Literally translating to a flowing river, ‘Wah’ meaning river and ‘Khen’ as in flow in Khasi. Wacken is a hamlet nestled in the midst of lush forests and hills. Its location among the valleys being an ideal destination tributary of water flowing in from different directions of the district, resulting in the name of the village. However, there is more than just flowing water at this verdant region. A well preserved and newly introduced destination initiated by the villagers, offers not just a scenic trek route, but also a great myth associated to it which is the highlight of the idyllic location. That is the trek to a giant rock called ‘U Mawryngkhang’.
Legend states that there was once a war of giant living rocks and Mawryngkhang defeated many others and was hailed as the ‘King of Rocks’. Like most exciting stories including a lady love, Mawryngkhang fell in love with another giant beautiful lady rock called ‘Kthiang’ from another kingdom. However, a story without a villain would be incomplete, so like a classic love tale, this folktale is a love triangle between ‘Mawryngkhang, Kthiang and Mawpator (popularly referred as the mountain or villain rock)’ who was also in love with Kthiang. In order to win the affection of the lady, a fight happened between the hero and the villain, where Mawpator broke off Mawryngkhang’s left arm. Angry and raged, not to be defeated Mawryngkhang eventually wins the fight by successfully beheading Mawpator‘s head. All hail to Mawryngkhang, still standing tall as the king of rocks and winning the love interest of ‘Khtiang’ who always stood by him. So, if one stands at the peak of Mawryngkhang, amidst the hills one would be able to witness another giant rock in sight which is supposedly his lady love Khtiang and another rock visible in a deep gorge being the head of Mawpator. The broken left arm visible as a ruptured form of the rock.
Live to witness this legend by visiting Wahkhen, some 50 kms away from Shillong which is just about an hour and half drive away. One needs to take the road to Dawki and take a right turn from Pomlum Village for about 15 kms to reach Wahkhen. Once at the quaint hamlet, one has to trek for another hour or so depending on the pace till Mawryngkhang. Truly meant for the adventurous souls who are in for a treat filled with pleasant surprises along the way.
Initiated and managed by local villagers of Wahkhen since 2017, the other highlight of the trip would be the elevated path made of bamboo, sticks & cane knots at regular intervals to bridge the way through across hills, rocks and the flowing river. An architectural magnificence with all natural resources being utilized from the forest with efforts made by the local people of the Tourism Promoters Trekking Society. The purpose of which is to increase tourism and the livelihood of the indigenous people. Reflecting excellent craftsmanship by the local Khasi artisans, taking them about a year to completely build the entire trek trail.
The trek begins with an elevated narrow bamboo trail through organic Synsar (broom) plantation to eventually go down a hill of steps which leads to the first encounter of the river ‘Wahrew’ which is the cleanest river in the region flowing down to the neighbouring country of Bangladesh. On further trekking towards the King of Rocks, they are many exceptional natural wonders to witness through the thrilling trek route. Mostly connected by bamboo bridges along the mountain ridges, which at certain levels of height need be tread carefully. Also above the flowing river, which turns into a roaring rapid during the monsoons, increasing the excitement of adrenaline rush when taking the trek then. Freshwater pools are found along the route of the trek which appeals to many to take a dip or swim, which is an experience not to be missed. There are uphill climbs, downhill descends, muddy, stony, narrow spaces to sporadic and difficult bamboo paths on the cliffs. Such as the 150 meters long bamboo Skywalk along the 70 meters deep ‘Mawkhlieng’ rock. The king of stones is first visible from a view point rock called ‘Mawmoit’ which when crossed further leads the trek to a 100 meters tall bamboo ladder to access the peak of ‘U Mawryngkhang.’ Once there, witness the wonder of the magnificent views and a feeling of achievement on making it to the top of the colossal rock which is an experience, unlike any.
Tips to help enjoy the journey more:
1. With no accommodation facilities available, it is best to travel there by your own transport convenience.
2. Booking a taxi service from Shillong for the entire day (going, halting & returning) can be an expensive affair ranging anywhere from Rs. 3000 to 6000. A good option if going in a group.
3. With just a few local small vendors available at the village, its best to pack a meal or light snacks to avoid being famished from the journey.
4. It is always advisable to carry a raincoat or an umbrella and to wear comfortable footwear with the weather always being unpredictable.
5. Ensure of water drinking provisions and not to litter the place. Throw all the garbage at the dedicated dustbins placed at certain areas of the location.