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Ri Bhoi district General information

Ri Bhoi District is one of the Seven Districts of Meghalaya,  carved out from the erstwhile East Khasi Hills District on 4th June 1992. It is bounded in the North by the Kamrup District of Assam, East by the Karbi Anglong District of Assam, South by the East Khasi Hills and West by the West Khasi Hills District. Ri Bhoi District covers an area of 2448 Sq. Km with a population of 1,92,795 as per 2001 census .The Headquarter of the District is at Nongpoh located at 53 km away from the state capital Shillong and 50 km from Guwahati.

Area and Location

Ri Bhoi District has an area of 2448 Sq. Kms. It lies between 91' 40'16" Latitude and 25'40' to 26'20'N Longitude. This District is characterized by rugged and irregular land surface. It includes a series of hill ranges which gradually sloped towards the North and finally joins the Brahmaputra Valley. The important rivers flowing through this region includes the Umtrew, Umsiang, Umran and Umiam rivers. The region is still poor in transport and communication facilities. The National Highway No.37 origination from Jorabad to Shillong passes through the District.

Topography

Ri Bhoi District essentially consists of hilly areas. In the centre lies the Central uplands known as Lum Raitong and in the South- East lies U Lum Sohpetbneng. The uplands from a natural watershed causing rivers to flow to the plain of Assam. A dam is constructed against the river Umtrew at a place about 60 Kms from the headquarters called Umtrew Hydel Project and another dam is constructed at the river Umiam at Damsite called Umiam Hydel Project. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) at Mawpun village and the State of Rural Development of Meghalaya (SIRD) is situated in the South - East of the District.

Forest Resources

Forests cover a large part of the geographical area of Ri Bhoi District. However, there is a constant danger of denudation and deforestation due to the large felling of trees for timber, firewood and Jhum cultivation.

Soil

Soil in Ri Bhoi District may broadly classified into hill and plain soils. It can be found out patches of red loamy soil and lime silt constitute the major portion. This soil is much suitable for growing both local and improved varieties of crops. The soil in the adjoining Assam also consists of heavy loams while the soil in other areas are interspersed with stones and chips.

Access

The nearest airport and railway station is at Guwahati.

Nongpoh is connected from Guwahati by road only. So on reaching Guwahati, one can reach Nongpoh by buses, Taxi, Vans. The approximate distance from Guwahati to Nongpoh is about 42 Kms which will take about one and half hours to reach Nongpoh.

Climate      

The Climate of Ri Bhoi District experiences different types of climate ranging from tropical climate in the areas bordering Assam to the temperate climate adjoining the East Khasi Hills District. The areas bordering Assam experience hot - humid weather during summer seasons with an average temperature of 30 deg Centigrade, especially during the month of May to July of the year. In other areas like Lum Raitong and Lum Sohpetbneng Plateaus, the climate is severely cold during the winter months and is pleasant during the summer period.

People and Culture

The Bhois of Ri Bhoi District are the Sub - group of the main Khasi Tribe. The majority of the Bhois speak the Bhoi dialect, although they use the Khasi dialect as a major subject in their schools. In Ri Bhoi District, there are other groups of tribes viz, Garos, who speak the Tibeto - Burman groups of language, whereas the Karbis, Marngars, Mikirs, Bodos and Lalungs use Assamese as their Lingua Franca. Some speak and write Khasi too. The Bhois follow the matrilenial system. Children bear the title of the mother and she is the safe keeper of all properties owned by her parents.

Dances

Ka Shad Sajer : Ceremonial dance held annually at Nongbah (Raid Nongpoh) by Ka Seng Pynneh Riti Khat-ar Lyngdoh. Usually held in the last part of January. Neighbouring zillas also used to take part in this dance. Shad Sajer is more or less like a Festival of the Ri Bhoi District. Other dances includes Ka Shad Shohkba of Raid Nongkharai, Shad Shutwait and Shad Dongdong, Shad Malangho and Shad Kynjuh Kynthei of Raid Nonglyngdoh. Shad Puh Lyngkha of Raid Sohkhwai, Shad Shutwait and Kynjuh Kynthei of Raid Nongkhrah.

Ka Shad Krud Ksing : Merriment dance performed by Raid Thaiang of Ri Bhoi District.

Merriment dances of Ri Bhoi District includes - Ka shad Lakympong, Lukhmi of Namsha, Thaiang, Nongtung and Tyrso. Shad Krudkba and Langhei of Marngar.

Tourist Place

Umiam Lake: Offers water sports facilities including sailing, water skiing, water scooter, The Orchid Lake Resort and the adjacent Lum Nehru Park is an ideal quiet Holiday Resort.

