, which is common or link language of the people. The Khasi are predominant inhabitants of West Khasi Hills District. However, the populace may be classified as follows.
1) Ki Nongphlang, are those living in the central up land also called as Khatsawphra, Mawiang, Maram etc (2) Ki War are those living in the southern slopes towards the border with Bangladesh. (3) Ki Mailang are those in the Langrin Syiemship (South-west) (4) Ki Rimen are those living in the Northern side. (5) Ki Muliang are those in Langpih area and Jyrngam Sirdarship. (6) Ki Nongtrai are those living in areas between the Nongphlang and Lyngngams (7) Ki Lyngngam are those living in the western part
and in close proximity with east and south Garo Hills. (8) Ki Garo have a sizeable number in Langrin Syiemship, Nongstoin Syiemship, Maharam Syiemship, Mawiang Syiemship, Jyrngam Sirdarship and Nonglang Sirdarship There are a small number of Hajongs in the Maharam, Langrin and Mawiang Syiemships, as well as about 20 families of the Banai Community in Nongjri village of Ranikor Block, Nongstoin Syiemship.
Cultural Activities :
Khasi society has greatly been transformed by many factors which have arisen in recent times. Adoption of the Western style of life, especially among the literate and educated, have been quite rapid although the matrilineal laws of inheritance and succession and the other cultural traits are still retained.
Richness of Cultural Heritages
The social and cultural events of West Khasi hills district is similar to that of East Khasi Hills. Except for seasonal celebration in the village where song and dance are held, there is no district festival worth mentioning. The dances of significance with a distinctive style are the ” Lyngngam dance” where men in dhoti and turban and women in sarong type of clothing dance to the beat of different drums (Ksing) and Flute (Besli), the Shad Kiew Iing, Shad Mastieh & the Shad SukMynsiem.
In respect of dress, a skirt, either of cotton or end type, is used by womenfolk over which an apron (kyrshah) is suspended from the left shoulder and loops down to the legs. In outdoor use, however, a (jainsem) mostly nylon made, is suspended from both the shoulders looping down below the knee. A head cover (Tapmohkhlieh) is fastened behind the neck and loops down to cover the upper part of the body.
Among men’s dress, the traditional sleeveless coat, waist girdle and dhoti with turban or woolen head gear have been abandoned by most males. Instead, modern dress with pant, shirt and coat or jacket have been adopted. However, most males still use the wrapper (Ryndia Tlem) over their coats, during the cold season.
Archery is the most popular traditional sport in rural parts of the district while among modern games, football, basketball and badminton have caught on with the majority of the young people. Hunting and fishing are the seasonal sports which engage people as recreational activities, and community hunting by using tracking dogs is still being practised. Another recreation activity is the bull fight which is being organised occasionally for gambling and betting.
Music occupies a central position in the cultural life of the people, especially the youth. Indigenous instruments such as the “duitara” (4-stringed instrument), “besli” (flute), “nakra” and “bom” (percussions) are still in use. The district boasts of a number of composers, radio and stage artistes. With the advent of Christianity, about a century and a half ago, music forms an integral part of worship for both young and old. Apart from being gifted singers, they have further attained proficiency in reading staff and tonic solfa notations.
Another significant social factor is the institution of an “8 days-a-week” market system which is still being adopted in the district. The distinct characteristic of these markets, commonly known as “Iew”, is that they serve not only as places for trading activites but also as rendezvous for socialisation, business transaction and other festivities like holding of fetes, fairs, sports and games, etc. These markets are held after every eight days in different places on different days.
The district comprise of four Community & Rural development Blocks namely,
Mairang C&RD Block
Mawthadraishan C&RD Block
Nongstoin C&RD Block
Mawshynrut C&RD Block
The main foodgrain crops grown in the district are paddy, maize and millets. Though the major areas under these crops are grown with traditional varieties of crops, the department has now been able to motivate the farmers to take up crops of high yielding varieties like IR 36, Pusa-221, Megh-l, Megh-l l and U S- I by supplying quality seeds, fertilizers, etc., at 50% subsidized rates.
The main commercial crops grown in the district are potato, ginger, turmeric, oilseed, black pepper, arecanut and betel leaves. To increase the area and production of commercial crops, the department is providing good varieties of potatoes,like Luirijyoti, kubri Megha, fibreless varieties of ginger, nadia and lakadong variety of Turmeric and some exotic variety of black pepper brought trom Kerala
Vegetable Sector :
Inspite of the fact that vegetable seeds are being provided by government at 50% subsidised rate, this sector has not been able to make much progress. The reason may be due to cattle problem, where, during winter season, being the peak period for vegetable cultivation, cattle could not berestricted from roaming free, thereby, destroying and treading the sprouting crops.
