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If you’ve read our blog about Majuli in Assam, you’ll know why the destination is so popular. The ubiquitous patches of land strewn across a vast area are part of the world’s largest river island and that’s what had kept Majuli in demand, luring tourists from all over the world. But little known to a majority of travellers, Meghalaya has what it claims to be the second largest river island in Asia, Nongkhnum Island.
Years ago, I embarked on a solo hitchhiking trip from Bangalore to the northeastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur and Nagaland. It was an enriching experience where I stumbled upon amazing places, untouched by tourism, made friends along the way and brought back tons of travel memories. Sadly, I didn’t have a camera or a camera phone at that time and have no photos of the places I explored. One of the places I visited was the Nongkhnum Island and was taken aback by the serenity, seclusion and peace I found there!
Hidden from tourism, the island remained buried in obscurity, enjoyed only by the locals in Meghalaya. And then during the last decade, travelers to northeast stumbled upon the Nongkhnum Island and since then it’s become a bucket list item for many.
Where is Nongkhnum Island?
Claimed to be the largest river Island in Meghalaya and the second largest in Asia, the Nongkhnum Island is located in central Meghalaya. It lies 100 kilometers west of Shillong in the lush green West Khasi Hills. Sandwiched between the East Khasi Hills and East Garo Hills, the West Khasi hills is the largest district of Meghalaya and home to stunning, unexplored landscapes.
The district of West Khasi hills is located in Nongstoin and from there Nongkhnum Island is about 17 kilometers away. Just before the island you will need to cross the Nongkhnum Island foot bridge from where you gain access to the island. These islands are not inhabited so a visit will have to happen as a day trip. I remember taking a bus from Shillong till Nongstoin and from
Places to see near Nongkhnum Island
Located 50 kms from Nongkhnum Island is Wah Rilang. The gorgeous valley has a river meandering through it and the spot is perfect for picnics and angling. The view point gives you beautiful, panoramic valley views and with so much fresh air air, it’s a very relaxing experience.
Located on the river Kynshi, the Weinia are quite close to the Thum falls. Weinia is a deep, misty waterfall with a large pool at the bottom. During monsoons, the force of the water swells up drastically and you can see mist all around it. Both sides of the falls are surrounded by rocks and massive step like structures on one side of the falls.
The Thum Falls are located close to Weinia Falls and the step like cascading falls are quite a sight to see! The milky, pristine waters murmur down a small set of cascades and the sight looks straight out of a fairy tale.
Hotels near Nongkhnum Island
There aren’t any hotels or resorts on the island but you can find a few options in Nongstoin. They aren’t too good and if you are looking for an upscale hotel with all creature comforts then you will be left disappointed. The best way to manage your Nongkhnum Island trip is by staying in Shillong and traveling to the islands for a day trip. Shillong has plenty of great hotels, homestays and guest houses which suit all kinds of travelers.
Best time to visit Nongkhnum Island
The land of the clouds is full of mesmerizing views of rolling hills and majestic waterfalls. And they offer different versions of themselves as each season ushers in. The weather in the state is rarely hot and maximum temperatures generally hover around 30 degrees.
Winters are cold but great for spending time outdoors. The only time you can probably avoid going there is during monsoons as that limits your outdoor time and sunshine. The torrential downpours increase travel time as traffic jams become common in the mountain roads and driving becomes cumbersome.
How to reach Nongkhnum Island
By air – The Guwahati airport is the closest you can get to Nongkhnum Island by air. It lies at a distance of about 180 kms and is a 7-hour drive. From Guwahati, you can either hire a cab to get there or you can take a bus to Shillong. From Shillong, you will need to hire a cab to get to the island.
By rail – The closest rail link is also in Guwahati, 180 kms away. There is no other railway station close by.
By road – People traveling to Nongkhnum Island usually stop over at Shillong. The roads from Shillong to Nongkhnum Island are pretty ok except for a few bad patches on the way. The total travel time can vary from about 3 hours to 5 hours depending on traffic and weather conditions.