Lum Sohpetbneng
: Located at Umiam which is about 40 Kms from the district headquarter. It is about 6 Kms from Umiam to reach the top of a peak. It sets amidst a beautiful scenic view against the backdrop of a sacred forest. A majestic legendary peak, literary mean the Naval or Heaven, or Heavenly Peak, as per Khasi mythology,  is believed to be an ancient golden staircase which linked earth and heaven. It was believed that in the golden days there were sixteen families who ascended and descended through this golden staircase but later on seven families decided to remain on earth. Therefore, God the creator granted their wish. Situated on Shillong-Guwahati Road, this peak offers a breathtaking view of its natural surroundings.

Lum NehruPark : Adjacent to the Orchid Lake Resort, in one of the surrounding spurs, there is a charming park, known as "Nehru Park". Besides beautiful lawns and flowers, there is also orchidarium and aviary.

Dwar Ksuid : Located in Khapmara, Bhoilymbong area of Umroi. Popularly known as the "Lover Paradise". The rumbling swift flowing river with lots of slippery boulders attracted visitors and pinickers alike, even home video film makers. Dwar Ksuid means the Devil's Doorway, it beats the rational thinking personae with a probing question, 'Why the devil, did they named the doorway after the devil. Does it signify something". Nevertheless, the captivating beauty of this river and its natural surroundings did not escape the Megawood birds eye, where a Mega film "U Manik Raitong" was shot here.

Umroi Airport : The one and only air strip of Meghalaya which connected Guwahati and Kolkata by flight. After 14 years, 6 months and 8 days,the air-service was re-introduced in the State.The Shillong-Kolkata Air Service was inaugurated on the 3rd of April,2003  by the Meghalaya Chief Minister, Mr. D.D. Lapang at Umroi in the presence of Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Mr. Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, and Union Minister of State for DONER and Small Scale Industries, Mr. Tapan Sikdar. The Air Service with 3 flights a week is being provided by Alliance Air using a 50 seater ATR-42 Aircraft. The first flight take off on the 7th of April,2003. The flights operates on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The arrival time is at 11:50 AM and departure is 20 minutes after the arrival time. The flight rates is Rs.3585/-.

Nongkhyllem Wild Life Sanctuary
: The sanctuary lies in a global bio diversity hotspot (which comprises of the North Eastern region of India). It has an immense variety of flora and fauna. There are over 1000 taxaof vegetation in the Sanctuary and surrounding forests which make up an area of about 200 Sq. Kms. The area is rich in fauna too, supporting many rare and endangered species. Out of the 141 or so species of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles listed in schedule-1 of the Wildlife Protection Act about 30 are found in and around the Sanctuary. Globally endangered species found here are the Asian Elephant, Himalayan Black Bear, Royal Bengal Tiger, Clouded Leopard, Indian Bison, etc. there are about 400 species of birds in this area which lies in the Eastern Himalayan Endemic Bird Area. Few endangered species of birds are the Swamp Partridge, Brown Hornbill, Rufous Necked Hornbill, Manipur Bush Quail. The list of endangered fauna is enclosed as annexures.

Due to shrinking habitat in most areas of the State which are Non-Government owned and hence under poor legal cover resulting in unchecked deforestation by private owners for Shifting Cultivation (Jhumming) and exploitation of wood for clandestine commercial purposes as well as for meeting basic requirements. These remnants of original forests are of great importance as they the last refuge of animals especially those favouring high forests suchas the Hoolock Gibbon, one of the few apes in the world, endemic to this region.

In addition to the above the area is also a watershed area conserving water for the surrounding river Umling and Umtrew, which are favoured fishing areas.

From the education point of view the area is important as it is one of the few remaining habitats having wildlife that have disappeared along with the forests in non government controlled areas.

Orchid Lake Resort
:  Located at Umiam adjacent to Lum Nehru Park. It is about 14 Kms from Umroi Airport, 110 Kms from Guwahati Airport, 86 Kms from Guwahati Railway Station, 17 Kms from Shillong City Centre and 34 Kms from the district Headquarter (Nongpoh). This unique, idylic and picturesque resort consisting of a watersports complex. Earlier the watersports complex at Umiam lake has a unique Floating Restaurant cum Sport Deck named Flying Duck, is the first of its kind in the country, designed by world famous architect Charles Correa. Unlucky, the Flying Duck is now out of order. The complex provides facilities like sailing, rowing, waterskiing, toboganning, etc. This picturesque lake resort attracts visitors and film makers from Assam and within the state, in the home video "Tang Jingkynmaw".