Multi cropping :
To make use of the Irrigation facilities provided by the Irrigation Wing in the command area of Kynshi, Umyiap, Aradonga and Manai, a multi-cropping programme was taken up by the department where paddy, potato and vegetables could be grown continuosly in the same year. To boost up production in the district this scheme is being encouraged, where farmers are being supplied with seeds, free of cost and also 50% subsidized rate
Horticultural Crops :
Among the Horticultural crops, orange, banana and pineapple are grown in the district Though some temperate fruits like plum, pear and peach are grown in the upper region, they are yet to take off on commercial scale. To encourage farmers to take up more horticultural crops, planting materials at 50% subsidized rate are being provided by Government. Besides, PP Chemicals /fertilizers, etc., are also provided to rejuvenate old orange orchards affected by die back disease.
Experimental Tea Centre :
An experimental tea center was established in 1976-77 at Riangdo, under Mawshynrut Development Block. where an area of 2.72 Hectares was put under plantation of tea crops On experimental basis. The varieties of tea tried here, include Betjan, Nanda Debi, Tengamine, stock-449, Manipur, Poly clonal, TV-1, 9, 14, 16, 17 and 18 , AV-2, TK-78, B-157 and 668. It is found that the quality of tea produced in this experimental plot is very good and, at present, the green leaves produced in the farm are sold to the nearest tea factory at Boko, Assam. Out of the varieties grown here, poly clonal, Betjan, Nanda Devi and Tengamine are doing well in terms of yield and quality.
West Khasi Hills District offers a lot of scope for adventure tourism in terms of trekking, rock climbing, angling and the like. It has a number of peaks to be scaled, bridle paths to be trekked and water ways for canoeing. Besides, a number of cascades formed along the river courses add to the natural beauty of the district. There are also a number of attractive picnic spots and camping sites.
Ranikor, about 169 kms from Nongstoin and 129 kms to Shillong is one of the best fishing spots. Anglers can row up the Ranikor river where the Kynshi and Rilang converge and enjoy angling for the huge golden mahseers, the pride of anglers and other species like the golden carp, silver carp and the commo8n carp are available here. The surrounding rock cliffs and the clear blue water add to the scenic beauty of the place:
The Green Deserts: The green dunes at Mawlangkhar 12 kms up from Nongstoin captivates the eyes of the destined caravans. The magnificently picturesque landscapes of Rilang valley together with the legendary Ding Ding Kohlangat falls, and the blue river pools of Wah Rilang near Mawranglang, 8 kms down from Mawkyrwat is a scenic beauty, for many to see and appreciate:
Mawthadraishan peak which takes an hour and a half to reach from the main road, is located on the northern side of Nongstoin – Shillong road, near Nongshillong, Mawroh and Markasa villages. On top of the range, there is a depression with about 7 to 8 fish ponds of considerable size. The apex of the peak offers a panoramic view of the plains of Assam, and the distant Himalayas after the monsoon, on clear days. The districts of Garo Hills, Khasi Hills and part of Bangladesh come within the Panoramic horizons of Mawthadraishan peak:
Nongkhnum river Island:-A couple of hours trek from Nongstoin is the hitherto little-known river island on the Kynshi known as Nongkhnum. It is in the form of a Plateau with an area of about 25 Sq.kms. The island is form due to the divergence of the river Kynshi near Diangsyiang and Diligim villages, forming the northern stream called Namliang and the southern stream called Phanliang. The island in endowed with beautiful perennial falls namely Weinia fall in the northern side, Kshaid Thum fall in the southern side and Langshiang fall on the western side. One would wonder the hidden beauty of this river island which the Gods have bestowed on nature, and worthily, describable as an Isle of Water falls:
Thum falls on the river Kynshi which is about 60 metres high and situated near Dilingim village offers a wonderful sight. At the base is a beautiful pool surrounded by hard rocks on three sides:
Weinia falls on the same river Kynshi and quite near to the Thum falls is another scenic cascade. It is quite deep(depth not yet ascertained) and water vapour rising up from the bottom of the falls, in sunlight, form the colours of the rainbow. Both the sides of the falls is surrounded with rocks of different shapes, sizes and colours. Massive step-like structures formed by natural agencies are also seen on one side of the falls:
Langshiang falls formed immediately after the confluence of the diverged streams of the Kynshi river, is situated near Sangriang and can be viewed prominently from Mawpon village. It presents a breathtaking scene to the nature lovers, who admire the challenges of adventure:
Jakrem Hot Spring, about 45 kms from Nongstoin (via Mawthawpdah) and 59 kms from Shillong, has a hot spring of Sulphur water which is believed to have medicinal properties. People can have a dip here and experience a refreshing feeling :
Kyllang Rock which is made of a single, huge solid igneous rock is situated at Mawnai about 10 kms from Mairang, the sub-divisional Head Quarter. The top of the dome-shape rock can accommodate a considerable number of picnickers. Folklore has it that the rock possesses a sort of magnetic field since, so far, no one has ever fallen off the slope of the huge rock. It can be developed into a good rock-climbing site.
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