David Scott Trail: The oldest trails in Meghalaya

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David Scott trail is one of the oldest trails in Meghalaya. This trek spans 16 kilometres long through the Eastern Khasi Hills. It dates back to the dawn of British colonialism in India, as it was part of a 100-kilometre trade route. Though currently preserving the rare beauties of Meghalaya. David Scott trek is at an altitude of 4892 ft and passes through deep valleys with River Umiam flowing alongside. 

The satellite picture of the trail

The trail is named after British administrator David Scott posted in north-eastern India during the early 1800s. And it stretches between two famous Khasi villages of Mawphlang and Lad Mawphlang, where it passes through quaint Khasi villages, ancient sacred groves, lush green meadows, sparse fields, rolling mountains, rushing streams, stone bridges, and natural pools.

David Scott Trail: The oldest trails in Meghalaya
The trail with lush greenery

Our guide, who took us on the tour of the Scared forest, was taking us on this trail too. He chared an additional 1500 INR for this trail trek. Since the network is only available on the hills at rare points, Google might ditch you; hence suggestive to take a guide. Our guide explained the trail stretches from Mawphlang through Nongrum village towards the southeastern part of Mawphlang. And the elevation of the entry point is around 6,050 feet. This is called the Zero point, a primary identification of the David Scott trek.

Zero point

From Zero Point, we walked around 500m to Trailhead, where the actual trek starts.

Tail Head

The start of the trail had a flat path, but a proper trekking shoe is advisable. We walk another half a kilometre from the Trailhead to reach Ka kor Shon Mai, a resting point. Many tourist camps here in the open ground. 

David Scott Trail: The oldest trails in Meghalaya
Ka kor Shon Mai

We walked further on a gradual descent on a muddy, winding mountain downhill for 1-1.5km. All I could see was lush greenery and, occasionally, rivers flowing from the slopes. The walk on this winding trail had to be careful as it was slippery, also the smooth slope. On the way, I caught a glimpse of Simpanghang waterfalls before we reached Mawkorsahep. It has erected a tombstone dated back to 1843, built in the fond memory of a child named Camilla. Beyond the tomb, I saw a thin trail of descent through the forest. But we continued along the winding spree across the woods down to Lynkienwar and Umiam River. 


The guide explained we had to walk another 3km rocky before we reached the suspension bridge. The bridge was built by the military at Weidung. It acts as a gateway to the woods over the Umiam river. We took a short break here before heading towards the Laithsohma village. This was the place where our guide confirmed David Scott’s trek had many stories hidden from the British Raj. He continued further that David Scott was the first British administrator sent to North-East India; he worked for over 30 years. He, in return, created a connecting route that was originally a horse track between Sohra (India) and Sylhet (now in Bangladesh). It was a trade route. 

David Scott Trail: The oldest trails in Meghalaya
Suspension Bridge

But this route resulted in a war between the Khasi people and the British that lasted for four years. The isolated ranges of Khasi and Jaintia hills hide ancient history conserved for centuries that were exposed to the world. The war was between U Tirot Singh, the king of Khadsawphra Syiemship and the British. The incredibly brave Khasis fought until U Tirot Singh was captured and deported to Bangladesh.

David Scott Trail: The oldest trails in Meghalaya
Old bridge in the trail

 David Scott trek is registered with the United Nations as an Indigenous Community Conservation Area. And the stone formations, the uneven terrain, and the picturesque beauty of the David Scott Trek are bound to mesmerize you. The 100-kilometre trade route trek takes 4-5 days to complete. However, we were only covering 16km of the trek. 

David Scott Trail: The oldest trails in Meghalaya
Umiam River

After the break & stories, we walked towards Laithsohma village, a 4km walk along the thin rocky trail. The trail widens up after a km walk from the Wahtham valley. Its located at an elevation of 1525 m. As I walked straight for another Km through the forest, it opened up to a clear river. The silence was echoing across the forest. I could spend the whole day in a serene and calm place. 

Wahtham valley

The stream’s water was crystal clear, and I filled my bottles. And I hoped few rocks to cross the creek; be careful; the slopes increase here, and the trail gets thinner, carving between the thick forests. The following 2km is an ascent until you reach a village named Laithsohma. And took a food break as it’s the popular Maggi point. I tried Sohiong– Sweet and juicy blackberries, and mom & aunt had red tea

Laithsohma Village

Post the break, we proceeded towards the Arch bridge. The walk is another 3km, where we follow a plateau to reach the arch bridge. Since the terrain was flat, I increased my speed of walking. Finally, I saw a meadow- Lush green, which was a delight to my sore eyes. And crossing the field, I landed on a medieval stone arch bridge. 

David Scott Trail: The oldest trails in Meghalaya
Arch Bridge

However, looking around the meadow observed massive rock formations spread across open space. We kept following our guide till the legendary Mawnguid-Briew. I was amazed to see a gigantic rock structure with a cliff cut in the middle of nowhere. I also saw many Monoliths (giant rock formations dating to the Megalithic period). As per an old Khasi Folktale, the massive rock structure was said to swallow people. Quite interesting!


Post this place; the trail gets narrower with a few unexpected diversions to reach. For another 2km, we walked on the flat terrain, which ended at the Kor Parkti- a stone bench to rest. It further descends two more kilometres to reach the Wah-Umiong river. We followed the guide since it was getting dark until we reached a lonely hilltop. This place was the end of Mawphlang forests and the beginning of Lad Mawphlang forests. 

David Scott Trail: The oldest trails in Meghalaya
Kor Parkti-

We paused as it was the end of the David Scott Trail and absorbed the grandiosity of the majestic Khasi hills. I was amazed to see the traditions, rituals and respect for nature are imbibed deeply in the Khasi culture. They practise sustainable living and incredibly conserve pristine beauty for centuries.

David Scott Trail: The oldest trails in Meghalaya
Ancient Rock

We finally followed a thin trail without any diversion as guided by our guide to climb the main road. We continued from the David Scott Exit Point towards my car. This elevation of the exit point was 1785 metres. It was dark when we started; I thanked the beautiful Khasi folks before heading towards Shillong. Today I sweat out in dramatic landscapes and listen to fascinating stories. These two hiking experiences opened my eyes to a seldom-narrated history of the indigenous North East. 

By Air: 

The nearest airport to Guwahati. A cab can be booked outside the airport to reach Shillong. You need to change the cab from Shillong to Mawphlang or Cheerapunji. Since there are fewer stay options on David Scott Trail, one can camp for a day in the forest.

By Rail: 

Guwahati Junction railway station is well connected with most of the cities of India. Upon reaching, one can book a cab to Shillong; from Shillong, a different cab has to be taken for Mawphlang or Cheerapunji. Since there are fewer stay options on David Scott Trail, one can camp for a day in the forest.

 By Road:

Private cabs or shared taxis of Guwahati regularly ply to Shillong. One has to change the cab in Shillong to reach the destination in Meghalaya. You cannot drive since a private vehicle is not allowed.


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